Monday, April 30, 2007

The Journey's the Thing

I was feeling crummy after rehearsal tonight and then read this quote on Andrew Sullivan's blog:

"No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve in quality as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing it is to reach the finale. The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it. It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them," - Alan Watts, English mystic, writer, and lecturer.

I tend to be such a go from point A to point B kind a guy that I forget to enjoy the journey and end up not enjoying it, then feeling depressed about it. I'm thinking of a lot of reasons to kick myself tonight, but should just relax to the inevitable knowledge that I'm gonna screw up, not be as good as I want to be, etc, and just enjoy the ride.

The Eastern Market Tragedy

DC lost an important icon this morning to fire, Eastern Market, a 130-year-old market for things ranging from food to arts and crafts. It has been in continous use as a market since it was built in the 1870s.

Marc Fisher exlains what we've lost.

Metroblogger has good info on what could lie ahead for the historic landmark.

Everyone's recounting there favorite stories of Eastern Market. Mine is that when the LTR and I first met, when we both worked on the Hill, we would go there on Fridays -- especially this time of year -- for fresh grilled chicken sandwiches. I can taste them still.


AussieBum has a cool little trick going to bars and enticing cute boys to try on their underwear.

The fact that I like this is not an indication, as I deny below, that I am gay. Gay. Not. Very Not.

Hat Tip: Bjorn

Gay. Not.

Sanjaya's not gay.

Neither is Ryan Seacrest.

Me Neither. Nope. Not Me.


I'm going to try and become more of an optimist.

I just don't think I'll succeed.

Not Casual about Separation Between Mosque and State

A demonstration in Istanbul yesterday against the ruling party's candidate for president, who the demonstrators feel is too "loyal to his Islamic roots."

Hmm, here in the land of the free our presidential candidates have to prove loyalty to their Christian roots to be serious contenders.

(via Casual in Istanbul)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fred Thompson is not Reagan

I do not get this:

Mr Deaver sees the same raw material in Mr Thompson as was perceived in Ronald Reagan, describing him as someone "that could really make a difference". He added: "He is very popular in his party. He could change this whole thing and turn this primary system upside down.

Maybe that's more to do with Republicans dissatisfaction with the current field than with a true sense of Thompson and Reagan.

The key attribute of Ronald Reagan that put him head and shoulders above others was a sense of cheerful optimism about America. I haven't sensed that in Sen. Thompson. Authoritarian yes. Optimistic, no. It may come. But the one who has potential to restore a sense of pride and greatness about America -- the one who could credibly speak of a "shining city on a hill" is a Senator -- not from Tennessee, or New York, but from Illinois.


A perfect day...we both got some work done this AM, had lunch together on 17th Street, then biked through Rock Creek Park. We even had some time to romp through Cupid's Grove (to use a 19th century euphonism).

Here's me and my bike, the Powerful Mach Five, next to Rock Creek.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Question on the Table

I'm reading Steven Fullwood's book of essays, Funny. Subtitle: On Being Black, Male and a Manhandler.

The chapter "I Don't Care" is interesting to me as it addresses attempts to find affirming pro-gay portions of the Bible (or at least attempts to show that the anti-gay verses don't mean what the religious right says they mean). He says, stop. It doesn't matter. Find your own sense of self worth in yourself, not some religious document.

Okay, as far as that goes. Then this paragraph jumped out at me:

The question on the table directed at any historically oppressed people is 'can you prove to me that you exist?' When white people have asked black people this question, traditionally we have scrambled to answer by talking up our leaders, doctors, lawyers, teacher and all, like it makes any difference. The heart of racism is still alive and beating, and it doesn't matter how many articulate light skinned green eyed professionals momma pushes from her loins, racism cannot be solved with logic, because it is illogical. Black people would do better to spend their time arming themselves with education and love than to defend their right to fucking breathe. Homo folk, take a hint and get with a different program. (Emphasis added).

Whew. That's a powerful paragraph. But I have a problem with it's premise. Is the question on the table really whether a minority exists, or is whether the minority has worth? Is fully human? Or some sort of Other? Paradoxically, it seems to this white, middle aged, middle class gay guy that there's less reason to prove existence as a black person, than as a gay person. The fact of race is firmly established, the fact of being gay as a natural state is constantly challenged. But I digress.

I agree with Fullwood that trying to solve racism -- or homophobia -- with logic is foolish. But I do think identity politics, which I define as people who identify as gay coming forward and saying so, is necessary to get people to drop their homophobic baggage. Otherwise all that's left in the public marketplace of ideas are the stereotypes and images of "gay" that the homophobic right puts forth. I would hate for that to happen in a vacuum.

And I think attempts to refute the radical right's interpretation of the Bible gets at the question I think is on the table, which is are gays part of the human family? I don't need a religious text to tell me that I am. But I don't want my opponent unchecked to use a religious text to tell me I am not.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Weekend

The LTR (pictured left last weekend on Waikiki beach) and I are taking this weekend for ourselves. For the past four weekends we've had:

1) my uncle's funeral
2) my family here visiting and a big Easter Brunch
3) The LTR's trip back to Akron to take Eli to see his family
4) The LTR's trip to Hawaii to return the boy to his moms.

We've barely had time for us. So that's what this weekend is going to be all about.

Mistislav Rostropovich RIP

One of the 20th century's greatest artists has passed.

A tribute, from the master himself:

How Many "First Priorities" Does the Mayor Have?

