Reflections on “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”

Anyone who knows me knows that I really love Gilmore Girls. I’ve watched every episode in the series probably 6-7 times each (and more for my favorites).

Why? Beyond the fast-talking, quirky town characters, and female-led cast and crew, it was mainly about Rory. I just get Rory. I sometimes wonder if I *am* Rory, and Amy Sherman-Palladino has simply been stalking me. Here are some facts about Rory, compared to facts about me.

  • In the new Year in the Life show, Rory is 32. I am 32.
  • Rory is an only-child, raised primarily by a single, working mom. I am an only-child, raised primarily by a single, working mom. (Though, shout out to my Dad who was very active in my life as well.)
  • The other adult figures in Rory’s early life (Emily, Sookie, Mrs. Kim) are primarily strong women. The other adult figures in my early life (grandmother, aunts, cousins) are primarily strong women.
  • Rory transferred in her junior year of high school to a prestigious private school. I transferred in my junior year of high school to a prestigious boarding school.
  • Rory got good grades. I got good grades.
  • Rory went to a prestigious private University, where she majored in journalism. I went to a prestigious private University, where I majored in public relations (which at USC, is housed in the Annenberg School of Journalism.)
  • Rory had a serious, live-in boyfriend in college. I had a serious, live-in boyfriend in college.

There are other similarities, but those are the main ones. To put it mildly, I see a lot of myself in Rory.

She’s determined, cautious, smart, deliberate, hard working, and fastidious.

****CAUTION: SPOILERS COMING. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED****

And because of all that, I have a real problem with the idea that in the past 10 years since we’ve last seen Rory, all she’s managed to accomplish is 2-3 freelance articles published in random magazines. Amy Sherman-Palladino turned our beloved Rory into the reflection of the popular millenial meme that my generation is a bunch of whiny do-nothings, that despite her stellar education and well-documented internal drive, she’s somehow flamed out entirely without a career, money, relationship, or even a place to live and must come back and live with Lorelai.

Palladino apparently really believes in this meme – so much so that not only was painting Rory as a millenial burnout not enough, she also added the “30-something gang” as a running joke in the latter half of the new episodes to reinforce the stereotype.

To put it mildly, that’s sort of infuriating. If I look around at the people I went to college with, I see people with challenging and interesting careers in fields like medicine, science, music, marketing, technology, and yes — even journalism. I see them building upon solid relationships in their marriages, raising curious and responsible children, buying houses, volunteering in their communities, and standing up for what they think is right.

That’s not to say my generation is perfect and just lives perfect lives. If I look at that same group of people, I also see layoffs, divorces, failed startups, miscarriages, special-needs children, the death of parents and friends, recessions, setbacks, and challenges. But when those things have entered the picture, they’ve been dealt with. No one ran home to cower in their childhood room and lament that the world wasn’t handing them enough success.

And I just don’t believe that Rory would have done that either.

Nor do her relationships make sense. Rory was never a cruel person, so the running joke of “Paul” is out of character for her from the beginning.  And the idea that she’s continuing to sleep with an engaged Logan Huntzberger? I’m pretty sure Rory got her fill of “being the other woman” from her second go-round with Dean. Beyond that, to suggest she’s not encountered any other serious relationships in 10 years time? I’m just not buying it. Perhaps again, Palladino is relying on those spurious headlines about millenials, proclaiming this is the generation that never gets married, doesn’t date, and never settles down. It all seems very cliche.

It didn’t need to end this way. We see glimmers of hope in Palladino’s portrayals of the other characters; Paris, for example, has become a business mogul, married Doyle, had kids, and gotten a divorce. It’s not all perfect, but it’s consistent with who Paris has always been. Lane, meanwhile, is busy raising the twins, while still jamming out with her band in her spare time — another consistent portrayal.

So how did Palladino miss the mark so much with Rory? Hard to say. Palladino’s last season of the show’s original series was season six, where Rory WAS floundering around on her “break” from Yale, planning DAR parties and redecorating the pool house. It’s possible Palladino just couldn’t break out of that mindset; much of Rory’s distress in the new episodes seems well suited for a just-out-of-college 22 year old, and only fails because Rory’s supposed to be a decade older and wiser now.

In the end, it’s not that the new episodes were bad. Emily’s journey is interesting and even touching at times, and Palladino does capture the feeling of Star’s Hollow again quite accurately. It’s just that it could have been so much more, especially for our beloved Rory.

How to Cyber Monday Shop Like a Boss

‘Tis the season for unabashed consumerism….fa la la la…oh, hi there!  If you’re like me, you may have departed with a significant portion of your hard-earned moo-lah to take advantage of great Black Friday deals today.

