Election Slate March 2020

It’s been a busy February/March, so my notes are a bit more terse than usual. Thanks for reading!

President: Warren
Best person for the job. We need someone who can effectively restore our government to full functioning after these devastating years of the Trump administration. Whip smart, experienced, rational, inspiring, effective.
There are other candidates I like too—if it’s not Warren, I’m voting The Democrat 2020—but I hope it’s her. I’ll particularly call out Bernie Sanders; he deserves credit for keeping the center from sliding even further to the right than it did.

County Central Committee
I’m going with my pal Fred’s advice here: “if you also think that the housing crisis is our #1 issue and you believe the best way to solve it is to build all the things,” take a look at the DCCC endorsements from YIMBY Action.

US Rep: Pelosi
She’s doing as well as could be done under the present circumstances. I’d rather see her continue to take the heat than move a new Speaker of the House into the front lines to be smeared by Trump/GOP while their partisans are as rabid as they are now. If there was a chance of any liberal bill passing, her individual positions might matter, but that’s not our current reality.

State Senator: Wiener
Committed to the hard, iterative work of good governance.

State Assembly: Chiu
Ever since his work for us here in San Francisco I’ve been impressed by Chiu. He is motivated to work for the common good, and has passed up other opportunities in order to devote himself to public service. I’m glad every time I can vote to keep him working for us.

Judge seat 1 – Ly
Judge seat 18 – Proudfoot
Judge seat 21 – Singh
Endorsements by other good SF judges are the deciding factor here.

Prop 13 – Schools & Colleges Repair, Construction, and Modernization Bonds
YES

Measure A – City College Job Training, Repair, and Earthquake Safety Bond
YES
We need to maintain our investment in public buildings, particularly those which grant us other benefits of a better educated populace, and this is a good way to fund that. (Opposed by Republicans and other anti-tax groups.)

Measure B – Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond, 2020
YES
We’ve been lucky not to have another major quake since 1989. This continues our work from previous bonds to improve our resilience to disasters of all kinds. (No opposing arguments submitted.)

Measure C – Retiree Health Care Benefits for Former Employees of SF Housing Authority
YES
Some federally funded HA employees have been moved to be city employees and this transitions their retiree health coverage. (No opposing arguments submitted.)

Measure D – Vacancy Tax
YES
Establishes a set of fairly detailed rules to discourage landlords leaving ground floor retail and commercial untenanted. Tax is per linear feet facing the street and how long it has been vacant. Owners are only taxed when space empty over 6 months (182 days). There are exceptions, e.g., to protect non-profits, buildings where certain permits have been applied for or issued, after a fire or natural disaster, only applies to certain districts. The revenue is earmarked for a new small business assistance fund. The list of supporting neighborhood and beloved SF businesses is impressive. I think this is very likely to fix the mismatch between landlords expectations of the market and those of local businesses. (One of the opposing arguments weirdly asserts this will deter pop-ups, when it seems very probable to encourage them. Two 3 month pop-ups would protect the building from the tax. Opposed by Republican Party, a real estate broker, and those who feel that there is insufficient data supporting the “common wisdom” 1. that we have a vacancy crisis and 2. that this would help even if we did.)

Measure E – Limits on Office Development
NO
Ties the city’s annual allotment for Large Office Projects (50,000 square feet and over) to whether the city is meeting its Affordable Housing Goals and sets a minimum goal of 2,042 very low-, low-, and moderate-income units per year for this purpose. If goal not met, the next year’s allotment declines by same percentage as shortfall. Very complex thing that did not reach the ballot through process with sufficient adjustment based on different stakeholders. Does not provide any additional funding for the affordable housing it mandates, and thus seems to just guarantee reduced tax revenue and reduction in money for affordable housing which comes from new office development. Also seems very likely to put displacement pressure on other spaces when new office space isn’t available. We’re already limiting office development and we’re not seeing the same kind of “all office, no residential” problems we did during the boom 20 years ago. We do need more affordable housing, but the proponents of this measure’s blind optimism that it’ll all work out and get built despite reducing funding for it is misplaced.

old photos of my parents as a cloudy mirror

There is a picture of my parents with me when I’m not quite a year old. They look like the college seniors they are. Eager, young, with a freshly-scrubbed but slightly exhausted look about them. I am shouting or singing, happy not crying, and wearing a diaper.

