It’s not official yet, but…

Warning: Here there be politics.

I strenuously avoided coverage of the counting of the ballots in the 2020 election this week. I knew I’d get way too many instances of someone calling a state’s race for one candidate or another, and with all the early and mail-in ballots to be counted, I wanted to hear results, not projections. For many years I’d hated the practice of “calling” a state’s election with maybe 15% of the actual votes counted, and this year it was even more important that we wait to get actual counts of the votes cast, not educated guesses.

Tuesday night on Twitter, I took the extreme action of blocking/muting/unfollowing people who kept talking about projected results because this year, more than ever, we needed to wait for actual vote totals. Goddess knows Donald Trump was going to not only claim victory way too soon, but he was also going to fight counting all the early votes and mailed-in votes. He knew that people voting for Joe Biden were voting early and by mail due to the pandemic, and his supporters didn’t believe the novel coronavirus was a big deal and waited to vote on election day. He knew if they just looked at the ballots cast on 3 November, the totals would be in his favor.

There’s just one problem. No presidential election in US history has been decided on election night. Absentee ballots and votes from military members stationed abroad can always come in after election day. Most states have laws saying that if they’re postmarked by election day and arrive within X number of days of election day, they get included in the official vote totals. Plus, no locality releases official vote totals that night. Before they can have official vote totals, they have to do what’s called canvasing, which is the process of confirming exactly who got how many votes in each district. This process doesn’t start on election night, and it can take multiple days, depending on the number of ballots cast.

On Friday evening, I finally started watching news broadcasts as they talked about the status of the counting, seeing that many states had totals that showed which candidate won their state’s votes. As always, some states took longer, and while it was getting close, it wasn’t over yet.

I don’t usually donate to political candidates due to my fixed income, and with my being a steadfast mugwump that refuses to align with any political party, state party organizations don’t get my money. This year I donated to the Wisconsin Democratic party so I could enjoy a reunion of the surviving cast members of The Princess Bride, one of my favorite movies, and a special preformance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show using some of the original cast members. I was glad to see that while the state of Wisconsin went for Trump/Pence four years ago, this year Wisconsin’s Electoral College votes are going to Biden/Harris, and I’m glad my contributions helped even in some small way.

Today the news came out that Joe Biden won the votes from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which gave the Democrats 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency. That made Donald Trump, to borrow a line from Mich McConnell, a one-term president.

It’s not official yet.

There were big celebrations across the country at the news of the Biden/Harris win, but it’s important to remember that their victory isn’t official yet. Some states could find their results challenged, with recounts ordered to verify the vote totals. Florida gave us the mother-of-all-recounts back in 2000, and almost nobody wants to revisit that bit of history.

Despite national interest in doing away with the Electoral College and just using the popular vote to decide the election, the US Constitution states that we actually elect people to vote in the Electoral College. The states have until 6 December to determine who their state’s electors are. Six days later, on the second Wednesday in December, the electors meet in their respective states and the District of Columbia to cast the votes to decide which candidate gets their states’ Electoral College votes. This is usually a winner-take-all affair, but Maine and Nebraska split their Electoral College votes based on votes cast in specific regions of the state.

These votes usually follow the votes cast by the actual voters in their states. However, there have been instances where an elector decided they know better than the voters and votes differently. Known as an “unfaithful elector,” this causes a lot of controversies, and some states have passed laws requiring their electors to follow the “will of the people.” Of course, these laws were challenged to the US Supreme Court, but in July the laws were upheld. In our current hyper-partisan times, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were electors pledged to one candidate vote for another.

The results of the Electoral College aren’t official until 6 January, when a joint session of Congress convenes to count the votes of the Electoral College and declare the official winner of the 2020 presidential election. There can be challenges to Congress’ official results, but I don’t see the results changing due to being challenged, even in this hyper-partisan year.

Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

While there are all sorts of things that can happen between now and 20 January, Inauguration Day, I’m happy to see that former VP Biden and Senator Harris will be our 46th President and our 49th Vice-President. As it’s been pointed out many times on Twitter today, Senator Harris will be our very first female VP, the first VP that graduated from a Historically Black College/University (Howard University). She will also be our nation’s first VP of color and the first VP whose parents are from India.

When the campaign started I had hoped to be able to call her Madam President-elect, but I’m happy with her being Vice-President-elect. The important thing is that our nation’s four-year-long nightmare under the Trump administration is coming to an end. President Biden and our next Congress will have to deal with cleaning up the mess made by the current administration, and the Goddess* only knows how much Trump will try to screw up things for President Biden in the next 73 days. As I write this, the Republicans still have a slim majority in the Senate, with the results in Alaska, Georgia, and North Carolina being too close to call. There will also be runoff elections for both Senate seats for Georgia, so the balance of power in the Senate won’t be known until after the new year starts.

There’s a new sign on the Nanci’s Naughties roof

A couple of months ago, I found a Bye Don 2020 lawn sign in Second Life and put it in front of the Nanci’s Naughties mainstore. I try to keep my store no-partisan, but with my clear support of the LGBTQ+ community, I thought I’d add that to the front of the building. I used a picture of the yard sign to create a large sign for the top of my skybox home, and today I put the sign on top of the store itself. I’ve had the store’s logo on the roof to help identify it on the Second Life map, and I’m curious to see if the overhead view is updated to show the new sign or if I get asked to remove the roof sign. I don’t know if SL has a policy on big political statements like that, but I guess I’ll find out.