BUT if you’ve still got some shopping left to do, particularly online shopping, let me share my secrets for how to get the most bang for your holiday-buying buck.

  1. Fill your online cart, sign in, then leave it for another day.

The first step in making sure you get the very best deals when online shopping is to have some patience. A lot of retailers now use a marketing strategy called “abandoned cart re-capture,” a practice whereby the retailer will email you about items you left in your cart — and often include a coupon to further sweeten the deal.

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If there are a few items that you have your eye on, go ahead and fill your cart, and proceed to checkout through the step where you either sign in or provide your email address. Then, simply close the tab on your browser.

If you’re lucky, within anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours, you may receive some goodies in your inbox. I’ve seen brands as varied as Kate Spade to Dick’s Sporting Goods use this tactic; you just never know when it might pay off. Alternately, if you’re not quite sure what you want to buy yet, but you do at least have a specific retailer in mind? Many retailers will give you a one-time use coupon code for subscribing to their email list.

  1. Shop through a rewards portal.

The other real advantage to filling your cart in advance is that, so long as you have cookies enabled on your browser, the items should still be there if you open the retailer’s website in another tab or window. This makes it very easy to shop via a shopping portal for your favorite rewards-earning credit card or travel loyalty program.

For example, I made a purchase today at Petsmart. But first, I went to the Southwest Airline Rapid Rewards Shopping website, logged in, and did a quick search for the retailer I wanted.

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And what did I find but the ability to earn 4 points per dollar spent, so long as I launch the retailer’s site through their link. (If you have an Adblock software on, you may want to disable it first.) Note that these bonus points are in addition to any points that you may get by spending money on your credit card — so if I made a $20 purchase, I could end up with 80 RapidRewards points from the shopping portal and 20 Chase points for using my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, all on the same transaction.

One final note on this: a lot of shopping portals like this have recently changed their terms of service to say that you won’t receive points if you use a coupon code on the transaction. In my experience, though, you often still do. So go ahead and give it a try anyways, just don’t be mad if it doesn’t work out if you’re also using a coupon code.

  1. Coupon codes are your friend.

And speaking of coupon codes, these are like the cardinal rule for saving money online. Even better, the process of finding coupon codes has gotten much easier recently, with the invention of browser add-ons like Honey, which will automatically detect when you’re on an e-commerce checkout page and attempt to try any coupon codes they have in their database for that site.

Using Honey usually picks up the biggest codes, but if you’re not seeing any good discounts, I recommend also checking on RetailMeNot. And of course, don’t forget to add in any of the one-time coupon codes you got during step one.

  1. Do what it takes to get shipping for free.

I’m pretty much of the opinion that you should never actually pay for shipping these days. It’s just too easy to get it for free.

For everyday items, there’s always Amazon Prime, which not only gives you free shipping, but also usually gets you those shipments within two days. Between the free streaming shows, free Cloud storage, and free shipping benefits, our annual Prime membership more than pays for itself.

For sites other than Amazon, though, you may want to see if you’re eligible for free ShopRunner services through an existing credit card. AmEx cardholders in particular can get access free 2-day shipping at more than 140 retailers through the service.

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If you don’t have either of these services, be on the lookout for the “free shipping threshold.” Often times, sites will offer free shipping once you reach a certain amount in your shopping cart – say, $50. Shipping may cost you anywhere from $5-$15, on average. So if you find yourself with $40 in your cart that will require $10 in shipping costs, you may consider getting yourself a “freebie” item to make up the deficit between your cart and the threshold. The cost to you will be the same either way.

Finally, if none of the above works, but the online retailer has a brick-and-mortar presence in your area, you may want to see if they offer a “ship-to-store” option. At sites like Wal-Mart and many others, they’ll waive your shipping fees if you’ll go pick it up in person, rather than having the item delivered to your house.

  1. Use Honey or other sites to get cash back on your purchases.

Once you’ve made your purchase, you’re all done, right? Wrong. Those same browser add-ons that helped you find a coupon code may also give you cash back for clicking on them during the checkout process. Honey, for example, gives you between 1%-11% cash back on most purchases in a currency they call “HoneyGold.”  You can redeem HoneyGold for Amazon gift cards once you’ve accumulated a decent amount.

So there ya have it. One final thought, though: remember that every time you make a purchase, you’re voting with your dollars. Across all my Black Friday shopping, I voted not to endorse any businesses that does business with the Trumps, and participated in the #grabyourwallet boycott. I’d encourage you to do the same.

