Response from the Postcards to the Legislators

It's been almost exactly a year since I posted about sending postcards to the legislators. To briefly recap, I sent a postcard 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 that said simply, "Killing people is always wrong."

Well in that time I got exactly one response: from Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He responded to my letter "regarding intervention by the United States in conflicts across the globe." He goes on to write about what I interpret as a largely isolationist policy. You can read the whole thing here. I'm mixed on my agreement with his policies: I agree with him in his strong belief in personal freedom and liberty, but I disagree with his fierce belief in the dog-eat-dog Capitalism.

My opposition to killing led me to attend a War Tax Resistance Workshop at the Flying Squirrel on February 7. There is a National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) which advises four methods of war tax resistance: file and refuse to pay your taxes, don't file your taxes, earn less than taxable income, or resist the local telephone excise tax. All the methods advised are forms of civil disobedience in that they are all illegal. While I support those methods entirely, at this time, I didn't feel willing to put everything at risk.

So as a workaround, I decided to donate the percentage of my income for active war—27%—to organizations that accept tax-deductible donations (The War Resisters League cites that 27% of taxes collected go to active wars and another 20% goes to pay for past wars). I mentioned this to my accountant who found it legal (some deductible donations are limited to 30% of income, and most are limited to 50%).

One of the ways war tax resisters use their civil disobedience is by keeping all their actions public. To reflect that, I'll try to make updates throughout the year, and certainly do at least one summary each year.

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A Trip to Columbus

Jenn and I headed toward Columbus with her dog Maia on Friday morning. We first went to The Wayne & Geraldine Kuhn Fine Arts Gallery at the Marion Campus of Ohio State University to take pictures of Jenn's show Rec•ord, which has been on display since the beginning of the year. The gallery is small, and the satellite campus is not nearly as well attended as the main campus in Columbus, but the guestbook revealed quite a few visitors.

The show itself was of Jenn's ambrotype photograms of small objects. She uses a wet-plate collodion process to create the one-of-a-kind ambrotype positives on anodized aluminum. Her level of mastery of that technique is on par with a fairly small set of experts in the field. Her work speaks to the distortion of the photographic process as a way to reliably represent objects and people.

Afterward we went to Columbus to visit her friend Heather Wetzel. We walked near Heather's house and stopped by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (4247 N. High St., Columbus, OH). On this visit, I found it too busy and rushed to make a proper assessment, but the ice cream was indeed good. I didn't find it substantially better than Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream, though, and actually found the huge array of flavors to be more daunting than appealing.

On Saturday morning, Ted and Ali arrived to join us for the weekend. We headed to Whole World Natural Restaurant (3269 N. High St., Columbus, OH) for lunch. As vegan food goes, it's hit-and-miss, but I went with the safe bet of avocado on a croissant. Afterward we went to the excellent Pattycake Bakery (3009 N. High St., Columbus, OH) and had some great vegan treats.

Heather wanted to stop by the opening of a The Mirage and the Rainbow: 2014 Department of Art Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition at OSU's Urban Arts Space (50 W. Town Street, Suite 130 in the Historic Lazarus Building, Columbus, Ohio 43215) so she could see some of her students' work. Overall it was a good show. Ali, Jenn, and Heather took part in this "Dr. Armbruster's Laboratories" "experiment" where they were measured then drew with a paint drip test. It was a lot of fun.

The "Armbruster" name was fictitious, but I had to look up the list of MFA candidates to remember the ones I wanted, and didn't discern who did that work. The complete list from the website included: Jacci Delaney (Glass), Jonathan Fitz (Ceramics), Leah Frankel (Sculpture), Andrew Frueh (Art and Technology), Keith Garubba (Printmaking), Nick George (Photography), Anne Keener (Painting & Drawing), Gun Young Kim (Ceramics), Amanda Kline (Photography), David Knox (Printmaking), Sage Lewis (Painting and Drawing), Peter Luckner (Art and Technology), Jessica Naples (Photography), Ashley Neukamm (Ceramics), Amy Ritter (Glass), Philip Spangler (Sculpture), and Jennifer Watson (Printmaking). Anyway, I also liked Gun Young Kim's distorted self-sculptures and I was drawn to Amy Ritter's cardboard cutout nudes (digitally manipulated to remove any sexuality).

From there, we went to the Wexner Center for the Arts where we saw Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2002). (I added it to my mini-reviews for the last few months if you're curious.) For dinner we went to Dirty Franks (248 S. 4th St., Columbus, OH) which I thought was quite excellent. They specialize in hot dogs, so it seems natural to compare them to Dogtown, but in this case, I liked Dirty Franks better. In all fairness, the quality is about the same, but Dirty Franks has a few extra unusual toppings, and adding cream cheese to a vegan dog is just great (rendering it vegetarian, at best). The macaroni-and-cheese was considerably sub-par for my taste. (Along with the other meals we ate-out, it made me think Columbus had a preference for blander food.) Later we made another visit to Jeni's and I was more satisfied with my selections and the experience.

On Sunday we took a little detour and stopped at Delaware State Park (5202 U.S. Highway 23 N., Delaware, OH) to let Maia run around before stopping by the Kuhn Fine Arts Gallery to take down Jenn's show. From there, we headed back home.

