Why I Like Writing Postcards to Get Out the Vote

(See the end of this post for a list of organizations that do GOTV postcards for Democrats and progressive causes.)

I’ll start right off with this: You should do whatever form of getting out the vote works for you. Texting, phone banking, talking to friends and family, posting about voting on social media, knocking on doors, donating money — it’s all good. The point of this isn’t to tell you you’re doing it wrong and should do my way instead.

I’m just excited about this method, and I want to share my excitement. And I think some other people might also like doing this — people who don’t ordinarily do GOTV work.

I don’t have to talk to anyone. This is the big one for me. Postcarding is the ultimate GOTV method for cranky introverts. (Texting is another good option, but even with that you generally have to text people back if they reply.)

I can bank my time. A lot of GOTV methods can only be done in the lead-up to the election. But I can do postcards weeks, even months, ahead of time. You can start now if you like!

I can do it on my own schedule. There’s a limited window during the day for calling, texting, or knocking on doors. But I can write postcards at two in the morning. I can write them for ten minutes while I’m waiting for my water to boil. I can write five a week, or twenty a day. I can power through them like a buzzsaw, or drop in and out like a butterfly. It’s totally up to me.

I can do it when I’m doing other things. I like postcarding when I’m listening to podcasts, or half-watching TV. Of course this will vary for different people: our brains all work differently, and not everyone can multitask this way. But I often have trouble sitting still (psych meds plus election-year anxiety). For me, postcards are like a fidget toy.

I can do it solo or socially. I can write postcards all by my lonesome, with only the cat for company. I can do it with a friend. I can do it sitting at a cafe. I can organize postcard parties. There are lots of options for social interaction levels.

I’m not disrupting anyone. This was pointed out to me by an organizer at Postcards to Voters. He said that phone calls, knocks on doors, even texts, all interrupt people. That’s not a terrible thing — life is full of interruptions — and again, this is not at all a dis on other GOTV methods. Do the method that works for you! But he personally likes postcards because people can read them at their leisure, when they feel like dealing with their mail. I like that too.

It feels friendly. I like imagining someone picking up their mail, sorting through a bunch of bills and ads — and seeing a pretty postcard, with a picture of flowers or something, handwritten in multi colors, from a volunteer who cares whether they vote. (Note: You don’t have to write postcards in different ink colors. I just like doing it. It makes writing more fun, and it feels more personal.)

Some of these advantages apply to other GOTV methods as well. And postcarding does have downsides. (The big one is cost: you usually have to buy your own postcards, and you always have to buy your own stamps.) Again: If you’re already doing GOTV work and have a method you like, keep doing it! But if you’re not already doing GOTV work, or you want to add another method to your repertoire, you might try this out.

Here’s a list of organizations that do GOTV postcards for Democrats and progressive causes:

Continue reading “Why I Like Writing Postcards to Get Out the Vote”

Why I Like Writing Postcards to Get Out the Vote

Trike Cheats

Greta on adult trike

Two facts: I love triking. And I sometimes run out of steam.

I live at the top of a long, shallow slope, something I hadn’t realized until I started triking. Trikes are heavier than bikes. And I’m heavier than a lot of cyclists. Add it all up? Getting to the grocery store is easy, I feel like I’m flying — but getting back home is sometimes a challenge. I love it, it feels great, but it’s more “challenging fun” rather than “easy fun.” Especially when I’ve gone farther than usual, or have an extra-heavy load of groceries.

So I’m figuring out some cheats. (To be very clear, I don’t actually consider any of this cheating. It’s “cheating” in the sense of “cheat codes”: techniques that give an advantage and may not be widely known.)

Continue reading “Trike Cheats”

Trike Cheats

Getting Out the Vote with Postcards

Get Out the Vote postcards being mailed
Want to get out the vote, but can’t knock on doors or make phone calls? Try postcards! You can start now — here are some orgs to set you up.

Are you worrying/ freaking out about the 2024 election? Do you want to do something about it — but aren’t able to make phone calls or knock on doors?