Meal Delivery Review Series: Hello Fresh

Today marks my first post in a new series on some of the most popular meal delivery services out there. If you’re new to this concept, companies like Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, and many others will ship you all the ingredients necessary for a week’s worth of meals, plus step-by-step recipes, at a cost similar to going to the grocery  store.

The draw varies depending on who you ask; some people like that these get them out of a “meal planning rut” while others appreciate being exposed to new recipes and ingredients they might not ordinarily choose. Other just like the simplicity of not having to make a list and go to the grocery store.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive a few of these boxes recently, and I’ll cover how we think the various companies performed here on the blog over the next few weeks.

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First up: Hello Fresh!

Hello Fresh started in Germany in 2011, and now delivers nationwide in the US. There are three options for packages – the “classic” box (3 meals for 2 people each week), the “veggie” box (3 vegetarian meals for 2 people each week), and the “family” box (3 meals for 4 people each week).

The classic plan starts at $69 a week, and you can choose your 3 meals from among 6 available recipes. Since our free box coupon was worth up to $79, we added a 4th meal for just an additional $5, but ordinarily additional meals will cost you an extra $15. Shipping is included in the price.

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Price: 8/10

Hello Fresh was less expensive than the other boxes I’m trying (though only by a few bucks), however, if you were to assemble the same ingredients yourself at the store, it’d be less expensive still.  Of course, you’re paying for the simplicity and recipes as well, so I don’t really knock them for being slightly more than a trip to the store.

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Packaging: 5/10

The whole kit comes in a cute box with fun sayings in the company’s signature lime green color. Inside, a foil wrapper encases each meal’s “sub-box” of ingredients, with the proteins on the bottom, next to a large ice pack. Unfortunately, the ice pack had shifted in transit, and so the protein for one of our dishes (the pork) arrived only mildly cool, not even cold. And I was actually home when the box was delivered — had it sat outside in the Texas heat for any length of time, at least that one meal would have probably spoiled.

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Meal 1: Argentine Spiced Steak: 8/10

This was definitely our favorite meal. The steak was well butchered, but a little on the stringy side — we tend to buy slightly higher quality meat. Still, the couscous/spinach mixture was great and definitely something out of the ordinary for us, which was nice. We did make one alteration, replacing the red bell pepper strips with red pepper flakes, as we aren’t big bell pepper fans. Also, their instructions for how long to cook the steak would have resulted in a medium-well steak, so we scaled that back by a few minutes. I also thought this was one of the easier recipes to make.

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Meal 2: Cherry-and-Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops: 5/10

First of all, let me just state for the record: broccoli, and ESPECIALLY cooked broccoli, is disgusting. When we saw it show up in our box, we offered it to the dog, and when he wouldn’t eat it either, we threw it away and replaced it with peas. But for the remaining meal, the pork, potatoes, and sauce, we thought these were just sort of “meh.” Cooking the pork per their instructions left it at only a 140-degree internal temperature, so I took it a few minutes further, and this resulted in a somewhat tough piece of pork. The sauce was ok, but a little heavy on the shallots for my taste.  The difficulty on this one was also a little higher, as towards the end of the dish, you had to do several steps in very quick succession to make the sauce. I probably won’t try to make this again on my own.

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Meal 3: Tortellini Gratin: 6/10

I had really high hopes for this meal – it smelled great as it was cooking, and I liked all of the ingredients that went into it; in the end though, it wasn’t a favorite, and the reason was really the bland, low-quality tortellini that were included. We regularly make the Buitoni brand fresh tortellini at home, and it has a much better flavor and texture. I also felt the ground beef was not the greatest quality – I encountered several pieces of gristle in mine. However, this was the most generous meal portion-wise, and we had enough for both of us to have leftovers for lunch the next day, bringing the overall per-portion cost of the box down even further.

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Meal 4: Mediterranean Skillet Chicken: 7/10

This was the “simplest” and easiest to cook of all the meals in our box – you just sautéed chicken and vegetables and combined with bulgar wheat and a few spices. Overall, it was one was the hubby’s least favorite, but I actually thought the (somewhat unexpected) addition of dried apricots in the bulgar wheat gave it a nice sweetness. Again, the portion on this one was generous, and neither of us finished all our plate. This one also used the fewest pans of any meal – just one skillet, a cutting board, and a prep bowl.