From DC Mayor Fenty's testimony to the DC City Council, 2/27/07:

I have proposed, as my first initiative and first priority as Mayor, a radical, yet deliberate proposal to deliver on a promise we make to our children as a society. Education is that promise; quality public education is a civil right, and I firmly believe we have a moral obligation to deliver. (Emphasis added)

And from a WashBlade story a few weeks back:

Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty said last week that fighting HIV and AIDS in the nation’s capital will be the “number one priority” of his administration. (Emphasis added)

Okay, so which is it -- AIDS or Education? That both should be high priorities is clear, but can you have two "first" priorities?

I'm not nit-picking -- the Achilles heel of the Fenty administration is that it is prone to gadflyism. The Mayor flits from one event and group to another, and, seemingly, tells it what it wants to hear.

The great leaders pick a few big ideas and pursue them relentlessly. The smaller leaders pursue a thousand leads. DC needs a great leader. I hope Fenty will rise to the occasion. But statements like these raise doubts.

Parking Ticket Mania

This morning in front of Scott's Take global headquarters here in the People's Republic of Columbia (a.k.a. Washington, DC), I witnessed what I think an injustice. A small one, mind you in the panoply of injustices that occur daily on this planet. But this one happened right in front of my house.

My street is seeing a lot of home remodelling this spring, which means street parking has been restricted in front of houses for dumpsters and construction equipment. My neighbor, two doors down, is one of these houses, and for the last month about 40 feet of curb parking has been restricted, marked by temporary "no parking" signs obtained from the police and placed by the construction crew.

This morning as I was returning home from walking the two ancient mutts, one of the construction workers was hailing the parking policewoman who patrols our hood. One of the "No Parking" signs had been ripped down and there was a car parked in the space. The construction guy asked the parking Nazi to write a ticket, which she gleefully did (the car with the ticket, pictured above).

I asked them both how she could write a ticket when there was no "No Parking" sign there? The police officer responded that the driver "should have known." What? I don't recall clairvoyance being a requirement when I got my DC driver's license. The construction worker then proceeded to accuse me of taking the sign down.

I took pictures. Below is the post where the "No Parking" sign used to be, and the purple car legally -- in my view -- parked. As you can see, there is no sign saying don't park here. The signs you see on the pole are permanent signs which say two hour parking is permitted during the day, zone 1 permit holders excepted.

Reax to Dem Debate

Well, no light shed on the candidate's position on achieving the equality for gays they all profess. I didn't really expect it.

Hillary did better than I expected as she didn't come off like the fake, polished automaton I expected. If she believes we need to do more to combat violence like at Columbine and VA Tech I wish Williams had followed up and asked her why she isn't now during more as Senator to toughen gun laws and why the Clinton Administration -- excuse me, "Bill" -- didn't take the opportunity after Columbine.

Obama kind of stumbled some although he looked poised throughout and is the only candidate I would have wanted to kiss to after the debate. But I don't think he really helped himself in this performance.

The one candidate I thought came out looking good was Bill Richardson. He seemed the most genuine of the lot...he looked at times anxious, at times annoyed. I loved his "that's how I felt" response to the Gonzales question: why was he the last person to call for the AG's ouster? Richardson said he wanted to give a fellow Hispanic the benefit of the doubt until he had a chance to testify. "That's how I felt." Good answer. And when he saw Gonzales' awfully testimony, the benefit of the doubt was gone. Of all the candidates, he's the one I'd want to go sit at a bar and talk politics with while knocking back a few.

I hope they keep that Gravel guy around. He was fun.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

NH Provides Opportunity to Ask Probing Questions in Tonight's Dem Debate

NH's passing of civil union rights for same sex couples provides an opportunity for Democrat presidential hopefuls to answer the question posed by Evan Wolfson, executive director of the same-sex marriage advocacy group Freedom to Marry, in the WashBlade:

With the 2008 presidential election already drawing widespread publicity, Wolfson said gay advocacy groups and their allies should be asking the candidates to spell out what they mean when they express support for equal rights and benefits for same-sex couples through civil unions.

“When they try to do that, they will realize that there is only one system for doing it and that is marriage,” he said.

With various states now allowing gays to enter into Civil Unions, the federal government acts as a barrier to other states recognizing those unions and offering the same 1,200 federal benefits that are provided to straight marriages. To fix that, a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act has to be repealed. The Dem candidates should be asked, if you stand for equality for gay people, where do you stand on that specific issue? And if they don't want to repeal DOMA...then how can they say they are for "equality?"

And...why doesn't the gay press ask this? In the WashBlade article linked to above, there is no indication that reporter Lou Chibbaro asked the question of the candidates posed by Wolfson. Why not? The MSM is unlikely to ask it. Chibbaro is a reporter -- and a good one. Why not take the question directly to the candidates instead of merely reporting on what others are saying about the candidates?

Just a "Tad" Homoerotic

On the 1980s BBC scifi show "The Tripods" where a group of boys led by Will confront a sinister ailien species. The boys are clad in white sleeveless singlet shorts, hang out with a Freddie Mercury lookalike, take prolonged showers and "serve " their master.

A producer in this video says it might be a little bit homoerotic. Ya think?

(via Tottyland)

Cockroach vs. the Weatherman

Do you think the cockroach was targeting the guy becaue it knew he was gay?

Are Your Pants Worth $65 million?

