Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is What Waterboarding Looks Like

And what America looks like under GWB.

The photos are from Cambodia at a torture site created by the Khymer Rouge. The legislation passed by the U.S. House would allow the SecDef to apply these techniques to anyone -- including U.S. Citizens -- he determines to be an enemy combatant.

The LTR and His Acronym

Some friends of ours are starting to refer to the LTR as the LTR TO the LTR. He is not happy about it as he has his own acronym for himself: TK. For, "The Kid."

When he's pleased with himself he calls himself, "TKRDH,: for, The Kid Rox Da House. Actually, he says "Rocks," not "Rox," but I'm just a tad bit more fly than the LTR. Which isn't saying much.

At any rate, TK, a.k.a., the LTR and I are going OUT tonight, yes OUT...a rare occurrence. We're going to shirtless night at the Green Lantern. This is where you get to drink for free if you take your shirt off between 10 and 11. So the place is packed with shirtless bois. And it's packed. And it's warm. So you spend the hour nipple to nipple with other shirtless, sweaty men.

It's just not easy being gay, sometimes.

Those Scrambled Number Things

I already have enough trouble reading with my contacts in...and then Yahoo email throws these scrambled number/letter codes at you to verify you're sending a legit email:

I mean, what the HELL is the third symbol?

This One Time, at Band Camp

Things have been a bit gloomy around the casa this week, with world and personal events kind of taking a turn for the depressing side. I've not been much into blogging this week.

But today I'm really looking forward to band camp...each year DCDD CPSB goes off into the woods in NJ's Appel Farm to do what band geeks do in the woods...mostly make music and socialize. It's funny how about four-or-five years ago when we started it was almost like pulling teeth to get people to we've got a good 90% going and it almost seems like it's a cult event.

Oh, all right, knew I had to.

Outsourcing Torture

The story of an innocent Canadian tortured by the Bush administration and never charged with a crime.

And the U.S. House just made it easier for the Bush admin.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Defeat the Detainee Bill

The House will likely pass as early as today a bill that would give the executive branch of government sweeping power to lock up anyone it defines as an unlawful enemy combatant in military or CIA prisons. The detainee would have no legal recourse to challenge his or her detention. They would not have habeas corpus protections.

Habeas Corpus is a legal concept that has been around since the 12th century, AD. It's a common law principal that requires the imprisoning authority to produce the detainee in court and prove their case against him. It's the legal principal that keeps the government from locking anyone up it wants to.

The legislation also grants the Secretary of Defense sweeping authority to put aside the anti-torture provisions contained in the bill at his sole discretion without judicial oversight.

The bill essentially creates a second system of "justice," presided over by the executive branch with no judicial oversight.

"He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power."

That's what Thomas Jefferson said of King George III in the Declaration of Independence...what our current King George is doing today is not far removed.

The other thing to know about this bill is it gives the executive branch these powers as long as the war on terror is waged. This is an undefined do we know when it is over? Who has to surrender to us? What "battle" has to be won? The administration is seeking uncompromising power for an unending war.

31 former ambassadors, including 20 who served Republican administrations, wrote Congress in opposition to this legislation. "to eliminate habeas corpus relief for the citizens of other countries who have fallen into our hands cannot but make a mockery" of the administration's efforts to promote democracy.

Yes, we live in dangerous times. But this bill would give the administration unending power to lock up anyone in suspects for any reason, throw away the key and subject them to torture.

Look at history...we tend to overreact in war time. Think as recently as the WWII detention of thousands of innocent Americans of Japanese extraction on the West Coast.

Visit, enter your zipcode in the box on the left side of the screen and write your Senators. Ask them to support habeas corpus. Ask them to vote "no" on the administration's detainee bill.

Hear this warning from Abraham Lincoln:

"What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny. All of those may be turned against us...

Our defense is in the spirit which prized liberty in the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you will have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."

-- Abraham Lincoln, Edwardsville, Illinois, September 11, 1858

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Vote for America's Soul

Read this on Andrew Sullivan's blog if you care about America.

The "compromise" legislation would eliminate the writ of habeas corpus, for anyone the executive branch deemed to be supportive of terrorism. Keep in mind VP Cheney has already said that anyone who questions the administration's prosecution of the war on terror is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. This bill would give the administration the legal right to jail civilians it deems as "unlawful enemy combatants" and throw away the key with no trial.

Write your Congressperson.

Tell him or her to vote no on the detainee legislation.

Friday, September 22, 2006

You Say Carmina, I Say Burana

Carmina --
Burana --

Let's call the whole thing Orff.

I found a recording of the band transcription for the orchestral and choral work by Carl Orff, Carmina Burana. Performed by the Peabody Consveratory Wind Ensemble under Harlan D. Parker, it is fabulous. I know this work, both the original orchestral and band transcription...Parker's interpretation is exciting and has inspired me. The Capitol Pride Symphonic Band is SO doing this piece next year!


Not that there'd be anything wrong with that.

Hunk of the Week

The Italian actor Raoul Bova.

I've spent a lot of time hiking and I've never come across a hot naked Italian on a rock.

Hire Burly Police Officers

A guy freaked out on drugs drives into the U.S. Capitol complex, dashes inside, and is stopped, not by the Capitol police, but by, as the WashPo writes, a "burly male co-worker."

Burly. Now there's a word you don't see every day.

Our elected officials have their panties in a wad over how this could have happened. "Terrorists are taking note." said Rep. Wayne Allard (R-CO) who is in charge of the Capitol. He can't understand how this could have happened what with all the money they've spent on security and new police officers.

Because when Congress spends money to fix a problem it always works, ya know?