Overall Rating: 7/10

We enjoyed our week of Hello Fresh meals, and could definitely see ordering one from time to time just to spice things up. The meals were well-composed and the recipes were very easy to follow. There were a couple instances where the ingredients weren’t really up to par of what we’d normally buy in the store, and the number of pots and pans many of the recipes required was a bit excessive. But in the end, we thought this would be a great option for someone who was seeking either the convenience or variety that a meal delivery service provides.

Stay tuned! Coming after Thanksgiving, I’ll have additional reviews for you of Plated & Green Chef meal delivery services as well.

Trip Review: Weekend in Seattle at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue & the USC Trojans!

This weekend we took a quick fun trip for one reason, and one reason only: to watch the USC Trojans play the spoiler for the University of Washington’s (as-yet) “perfect” season. And we got to see just that!

But of course, a fun football Weekender requires transportation and a place to stay, and (being me) I wanted to make sure we got the best versions of those things that we could, with as little money out of our pocket as possible.

For the flights, we once again relied on our Southwest Companion Pass to get us two tickets for the price of one. And in this case, the “price” was nothing – we used 15,390 Southwest points to book Carl’s flight, and yet mine was still free. This saved us in the neighborhood of about $600 alone.

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When it came to the hotel, between the hubby’s account and my own, we had roughly 10,000 points accrued from work travel throughout the past year, so I used Hyatt’s free transfer form for spouses to move his points over to my account. That was enough for me to book two nights at the Points + Cash rate at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, located in a trendy neighborhood in East Seattle. Of course, since we had already stayed downtown and done the “touristy” stuff during our last trip to Seattle, we were ok with being outside of the downtown core.

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The living room area of our corner suite at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue
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Another angle of our corner suite

Even better, because I still had Suite Upgrade certificates available for paid Hyatt stays because of my Diamond status for 2016, I was able to upgrade our room from the most basic room available to a Studio Suite, again, for free. However, due to a delay for not being able to checkin to our room when we arrived, the front desk upgraded us further still to an executive view corner suite, which was absolutely wonderful.

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The bathroom was fairly standard.
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But it did have a bathtub, of which I’m always a fan!

That same room, had we paid fully in cash, would have run us in the neighborhood of $552 for the weekend (had we booked early!) As such, for 12,000 total Hyatt points, plus $150 out of pocket ($75 + 6,000 a night for the points + cash rate), we had a redemption rate of around 3.35 cents per point — a very good redemption rate.

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The view from our Executive View Suite, at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency

Of course, with my Diamond status, we also had access to the Regency Club, where we received free breakfast each morning. The breakfast spread was quite lavish; there were bagels and pastries, smoked salmon with all the fixins’, oatmeal, various fruit, cereals, cheeses, and a few hot options as well. The first day, there was a delicious quiche as well as bacon, and on the second day there were scrambled eggs and British-style breakfast sausages. And of course, this being Seattle, the coffee was phenomenal.

We estimate this breakfast amenity probably saved us about $40 a day as well, not to mention the free wi-fi, water bottles, and other perks of our Diamond status. (Hyatt stole my loyalty from Starwood early last year…and I’m pretty sure Starwood’s never getting it back!)

Overall, we had a great stay at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. The staff was fantastic, the Regency Club was outstanding, and the room was comfortable and well appointed. Had we known that we’d end up spending most of the weekend in Ballard — on the West side of Seattle — we may have chosen another property, but all in all we were very pleased with this stay.

Of course, we also had a few hijinks around Seattle. Friday night, we visited the Peddler Brewing Company in Ballard, and did a full sampler of all 12 of their beers. (Personally, I thought their Wildflower Honey Wit was by far the best.) We also had dinner at the Ballard Annex Oyster House, where the hubby’s Cornish Game Hen was phenomenal, but my own Crab Gnocchi was just “meh”. After the game on Saturday night, we returned to Ballard, and had a late dinner at Patxi’s Pizza, where we sampled the quite delicious (but rather salty) Prosciutto & Arugula pizza as well as the Tre Porcellini (three little pigs) pizza.

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Standing in front of Husky Stadium, trying not to freeze in high winds!

But, as I said earlier, the main point of this visit was the game! We tailgated all day Saturday near the stadium, though, sadly, the hubby’s “sailgating” trip was cancelled due to high winds. Still, the stadium, right near the waterfront, is gorgeous. It’s one of the nicest college stadiums I’ve ever been to.

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A few of the docked yachts still managed to “sailgate”

And better yet? We won! USC stepped up and did what it was incapable of doing earlier in the season: showing up for all four quarters of a game. The Huskies were unable to keep up, and it was a great cap on a nice, quick trip to the Pacific Northwest.

22 MORE Things You Should Do If You’re Disappointed by the Election

DON’T MISS PART ONE, LINKED HERE!

