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Today, a fellow Kossack dropped me a friend request on Facebook, and I got to thinking about how long it's been since I've written anything here. The GoS has been my home for nearly ten years, but my writing here has virtually always been about personal things and their political implications rather than the hard journalism that has me hitting "refresh" all day, nearly every day. So in advance of this diary, I just wanna shout out to the proprietor of this fine establishment and his crew....thanks again, Markos.

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I was camping. My then-boyfriend and I, his niece, and our dog were sound asleep in our tiny camping trailer that Monday morning, MLK Day. The days at the beach north of Santa Barbara had been hot, but the nights were seriously chilly by Southern California standards, even for mid-January. We’d had fun, though, and when the time came to wake up, it would also be time to begin thinking about heading home. The boyfriend’s parents, who’d also joined us on the trip, had left on Sunday afternoon to return home.

The trailer shook. Startled awake, I immediately knew what the shaking was: it was an earthquake. My boyfriend tried to convince me to go back to sleep, thinking that the epicenter of the jolt was nearby. But something whispered to me that this wasn’t a local 4.0, and I turned the radio on. It was just after 4:30 in the morning, dark and cold.

For those of you fortunate enough to have never experienced an earthquake, particularly a sizable one, I can relate what we felt, but what those felt and heard at and around the epicenter was beyond my imagination. The trailer seemed to dip suddenly, and then it felt as though it was being violently tilted from center to one side and back over and over. And then it rolled….like sitting in a boat on a lake being lifted and dropped by the wake of a much larger boat passing by. In my experience, the farther you are away from the epicenter of a good sized shaker, the longer the rolling lasts. I’d imagine there’s science behind that being so.

I haven’t thought a lot about that morning twenty years ago, so I’m reaching back into the deeper recesses of my brain trying to recall details. I don’t remember what the radio said in those first few minutes, other than that there had indeed been a sizable earthquake. We were over 100 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and I knew immediately that if the Los Angeles news radio station I was listening to was reporting it as a large earthquake, and that we felt it THAT strongly THAT far away, it was at least a 6.0, and probably bigger. I remember listening for a few minutes. The LA radio station, KFWB, had put a traffic helicopter up and the traffic reporter shockingly reported that large swaths of the Los Angeles area were pitch black.

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Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:45 PM PST

I lost my Daddy today

by Auntie Neo Kawn

I began writing this diary early this morning while I was at work. I was just not feeling up to dealing with a systems upgrade, and I knew that eventually I'd post this. I've been a member of this community since 2005, and I rarely write about anything that isn't personal. But this is my sanctuary, and I knew I'd write this.

Today's diary, begun at about 8am CST, had the following opening line:

"Today, my father passed away".

An hour and a half later, it was true.

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Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:16 PM PST

A little scared tonight....

by Auntie Neo Kawn

Most of what I write on DKos is personal. Tonight is no exception.

Last April, my husband and I were fortunate enough to get to see Rachel Maddow's book tour in support of Drift while she was in Milwaukee. She's a phenomenal person in person, just as she is on television.

As the evening ended, I began to have what I thought was a panic attack. My heart was racing and I felt the urge to run and hide. I was shaking and could hardly see. My darling husband Old Abe was able to get me into a cab and back to our hotel (and thanks to several unknown bystanders who kept me company while he flagged someone down), but it was a long time before I finally came down.

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Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 07:08 AM PST

Very Heavy Turnout in Madison

by Auntie Neo Kawn

Maybe the title is misleading.....I didn't live here in 2008 so I can't personally compare today against last time. But Madison usually has a very solid level of participation, and I have never seen anything like today before in my life!

I got to my poll at 6:45am, fifteen minutes before opening. I was the 79th person in line and didn't get out until 7:15. At a senior center just a few blocks off the Capitol Square, the line was out the door and around the block at 7:30. And coworkers say that they've never wilted in line before and today had waits up to half an hour.

I'm at work and typing this on my iPad, so I probably won't comment much. But I'd love to hear hw my fellow Wisconsinites see things. I'll be here reading!


About six months ago, I was finally able to walk away from the private sector career I'd survived for nearly twenty years. I'd landed my dream job working in IT for a public organization here in Madison. Having never worked in the public sector before, I learned quickly about what it takes to be a municipal, state or federal public servant.

Beneath the orange cheese curd I enumerate those lessons!

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Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 07:44 PM PST

Happy Freaking Birthday To Me

by Auntie Neo Kawn

Today is my fortieth birthday.

I used to measure my successes and personal accomplishments by a depressing yardstick (as I'll explain below). Since late 2004, I shifted and began to measure my life and accomplishments against Markos Moulitsas, who I've had the pleasure of meeting TWICE. Lemme tell you...he's a tough act to follow, and I'm far short of what that man can do.


For many people, a common refrain surrounding "milestone" birthdays is something along the lines of "it's just a number". I guess I'm just not that sanguine, or maybe even that well-adjusted. As I have watched a number of friends and family become seriously ill and die in the last few years, and have experienced my own issues, the meaning of my life without the context of my mortality has been a loudly-nagging concern of mine heading into today.

The wayback machine is fired up beneath the crispy, hot, melty orange cheese curd:

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Hi, all:

So my husband and I did the WSJ thingy this week and found out that we're in the top 5% of household income in the country. This made us sad because we can barely save for retirement, but it made us happy because we're so much better off than so many others.

I hate waste. Hate it with a passion. So even though we spend about $600/month in groceries for a family of three (my brother Joe included), I'm very careful about how I use our resources.

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As so many people around the country know, Wisconsin is known for a lot of things. The World Champion Green Bay Packers. Cheese. Beer. And of course, freezing cold winters!

Unfortunately, we're now also know for Scott Walker, the Fitzgeralds, Paul Ryan, and a whole host of other right wing clowns.

But I suspect few people outside of Wisconsin know that, every Memorial Day weekend, residents in and around Madison gorge themselves on one of the state's iconic foods while listening to good music and enjoying a festival atmosphere.

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So I have very little time left, as do the rest of us, to concoct a good costume for Sunday's fun. Let's put our collective thinking hats on:

What to DO?

Idea #1:

Don a witch's hat and tape a red circle with a line through it to the hat. Then wear a sign around my neck that says "I'm You".

Not so much, huh?

Idea #2:

Dress up as a giant teabag and carry around a shredded copy of the Bill of Rights.

But I have NO idea how I'd make a teabag.

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Hey, remember that diary I wrote about my brother Joe and what his life has in common with Neil Alan Smith, the poor guy in Florida killed by a hit-and-run driver?

Guess what? My brother GOT A JOB!

To be honest, I have to say I'm really disappointed that it's not a union job. I place a high level of trust in labor unions and little in organizations and companies that sound good and cut people off at the knees over time. This is NOT a union job...but it's WORK.

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This story has been percolating through the blogosphere today, so if you've already seen it I hope you'll bear with me. It speaks to me on a hugely personal level.

ST. PETERSBURG — About 11 p.m. Sept. 12, a car struck Neil Alan Smith and threw him off his bicycle on Fourth Street N. The car didn't stop.

Mr. Smith, who was pedaling home from his job as a dishwasher at the Crab Shack, struck his head on a light post.

He was taken to Bayfront Medical Center. He died there six days later. He was 48.

They still haven't caught the guy who killed Mr. Smith, but that's not why I'm so worked up.

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