Visiting Capitol Hill is already like visiting a military base. One of the casualties of 9/11 was the ability for ordinary citizens to wander around Capitol Hill and inside the Capitol building as you would your county courthouse. No longer. And incidents like this will only make the place more forbidding to ordinary citizens, while no amount of security will stop a terrorist, with no regard for his or her life, who is hell-bent on doing real damage.

How safe is safe?

But kudos to the burly male co-worker. And if the Capitol police would hire men like him, at least visiting the Capitol would be like visiting the Washington Plaza hotel during leather weekend.

Affectionless American Airlines

No (same sex) kissing allowed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Making My Accident Look Like Child's Play

And he's not wearing a helmet because?

Evangelicals -- the Other Side of the Story

A reader alerted me to this story in today's WashPo, about progressive evangelicals who oppose the right-wing evangelical movement. The story focuses on Brian D. McLaren, a local progressive evangelical. Money quote:

"When we present Jesus as a pro-war, anti-poor, anti-homosexual, anti-environment, pro-nuclear weapons authority figure draped in an American flag, I think we are making a travesty of the portrait of Jesus we find in the gospels," McLaren said in a recent interview.
Refreshing, yes?

But the story goes on:

Noting that he [McLaren] fails to condemn homosexuality, one conservative Web site called him "A True Son of Lucifer" for ignoring "absolute biblical truth." And last year, Baptists in Kentucky revoked a speaking invitation after McLaren said that followers of Jesus might not be the only ones to gain salvation.
And now here is a quote of Jesus Himself, from Matthew, 19:19:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Hmmm...I don't see an asterisk that says "but only if your neighbor hates the same people you do." And I've got a study bible. You'd think that'd be in there.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Steve Irwin Experience

I was walking the dogs and saw a butterfly. It looked really pretty in the sunlight. It's brilliant colors distracted me as a marvelled at how such a thing of beauty could occur in nature. While thus distracted -- wham! -- I bashed my head on a low hanging tree branch.

Okay, it's not exactly a stingray spear to the heart, but I was lucky...

Speaking of Steve Irwin, enjoy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Laundry Symbols Taking Me to the Cleaners

What's with the geometrical shapes on clothes in lieu of written laundry instructions? I understand the purpose -- provide symbols so that anyone regardless of what language they speak can understand them...but I'd have an easier time deciphering French than the Euclidian plethora of shapes and dots and lines populating my clothes labels. Did I miss a class somewhere? Did a memo go out? Or is this another area where my gay genes are deficient, like my inability to decorate, dress fashionably or appreciate Celine Dion?

This Web site is helpful but still didn't explain what the circle with the P in the middle means.

Quote of the Day

With the U.S. President playing fast and loose with the law, any means justified if it purportedly keeps us "safe," it's worth remembering this quote:

I know the American people are much attached to their government; -- I know they would suffer much for its sake; -- I know they would endure evils long and patiently before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of the mob, the alienation of their affections from the government is the natural consequence...

...the question recurs, "how shall we fortify against it?" The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; -- let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children's liberty.

-- Abraham Lincoln, 1/27/1838, Springfield, Illinois

Jesus Camp

Andrew Sullivan linked to this news report about an evangelical camp for kids. It makes the point I was trying to make yesterday for me, that religious extremism and intolerance is becoming a militant force in the U.S. Money quote, from Pastor Becky Fisher, who runs the camp:

I see them (the kids in the camp) radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are over in Pakistan...
Oh, yes, and the report shows the kids worshipping to a picture of President George W. Bush.

Paging Nehemiah Scudder, your time is nigh...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Another Gay Movie

Saw Another Gay Movie over the weekend. I had low expectations but was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

If you're not familiar with this movie, it's essentially a gay version of American Pie. It's set in a world where gay teens can be just as openly raunchy, horny and single-minded in getting laid as their straight counterparts. Yes, it's predictable (after all, it is based on American Pie and essentially follows the same plot lines) but there are some really good gags and the audience reactions make it a great movie experience. A fun skewering of gay icons and gay sex. In it our four protagonists have just graduated high school and make a pact to have their first anal sex experience before Labor Day. It's definitely not the gay movie to take mom to.

And the naming of the high school "San Torum High" was priceless (warning, this link is graphic and adult in nature, concerning a neologism invented by Dan Savage to get back at Sen. Rick Santorum for his anti-gay remarks).

Rise of Religious Intolerance

Chris Crain over at the Washington Blade writes an interesting editorial (I thought he was leaving?) sums up aptly a point I've been trying to make:

In a speech on the five-year anniversary of 9/11, the president described our enemies as "extremists" who have perverted religion into "a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom [and] rejects tolerance." It is long past time that our activists explain to the country what we, as gay Americans, know to be true: on the issue of homosexuality at least, Bush and his conservative allies are practicing what they preach against.

Our president rails against "radical imams" enshrining their religious edicts into law, even as he calls on Americans to amend our nation's founding document to enshrine the "sacred institution of marriage" as limited to heterosexual couples only.
Now, I don't for a minute compare Bush to terrorists who seek to murder innocents, including women and children, in cold blood. But Bush is at the forefront of an increasingly powerful religious movement in America that is seeking to codify its religious beliefs in public law. Religious extremism is on the rise in the East -- and the West.