First, let me say that in this sea of uncertainness, I am so heartened by the interest in my most recent post, 44 Things You Should Do If You’re Disappointed by the Election. This post has been re-shared hundreds of times and is now the second-most read post on my blog, ever. Thanks!

Even more, lots of you have been sharing additional thoughts, tips, and recommendations of things you can do in response to this election outcome. So I now present you with 22 MORE Things You Should Do If You’re Disappointed by the Election:

Political Action

  1. In my previous post, I encouraged you to write letters/emails to your existing representatives. But a former congressional aide recently gave compelling advice that CALLING your rep’s in-state district office is actually even more effective than letters or emails. And don’t forget to call your state- and city-level reps as well.

    Here is a script that I used when I called: “Hello, my name is (name) and I am one of Congresssman/Senator (their name’s) constituents.  I wanted to call today to let Congressman/Senator (their name) know that I am very concerned about the election of Donald Trump and wanted to call on the Congressman/Senator to do all he can in his power to help protect the right of marginalized communities, and especially to (fill in your own personal reasons here- they might include ‘protect a woman’s right to choose,’ ‘keep in place the Obamacare provision restricting insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions’, or ‘support DACA to keep families together’, etc.) They will likely then ask for your address. That’s it – super quick.

  2. There is a Change.org petition asking people to call on electors to cast a protest vote in states where they are allowed to do so. My personal opinion is that this is very unlikely to happen, but it takes two seconds to sign the petition, and does serve as a “count” of how many are working to prevent the potential damage of a Trump presidency from occurring.
  3. Similarly, you can write to the electors in your state, asking them to become a “faithless” elector, and vote their conscience. Know that this is pretty much a long shot, though.
  4. One other online petition of interest is the one asking Obama to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, as the Senate has failed to do its job by calling for a vote.
  5. Email, write, and call your local city officials (mayor, city council), your district attorney, and your local police chief or sheriff, asking them to work to designate your city as a “Sanctuary City” for immigrants; meaning they will not turn over any lists they may have of who in your city is undocumented, nor will they allow police or municipal employees to inquire about an individual’s immigration status.
  6. Email, write, and call your University alma mater if you have one, asking them to designate your University a “Sanctuary Campus.” This is similar to becoming a sanctuary city, in that the University promises to refuse to turn over any lists of immigration status of students or staff, and does not work with ICE officials to facilitate raids on the campus. (If you Google “your school” + “sanctuary campus” you may find an existing letter you can join, as many campuses have already called for this.)

Boycott/Donate

  1. In addition to the previous targets of boycott that I listed, there’s also a call to boycott businesses that distribute/stock Trump branded products, and to write into their corporate headquarters asking that they discontinue their relationship with the brand. Talk about how you’re boycotting with the hashtag #grabyourwallet on social media.
  2. Write to Nike, Gucci, and Starbucks — all businesses that have “flagship” locations in Trump-owned buildings — asking them to end their leases and relocate these stores. Boycott these specific locations (but not the chains themselves) in the meantime.
  3. Do not watch or attend PGA events, and write to the PGA asking them to move the 2017 Senior PGA Championship and 2022 PGA Championship from Trump-owned golf courses. Also consider writing to individual golfers on the senior tour asking them to withdraw from the 2017 event in protest if it is not moved. Boycott the Senior PGA Championship sponsor, KitchenAid, and write to their corporate headquarters asking them to pull their sponsorship.
  4. While I told you in the previous article to support good news sources doing investigative journalism, I’d also recommend that you boycott the Wall Street Journal (both in paper and online), as it’s owned by Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch.
  5. Consider making donations (like ones to the organizations listed in the previous article) in lieu of giving Christmas or Hanukah presents this year.

Advocacy

  1. I keep seeing people say that “half of America voted for Trump”. This is an outright lie. Only roughly 25% of Americans voted for Trump. A slightly larger 25% voted for Hillary Clinton. And 47% didn’t vote at all. Everywhere you see this lie being propagated, correct it. Only roughly 1/4 of Americans voted for Trump, and he did not win the Popular Vote.
  2. Do you know someone who didn’t vote? Ask them why and then really LISTEN to their response. Do not vilify them. Do not accuse them. If there was a barrier that kept them from voting, e.g. they didn’t have the proper id, they didn’t know if they could get off work, or they didn’t have a way to get to the polls, make a plan with them for how you, personally, can help them set this right for them for next time around. If they cite the most common response for not voting—that they were too busy—ask them to make a commitment to you that they’ll vote in 2018, and then followup with them about it on a monthly basis.
  3. Be prepared to intervene if you witness or are the subject of harassment or an attack.  Here’s a video on disrupting a racial attack from post-Brexit. Here’s a great comic on what to do if you witness Islamaphobic harassment. And here are 12 potential responses for encountering street harassment. (And p.s. white guys— here’s your chance to really step up, as victims of harassment will generally look to de-escalate themselves, but you can shift the focus and call out the harasser in a way that those being harassed often cannot.)