Consider writing postcards! (Yes, it works, there’s research and everything.) You can do it on your own timetable, at your own pace. You can bank your time — you can start writing postcards weeks or even months before an election. You can start now if you like! And best of all from my perspective, you don’t have to talk to anyone.

(Note: You can also get out the vote by texting,. That’s not what this post is about, I’m a postcard lady, but lots of people like text banking, it’s a good option if postcards don’t work for you.)

I’ve been writing GOTV postcards since 2018, using a few different organizations. They’re all very much geared towards Democrats and progressive causes. Note that with all of these, you’ll have to supply your own stamps and (usually) your own postcards. And you might need to send them a sample postcard to get approved as a writer. Once you’re approved though, you’re set — they’ll give you instructions, a list of addresses, and a script.

Postcards to Voters

This organization is my go-to. They do a lot of special and local elections as well as the bigger national races. The downside: The process of getting addresses can be a little fiddly. Email [email protected] to get addresses — their texting system is temporarily disabled. You can also contact them with Slack if you use that.

Activate America

This is a good one to use right now. They’re doing postcard campaigns for several states, so you can pick the one you care about. And they’re easy to get addresses from. Downside: Their scripts are often a little long. You may need to get postcards with a fully blank back (instead of a normal postcard with a picture on one entire side and the back for both the message and the address). Here’s an example of what I mean:

Postcards to Swing States

I use this organization a lot when we host postcard parties. The scripts are usually short, and the addresses come in a format that’s easy to print and read. And they sometimes supply their own postcards! Downside: They aren’t doing any postcard campaigns right now. They won’t start until May. UPDATE: They’re now doing campaigns! And as of this update (April 25 2024), they’re supplying postcards as well as addresses and scripts. Go ahead and place your order!

There’s one more organization I haven’t used but have heard very good things about:

Reclaim Our Vote/Center for Common Ground

This org is specifically focused on getting out the vote for people of color. The only reason I don’t use them is they want you to print out addresses on Avery labels, and we’re not set up to do that (janky printer).

I’ll write more later about how to host postcard parties — they’re a really fun way to expand your GOTV reach.  But if you want to get out the vote this year, on your own timetable, you can start right now!


Getting Out the Vote with Postcards

Getting Out the Vote — What Works Best?

Polling place on Election Day

I’m eating my dessert first, and starting with my conclusion. If you’re an individual who wants to do Get Out the Vote work, but you aren’t sure which method is most effective?

Do whichever one you want.

If you’re a campaign organizer, it’s a lot more complicated. (In short: Read the book I’m reviewing here, it really gets into the nitty-gritty.) But if you’re a volunteer trying to maximize your impact? Do the method you want. Phone calls, texting, writing postcards, door-to-door canvassing — all of them work, none of them is a magic bullet, and if you judge by how many votes you’ll get out for every hour you spend, they’re all more or less comparable. I’ll get to specifics in a sec, but the basic message is: Do what works for you.

So now I’ll geek out in more detail. Continue reading “Getting Out the Vote — What Works Best?”

Getting Out the Vote — What Works Best?

Talisker, 2011-2023

Talisker, our cat

Content note: pet death. Please don’t offer consolation about afterlives or souls: we don’t believe in that and find those ideas deeply distressing.

Our cat Talisker died yesterday, Thursday December 28 2023.

Talisker (a.k.a. Tali), named after the Scotch whisky, was sweet and persnickety, stand-offish and affectionate, demanding and loving. She wanted things her way: she wanted laps to be exactly horizontal, she wanted skritches exactly how she wanted them and expected us to figure it out. She would often sit on our laps, demand intense attention for five minutes, then wander off. But she was almost always in the same room as us. She loved us and liked us and wanted our company, sometimes on our laps or at our feet, sometimes from a few feet away. When she did settle in on you for a long stretch, she really blissed out, and it was special:  it meant she deeply loved you and trusted you. Ingrid was her extra special person, and she sat with Ingrid a lot: I was her second-favorite human, and I felt it as a great honor.