The key similarity in the rise in the East and West is the lack of tolerance for other viewpoints and the key difference is one of degree -- in some Islamic societies homosexuals are punished by death, in the West the religious right imposes their intolerance into the law.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

First Conversation

Every Sunday afternoon at 2 pm local time, 8 am Hawaii time, the LTR and I phone our son, Eli. He's just turned two. The phone calls are pretty one sided, with the LTR and me saying the typical things ones says to a two year old half way around the globe, "Hi Eli, it's Daddy/Poppa. I love/miss you. Can't wait to see you." The LTR is better at this than I am -- he's good at making funny voices and sounds and using baby words on the phone (he does this with me all the time so he gets lots of practice) and I'm a bit phone shy anyway.

Here lately I've tried a different tactic. I'll say a few things and then be quiet hoping Eli will talk. I've been good at getting him to say "Da" which means Dad; and duck and bus and Ranger (our Dog) which are some of his favorite words. Today, this:

Me: "Eli, how old are you now?"

Eli: TuuuuUUUU? (most of his words are said as questions).

Me: That's right Eli, you're two. Do you have a birthday cake?

Eli: CaaaaaAAAA?

Me: What color is your cake?

Eli: BluuuuuUUU?

As I was working in the back yard this afternoon I was overhearing our neighbor Marcus talk to his two-and-a-half year old, Oliver. "Oliver, if you go poo in the pot I'll let you play with R2-D2, your robot." (I hollered over to Marcus that, technically, R2-D2 is an android, not a robot*. I really don't know why our neighbors don't like me).

Anyway, as I was listening to Marcus talk with his children, I realized that I had had my first real dialogue, my first conversation, with my son. I asked questions and he responded. His mother confirmed his cake is blue.

I thought that was really special, and came inside to blog about it.

*Quite frankly, now that I think about it, R2D2 IS a robot, as my understanding of the definition of an android is a robot designed to be humanlike. Therefore, C3PO, 'Droid. R2-D2, 'bot. But in Star Wars everyone refers to both as Droids. One could really geek out about this. Maybe in about 5-6 years if Eli gets into Star Wars we can discuss it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Library of Congress, Reading Glasses and My Mid-Life Crisis

The most flak I've gotten (thus far) on this blog from friends is my reference in the profile to a mid-life crisis. What! You're a lucky guy! Aren't you happy?

Indeed I am happy and yes I'm very lucky, in very many ways. But this doesn't mean you don't view with alarm the number of years in your rearview mirror and the rapid acceleration of the road that lies ahead without some alarm.

This was brought home to me today in a work-related visit to the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill. When I first came to DC, 20 years ago, I thought I wanted to get a job doing issue research. I thought if I were savvy in how to use the Library of Congress it would help my employment prospects. So, in between job interviews I spent a lot of time at the LOC during my own made up research projects. This strategy ultimately paid off and in my first job used my knowledge of the library to help me. But I haven't used the LOC since that first job. Fast forward to today, I'm in the library's periodical reading room. I found what I was looking for...and pulled out my reading glasses so I could read the damn thing.

How'd I go from a fresh faced ambitious kid poking around the Library to a middle aged nearsighted old fart so quickly? It happened in a blink of an eye. And it's the next blink I'll be shuffling around the library using my zimmerframe. And the blink after that I don't want to think about.

Yes, I'm enjoying my life. I just want it to slow down.

Hunk of the Week

It's Friday, and you know what that means -- Hunk of the Week!

This week, the Take is going with Kinda-Almost-Mayor-Except-for-the-Minor-Detail-of-the-General-Election Adrian Fenty!

No, we didn't vote for him for mayor, but he has all the qualities that make him a perfect candidate for Hunk of the Week in a way that Linda Cropp never could. Handsome, athletic, lean, beautiful eyes, and that shaved head is very sexy. In short, Mayorlicious!

Perhaps MattyDale could help him update his necktie choices, though

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Shostakovich 5

Listened to Shostakovitch's Symphony Number 5 tonight...What an overwhelming sense of oppression in the first movement's climax of the development section before the recapitulation...and nothing more melancholoy than the horn solo sfter the climax midway through the last movement.

Dreaming about Condi Rice

Last night Condi Rice was in my dreams.

The Potomac River was flooding, and the glam sec'y of state came to the rescue and monitored the situation. In my dream, monitoring the situation meant driving an SUV into the river, floating downstream like flotsam, until she plunges over a big waterfall, submerges, swims out, and then goes back to do it all again. I realize there is no waterfall on the Potomac, but other than that it's pretty realistic, don't ya think?

Oh, and the dream ended with Condi and the SUV plunging over the waterfall for a final time, only this time underwater her SUV became wedged between the other SUVs she had left there and she couldn't open the doors to swim out. Miraculously the power windows still worked and the resourceful diplomat swam to safety and she lived to become John McCain's vice presidential running mate.


The Ghost

I live in a haunted house. The LTR and I have heard our ghost walking, talking and singing for the past several years. I haven't heard her (yes it's a she) in a while but this morning, as I sit here alone in the house, I hear her walking on the third floor above me.

Even though she's a friendly ghost, it's still a little creepy. If only she would fold the laundry.

Katie Couric

I tuned into Katie's newscast the other night to see what it is all about. Not bad, I think the approach to focus more on feature stories and less on the day's news that we've already read on line makes sense. And I'm glad Katie no longer has to watch the major news of the day unfold in her pajamas.

But she came off self-conscious, spending the first 2/3rds of the broadcast with a demeanor that announced, "I'm a serious news anchor, dammit!" and the last 1/3 perched on the edge of her desk with a big, sweet smile and a demeanor that said, "but I'm still cute and perky, and darn it, people like me!"

She should relax.

I keep reading that the networks are trying to appeal to a younger audience. I don't know how they can do that and have the news at 6:30. No one my age (yes, I'm lumping myself into the "younger" category, even though in gay years, at 42, I'm technically extinct) is at home from work and ready to plop down in front of the tube that early.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jim McGreevey

The Wash Blade led with this in its story about former NJ Gov and "gay American" Jim McGreevey appearing on Oprah:

James E. McGreevey, the first openly gay governor in U.S. history...