We stopped in Erie for a bit. We tried to find Whole Foods Co-Op (1341 W. 26th St., Erie, PA) as they have something called "cashew cheese". However, we made a mistake somewhere along the way and found the co-op had just closed. So, quite hungry, we decided to go to Wegmans (6143 Peach St., Erie, PA). I get grumpy when I'm hungry and Erie is, as best I could tell, the most miserable place on Earth and I will never go back there. (Time may moderate that opinion.)

Upon leaving Erie, our collective plans, so Jenn and I in one car, and Ted and Ali in another headed toward home at our respective paces. We forgot to stop for gas in Erie as we had planned, and we started running low so we got off and stopped at the Flying J Travel Plaza (8484 Allegheny Rd., Pembroke). To our surprise, Ted and Ali were there too in the same predicament despite having last crossed paths somewhere around Buffalo.

We arrived home late that night, exhausted.

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Finding Ivy

Last night, Jenn and I had quite a little adventure. We had gone with Ted to see Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? at the Dryden and drove him back home. On the way back to Jenn's I spotted a dog standing in the snow off 490 near the Averill underpass.

Going back a few days, while Jenn was working at her studio, a woman came by and handed her a poster about a lost dog named Ivy [corrected1]. We see notices for lost pets and pay them little mind other than to hope the animal gets home okay. But Ivy was a rescued black Labrador retriever mix from a shelter in Kentucky. The reason we paid attention is sheer coincidence: Jenn's dog is also a black lab, and was also a rescue from—of all places—Kentucky. Ivy had just arrived and escaped from an Another Chance Pet Rescue foster family near Meigs and Monroe just a day after she arrived (they didn't know the dog's name so they named her Ivy … for all of a day, so obviously the dog wouldn't respond to that name.) The poster said that she was so timid that we should not try to approach her as she'd just run away.

Anyway, when we saw this black dog, we immediately thought it might be Ivy. So we got off at Goodman and went to go back to see off an overpass. But then I figured our best bet would be to get back on the highway, so after trying to remember the existence of the Byron Street entrance, we passed the poster on Alexander. I snapped a picture so we could have the phone numbers. We got back on but we saw neither the dog nor her prints. So we looped around again. This time, we found the tracks in the snow just behind the Spring Steel place on S. Clinton.

We called the people on the poster and they said they'd send their friends out. I had my headlamp from biking so I put that on and went up the embankment cautiously. I had noticed in the past I could see animal eyes in the darkness using the headlamp. After searching a bit, I found a pair of eyes looking back at me from under a tree near the building.

I went back and called again and really set things in motion. They called Animal Control to try and catch the dog, and sent a half-dozen people our way to help find her. One of the women affiliated with Operation Greece Pug Rescue and the officer from Animal Control arrived nearly simultaneously. We went up the embankment and found the dog—this time positively identified as Ivy. Unfortunately, she did manage to get away.

But she had been in the elements for about 7 days already, so she wasn't moving too fast. I watched her cross under Averill then continue to past Alexander before I lost sight of her, all the while fortunately staying in the snow and out of traffic. Jenn and I got back in the car and looped around again. We found Ivy just about on the entrance ramp. We stopped the car to call that we saw her, but she started running back. We followed her and tried to keep some distance, but she doubled back again and we lost her.

We got in touch with the Animal Control officer and one of the women involved. The officer provided a can of food for the dog and they were planning to set a live trap over night. We left and decided to see if we could find her again. We stopped in the Goodwill parking lot to look for tracks on Byron Street and found some, but no dog.

We got back to the car and called the woman from the Pug Rescue to say we were going home. She said that they had her—they actually caught Ivy. She was badly dehydrated, had hypothermia, and was on her way to the pet emergency center! It turns out she also had a laceration on her leg and a possible fracture.

A sickly black lab being carried by a volunteer.

Ivy gets rescued by a volunteer.

By today she was out of emergency care and it looks like she's going to survive. She'll need some more veterinary care in the coming weeks. If you want, you can donate through the PayPal link on the lower-right of the Another Chance Pet Rescue website.


1 2014-Feb-13: Correction: it wasn't her mom who gave her the poster, but her mom was present.

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Rochester Movie Makers' "Mind2Movie Challenge" Screening at the Cinema

Ali, Ted, and I met with Jenn, and Jenn's mom at the Gatehouse restaurant for dinner. After that, we all headed to the Rochester Movie Makers' Mind2Movie Challenge screening at the Cinema. They screened last year's winner and the 19 entries then had an awards ceremony.

If you recall from the post introducing the Mind2Movie challenge this year, the gist was to try and include three elements in our story: a character, an object, and a scenario. We were scored based on how well we used our character, our prop, and our situation, the storytelling, and the film technique.

This year's winner was team "Claydogh" with its sole member, Ben Doran. (2014-Feb-18 update: You can view "Ed" on Vimeo now.) His film received a score substantially higher than any other team. They said the next 5 teams were differentiated by only 6 points (out of a possible 200). I seem to remember them being in the 140-range; we got 135, and a few people said they really liked ours (including the MC, Mike McFadden.) We're all very … umm … curious about the surly judge who seemed to like nothing about what we made, but three of the four judges thought it was quite good in all categories.

Ted uploaded our film to YouTube and you can watch it there, or you might be able to watch it below. The film is called "The Singer" and was to include an entertainer, a communicator, and a scenario in which the communicator is stolen. Ted plays The Singer, Jenn plays The Photographer, I'm The Conjurer, Lucy is The Singer's Dog, and Maia is The Photographer's Dog. (That's right: we decided to make a movie with two dogs!)
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