DC Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson's are. At least that's what he thinks: He's suing a family-owned dry cleaners that amount for losing a pair of his pants back in 2005. And he wants $65 million. Marc Fisher has the deets.

A bio of the Judge -- who is serving as his own lawyer in the case can be found here.

My question is this: He's on the city payroll. How do we fire him?

Hate Crime Protection because Gays are Weak?

That's the message of several bloggers who are using the Michael Sandy case as an example of why gays need hate crime protection.

Michael Sandy was a gay man who was lured to a Brooklyn location by three men after an online chat. According to Pam, their intent was rob him believing him weak because he was gay.

Sandy fled his assailants, climbed a fence and hoped onto the Belt Parkway, where he was struck by a car. The three assailants then searched him for drugs and money and, finding none, they went home and drank beer. Sandy later died.

These three thugs deserve harsh sentences because of what they did, not because of what they thought. Selling legislators on the idea that gays are targeted because people think we are weak and therefore we need special protection serves us in the long run how? Yes, surely some people target gays because they think we may be an easy mark, or because they hate us, but people are targeted for all kinds of reasons -- from the clothes they wear to the neighborhoods they live in.

Sandy's assailants should be dealt with severely -- not because of who Sandy was but because of what they did to him.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The LTR is Back

I know because his suitcase is sitting in the middle of the floor of my office, outside the closet where it is stored.

This is not new. Each time he travels he empties the suitcase, then sits it right outside the closet door, I guess thinking the closet fairy (which would be me) will put it away for him.

The LTR is going to respond (tit for tat) that I leave empty coffee cups everywhere. But I don't leave them "everywhere" -- just primarily on my desk and my dresser upstairs. It's not like I sit the empty cups on the kitchen counter without putting them in the dishwasher. That would be worse, right?

Oh, and that's our geriatric dog Ranger in the foreground, unaware she's sleeping next to the next domestic dust-up.

"New Earth" Found

For the first time, scientists have detected a planet roughly the size of the Earth and with atmosphere, water and climate capable of sustaining life. It orbits a star named Gliese.

It's sun is cool (but the planet is closer to its sun than we are to ours) and is a red star.

The implication that life could exist means we now have a place to point our radio telescopes:

According to Seth Shostak, of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in California, the Gliese system is now a prime target for a radio search. 'We had actually looked at this system before but only for a few minutes. We heard nothing, but now we must look again.'
Bookies have slashed the odds for extraterrestrial life existing (I'm not kidding).

Read the exciting story here. And find out about the Godilocks Zone.

Park Much?

My neighbor, across the alley, apparently doesn't have much confidence in his garage parking skills.

Unpersuaded on Hate Crimes

Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, the neanderthals who murdered Matthew Shepherd, are serving life sentences for their crime. They will be in jail the rest of their lives. They are being punished for their heinous crime without the benefit of a federal hate crimes law covering gays.

I have been undecided on hate crimes legislation for some time. But in reading the writings of those pro and con, I have to say I am more persuaded by those con. Those for it don't seem to have much muscle in their arguments.

Joe Solmonese, head of the Human Rights Campaign argues in a Wash Blade op-ed that hate crimes legislation should be passed because, well, HRC needs a victory. It should be passed, he says, because it is "mature." That doesn't make it right.

Dale Carpenter, a gay professor who was the victim of anti-gay violence himself, argues that the law is no more than symbolic. Saying that supporters of hate crimes laws for gays have failed to cite one crime that has gone unpunished because due to lack of resources, Carpenter argues that hate crimes legislation would do nothing substantive in deterring crimes against gay people:

We now have almost 40 years of experience with these laws, yet there’s no evidence they have actually reduced hate crimes. A new federal law will not likely deter future violence.

Here’s why. Bias crimes are especially irrational, welling up from deep hatreds, resentments, and fears that law can hardly touch. They're often committed by young males in their teens and early 20s who don’t know the nuances in criminal law and whose animalistic behavior is probably not very responsive to nice legal incentives. Neither the prospect of federal (as opposed to state) prosecution nor the threat of additional time in prison (beyond what the offender would get anyway) will deter bias attacks.

He also makes a point that this symbolic legislation will give Democratic politicians cover from tackling thornier issues of real significance (like the more than 1,000 federal benefits denied to gay couples).

It may give the new Congress a "pass" -- allowing Democrats to say they have done something “pro-gay” and freeing them to avoid the harder and far more consequential questions of military service and protecting gay families in the law. These are issues, unlike hate crimes, about which Congress really can do something of practical value.

Solmonese seems to agree that the bill is symbolic, as he writes of it's "symbolic impact" on opponents. He also takes to task Carpenter's assertion that it will give Congress a "pass:"

We simply do not believe that passing hate crimes “forestalls” other legislation any more than the six o’clock train “forestalls” a later one.

That's a lousy metaphor...politics is not a railroad, where efficiency is prized. It's more like an unsatisfactory Christmas. "Hey, I may not have given you everything you wanted, but I gave you something. Now shut up and eat your turkey." HRC should know this as they've been the leading cheerleader of the "yeah, the Clintons gave us DOMA and DADT but they were nice to us in other ways" mantra.

Finally, Malcontent argues that:

The sine qua non of the gay-rights movement has been "equality." Yet hate-crimes laws are the very essence of inequity. In singling out favored groups for protection, you must necessarily afford lesser protections to others.