Actually, that's not quite correct. Gov. Jim was firmly in the closet while governor, until it came to light the married gov put his lover on the state payroll for a job he was not qualified for.

I don't know how I feel about Mr. McG, but I know he's not worthy of being in the "first" category with the likes of Harvey Milk, first openly gay elected official, or David Catania, first openly gay member of the DC City Council. Mr. McG came out after he was caught and is now cashing in.

I know the pressure to be straight is an awful and powerful force in society...but the real heroes are those who find a way to stand up to that force in recognition of their true nature and live honestly and openly. I'm glad Mr. McG is there now. But he didn't do it. He was forced. And there is nothing heroic about that.

When Bad is Hot

A fellow blogger ponders and posts on why bad is hot.

She's got some good guys mixed in with her rogue's gallery, but I think she is on to something.

Meanwhile, Airline Safety

Quote of the Day, on the new liquid bans on airplanes:

Gary Boettcher, a pilot and president of the Coalition for Airline Pilots Association, a trade group that closely tracks security issues, said he constantly sees people drinking from illicit bottles of water or putting on lip gloss when he walks through the passenger cabin. Most of the time, he said, it doesn't bother him.

"They are just doing their routines like they always did," Boettcher said. "An old woman drinking a bottle of water doesn't concern me. . . . The whole screening process is a facade to make the public feel safe, to show that the government is doing something."

Emphasis added. Read the whole story here.

Mayor Fenty

What has felt inevitable over the past several weeks became reality. So, as Jim Graham said, we can look forwad to the excitement of the unknown in the Fenty administration.

It would appear that Fenty grabbed and swallowed the undecided vote. Possibly his troops turned out in greater numbers than the fatigued Cropp crew.

I'm sure Mr. Fenty is a good man with good intentions. But he won on style and image, not on substance and the good people of DC just gave him a mandate to do, well, what? Something new. That's a big blank check -- let's hope we're not surprised when it's drawn.

In the meantime, Mayor-t0-be Fenty, congratulations and good luck. Based on some of your campaign promises, btw, I expect you to over here to clean out my garage later this week. Don't forget to set out the trash. Oh, and by the way, consider appointing Linda Cropp to be your Public Education Czar. I hear she has a great, specific plan to help DC Public Schools.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It Only Hurts When I Breathe

It's the accident that keeps on giving.

I may have hurt myself in my bike crash more than I thought. I had some pain along my upper left rib cage on my left side, the side I landed on. I didn't think much of it as I've had sporadic areas of pain since the crash. So this afternoon at the gym I go to lift my first bench press, and on the way up a loud pop and crack along the rib cage area in question and pain.

So, I popped some prescription strength ibuprofen.

Dammit, I don't have time for broken or cracked ribs...

Irony of the Day -- the DC Election

From today's Wash Post on the DC election:

At the Oyster Elementary School precinct on Calvert Street NW, lawyer Anne Stolee said she voted for Marie Johns because she "hated Linda Cropp's negative campaign" and felt Fenty's "heart was in the right place but he didn't have the attention to detail."

Umm...the Cropp negative campaign was about Fenty's lack of attention to detail. Negative campaigning works, although in this case Cropp, although successful in preventing this voter from voting for Fenty, didn't have the positives to capture her vote.

If Fenty wins, which seems likely, it's going to be because he seemed so energetic and Cropp seemed, well, embalmed. When I met her the first thought I had was how tired she looked. Image is everything.

The other irony here is that, this voter, by voting for Johns, is helping elect Fenty. Johns hasn't a prayer of winning -- and Cropp's only chance of success is picking up a large chunk of undecideds and Johns' voters. Johns' voters need to realize their gal can't win and that Cropp is (to their way of thinking) the next best thing.

Let Khatami Speak

I don't rarely disagree with Andrew Sullivan, but I think his outrage over former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's speaking at Harvard is misplaced.

Sullivan says:

I graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. I'm appalled they would give a platform to an Islamist theocrat like Khatami.
I say, let him speak. Let him tell us about his society's oppression of women and gays, so we better understand who we are dealing with.

When I was at college, the left was constantly protesting conservatives' right to speak on campus. Reagan's Star Wars program was very controversial at the time, and the liberals on campus tried to shut down a forum on the topic. It wasn't that they wanted to debate the pro-Star Wars proponents. They wanted to shut any debate down. Academia should be a safe haven to free speech.

I'm surprised at Sullivan. He recently even posted this quote from Jefferson, which if he truly believes, would argue for letting Khatami speak:

...truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate...

Emphasis added.

September 12, 2004

Everyone has been rightly focused on September 11, 2001, the "date that changed America." Today I am focused on September 12, 2004, a date that changed my life. That was the day my son, Eli was born. The LTR and I became sperm donors to a lesbian couple who were close friends of ours, Pam and Jana. I donated the juice, and Jana was the bio mom. The LTR and I threw ourselves into operation baby wholeheartedly, attending birth classes with the moms and having family night dinners once a week. We set up a nursery here in our home. Here is the account of Eli's birth I wrote and emailed members of our birth class:

Eli David Wolfe was born Sunday, September 12, 2004, at 7:59 AM. He weighed 7.5 lbs and was 20 1/2 inches long. He made his world premiere three weeks early.

Expecting an October birth, Dave and I were surprised when the phone rang at four a.m. early Sunday morning. Dave answered and Jana said “Hi, what are you doing today?" Dave replied, "I guess we're going to the hospital." Jana’s water had broken around three and she was having contractions. An event we had been preparing for nearly two years was finally here.