And Talisker loved her sister Comet, wildly and ridiculously. The two of them were an extraordinary bonded pair, especially considering how different they were. Comet is a high-intensity cat, super playful and affectionate, with a constant need for activity and absolutely no boundaries. It was clear that Talisker sometimes found her annoying, but she had nearly infinite patience with her sister, and the two of them snuggled and played together for hours every day. (We sometimes called them the Two-Headed Tabby Monster.) Comet misses her terribly, and we miss Team Tabby almost as much as we miss Talisker for her own self.

Talisker had cancer for over a year and a half: we gave her treatment that worked well for quite a while, but then it stopped working. We tried a stronger chemo but it didn’t take, and we made the hard decision to have her euthanized. She died at home with us, safe and warm and loved. We love her and we miss her.

Talisker and Comet, our cats
The two-headed tabby monster.
Talisker, our cat
Talisker on high alert. I believe this was when she first encountered my trike. “What exactly is this bullshit?”
Talisker and Comet, our cats
Team Tabby.
Talisker, our cat
Blissed-out Tali.
Talisker, our cat
Talisker, Queen of All She Surveys, Conqueror of the Catnip Toy.
Talisker and Comet, our cats
One more of Team Tabby in the fuzzy cat bed. They loved each other so much.

Again, please don’t offer consolation about afterlives or souls. We don’t believe in that and find those ideas deeply distressing. Thanks.

Talisker, 2011-2023

I Lost Weight The Right Way. I Still Gained It All Back.

Toledo scale dial

(Please note comment policy at end. Content note: weight loss, weight regain, with discussion of specific weight loss methods.)

I lost weight the right way.

I lost the weight slowly, about a pound a week. I cut my daily calories — but not drastically. I counted calories — but I didn’t stress about getting them exactly right.* I dialed up my exercise — but not to an extreme. I enjoyed food, ate yummy things, and didn’t go hungry. I didn’t go on any fad diets or crash diets; I talked with my doctor first, and got info from reputable health care sources. I had a support system. My motivation was a specific health concern: I had trouble with my knees and feet, I wanted to alleviate the stress on them. And the weight I stopped at wasn’t super thin.

If there’s a “right” way to intentionally lose weight, a method that’s healthy with a good chance of success, this was it.

And I still gained all the weight back.

In fact, I gained all the weight back — and then some.

Continue reading “I Lost Weight The Right Way. I Still Gained It All Back.”

I Lost Weight The Right Way. I Still Gained It All Back.

Rewriting Paul Without the “No Homo” Jokes

Horizontal banner ad for movie Paul

We saw Paul the other night. Buddy comedy: two best friends from England (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, of Shaun of the Dead fame) visit the U.S. for ComicCon, go on a road trip, and meet a chill, foul-mouthed space alien. Pretty good movie. Cute, funny, crass in a mostly good way, predictable in some places but very original in others. Lots of creative swearing. A good time.

Except for the “no homo” bullshit — the running jokes about how everyone thinks the main characters are gay and it freaks them the fuck out. The movie even used the F-word, more than once: no, not that F-word, the other one, the anti-gay slur. It was jarring, it was exhausting, it was totally unnecessary. So much of the movie was bro-y in a good-natured way, even loving and sweet, and it bugged me that their “nerd-bros don’t have to be reactive shitheads” message didn’t extend to queerness. It almost felt like they had to be heavy-handed with the “no homo” stuff to feel comfortable with the bro-y affection. (The thing came out in 2011, so there’s no excuse.)

And I started thinking: How could they have written this differently?

What if there was a running joke where everyone thinks the main characters are gay — and instead of freaking out, they’re totally used to it by now, and don’t care?