Health

  1. If you don’t have insurance, sign up for Obamacare. It’s much harder to take it away once it’s in place. Call your state representatives and let them know that you actively use it.
  2. Here’s a good list of Trans-specific healthcare concerns and actions to take before the inauguration. If you’re not Trans, share with any Trans friends.
  3. Are you a runner, walker or biker? Consider downloading the Charity Miles app that will donate $0.10 per mile biked or $0.25 per mile walked to a charity of your choice. Many of their charities have an international focus, but some also do work in the US, like: The Nature Conservancy (environmental protection), Partnership for a Healthier America (children’s health), or Back On My Feet (homelessness).

Self-Protection

  1. Read this article about better protecting your data online, and make whatever changes you see necessary. Here’s another article on the same topic.
  2. For Trans individuals, prioritize getting your name and gender marker changed on state and federal ids as soon as possible.

Community Organizing

  1. Start a community organizing group among your friends.  Here is a FANTASTIC article I found about how to get started. I’d recommend everyone read this!
  2. Look into attending the Womens March on Washington D.C. the day after the inauguration, or, if you can’t make it to D.C., then to a local satellite event, like this one here in Austin.
  3. The safety pin thing. (Sigh.) I’ll admit I have mixed feelings on this one. Read up on both sides of the argument and make your own decision about whether you want to wear one or not.
  4. Consider attending a Trump protest (or not.) Like the safety pin thing, I also struggle with this one. As I feel right now, Trump has been legitimately elected by the process we currently have in place. Showing our solidarity? Good. But I’d rather save our collective “protesting energy” for protesting a specific policy, nomination, or action once he’s in office. A better option may be attending “rallies” for specific causes like immigration rights or BLM. But do what makes sense for you.
  5. Do you know a friend who would make a great candidate for office? Tell them so. Regularly. Set a reminder on your calendar to send them a note once a month or so to encourage them in this way.

So there ya go.  How many have you checked off the list so far? Make it a competition against your friends and see who can drive the most change!

44 Things You Should Do If You’re Disappointed by the Election

Donald Trump won the presidency, and the Republicans will control both houses of Congress until at least the 2018 election.  If you’re like me, you’ve hopefully shed your tears and are now ready to get to work. Here’s 44 concrete things you can do right now as  ways to get started:

Communications/Advocacy

  1. Send a Thank You card to Hillary Clinton.
  2. Write or Call your existing congressional representatives, telling them about your concerns on a Trump presidency and specific policy issues that are important to you.
  3. Prepare a similar letter for future President Trump, as well, and send on Inauguration Day.
  4. Send emails/write letters to companies who advertise on Fox News, asking that they pull their advertising.
  5. If you de-friended someone on Facebook over their voting Trump? Reconsider. They need to hear your viewpoint if they’re ever going to change their mind.
  6. Call out “fake” news, claims and conspiracy theories whenever you see it, citing real news sources, fact-checking websites, and Snopes to debunk them.

Political Action

  1. Volunteer to become a Voter Registrar in your state, and attend large events/festivals in your area where you can talk to people about registering to vote.
  2. Attend a City Council or School Board meeting in your town, or even better, start attending one regularly. Ask questions. Speak up in the public comment time periods. Regularly introduce yourself to your Council members.
  3. Lay the groundwork to run for office yourself in a local role like school board, city council, or other starter position: Texas women in particular should consider attending a training/event from Annie’s List; other state orgs promoting women candidates can be found via Emily’s List.
  4. Check whether any local- or state-level races in your area are headed for a run-off election. If so, mark the date on your calendar and tell your friends about the run-off as well.

Donate & Help Raise Funds

  1. Donate to worthwhile organizations that defend and legally advocate for the groups Trump has threatened:
  2. Better yet, set up a recurring monthly donation.
  3. If you donate, check with your employer to see if they will match your funds, and see what they require in terms of verification in order to do so.
  4. Can’t afford to donate? Set your Amazon Smile charity to donate to one of the above whenever you shop, and always shop through https://smile.amazon.com.
  5. Black Friday is coming. As much as possible, support minority-, women-, and LGBTQIA-owned small businesses in your community to do your holiday shopping.