When we arrived about 5:30 Jana was already seven centimeters dilated. This meant the birth was progressing remarkably fast .Her contractions were lasting about a minute and were two minutes apart. She clearly wasn't enjoying them was enduring them without medication. A nurse guessed Jana would deliver around 10. At 7:15, Pam and I went down to the cafeteria to get breakfast. Thank God we decided to bring it back to the room! When we got back about 7:40 the doctor was there, Jana was on her back with her legs in stirrups and we were having a baby. She was fully dilated and 100 percent effaced. I was 100 percent amazed.

What happened in the next few minutes was the most beautiful, stunning and surreal experience I've ever had. What had begun as a somewhat sterile exchange of fluid was resulting in a human being. One lives with the facts of biology but mere science leaves you unprepared to witness the creation of a little boy that miraculously springs from a simple exchange of liquid.

The doctor had Dave and I each hold one of Jana's legs, and we'd pull them back each time Jana had a contraction (although this description may seem undignified from Jana’s perspective, I can tell you as a witness that nothing could take away the aura of grace that surrounded Jana that day). We'd try to get Jana to push through three 10-counts. Dave was counting for her and coaching her (you know how he loves to talk). Pam was snapping pictures.

Jana was pushing and the baby was crowning (the top of the head appearing). The doctor told Jana to reach down and feel his head. Joyous reality wiped the pain away – at long last here was the baby Eli. Jana gasped in happiness and her face lit up with a mom’s smile.

Then – a complication. The doctor said, "I'm afraid you're going to tear" and recommended an episiotomy (an incision to enlarge the vaginal opening). Jana, whose eyes had been squeezed tight against the pain, her face compressed with each contraction, opened her eyes and clearly and calmly asked, "Won't that hurt?" We've all had a good laugh about that after the fact.

So, Jana got the episiotomy. The doctor numbed the area – the only drug Jana had during this whole time. A quick snip did the trick. A short time later, the doc said to Pam, "honey you better put that camera down and get over here." Eli's head popped out and then the rest of his little body just slid out of the birth canal with the next contraction. Pam caught him and cut the umbilical cord. He made a couple of little cries and immediately peed. The staff wrapped him and laid him on Jana's chest. We hovered around and beamed as only parents can. Eli was wrinkled, red, eyes squeezed shut, hair matted wet…and he was beautiful.

Being three weeks early his little lungs didn’t at first provide the optimal amount of oxygen to his body, so he went to the Neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).

I must say Jana was phenomenal. She handled everything in stride, and other than a few moans and one bloodcurdling scream when Eli's head came out, endured labor stoically and drug free. While the rest of us looked like crap Sunday and Monday, Jana just looked relaxed, beautiful and happy. I think there is nothing more beautiful than a new mother.

Eli in July, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

National Anthem from the Brits, 9/11/2001

Andrew Sullivan linked to this today and I'm following suit. Here's the Buckingham Palace Band playing the American Anthem...a reminder of civility and global connection we felt in a day of utter brutality.

I didn't think I'd be so affected by the fifth year anniversary of 9/11 -- but seeing the news reports yesterday and reliving the events as they unfolded has left me feeling raw. My office was a block away from the White House at the time and I'll never forget what it was like to be fleeing downtown. No one knew what really was going on, there were rumors about a bomb at the state department, a fire on the mall, planes still unaccounted for. The most amazing thing to me was seeing the fear in everyone's eyes, and yet there was this errie quiet as everyone fled for their lives.

Side note, I wonder what arrangement of the National Anthem the Brits are sounds different (and better) than any of the arrangements I've played.

September 11, 2001


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Mean Girls


Hillary vs. Condi

Linda Cropp for Mayor

I've come full circle on Ms. Cropp. I started out not even considering her candidacy, now I intend to vote for her. I plan to do so because she has the best plan for improving DC public schools and is the best choice over Fenty.

Her skills are widely touted as a pragmatic consensus builder. This skill is needed in a city where racial and class tensions are simmering just beneath the surface, where the economic disparities are widening and where local control is often trumped by our Congressional overlords. A pragmatic eye for details is also needed to keep the city's bureaucratic infrastructure from lapsing into a dysfunctional cess pool. It improved under Williams but has a long way to go.

Fenty is an attractive candidate. He's handsome, energetic and has a bold vision for the city. His personal story is engaging. I shop at his parents' store. But how would he be at governing? The best his supporters can say is represented by this comment from Jim Graham in today's Post:

[Graham is] not sure how Fenty's vigor would translate into public policy. But he's certain Fenty would inject excitement into city government. "Part of the excitement is the unknown, right?"
Are we really willing to gamble our children's future on a government-as-amusement park lark? And this is the type of comment one hears from everyone supporting Fenty, even the Washington Post. Consider this, from a voter, also in today's Post article:

"Fenty has fresh ideas." Such as? "Well, I can't think of any right now."
The details of how Fenty's claim to fame on education -- the modernization act -- is illustrative. Fenty got the ball rolling, but it took the grown-ups on the City Council, especially Cropp, to make it happen.

Fenty's inner circle also includes Sam Skinner, a guy who has stirred racial tensions in the city and in my neighborhood. While Cropp has made a career of consensus building, Fenty is aligning himself with someone who inflames differences.