I think back to my boyfriend in my own junior year. To our own bright naivety which ended in the rainy season of the following year. We were thinking we might get married, fantasizing names for the two children we’d have, but wisely wanting to wait until after college when we had more resources to handle kids. Thanks to birth control (and good luck), we had time for the fantasy and the relationship to end before the pregnancy came.

Looking at this picture, I see a timeline for myself that I escaped. The one where a nice guy, but one with whom a relationship wasn’t going to last, and I didn’t have a pretty excellent little kid. The one where we then have to deal with being parents when the relationship inevitably fell apart despite our efforts and hanging on longer than we would have without a kid. The one where the kid always would have the oddness of having a divorced parent who was around less and less as life went on, but who was still somehow “next of kin”. The one where my own life choices would always be informed by being a parent, and where I would both gain and lose by that fact.

Given how different my perception of what I want in life was just a few years later and how consistent many parts of that vision have remained in the decades since, it’s clear that I wasn’t ready to make a decision on parenthood until I was nearly 30. I am so grateful I had the time to come to that decision and connect with the reality that being childfree is the life I want. Thank goodness for birth control and non-pressuring family!

I flip ahead in my photos and there is nearly one year old me, playing on a blanket with my 50 year old grandmother—four years younger than I am now. I have an abstract sense that I should think “Oh, that could have been me; I could have had the specialness of that relationship!” but my actual reaction is more like having reached the safety of the sidewalk after a near miss by a turning car.

A cute, little, chubby-cheeked, laughing child with a goofy baby-tooth grin and Grandma is having so much fun with her. But I’m ever so much more comfortable imagining the child’s view than the grandparent’s.

Here we are camping (Is Grandma in curlers? Oh, the 1960s!); she was always so active. I bet she and my biological father really bonded over their love of the Sierras. Here are my cousin and I, so close in age and so different in appearance, fumbling around with the door of a tent, not really able to coordinate much yet. Sitting up mastered, but not so much the standing and walking.

A month on and I’m a year old, delighted at the sight of Grandpa. I’m inside a parked car, standing up by clinging to the windowsill, mouth and eyes wide with happiness. The window glass reflects my grandfather taking the picture of me—shine of head where the hairline is already giving up ground at age 51, hand curled gracefully out of the way of the lens. An iron bridge is reflected behind him, like a giant Erector Set creation.

We jump a couple or more months ahead in time. Notice of my 2nd immunization against polio—a spectral shadow of death in the past scatters in the light of my childhood, now distant past and the threat largely forgotten. I have learned to walk and here are photos—I stand! Leaning against a table or a box. I toddle to play with the knobs on a big old cathode ray tube television—poor toddlers today, so many fewer delightful knobs. I pick up random objects. I lurch around a living room. A relative in her teens or twenties—wearing an A-line dress, a cardigan, and a bob cut not that different from the one I recently had in the present—kneels on the floor to interact with me. It’s my grandparents’ house, the living room—less tidy than I remember it later—as we all visit, with a cardboard box full of toddler toys, a stack of magazines, a male relative lounging shoeless in white socks, horn-rim glasses, dark pants, a white short-sleeve shirt with something in the pocket that looks like a smartphone but can’t be so is probably a calculator or notepad. At the side of the picture a man’s bare legs and bottom of their shorts and the edge of what might be a woman’s skirt.

I see the clues to the time as well as knowing the family dating of this old snapshot and think back not to my earliest memories, but my historical knowledge. What was happening in the world then. What were these adults dealing with in the world around them. What headlines of racial tension, nuclear tests, the space race, gun violence, and new countries escaping colonial rule were they reading and perhaps discussing?