Volunteer

  1. Volunteer for an organization working to assist sexual assault survivors, by working the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, or for local organizations (like SafePlace in Austin).
  2. Volunteer to be an abortion clinic escort — you help women with appointments get from the parking lot to the building, often through a line of horrid protesters screaming obscenities.
  3. If you’re a lawyer, set a higher pro-bono goal for yourself for 2017 and dedicate a portion of your CLE hours to learning more on constitutional law and immigration law.

Boycott

  1. Don’t stay at Trump hotels, golf at Trump golf courses, or gamble at Trump casinos.
  2. Don’t buy Ivanka Trump’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, or makeup lines.
  3. Don’t ride the Central Park carousel or use the Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park. (Both are operated by Trump.)
  4. Don’t stay, gamble or shop at The Venetian casino in Las Vegas, which is owned by Trump’s largest donor, Sheldon Adelson.
  5. Boycott movies and tv shows produced or distributed by 20th Century Fox (owner of Fox News) and its subsidiaries, including tv networks (Fox, FX, FSN, and National Geographic), current television shows produced by Fox (Son of Zorn, Bordertown), movies produced by Blue Sky Studios (most notably the Ice Age and Rio movies, also upcoming movie Ferdinand).
  6. Buy an electric vehicle or invest in solar panels for your house, so that you can boycott buying gas, thereby indirectly boycotting the Koch Brothers (who made their money off oil) and also decreasing the need for pipelines like the proposed Trans-Pecos Pipeline and the DAPL.

Self – Protection

  1. All married couples, but especially LGBTQIA individuals, should make sure to create a will or estate plan, and consider creating both legal and medical Power of Attorney documents for their spouse.
  2. Get your finances in order. If you have credit card debt, get yourself out of debt as quickly as possible (I recommend tactics such as those espoused by Mr. Money Mustache) and start setting aside whatever you can each month in order to build up an emergency fund that would cover your family’s expenses for at least a six-months period. (Not only is this just good, practical financial advice, but if you ever needed to use it to get out of the country in a hurry, you have it.)
  3. Get a passport for yourself any any children you may have, and renew any passports that are set to expire anytime in the next four years.
  4. If you don’t have the same last name as your children, make sure you have official copies of their birth certificates that list your name as a parent. If you are in a same-sex partnership and have children, make sure your child’s birth certificate lists both partners names, or have it amended if it does not.
  5. If you have a passport from another country, don’t let it expire.
  6. Take self-defense or martial arts classes. One study out of Canada shows that women who complete self defense classes experience 63% fewer attempted assaults and 46% fewer completed assaults that those who had not.
  7. If you have stock market investments, make sure your portfolio is properly diversified. You want a mixture not just of stocks, bonds, and cash, but also a mix between US markets, international market, and emerging markets. REITs and even Gold can be added as well to create stability.  And if we do experience a market downturn thanks to Trump, remember the best thing you can do is not panic and stay invested, rather than pulling your money out when it’s down.

Health

  1. If you rely on Obamacare for your healthcare – make an appointment for your annual physical, annual female exam, any another necessary appointments or treatments before the end of the year. Also, talk to your doctor about whether you can call in for prescription refills if you were to lose your health insurance.
  2. Women: if you’ve been considering getting an IUD for birth control, do it before the end of the year.
  3. Exercise. You can’t fight if you don’t have the strength and stamina to do so.
  4. Teach children about how to stand up to bullies, not just for themselves, but others who they may see targeted. Teach them that it’s never ok to try to hurt someone else’s feelings because they are different from us in some way. Practice this skill with them using role-playing or dolls.
  5. Make sure you (and your children) are up to date on all vaccines, including HPV and meningitis for teens and 20-somethings, Hepatitis A & B for adults, and pneumonia and shingles vaccines for seniors. You should also get a tetanus shot every 10 years, and a flu shot yearly.
  6. If you are able to choose an HSA type healthplan through work, do so now, and contribute as much as you can up to the annual limit into the fund. Whenever possible, do not use this fund to pay for current health expenses, instead creating a rainy-day fund for yourself in case you encounter non-covered health expenses in the next four years.