Continue reading “Rewriting Paul Without the “No Homo” Jokes”

Rewriting Paul Without the “No Homo” Jokes

Judging the Past

Thomas Jefferson Birth of a Nation Gone with the Wind

“You can’t judge the past by the standards of the present! It’s not fair. We’ve advanced so much since then. People back then didn’t know better!”

I see the point. But also — no.

Of course we can judge the past by the standards of the present. That’s how we move forward.

We look back, at history or old movies or whatever — and we say, “Wow. That was messed-up. Let’s not do that again.” We read history about slavery and colonization; we watch old movies depicting queers as pitiful and disgusting; we hear old songs that romanticize sexual assault; we see old cowboy shows where Native Americans are shown as savage enemies. We cringe. We cringe so hard it makes our faces turn inside out.

And we say, “That was some fucked-up garbage.” We learn. We pay attention to patterns. We learn how to see bad patterns, in ourselves and our society. We learn how to prevent, how to interrupt, how to intervene, how to resist.

Judging the past is how we move into the future.

Continue reading “Judging the Past”

Judging the Past

The Good Omens 2 Ending Makes Me Seriously Angry

MAJOR spoiler alerts for Good Omens, Seasons 1 and 2. Most of the ideas here were developed in conversation with Ingrid, and many of them are hers to begin with, including the core analysis.

The problem isn’t that it ends on a cliffhanger. Although it’s true that I don’t like that. Not when the next installment is probably years away and hasn’t even been nailed down yet. I think that’s bad writing, cynical and insecure, a breaking of the social contract between creator and audience. If you want people to watch your next installment, make your world and your characters compelling. Sure, leave some doors open, but provide enough closure to make your story feel like a story. As shitty as he is as a human being, Joss Whedon was really good at that with Buffy the Vampire Slayer: every season could have been the last, and it would have been satisfying. And Good Omens Season 1 did this beautifully. It was a lovely, perfect ending, leaving its audience basking in narrative afterglow — and leaving us in eager anticipation of the next round. Season 2 did the opposite of that, and it sucked.

But the cliffhanger thing isn’t a deal-breaker for me. I make exceptions. I cut slack. And even when I hate it, it doesn’t leave me shaking and seething.

And the problem isn’t that Crowley and Aziraphale don’t end up together. I’m okay with that. I adore them as a couple, and I like that this season brought their obvious coupledom out of the closet. But there are other queer love stories in the season that end more or less happily — Gabriel and Beelzebub (Beelzebub is non-binary), Maggie and Nina. I’d be fine if Crowley and Aziraphale’s story had some other creative, unexpected resolution. I don’t need the season to end with them walking off into the sunset. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that the ending is a betrayal.

It’s a deep betrayal of Aziraphale’s character.

Continue reading “The Good Omens 2 Ending Makes Me Seriously Angry”

The Good Omens 2 Ending Makes Me Seriously Angry

Susie Bright’s Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce – With Notes on Charring

Ingredients for roasted tomato sauce in pan cut up tomatoes red bell peppers garlic onions
(Recipe after jump — with notes on charring)

It’s dry-farmed tomato season, which means I’m making big batches of Susie Bright’s roasted tomato sauce. This recipe is amazingly delicious and ridiculously easy — about 10-20 minutes of prep depending on how much you’re making, plus blending at the end. And it freezes really well, so whenever it’s tomato season, we make giant batches of it and freeze it for the winter.

You know that children’s book, Frederic, about the mouse who sits around in the summer gathering words and colors and sun rays to store up for the winter? That’s what this sauce feels like. When winter comes, and it’s been gray and cold and wet for days on end, we stick some tomato sauce in the microwave and put it on pasta, and it feels like pulling a bit of stored summer out of the freezer. And when the sauce is roasting, it fills the house with this ambrosial tomato perfume. We mostly make this to freeze, but we can never resist eating some of it right away, warm out of the oven.

I got the recipe from Susie Bright, and have adapted it over the years. Here’s my version.

Continue reading “Susie Bright’s Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce – With Notes on Charring”

Susie Bright’s Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce – With Notes on Charring