Cropp has to make up a lot of lost ground to win. She's around 10 points behind in the polls. The good news is that there are about 14 percent undecided. Hopefully Cropp will do well there. And, hopefully she is making a last minute appeal to Johns' voters. Marie Johns supporters are surely attracted to her because of her experience and CEO maturity. These voters are most certainly appalled by a Mayor Gee-Whiz-It'll-Be-Fun-Fenty. Cropps' experience should be an enticement for the Johns voters to abandon their doomed candidate to support Cropp to prevent the election of Fenty.

Psychedelic Team Building

Slept better last night, but had an interesting dream.

I dreamt I was at a resort. There were some band people there, but strangers too. The resort was a huge facility with many different activity rooms where you joined with others to do things. Some were traditional activities, like aerobics or yoga. But in one room there were multi-level pools of water and participants were engaging in a type of choreographed swim between the pools. In another room participants were engaged in a choreographed dance, with props that resembled things you'd see on Romper Room or the Electric Company. The resort would videotape these activities and broadcast them on its closed circuit TV. It was kind of a psychedelic corporate team building trip, with showtunes. I may have to develop the concept and market it.

But now I'm chasing away the cobwebs with some of the LTR's coffee. The LTR believes in strong coffee. He usually fills the filter to the brim with coffee grounds -- if you can see the filter he hasn't done his job. The result is some pretty thick have to turn the carafe upside down and shake it like a constipated bottle of ketchup to dislodge the purported liquid.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Simpsons Vs. Star Trek


With apologies to Alexander Courage.

How Would He Find the Time?

Does Andrew Sullivan ever go to the gym? I think I recall the LTR mentioning he has seen him at Resluts. I'm astounded by his blogging output.

Myself, I don't have the wardrobe to work out at Resluts. I slum my workouts at WSC.

And lately it's been a struggle to find time. Although this week I did take a few days off after the accident.

The Blade and the MW

A reader writes:

I don't know what you're talking about when you say the Blade folks are unprofessional. I've had nothing but good experiences with them. They break good news, and give me the inside scoop, which is more than I can say about MW.
This seems to be more of a comment on what I didn't say rather than what I did. I agree the Blade provides good information. It's usually fairly comprehensive and occasionally hard-hitting. But I stand by my comments that the MW does a better job of covering the DC LGBT Community. They seem more familiar and more approachable then the folks at WashBlade. As someone who has worked here in public relations, I feel it's easier to pick up the phone and pitch a reporter at the Washington Post than it is to pitch something to the Blade. And, in the last eight years of working in the community here, the Blade has simply often gotten things wrong. In fact, in this weekend's edition, there are two glaring inaccuracies in a story about an event I happened to have been at.

I'm sure the staff there is overworked and stretched too thin. But too often their approach has been to hold the community at arms length. That's going to create gaps in their coverage, and has.

The new publisher was quoted as saying he wants to foster ties to the community. Let's hope that happens.

Band Nightmares

Woke up at 4:30, dreaming that several sections were missing from rehearsal at the upcoming band camp. It's kind of a recurring bad dream; I occasionally dream big sections of the band are missing, or that I can't find my music or in some cases can't find the band. I usually wake up from these dreams filled with anxiety, and so it was this morning. I couldn't fall back asleep.

I don't know why I keep having this dream. Attendance is pretty good and I haven't lost the band yet...well, maybe except for that one section of March to the Scaffold.

It's a tough concert coming up and already the rehearsal cycle seems short. I guess my anxieties are just playing themselves out as they always do.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Chris Crain Leaves the Blade

From today's Washington Blade:

Chris Crain, executive editor of the Washington Blade, is leaving the paper and its parent company Window Media later this month to join his partner in Brazil.
I'm sorry to see him go, I thought he brought a fresher, more rounded out view to the Blade's editorial pages (full disclosure: he accepted an op-ed piece from me once). His voice will be missed. I especially liked the fact that Crain held Republicans accountable but at the same time didn't give Democrats a pass. Crain's editorials were usually the best thing going at the Blade.

Unfortunately, that's about the best thing I can say about the paper. The other gay weekly in town does a much better job reporting on the community here. Sean Bugg and Will O'Bryan consistently provide quality in-depth reporting and writing (more disclosure: O'Bryan wrote a great feature piece on the band -- I told him at the time that his interview of me on the topic was the best and most thorough I had ever had). And the folks at the MW will take your phone calls -- unlike those at the Blade who act offended if you try to get them on the phone.

Perhaps the Blade will take this opportunity to rededicate itself to the Washington, DC glbt community. It would be a nice change.

Hunk Break

Sorry, today we need more than dandelions.

Remember Gabriel Dimas?

Hey, the header says it's about politics and sex. Just some toe-chompin' fun here on Friday at the "Take."

The Story So Far

Let's see:

Osama Bin Ladin is still on the loose, Iran wants nukes, Iraq is out of control, the American president is lying about torture, we're losing our staunchest British ally, Turkey is distancing itself from the West, N. Korea wants nukes, the polar ice caps are melting, the Dems are more concerned about how the Clinton administration looks in a TV movie about Sept. 11 than they are about offering a coherent alternate to the Bush administration's ongoing foreign policy train wreck and Paris Hilton is still getting media attention.

Bloom County style, it's time for a dandelion break:

The Fine Print

I got a nifty new cell phone yesterday afternoon. I can get my Yahoo email on it (more email!!) and it has IM and camera features as well. It's smaller than my smashed-up phone.

Unfortunately the instruction book is small too. The font size is at the sub-atomic level. I'll need an electron microscope to read it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back in the Saddle

Well, the Powerful Mach Five and I made a successful journey to Capitol Hill and back. No mishaps. No apprehension. Just ready to ride!

I do have a slight headache. I have had it since around noon and it hasn't gone away. Interestingly, it hurts more on the side of my head opposite where I hit. If it's not better in the morning I'll call my doctor, but the LTR says I'm making something from nothing.