Time rolls on. My parents, looking a little more experienced at this parenthood thing, grinning as wiggly little me on her lap tries to reach for a stuffed animal offered by the photographer or their “assistant”. Probably not my grandparents, judging by the peasant-style shirt my father is wearing. The hair cut is still respectably short, but the widening lapels and simple X lacing up the front of the shirt betray hippy sensibilities. My mother is radiating confidence. Her hair continues to transition from an-updo-short-of-a-beehive to the natural long look I recall from childhood. She must have graduated by now and be working professionally.

And then it’s the end of that year. Early in that month I had a smallpox vaccine. Thank goodness for vaccines. Science really did help the course of my life run more smoothly and pleasantly.

That Christmas is the first where I could coherently open my own presents and I was very interested in the process, judging by the picture where I’m ignoring the photographer and tearing into the paper, while my cousin looks off at someone to figure out if she’s allowed to begin.

There was a huge family reunion when we visited the area where my grandparents and most of the rest of the family lived. We two first great-grandchildren held on laps, my great-grandparents in the center. All very respectable, but at the far edge of the picture, my hippy uncle in sheepskin jacket, long hair, and medium-long beard (Has he ever cut it since?), and my aunt with her long straight hair. Would they be welcomed to this gathering without the powerful admission ticket of the first great-grandchild, my cousin sitting on her mother’s lap? That they were was good for everyone. The connections re-knitted after a break. The generation of cousins above mine shown more possibilities in how to live their lives and express themselves. Everyone loosened up a bit over the years. And that hippy uncle of mine is now the leading genealogist to whom the family turns with history questions. 🙂

Focus, and Joyous Calm

These days I’m using my growing energy levels—hooray for being off Prednisone!—to actively improve my health, strength, and flexibility, both physical and mental.

My Discardian practice of late is equal parts letting go and upgrading. I’m paring away what I no longer need to or care to have on my list, and leaning into creative efforts that match my current activities and interests.

So, an appreciative waving of a handkerchief to cocktail writing and nerdery as that ship sails off, and then turning with delight to join friends for storytelling and adventure in our D&D games.

The oldest posts here can also slip away across the sea of time. Here on the departing boat is a baby, me, determinedly sucking a thumb as someone out of frame holds the other hand, apparently trying with limited success to get a spoon of food in my mouth. In the background, a chalkboard with a cartoon, evidence of the wit and creativity of my young mother. Forward slightly and a round-faced toddler, able to sit up and crawl, enjoys a blanket on a lawn in the sunshine. Child-me is wearing a little blue dress and has a white fluffy bunny stuffed animal. Probably Easter, because my mother is sitting on the grass in a little Chanel-style suit in a pale pink I cannot imagine her wearing today. White pointed shoes. Knees held tight together because the skirt stops 2 or 3 inches above them. The controlled femininity of the 1960s, tempered by the freedom to get down on the ground with her little one.

Hard to feel the last image on this page recede out of the public eye, to fade into the normal obscurity of old family photos, rarely stumbled upon. Toddler Dinah gazes up happy, excited, at my beloved grandfather Bob, seen in profile with the corners of his eyes crinkled looking down at me. So often I wish I could show him something I just found online. He would have been made as sad as any of us by the inequality and polarization of these times, but oh how he would have adored the myriad devices and the ascendence of nerdery. Just the other day, as Joe chortled over the sub-reddit “What is that thing?” I wanted so much to show it to him.

And so, there it is. The good parts don’t actually go that far away. What I enjoyed about him, what he enjoyed and we loved to share with him, those live on into the century he didn’t get to travel in with us.

The handkerchief I’m waving belonged to him.

Legacy vs. Lineage

Chalk it up to aging, having a parent die, climate change, the general shaking up of assumptions that is the latter-twennyteens, but I’ve been wrestling with my creative goals in blogging.

Jason Kottke, who started before me (and that’s saying something), had a very helpful post recently, ‘The Legacy of Philip Glass‘. Glass said about the future of his works, “I won’t be around for all that,” he said. “It doesn’t matter.”

Now as someone trained in history and librarianship, that’s not a sentiment I swallow easily. As someone who has had seen the writing legacy of beloved people—pour one out for Leslie, for Brad—vanish or fade from the Web, that’s something that instills worry not a sense of release.

