Postcards for the Legislators

After the previous fiasco with trying to slow the juggernaut of war, I decided to go with a simpler message. A much simpler message.

I decided I'd simply say, "killing people is always wrong."

And then I decided I'd put the message on postcards to every member of the House of Representatives, the Senate, to the President, Vice President, Governor of New York, and to my New York Assemblymember and Senator.

So I went to the Post Office website and found four-up sheets of postcards preprinted with "Forever" postage — pretty much the cheapest option for a physical letter with each postcard costing barely more than postage. I figured fourteen 10-packs would be enough to have a few spare after printing up all 540 I'd need. I set up a mail-merge in OpenOffice (which is annoyingly difficult but I did get it to work.) (I made the template 4x normal size then printed it four-up to fit the postcard pages.) I collected the names and addresses from various government websites and made a spreadsheet (here's a tab-separated file that includes the vacancies in the House notated pretty well). Then I made a PDF and went back several times to fix errors before performing the final four-up output.

Then the fun began. It took a couple hours to split the sheets into individual postcards, and then another hour to sign each one in a 5-inch-tall stack. I did find two errors that I had to correct.

I could have simply sent a mass e-mail, but in the end I found it rather rewarding to read every person's name. Just people … like a graduation roster or a phone book … and me sending a thought to each one of them.

I don't know if my message will be read as I intend it, but I know for sure that by doing nothing and saying nothing, that nothing will change.

(If you want to follow progress of this, I set up a tag that's an acronym for the central message: KPiAW which I'll tag on any posts detailing any response I get.)

Comfort Zone

I managed to get to the Little early enough to get a ticket to see Comfort Zone before it sold out — its solitary screening (for now). It centers around how climate change will affect Rochester. It was made by local filmmakers Dave Danesh, Sean Donnelly, and Kate Kressmann-Kehoe: all are concerned, but each have different perspectives, and their on-camera discussions help us understand where they are coming from.

I thought the film was brutally honest and pulled no punches. I presume the filmmakers used reliable sources — after all it's only pseudo scientists who refute climate change altogether, and only a tiny percentage of legitimate climatologists don't believe it is caused by human CO2 production. In other words, it's peer-reviewed, proven theory that the excessive carbon dioxide produced from the burning of fossil fuels is causing a dramatic change in climate.

The climate of upstate New York will change over the next 50 years to be more like what it is today somewhere between South Carolina and Alabama, depending on how well we change out habits as a species. And that's only if a cataclysmic tipping point is not tripped — one that, say, changes the oceans so they no longer absorb as much CO2, or if the melting permafrost releases it's sequestered methane and, well, snowballs the whole greenhouse effect totally out of control. But assuming we don't have a cataclysmic disaster on our hands, we can expect changes in this area.

For instance, elm trees well all likely die since freezing temperatures over winter help them fight certain kinds of diseases — once hard freezes over winter are gone, so go the elm. Likewise, apples won't produce nearly a much fruit and lilacs will flower less. Numerous plant and animal species will disappear or go extinct entirely. Things are changing; they always change, but this is a lot.

The film, in a way, projects a bleak view of what's to come. But the focus is really on what can be done now to make things less worse, and given the predicted climate change, what is to come and how we should adapt.