The pro-hate crimes folks have failed to make their case. Hate crimes legislation will likely pass. The real test for the gay rights movement will be what of real consequence we can accomplish.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

DC Metro Cutting 220 Jobs

Ok -- is this ridiciulous or am I just being insensitive? I feel for anyone who loses their job, but this struck me as outrageous:

Layoffs approaching this size are unusual at Metro, and managers will receive training on how to tell employees they are losing their jobs. The agency also plans to offer stress counseling to laid-off employees and guidance on how to find new jobs, officials said.

Assistance to find a new job, fine. But STRESS COUNSELLING? This is partially funded by my tax dollars. Where's my tax-payer supported stress counselling when I lose a $90,000 contract? And, Metro has managers who lack the knowledge of how to fire people? They need special training? Aren't those skills a "manager" is supposed to have?

I can think of better uses for tax money for education programs for DC Metro employees. Like how not to kill people with your buses.

Butch Jesus

Via Pam, the Good News that our Lord is a Man's man:

Fishermen, Inc. makes figurines of Jesus participating in very butch activities like playing football, riding bulls, and engaging in the rawest, most manly, and sacred capitalist endeavor, working for food. These little statues are exactly what Our Lord needs to convince us that he's as heterosexual as the Pope or your average mega-church pastor--I mean who ever heard of a homosexual cowboy or football player?).

Not NASA, but a Heavenly Body Nonetheless

Model/Actor Chad Castellanos

(Hat tip: Casual in Istanbul)

Monday, April 23, 2007

NASA Image of the Day: Pretty but Deadly

The stars inside the bubbles are super hot and give off intense wind and radiation, posing a risk to planetary formation.

Lovely to look at, though. The "Rosette Nebula."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

An Empty House

Folks, I haven't blogged because every post I've tried to write since the boy went back to Hawaii has evolved into a purge of self-pity. Suffice it to say I'm heartbroken and when I try to explain why it just becomes too much. Suffice it to say it entails shattered dreams and a shattered heart and a bitter betrayal by one whom I thought I could trust. I was reacquainted with an old colleague from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Thursday -- my former boss. I told her the whole story. She said "You were always too trusting." Maybe one day I'll learn (see - I warned you. Self-pity).

I'm lucky to have time I do with my boy. But it's hard not to mourn the empty void created when he's halfway around the world.

Magnify the sentiment expressed in this 1970s tune by a factor of five or so and you'll get some sense of what I'm feeling.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lock Down Nonsense

I don't understand the recriminations against VA Tech for not "locking down" the campus after the first murder in the dorm, which occurred a couple of hours before the massacre in the classroom building.

How do you "lock down" an entire campus that sprawls over four square miles? What exactly do these people mean when they say "lock down?" My college campus (University of Illinois) had an undergrad population 10,000 more than VA Tech does. Even if the UofI had half the number it did I can't image the combined campus police and police forces of Urbana and Champaign "locking it down." How do you "lock down" a city?

In hindsight we know that the dorm shooting was not an isolated incident, but no one knew that at the time. Would the same people who are blaming campus officials for not going for a "lock down" after the first shooting be blaming the officials for overreacting if they had locked the campus down and there was no further violence?

Yeah, I think so too.

Tom Bridge at Metroblogger has a GREAT post for all those wanting to play the blame game. He writes:

Stop it.

Stop the recriminations.

Stop the anger and the need for fire. Instead, grieve the victims. Grieve for Reema Samaha, who grew up in Chantilly. Grieve for Mary Read, who grew up in Annandale. Grieve for Leslie Sherman, who grew up in Springfield. They are the tragedy here. Do not focus on the gunman, or the weapons he used, or who he bought them from. Do not press blame where blame does not lay. Grieve.

For all of us.


While changing Eli's diaper yesterday he used an improper word in reference to a part of his anatomy that he could have only learned one place. I promptly dispatched an email to his mother in Honolulu:

"On men or little boys they're called 'pecs' or even 'nipples,' but never 'boobies.'"

And here's a bonus question for you all: Why do men even have nipples?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Scenes Domestic

It's very grounding to have a rich family life.

And inspiring to have a happy 2.5 year old.

(more below)

Of course, cute as that hat is, it's April...why are we in winter clothes?

(more below)

Eli and me smilin' and profilin' in front of the LTR's palms in the rear 40 (rear 40 feet, that is).

(more below)

The LTR and I take turns reading bedtime stories. Here the LTR reads "Goodnight Gorilla," a favorite of Eli's (and mine).

The Hero of Room 204

Just as we don't have images of what went on aboard Flight 93 on 9/11, we don't have an image, other than in our mind's eye, based on survivor accounts, of what went on in Room 204 at VA Tech yesterday. But one thing is certain -- the name Liviu Librescu joins that of Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer in standing up to terror so that others might live.

Prof. Liviu Librescu held the door closed against the gunman so that his students could flee. He paid with his life.

While tragic, it reminds us that although humans are capable of unfathomable cruelty, we are also capable of selfless acts of heroism and sacrifice.

UPDATE: Librescu was a Holocaust survivor. His story and the stories of all the victims can be found here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Another April 16

35 Years ago today, Apollo 16 Astronauts walked on the face of the Moon.

Today, more than 30 human beings were wiped off the face of the Earth with a bullet from a madman.

I'd like to believe that the human race is defined by the quest for knowledge, understanding and beauty. It's hard sometimes and it's hardest on days like today where a man has brought so much suffering to mankind.