But Jason also quoted and linked to Austin Kleon expanding that piece with thoughts about lineage vs. legacy:

“I like this idea of thinking about lineage vs. legacy, because it means you can sort of reframe any worrying about immortality and how you’re going to project yourself into the future, and think more about what you’re taking from the past and what you’re adding to it that creates a more interesting and helpful present.”

That’s got me looking hard at what I’ve been doing with my ‘retroblogging’. I described it as writing an autobiography in slow motion. And, to pull a phrase from Kleon, it was centered in projecting myself into the future.

But the future doesn’t need more of me.

That’s why I decided decades ago not to have children; I do not require permanence of myself or of some sort of avatars of me.

When I look at my major works—my book and game store in the mid-1990s, the book Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff, the book The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level, and what I’m doing with the Kabalor project—the value wasn’t in my first ideas, it’s in the synthesis of ideas I achieved after studying, listening and learning from others.

That’s a reminder to turn the inputs into outputs. Instead of merely talking or documenting, amplify and reflect.


As I write this afternoon, I’m looking at old pictures and thinking what they can inspire. A wiggly handed baby with her mouth open and a bit of a combover being gazed upon with love by a woman with a small bouffant suitable to a 60’s soul backup singer. The same baby dancing horizontally—foot kicking, arms waving—with tongue sticking out of her mouth in concentration. Excited baby amidst toys, bracketed by grandmother and great-grandmother. Wiggling baby/toddler again, hands waving and mouth open, in lap of laughing mother, hair now smaller but in a cute ’60s dress that still evokes stylish femininity. Back to baby on the rose-printed blanket on the floor amidst toys including foil pie pans, thumb in mouth and hand gripping the blanket edge. Rolling and stretching hands to be picked up. Unable to sit up, but able to raise on hands to gaze into a doll’s face or at the camera. Puzzled by the toy grandpa beckons with, unsure if it’s worth releasing the toy in hand to reach for. A note about immunizations—Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio—which places this baby at a point in time. Baby in a little tabletop seat, like a carseat but before they came into use, gaze away from mother, thumb in mouth, other wrist held gently to keep that hand from interfering with the loaded spoon; a mealtime standoff. In mother’s lap, gripping the spoon as she coaxes me to cooperate and eat; she is beautiful, like an escapee from a Renaissance painting, and I am intently focused on taking control of my fate, even if it only involves this bite. And with intent, I become not “a baby” but “me”. In father’s lap in an armchair beside a board-and-cinder-block bookcase, gazed at by him and by mother sitting beside chair, her hair in transition from fancy updo’s to the long natural look I remember from childhood; they are so young, so young. And, the baby, me, is safe and happy.

Filter, absorb, create, refine. I mark the posts with the pictures private; nothing to offer others. The next time through, my thoughts above will become further distilled, and maybe then or the distillation after that, if ever, there might be something to carry on beyond my time.

Election Slate November 2019 – San Francisco

Delayed by spending a lot of time this week watching fire news to be ready to assist Sonoma and Mendocino county family if they needed to evacuate (which none of them did and all have power again, yay!), but here’s where I landed for this election in San Francisco.

Mayor: London Breed
She’s doing a great job shifting a lot of things that don’t change quickly; we’ll be reaping the housing growth and homelessness reduction benefits from her tenure for a long time.

Member, Board of Supervisors, District 5: Vallie Brown
Deep local roots and brings powerful experience to the Board, and she’s been doing a good job.
Definitely don’t want to vote for Dean Preston, who seems—based on his actions in elections since 2016—to place his political advancement over the good of the district. That he persistently tries to displace competent women in office is particularly problematic.

City Attorney: Dennis J. Herrera
Doing a really great job.

District Attorney: Chesa Boudin
Brings a new perspective and helps balance out the political viewpoints in city government so it isn’t entirely Breed-backed.

Public Defender: Manohar Raju
Sure. Seems fine. Good endorsements.

Sheriff: Paul Miyamoto
Backed by retiring Sheriff Vicki Hennessey, who I liked.

Treasurer: José Cisneros
Keep a good thing goin’.

Board of Education: Jenny Lam
Sure. Seems fine and more experienced than other candidates. Good endorsements.