The Bush Torture Now You See It Now You Don't Trick

So, the Pentagon denounces it's previous policy of torture (hooding, sleep depreviation, waterboarding, etc) while the president sends to Congress a bill that would legalize these techniques.

Andrew Sullivan exposes the president's lies here.

The Washington Post, in an editorial today, comes out against torture. Key quote:

But the detention and interrogation regime that Mr. Bush wants Congress to sanction is almost as bad as the one the Supreme Court forced him to set aside in the Hamdan case. Mr. Bush has no regrets about the interrogation tactics used on high-value detainees, which he did not name but which others have said included simulated drowning. He described the techniques as "tough" but "safe and lawful and necessary." But they were not "lawful" -- at least not as the Supreme Court has articulated the law. On the same day that U.S. generals were describing abusive techniques as ineffective and counterproductive, Mr. Bush insisted that the CIA's program of secret detentions and coercive interrogations needs to continue.
So what's this all about? Another story in the Wash Po provides an answer:

All week, the White House has made plain its desire to refocus the attention of voters this fall away from a troubled and unpopular war in Iraq in favor of Bush's vision of a worldwide struggle against Islamic radicalism and terrorism. Yesterday, Bush sought to turn a legal defeat at the Supreme Court into a political opportunity
The story goes on to say:

His success in catching much of Washington by surprise showed that a president who polls show has his political back to the wall still has formidable tools: the ability to make well-timed course corrections on policy, dominate the news and shape the capital's agenda in the weeks before Election Day.

The president is playing election year politics with America's moral values. That, coupled with his administration's general incompetence, is what is truly giving our enemies victory over us. If we abandon the virtues of civilized, Western society in the quest for safety, we've ceased to be what made us worth the fight in the first place. And our enemies will have won.

Feeling Like Elvis

All shook up, that is.

My accident wasn't bad, in that there were no broken bones, no concussion, no head split like a watermelon falling to the street from a 10-story high rise, no sudden sick desire to beat my chest and listen to Celine Dion tunes.

But for some reason I feel, well, really shaken. I was really amazed at how hard my head hit the concrete (and how well my helmet worked). Today I'm really stiff and sore. But for my helmet I know I'd be laid up in a hospital. And that would be a best case scenario, I'm absolutely convinced.

I love riding my bike -- I love the freedom, being outdoors and the physical exertion. It gives me a sense of independence, fitness and fun. To get hurt doing something I love is disturbing. Like getting bitten by a beloved pet, perhaps.

And, like a rodeo rider thrown from a horse, I know I've got to get back on and ride. But I'm feeling a bit apprehensive about it. And that's disturbing too.

A Funny Pizza Story

Courtesy of Craig's List

We had an amusing encounter with a Dominoe's Pizza clerk once. I'm lactose intolerant, so when the LTR and I order pizza we usually get half sans cheese. So one evening, the LTR calls Dominoes and says:

LTR: We'd like a large, pepperoni, green pepper, olives

Dominoes Clerk: OK

LTR: And no cheese on half

DC: No cheese on half?

LTR: Right no cheese on half.

DC: Which half?

LTR: What?

DC: You want a large, pepperoni, green pepper, olive pizza with no cheese on half. Which half doesn't get the cheese?

LTR: Uh, the right half?

I swear this really happened. And the pizza arrived -- as usual -- with cheese on the whole thing.

Is This Good News?

Iraq's military stands on its own. Progress?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Well, it finally happened. After biking accident-free daily for over three years I had my first wipe out.

I'm okay. My cell phone is not:

I got a little scraped up:

Fortunately, I was wearing my helmet or this woulda been a lot worse. It really was no miracle, what happened was just this:

I was on the Rock Creek Park bike trail, rounding a corner as an oncoming bike was rounding the corner in his direction. I gave him a wide berth, and in so doing I hit a big patch of mud (some of which I'm wearing in the photos above) that had oozed onto the trail after all the rain we've been having. As this was on a corner, both wheels just slid out from under me. I went down on my left side. While most of my body made contact with the mud and slid, thus making the scraping minor, my head hit the concrete trail hard. If it weren't for my helmet, I'd be in the hospital or worse for sure. So kiddies, always wear your helmet when you ride!

The oncoming biker stopped and was very apologetic. I told him it wasn't his fault -- it wasn't -- and that I was okay.

As much as I bike I knew that an accident was inevitable. Thank god it was a garden-variety accident. And thankfully the powerful Mach Five was undamaged.

Fenty for Mayor?

The Washington Post thinks so.

I'm not convinced by their style over substance argument.

As I blogged about here, I think Linda Cropp has a better education plan. Fenty's call to modernize DC's public school infrastructure is okay, but fixing brick and mortar is not going to fix what's ailing the capital's school system. The problem with DC Public Schools is a human problem, not a brick and mortar problem. With quality teachers, supportive and decisive principals and engaged parents, education will happen in even the shabbiest building. Without good teachers, principals and involved parents even the most sparkling new school facility will likely offer poor education to our kids. Linda Cropp gets it. I don't think Fenty does.

Selfish Lesbians

This letter to my favorite sex advice columnist hits awfully close to home.

Happy Trails

to you...

Haven't seen much of him since Latter Days.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Kameny Papers

Good story in Metro Weekly regarding a Web site making some of Frank Kameny's archive available to the public.

If you're asking yourself, "who is Frank Kameny?" I'm not surprised. After all, gay history was not a subject likely included in your high school civics class. And even if it were, you were probably too distracted by thougths of Ron the football quarterback's hairy pecs to pay attention.