But it's important to remember that humanity reached for the stars and left human footprints in the sky. Humanity produced a Mozart, an Einstein, a Gandhi, a Mother Teresa, a Father Judge, a Laurel Hester.

After the massacre at Columbine, a composer wrote the high school an alma mater, which it hadn't had before. The key words were "We are all Columbine."

Yes, we are. And we are all Virginia Tech. We are all humanity. And if we get it right there's a universe of understanding and discovery out there we can someday hopefully grasp.

It doesn't seem like it on days like today. But for now, I'm trying to be optimistic.

The Draper

The Draper was at the gym tonight(See this entry for an intro to the characters at my gym). He was using the same equipment I needed to use and was in the way. I usually don't like to ask to "work in" because I'm impatient and I don't like waiting but I'm also usually conscientious and I don't want the other guy to think I'm trying to rush him.

Since I was working out right before band rehearsal, I had no choice. There he was, draped over the bench, reading his magazine (Runner's World, if you can believe it). "Um, mind if I work in?" I asked.

You'd have thought I'd asked him to let me cut off his left nut with a rusty butter knife from the look he gave me. When he grudgingly got up I realized I was asking him to make three additional movements between sets...get up, stand and get back down. It's probably the most he's ever moved at the gym.

After his last set, as I was doing mine, he plopped himself down on the machine I wanted to use next. I gave up and hit the showers.

Virginia Tech

It's impossible to fathom the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I watched a video on CNN taken by a student and you could hear the gun shots and only horrifically imagine what was taking place inside.

Someone I know from community band listserv is a prof there. He is fine. He says everyone of Virginia Tech's community of 25,000 will be directly effected by today's tragedy. I am almost in tears.

Spring Break for Congress - and Taxpayers Foot the Bill

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) led his wife, nine democrats and two Republicans to Honduras, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they stayed at the Caneel Bay resort, paying $1,100 per night. After they left the resort they flew to Key West.

The military provides jet service to these hard-to-get-to places -- at a rate of $10,000 per flying hour.

The purpose?

Thompson’s office said he toured the Caribbean because he now chairs the Homeland Security Committee and wanted to see vacation hot spots to “examine border security and port security.” Three other members of the delegation also brought along their spouses. you think he could even say that with a straight face? Come on.

And, btw, they could have stayed in a room at Caneel Bay for about $700 a night less...but they chose the most expensive room rate.

At least the two Republicans on his junket fact finding mission are on the committee (I don't know about the Dems on the trip, the article did not list his other travelling companions.

But the same can't be said for Rep. Eliot Engel of New York who led his wife and four Democratic members who aren't on his committee to Trinidad and Grenada. The purpose of that trip was to explore:

"best practices for emergency disaster relief" and energy policy.

Oh please. That briefing could have been given in any hearing room at the Capitol.

I agree that members sometimes need first hand knowledge over their subject matter. But, come on. College students seeking to justify a trip to Ft. Lauderdale during spring break could come up with more credible reasons why mom or dad should foot the bill.

Here's what I propose:

If a Member must go overseas, fly commercial, coach. Put a cap on lodging based on average tourist hotels in the moderate range (see Frommer's travel guides). Better yet -- can't they stay at the US consulate? Buying pullout beds for all our embassy's would be cheaper than just one trip to the Caneel Bay resort.

One Re-Run I Don't Want to Watch

I couldn't take it.

It's Monday

Time to get dressed for work.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

F*&K the Weather

Normally I think it's pointless to bitch about the weather. After all, there's nothing you can do about it (other than buy compact fluorescent light bulbs so you too can enjoy low-watt institutional lighting in your own home while reducing carbon emissions).

But I have to agree with Metroblogger. This is f*&king ridiculous.

Separate Not Equal

From Pam's House Blend, when a legally Civil Unioned woman tried to get health care benefits like she would if she were married:

"I called to ask if they were going to be honoring that law and providing me with the same coverage that they would any married couple, and I was told no," Bonfilio said. "The woman on the phone actually said to me: 'We do not have to obey New Jersey law.'"

Many other same-sex couples in civil unions are encountering similar problems. At the gay rights organization Lambda Legal, attorney David Buckel said he has gotten scores of complaints, mostly concerning refusals to provide couples in civil unions with the same health benefits provided to married couples.

And of course there's that little thing called DOMA.

I tried to get on the LTR's health insurance policy. First they said they would only cover "legally married" spouses. When the LTR informed them we'd go to Canada and get hitched, they quickly said legally recognized by the US government.

Meet the People at My Gym

Some of the people at my gym (a sports club chain) are interesting characters. Here are a few of them, given nicknames to protect the culpable.

The Draper: I hate this guy. He drapes himself across the equipment in long intervals between sets. He's usually reading a magazine or a memo. A few times I've almost checked his pulse to make sure but then he slowly turns a page before sagging back on what he must view as his own personal barca lounger with weights.

Coach Hissy Fit: This is a personal trainer who seems to delight in making his clients look ridiculous. His trade mark is to make his victims inhale and exhale with a hissing sound that emulates a boiling teapot and reverberates around the weight room. He's also loud and fussy, hence the nickname. He tends to also fixated on the LTR and makes it a point to provide gratuitous criticisms of the LTR which annoys the LTR. He does seem to be really involved in his training sessions, though, unlike many of the personal trainers at the club, who should probably be called impersonal trainers.