Community College Board: Ivy Lee
Sure. Seems fine. Good endorsements.

A, Affordable Housing Bond: YES
Solidly endorsed. Opposed by the Libertarians who pretty much don’t like collective effort for long-term good if it might possibly cost them any money or ever inconvenience them for a minute.

B, Department of Disability and Aging Services: YES!
Important thing on this one isn’t the renaming, it’s the requirement for three of the seven members that (at least) one seat be held by a person age 60 or older, by a person with a disability, and by a person who has served in the U.S. Military.

C, Vapor Products: NO NO NO!
Ok, Joe Camel.

D, Traffic Congestion Mitigation Tax: YES
We do not win the fight against greenhouse gases unless people’s behavior shifts and there are a LOT more cars on our streets since Uber and Lyft. Funds from this will help to make public transit more competitive and increase public safety.

E, Affordable Housing and Educator Housing: YES
Opposed by the dang Libertarians again. Selfish fucks; it isn’t even a tax or a bond proposal! It changes zoning to allow more housing—which we super duper need in this city.

F, Campaign Contributions and Campaign Advertisements: YES
Yay, ethics and transparency in campaign funding and ads!


Re: endorsements, if David Chiu endorses someone, I tend to take them more seriously. David Chiu has always carried himself as a thoughtful public servant, in my experience.

Cool stuff to notice in the sample ballot booklet:
p. 4 – info on Enhanced Election Transparency
p. 10-11 – delightfully large print double spread on Accessible Voting and Services
p.13 – reminder that the 2020 Presidential Primary for California will be MARCH 3, 2020. Mark it on your calendar. Make a note, plan to vote!
p.116 – just inside the back cover, after all the actual text of the propositions, is a handy ballot worksheet.

(We have such a great Voter Information Guide.)

My current project: Kabalor, a binaryless universe for fantasy gaming

Kabalor is my original universe for fantasy gaming which moves away from the binary bias and colonialist baggage of certain other games built on wargaming and traditional divisions of good/evil, male/female, civilized/savage, people/monsters. The core tension is not a battle between binaries, but the shifting power dynamics among Chaos, Order, and Balance.

Rather than lock myself away to write a sourcebook alone, I’ve created a Patreon community where I can share the growing body of work as it is ready, hear feedback and ideas, and make a better game for us all. The more gamemasters and players of Kabalor, the more it will be the open, inclusive, diverse, fantastic universe we need.
patreon.com/kabalor

A purple/lilac skinned hooded figure wearing leather armor stands in front of a heavy wooden door, holding a crossbow in her hand and pointing it upward. She has leather armor, big cuffed boots, and a dagger at her hip. The figure and the door are both 1:60 scale miniatures.
HeroForge mini of Alia Haako, Ethakan rogue, as painted by the wonderful Astrid Bjørge

You can click the ‘Follow’ button on the Patreon page to receive new free posts as they go up. Thanks for reading and sharing feedback with comments if you feel like it.

If you want to really get into it, you can become a patron. Your monthly $1 support allows you to see exclusive or early versions of materials shared with my patrons plus new content about Kabalor every week. Also you’ll get access to detailed discussions and polls about the content and what comes next.

As I share this new universe, because I grew up within and continue to enjoy a lot of privilege (white, cis, middle class, educated), I need to do the work of listening to under-represented voices. Finding the flaws and dismantling them will take a community. By supporting my patreon you support that work. I look forward to learning from and amplifying those voices.

Happy blogiversary to me

21 years? That can’t be right. Twenty-one? Well, huh. Yeah. 21.

I probably would have done something more on the blog today if I hadn’t spent the day working on getting things set to launch a new project.

I’m creating a new universe for fantasy gaming, one which moves away from the binary bias and colonialist baggage of certain other games built on wargaming and traditional divisions of good/evil, male/female, civilized/savage, people/monsters.

Because I grew up within and continue to enjoy a lot of privilege (white, cis, middle class, educated) I need to do the work of listening to under-represented voices. Finding the flaws and dismantling them will take a community and I’ve begun to set that up on Patreon.

Stay tuned for further announcements very soon. 🙂