Frank Kameny was one of the first gay rights pioneers, pre-Stonewall, and he remains active to this day, especially in helping push for the end to don't ask-don't tell. Once upon a time the APA viewed homosexuality as a mental disorder. Frank (with others) got them to take a second look and change their minds. Frank founded the DC Chapter of the Mattachine Society and organized one of the first ever gay rights demonstration in front of the White House, in 1965.

Here's what one book says about him:

"Almost single-handedly, he (Kameny) formed and popularized the ideological foundations of the gay rights movement in the 1960's: that homosexuals constituted 10 percent of the population, that they were not mentally ill, that they didn't need to be spoken for by medical experts, and that they had a right not to be discriminated against."

-excerpt from Out for Good, by Dudley Clendinen & Adam Nagourney (Simon & Schuster, 1999), page 114.

So many of pioneers are gone, like this one, a whole generation wiped out. But Kameny endures. So too, should his vast collection of early gay activism. Help preserve it. Visit the Web site and donate.

Karl Rove's Dad was Gay

Now we know.

Hiking Sticks

Perhaps I was too hasty in my condemnation of hiking sticks (and the people who use them). Get the facts of the matter from Pete's Pole Page. It's not as suggestive (alas) as it sounds.


So, the big question pondered on the trail this weekend: What makes one a "hiker?" If I walk to the top of the mountain, am I hiker? Or a walker? Am I a hiker if I strap on a backpack? And only a lowly walker if I go bare? What if I carry those dopey hiking sticks am I a hiker then? (Or just dorky?).

This question remained unresolved all weekend.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Dog's Life in the Shenandoah

This Labor Day weekend the LTR and our two dogs, Ranger and Buster and I went to a primitive cabin the Shenandoah Mountains.

By primitive cabin I mean no phone, no lights, no running water, not to mention motor cars. For some reason we can never get any of our friends to go with us on one of these trips. For we usually go several times a year.

Both of our dogs have loved these trips. Each time we go we take a long hike each day, usually the longest one a 10-12 mile circuit hike.

Last year, the younger dog, Buster (8) began suffering from arthritis. With the help of medication he was still able to hike, though he lost a little steam at the end. Knowing his condition, we've been anticipating the day when he could no longer hike with us.

But Ranger -- the older dog, now 13 -- was amazing. Last year on even the longest hikes she would zoom past us on the trail, turn around and zip back, coming to a cold stop and look at us like, C'mon already, get moving!

So it was something of a shock to us when she greeted the trail this time with an attitude that looked more like determination and less like carefree abandon of the open trail.

We were foolish -- we thought we were giving a concession to our dog's age by planning only a seven mile hike for the big hike. We were way off, as it turns out. She was fine for the first couple of miles. By the middle of mile three it was clear she was struggling. We slowed the pace considerably but in the end had to carry her out the last mile -- and actually cut our hike short and the LTR and the dogs stayed at the trail head at Skyline Drive while I hiked another two miles on the Appalachian Trail to get the jeep to come back and pick them up. Then we had to carry her the mile hike in from the parking lot back to the Cabin.

Today, she is better and walked out under her own power for the mile trek back to the car and then home.

But the LTR and I are shook up. We've known she was 13 and old in dog years for some time. But she has not acted 13 or old until now. It seems the long Indian Summer of her life is coming to an end and the winter of old age is here.

Today, before packing up and heading home, the LTR and I took a hike while the dogs stayed at the cabin. It's the first time we've hit the trail without our companions. We knew we had to take those steps toward accepting the new reality. We left our tears on the trail.

In this world of woe there are many tragedies and this is not one of them. But (to steal from Robert Frost), today I was to taste in little, the grief, that comes from a dog's life being too brief.

Sunset view from our cabin, 9/2/06

Friday, September 01, 2006

Meanwhile, in Gotham City

Paid advocacy has come a long way from this.

But it isn't this much fun.

Curse of the Drapers at Washington Sports Club

The most annoying thing at the gym are the drapers -- the guys who drape their bodies over the machines while they're resting between sets.

It's like the machines are their own personal barca lounges. Yes, you can ask to work in, but the drapers always give you that look like you've ruined their beauty sleep. I almost took the pulse of one pasty guy draped across the incline bench the other day. But he stirred just in time to take a drink of water from his bottle before collapsing again. I don't think you can call it a workout. Maybe a lounge-out.

Anyway, I'm on a new tricep-bicep routine that the LTR borrowed from Arnold Schwartzenegger. The LTR says if I stay on it I can increase my arm size and maybe one day be governor of California.

If only the drapers would stay out of my way.

Cropp for Mayor?

I'm taking another look at Linda Cropp. Her shenanigans in the stadium deal left a bad taste in my mouth. But, I read her education plan. I like it.

I read Fenty's education plan. I like it less.

Cropp's is more focused and detailed and you can read her passion and commitment in it.

Fenty's is bureaucratic and bland.

What's more, Cropp's focus is dead on -- she focuses on the three legs upon which quality education stands:

  • Teachers
  • Principals
  • Parents

Fenty's plan gets at some of these things too, but not with the same focus and passion.

I believe Cropp has a better plan to improve DC public schools.

Plus, I met her last night. I was riding my bike (the powerful Mach 5) down 14th street and she was crossing with a gaggle of campaign workers on S. She walked over and introduced herself and asked for my vote. She seemed smaller than she looks on TV and she looked a little haggard. I kinda felt sorry for her.

But, that chance encounter caused me to rethink my disinterest in her and I spent some time this morning reading her education plan and Fenty's. And I liked what I saw.

She may get my vote.