The Exhibitionist: He's around my age, of mixed ethnicity, Asian and Caucasian. He likes to parade around the locker room without a towel and will stand at the sink to blow dry his hair and pubic hair. He's toned, good shape, average, cut (hey, he walks around naked all the time so I've had ample opportunity to get the 411). He tends to hang out in the dry sauna a bit.

Shy Boy: In contrast to the Exhibitionist, Shy Boy won't be caught with his pants down -- literally. He wraps a towel around his waist to remove or replace his underwear (boxers). I've never understood this -- I suppose he's trying to be discrete but it only calls attention to himself. What's he afraid of? What's he hiding?

Mr. Popularity: This guy knows everyone in the gym by name and usually has the dirt on them (he certainly has it on Coach Hissy Fit). He's a competitive weight lifter and he's fun to work out with but the constant distractions of people engaging him in conversation can be frustrating to someone who likes to move quickly and efficiently though their workout. I know this, because Mr. Popularity is the LTR.

And there there is Sack Man, a former prominent Republican Party official who likes to hang out in the wet sauna with one leg propped up under him exposing two low hangers.

And finally, the Monk, an older gentleman with a Friar Tuck like hair style. Unfortunately he's decided to dye his hair instead of letting it go a dignified gray (ahem!) -- it's a faux red that, with his ruddy complexion and skin problems doesn't enhance his looks. All the time he spends working the sauna doesn't help.

Don Ho, RIP

Someone made the obvious pun before I could.

Of course, Don Ho is best known to my generation for his guest stint on the Brady Bunch when the clan went to Hawaii and Greg wiped out in the surf wearing the taboo tiki.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Killing Two Dreams with One Concert

This June I'll be conducting DCDD's Captitol Pride Symphonic Band (at left on tour in New Hampshire last year) at the Kennedy Center.

To conduct at the Ken Cen (actually, any major concert hall) is a lifelong dream.

I'll also be conducting the symphonic band and the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington.

We're guests of the GMCW for their June concert and we have a 30 minute set opening the concert. Then we do two joint pieces, "When You Believe" from "The Prince of Egypt" (you probably know it from the Mariah Carey version) and Randall Thomson's "Testament of Freedom."

I'm conducting the "When You Believe" number in addition to our opening set.

A small minded person a few years ago leveled a charge against me that I'd rather conduct a chorus than a band.

That's not worthy of a resonse, but I will say that I can't imagine any conductor not being thrilled with the opportunity to conduct the large and varied forces offered by a 70-piece symphonic band and a 200 strong voiced choir in a world class concert hall. Not to mention the fact that I love the music from the Prince of Egypt (same composer who gave us "Wicked").

The version we're doing with the GMCW is more faithful to the movie version than Mariah Carey's. That version follows.

Rally This Monday for DC Voting Rights

UPDATE: It looks like the rally went off well, despite the abnormal weather. It was the largest rally for DC voting rights. The people are speaking, Congress. Will you listen? Or like King George III will you turn a dear imperious ear?

An important event this Monday in DC:

The Rally in support of legislation giving DC citizens a VOTING representative in the US Congress will begin at Freedom Plaza (14th & Penn. Ave. ) at 2:30 pm THIS MONDAY. We will march down Penn to the Capitol Reflecting Pool for a rally with speakers beginning at 4 p.m. Without an actual vote in Congress, ALL of the rights gays now enjoy in DC are in jeopardy, as illustrated by the attempt of some in Congress to tell us what gun legislation we should have.

In case you don't know, the people of DC pay taxes but have no voting rights in Congress. Yet Congress can dictate the laws for DC, even overturn legislation enacted by our popularly elected city council and mayor.

I have yet to hear a rational argument against DC statehood. John at Average Gay Joe (who supports DC voting rights but not statehood) fears making DC a state would give it undue influence over the federal government:

The States do still have enough power that one lucky enough to host the Federal City would have undue influence that the others would not..

But how? Has proximity to DC given Virginia and Maryland undue influence over federal largess? West Virginia, which shares no borders with DC is one of the states that gets the most pork. And distance seemed no barrier to Alaska getting $223 million for its "Bridge to Nowhere."

The proximity argument may have made sense in the late 1700s when great distances and lack of instant communication may have given states with proximity to the national capital a leg up. But we have airplanes now. And email. And cell phones. And video conferencing.

Yesterday I wrote a check made out to the U.S. Treasury to pay my taxes. As a self-employed person, it was a huge chunk. I not only have no say in how that money is spent but people elected by other people who don't live here, some of whom in fact live as much as 7,000 miles away, can dictate laws under which I have to live.

It's wrong. Americans are dying to bring a little democracy in a place called Iraq. We could use a bit more of it in a place called America.

If you support DC statehood, or even just DC voting rights, and you don't live in DC, contact your Congressperson. Let them know.

More on the effort here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It Caught My Eye

International Male's "Riffian Shirt:" $49.00
Urbana Cargo messenger pant: $49.00.
Shaved head, strong jaw, hands, thick ankles (seen on the catalogue, not on the Web) and proud pec: priceless.

I'm a Radical. Who Knew?

Responding to Disney's decision to allow same-sex couples have commitment ceremonies at Disney, Rick Scarborough of Vision America:

"Apparently, Disney (which also has "Gay Days") doesn't care if it offends the deeply held values of its customers. Pandering to a radical fringe group seems to be more important. America continues to slide toward the abyss. God help us!"