Bye Don 2020 on the roof of the Nanci's Naughties mainstore in Second Life

I wrote this article for this site rather than the Nanci’s Naughties site because I didn’t think it would be appropriate to be so political there. When I started to write this article, I also didn’t realize I’d be writing an explainer on the late stage of US presidential elections. I used a report from the Congressional Research Service to get the particulars of what the next steps are, especially the specific dates of things.

Here’s hoping the next four years are a lot fairer for everyone in the US, regardless of where they came from or how long ago they arrived. I also hope that there can be a lot less hate of our fellow persons and that the next four years will need a lot fewer adult beverages to deal with the shitstorm coming from our nation’s capital. It’s not over yet, but we can start counting the days until the change comes.

*My referring to the deity as the Goddess is not up for discussion. You do you and I’ll do me. We can agree to disagree on this, but if you try to bring shit in my comments I’ll blackball you in a hot second as soon as I see it. You can disagree, but don’t be an asshole on my site. Or an ass-half.

Do you love salad dressings?

Growing up, my mom and grandmother gave me a love of eating good salads, and in the last few years I’ve started changing from buying salad dressings to making my own. Not only do they not have all the preservatives the stuff on the grocers’ shelves have, they’re also pretty easy to make. I cook for just one, li’l old me, so I’m not going to go through huge productions just to have homemade salad dressing.

Some time back I discovered Rachel Cooks when I was looking for a homemade taco seasoning recipe (there’s also a large batch recipe if you find you want to make it less often but enjoy it regularly). Then I discovered her honey mustard vinaigrette dressing and I became hooked on her recipes.

I’ve since subscribed to her email newsletter, and today’s edition was all about her yummy salad dressings. After tweeting a link I decided to share all of the salad dressing recipes I use. They’re not all from Rachel (sorry!), but they’re so good that I bookmarked them so I could find them easily. I put vinaigrettes into Good Season cruets, and right now I have a bottle of their Italian dressing just to use up one of the packets I got when I decided I wanted a second cruet for salad dressings. My creamy dressings are in repurposed salsa jars, which makes me glad I save my old jars after I empty them. (My taco seasoning is in a reused spice bottle that lives next to my nukeomatic.)

My gateway to homemade dressings was the vinaigrette from The Kitchn’s Classic Salad Ni├žoise. I don’t remember where I saw the recipe, but I quickly bookmarked it as something to try. I’ve since made it for other salads, and if I didn’t have a bottle of Italian dressing in my fridge the bottle would have balsamic vinaigrette from a stand-alone recipe.

I think I found Rachel’s honey mustard vinaigrette recipe while looking for balsamic vinaigrette recipes, and it quickly became my favorite dressing. I use Grey Poupon’s Harvest Coarse Ground Dijon Mustard in it, and I’m thinking of trying it with Zatarain’s Creole Mustard something that I grew up eating on sandwiches. I could easily use just this dressing on all my salads if I didn’t want to make sure I didn’t get sick of eating it all the time.

Every now and then I want some thousand island dressing and wanted to find recipe, but every recipe I found used a hard boiled egg. Adding the egg sharply reduces how long it will last in your fridge, and when I was ready to make it I wanted something that needed less prep work than Rachel’s recipe called for. I ended up going with a recipe from Simply Whisked, but I’ll give Rachel’s recipe a try for the next batch, but my days of buying bottles of thousand island are over.

When I was in high school, Kraft’s Catalina dressing was my go-to dressing. Since I got older I didn’t like how sweet it was, but every now and then I still want some on my salad. Rachel has a recipe for that, and it’s just what the doctor ordered. I mixed it up in a salsa jar to save a dirty bowl, but my immersion blender clearly wanted more room to work so next time I’ll dirty a bowl to make it. And I know I’ll make it again. The recipe says to run it through the blender, but I really hate having to clean my blender for such a small amount of dressing.

I’m not a big ranch dressing eater, and I rarely buy buttermilk unless I’m whipping up a batch of buttermilk drop donuts so I may buy a bottle of ranch dressing from time to time. There is one other kind of bottled dressing that I used to buy and I had a hard time finding a replacement. I love dipping my homemade chicken tenders in honey mustard dressing, but Rachel’s recipe isn’t what I want to dip my tenders in. In fact, most of the recipes I found weren’t the nice, creamy dressing I was looking for. I ended up trying the dip recipe for The Kitchn’s Turkey Wraps with Honey Mustard Dip and it’s pretty good.

Rachel’s list of salad dressings & toppings includes two recipes I definitely want to try. One is for homemade croutons, and the other is for Caesar Croutons. I really like croutons, and I used to be able to eat them right out of the box, but lately it seems the croutons I buy are bigger than the ones I got in my 20’s. Rachel’s recipes use sliced bread, which will make for the size of croutons I’m wanting. Then the only salad topping I’ll need to make myself is bacon bits, and I need to work on my chopping skills to get good bacon bits. And, of course, I need to not eat the bacon before I have a chance to turn them into bacon bits, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks there’s no such thing as too much bacon.

I’m thankful that I got my mom’s love of cooking, and her desire to do more than your basic American meat-and-potatoes cooking. Maybe it came from living in New Orleans, where your basic meat-and-potatoes meal can be as out of place as a harpsichord at a guitar shred fest. Wherever it came from, I love to cook and the only reason I don’t try more recipes is because it’s rare to find recipes that will only feed one person. That and the fact that so many recipes I’d want to try use ingredients I don’t usually buy, and I’m concerned about being able to use up what doesn’t go into the dish.