Hobbies

  1. Join or start a monthly feminist book club.
  2. Learn Spanish (so that you can help rally Hispanic voters for 2018).
  3. Get a PAID subscription to news organizations that are still doing comprehensive in-depth investigative journalism like the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, etc.
  4. Add a non-US based news site like the BBC, aljazeera.net, or RT.com to your daily news site list in order to get an outside perspective.
  5. Read the Quran, so that you can knowledgeably rebuff any Islamophobia you may encounter.
  6. If your workplace offers them, join an Employee Resource Group for minority or women employees, (even if you’re not a minority or woman!) and listen to what they have to say.
  7. Travel internationally — because travel helps us to better understand that while we may be different, we’re all humans and most of us want the same things.

And most of all? VOTE & VOLUNTEER FOR PROGRESSIVE CANDIDATES IN 2018. 

Finally, as Obama said, don’t become cynical.  This may have been the most disappointing election of your life, but four years can fly by if you use it being an ally for groups that most need it. Good luck to all of us.

Want more? Read my followup with 22 MORE Things You Should Do If You’re Disappointed by the Election, here. 

Homemade Chili Powder!

Thanks to the fact that the weather in Texas still hasn’t realized it’s fall yet, my serrano pepper plants just keep cranking out peppers — like 30-40 a week. I’ve canned enough pepper jelly to keep us well stocked this winter AND still have enough left over for gift-giving, so this week I thought I’d try something a little different.

Chili powder is traditionally made with the tamer poblano, arbol, or cascabel chiles, but so long as you’re not afraid of a little heat, serranos will work too. To get started, you have to dry the chiles, and in super-humid Texas, the only realistic way to do that is with a food dehydrator.

20 hours at about 150 degrees got my big basket of serranos just where I wanted them – just past leathery, nearly bordering on plastic-y feeling. Then, we actually ordered a brand new spice/coffee grinder from Amazon to test this out, and sure enough, it works great. 60 seconds of grinding and I had a nice, fine powder on my hands.

Finally, I added a tablespoon of garlic powder and a tablespoon of cumin and voila – a perfect chili powder, just begging to be turned into chili should the weather ever actually get cold out. I’ll let you know how it turns out next time I cook with it!

 

Texas Voters: Don’t forget to go vote!

Hi Texas friends! Have you voted yet? Here’s some useful info in case you haven’t!

  • You’ve got TWO DAYS left to EARLY vote. There is NO early voting this weekend. Most (but not all) polling locations are open till 7p both tomorrow and Friday, and you can vote at ANY early polling place in your county – it doesn’t have to be the same place you’re assigned on election day.

Waiting till election day? That’s fine too! But be prepared – here are some things that might help:

  • Afraid you can’t get out of work? Polling places will be open from 7a-7p on Election Day. If you have at least 2 hours in that span that you aren’t working? It’s up to you to get to the polls during that time. But if you DON’T have at least 2 consecutive hours of non-working time in that span, then your employer is REQUIRED to allow you PAID time off to go vote. (Yes, even hourly employees.)
  • Can’t get to your polling place till 6:55pm and worried about the line? As long as you’re in line by 7pm, you’ll be allowed to vote.
  • Need someone to watch the kids? Free childcare will be available at many YMCAs nationwide. (Or even better yet, if the line isn’t too long, take your kiddo with you! It’s great to get them involved in the process early!)
  • Need a ride? Many cities (including Austin!) are offering free public transit on Election Day. If you’ve never used Lyft or Uber, you can use a free ride credit for first time users to get to your polling place. Alternately, if you have a preferred candidate, you can call their campaign office in your area and request ride assistance. Volunteers are standing by to help you get to the polls.
  • You’ll need an acceptable form of id – most likely a drivers license, concealed carry permit, or passport in order to vote. If you don’t have one of those, you can also use an expired (by 4 years or less) id, a birth certificate, a voter registration card, or a public utility bill — and you’ll just need to sign an affidavit saying why you didn’t have another form of id. (Lost or misplaced counts as a valid reason.)
  • Don’t wear political clothing (shirts, hats, buttons) to the polls with you, as you may be banned from entering the polling location. It’s illegal.
  • Not so good with English? Most Texas ballots machines are available in English AND Spanish, but you are allowed to bring an interpreter (which can just be a family member, for example) to help you understand a ballot if you prefer. And that interpreter does NOT need to be registered in the same county as you.
  • At the polls and encounter someone intimidating you, threatening you, or otherwise making you feel uncomfortable? Report it to a poll worker or call the ACLU’s Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) or the Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline (800-253-3931).
  • Need even more incentive to vote? Krispy Kreme is giving away free donuts to anyone with an I Voted sticker on Election Day, and Firehouse Subs is giving away free medium drinks.

Run into any other challenges, have questions, want a virtual high five for voting? I’ll be online ALL DAY on Tuesday, and am more than happy to help — just leave a comment here or message me.