(via Pam)

"Radical?" Remember when radical meant free love, peace, sex drugs and rock and roll?

Now it means marriage, kids and wanting to join the armed forces.

I think he's right. If America wants to shun two adults who love each other and who want to make a lifelong commitment; if we turn away men and women who love their country and deny them the honor of serving in America's armed forces and if we deny kids the opportunity to be raised by two parents who desperately want them and who will love and care for them...we are headed for an abyss.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Exit Imus

Who's the next racial profit baron (expanding on Pam Spaulding's call that no one should profit from racial hatred) to go? This from Media Matters:

On April 11, NBC News announced that it was dropping MSNBC's simulcast of Imus in the Morning in the wake of the controversy that erupted over host Don Imus' reference to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." The following day, CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves announced that CBS -- which owns both the radio station that broadcast Imus' program and Westwood One, which syndicated the program -- has fired Imus and would cease broadcasting his radio show. But as Media Matters for America has extensively documented, bigotry and hate speech targeting, among other characteristics, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity continue to permeate the airwaves through personalities such as Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Michael Smerconish, and John Gibson.

And of course, as recent commenter's to my Imus posts (here and here) have noted, the rap music.

I have mixed feelings. I'm glad Imus got fired, I never liked the guy and I see nothing funny or redeemable about the tirades his radio show seem to be based on. He's a national media figure and he picks on a college sports team? That's a bully.

But I also believe in free speech and the players here, Imus, CBS and MSNBC are all private (i.e., not tax payer supported) actors. If they want to air and support such speech -- as abhorrent as I find it -- it's their right.

What seems to have happened is that both MSNBC and CBS couldn't keep Imus and look their other employees in the eye. I'm sure the loss of sponsors and the threat of losing sponsors was a factor too...and that is as it should be.

The problem is that there is such an appetite for racism and sexism as found in the list from Media Matters. And that' s not just an American problem. Several years ago at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival which features various cultures from around the globe, I remember seeing a performance from another country where the jokes from the lowlanders trashed the highlanders. It seems to be human nature to ridicule the "other."

And it's not just entertainers...our politicians have learned to "cash in" on prejudice and appeal to the baser instincts in all of us to get our dollars and votes...that's what the whole anti-same-sex marriage thing is about.

But it evolves. In my earlier post I mentioned Amos and Andy. Somehow we went from there to the Huxtables. Hopefully the Imuses of our day are headed for the same trash heap of history as Amos and Andy, because no one will "buy" it.

In other words, if someone is throwing hatred into the public square, I will back their right to do so, but I won't shed tears if it brings about their ruin.

International Male

The International Male catalogue arrived the other day and today I placed an order.

No, not for one of those banana hammocks only a buff, shaved, starved and airbrushed model could wear.

When it arrives a may share a photo, provided my fashion consultant approves.

Surely I'm on the Wrong List

One of the hazards of having a first name that could also be used by a woman (no not Scott -- Kelly is my first name) is that I occasionally get things in the mail I don't think I should.

Like this item, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from the Midlife and Menopause program at NIH. They're inviting me call and find out about their research on perimenopausal depression.

I don't think they really meant for me to call, but if any of you are interested, the number to call is 301.496.9576. If I do call I'll let you know what I find out.

By the way, this is not as insulting as the time, after a job interview, I got the standard rejection letter that began:

Dear Ms. Barker: After carefully reviewing your qualifications...

Um, not that carefully, actually.

MSNBC Drops Imus

Reacting to the market, as defined by their advertisers and employees. Hottie NBC president Steve Capus explains why. And in case you missed it, kudos to Capus for a heartfelt, sincere interview with Keith Olbermann last night. I don't think I've ever seen a smarter, genuine performance by a corporate talking head than that, which only enhances Capus' hotness. If a clip pops up on Youtube, I'll post it.

Okay, so Imus is off of MSNBC...we still have a lot of others out there who profit from racist comments. What do we do about Mind of Mencia?

I'm Ready for Beach Weather

This cold, wimpy spring has got me down. But this helps. (via Homo Superior [not work-friendly])

UPDATE: Snow flurries in the forecast (again!) for this weekend. Tell me again why I moved back here from Florida?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Post Easter Note to Self

Don't leave the Easter baskets -- filled with faux Easter basket grass -- from your Easter brunch where your 2.5 year old can get to it. Unless, of course, you don't mind said grass strewn about the house.

Although I do suppose it can keep the hold-out pine needles from Christmas company.

Fenty up Front

That's DC Mayorlicious Fenty in the lead. Although our marathon-loving mayor likes to run in Rock Creek, his favortie race is in Maryland (viaMetroSports).

Low Self-Esteem Alert

Mattydale and I were trying to solve a work problem in Excel.

We clicked on "data" and saw, to our amazement an option for "validation." We both, from our remote locations, clicked on it. Alas, it did not tell me I did not look fat or tell Mattydale he did not look old.

Drat. Just when we thought we found the magic validation button.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Take Back Our Streets

In DC, I've heard it's illegal to honk your car horn except for safety reasons. If true, that's a revenue source for the city far more lucrative than parking violations.

Do all the people who've been behind me at intersections who start honking really want me to run over the pedestrians in the crosswalk to make my turn (oh -- maybe they're off duty DC bus drivers?).

I've started telling cabbies this: First, I give my destination, then I say, "and if you honk for anything other than safety reasons, there will be no tip." So far, it's worked.

Should Imus be Fired?

I've been asking myself that question, regarding Imus' reference on the air to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy headed hos" as the scandal has unfolded.

And my answer is: that's a business decision to be made by his corporate overlords. Not me.

That doesn't mean I don't think his comments were grossly inappropriate, racist and sexist. They were.

But I am trying to see the brouhaha in a larger context. Fire Imus, and someone will replace him.

Pam at Pam's House Blend argues that he should be fired because he and CBS and MSNBC are making a profit from hatred.

And Imus is the only one doing this? Have you seen "Mind of Mencia" on Comedy Central? Shouldn't we be trying to get him fired? He's making a profit by playing off racial stereotypes.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to defend Imus. I hate his show and I don't understand it and don't listen to it. I don't know what is funny about saying "nappy headed hos" and I don't understand people who make a point to listen to jerks like Imus (or Ann Coulter, for that matter) for their own amusement.

Except I wonder if there's something anti-establishment about it -- we're not supposed to make comments like that so when Imus says it then it appeals to the American sense of rebellion. Again, I'm not making a defense of Imus, I'm trying to understand why what he does has made him rich. I do think he represents an American culture that has gone wrong, a culture that appeals to the worst aspects of our nature. And one could hardly claim that someone with as big a mouthpiece as Imus has who uses it to demean college students is acting in the traditional sense of our heritage to tell authority to go screw itself.

To get rid of the Imuses of the world our culture will have to change. It's happened before. Amos 'n Andy, a TV show that played to racial stereotypes was once thought of as acceptable and funny. That show's time has past. Will and Grace, and notably the characters of Will Truman and Jack MacFarland are the Amos 'n Andy of our day. Both characters played to gay stereotypes and were vain, selfish and shallow. I mean, would you want your son to date Will Truman? Really? I hope that one day our culture will not support the viability of shows like that just as we don't Amos 'n Andy today.

That's why I say this is a business decision. Today, our culture wants a Don Imus. Fire him and another will emerge.

In the meantime, don't like Imus? Don't listen to him. Pissed off at the politicians who go on his show? Don't vote for them. Hate the fact he's been given his platform by his sponsors? Don't buy their products.

Monday, April 09, 2007

"You're Not a Christian, Uncle Scott?"

I admit it...that question (see below), declaimed more like a condemnation than a query from my niece, bothers me. Because in her mind it makes me an "other."

What? You're not a Christian? You're not straight? You're not like me?

And in the question I was pulled back 20 years to the Southern Illinois of my youth where everyone was the least outwardly. At least to keep up appearances. It was that prison of sameness I fled when, with no job or place to live, I escaped to the city.

I like that in the city the expectation is that people will be different. I like that in my kitchen at the Easter brunch I had my close circle of friends included straights, gays and lesbians, atheists and people of faith, women and men, with ages ranging from 32 to 62 (admittedly we were not so diverse racially. And let me say that I often find that people who promote diversity are often fairly narrow -- conformist, even -- in their view of what "diversity" is. But I do like that when I'm looking at my friends I'm not totally looking the mirror ).

But the question that is the subject of this post rings in my ears. It was from my niece, who has for all of her 14 years idolized her uncle. Now more of the luster is off. Some of it came off last year when it finally dawned on her that Uncle Scott and his "roommate" were more than friends. She cried. It broke my heart.

Now, with the revelation that Uncle Scott is a heathen: more luster lost. I tell myself that I may play a role in her life that helps her be open to the world in ways she otherwise would not be. But seeing the disappointment in her eyes still smarts.

I guess there was a reason the tree of knowledge was forbidden.

Easter Weekend

It was a totally wholesome Easter weekend with the family, with mom, sister, niece and nephew in town not to mention our son. Here we get into coloring Easter eggs.

My niece learned to her dismay that Uncle Scott is agnostic: "You mean you're not a Christian" she asked, with the same tone of voice she might have used to say, "So you're a murding rapist?" I'm now going to Hell twice, already condemed for being gay.

But surely I earned a few "halo" points this weekend, coloring easter eggs, hiding them and then hunting them, throwing a big party for friends, neighbors and children, etc. And I think everyone had a good time. Now I'm here alone with Eli and having to endure being viewed as mean for not letting him eat all the chocolate he wants. "I need it" are his three new favorite words. "Need" and "Want" are vastly different things, a lesson Eli will struggle with -- like all of us, the rest of his life. I'm employing the help of Mick Jagger in this lesson: You Can't Always Get What you Want." Not working yet.

First Habeas Corpus, Now Boarding Passes

A Princton Prof. recounts his recent encounter with the terrorist no-fly list:

"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said. "

Full story here. (via Andrew.)

I hope the news media would look into this and discover if the Bush administration is indeed placing critics on the terrorist no-fly list. One wonders how Cindy Sheehan gets around.

"Get a Gun"

I found it ironic to learn that the lawsuit to overturn DC's handgun ban started with the words "Get a gun." Uttered by a DC police officer to a woman fearing her own safety in her home.

It reminded me that those same words were said to me by a DC police detective after a rash of break-ins in my hood a few years back. Freelance socialists were breaking into the garages along my street. After one night when the thugs hit about five garages, including mine, the police and our neighbors converged in a huddle. One of my neighbors -- an elderly gentleman -- asked how he could protect his home. The detective -- a 3rd district detective in a ridiculous fedora and raincoat (where was the cigar?) -- advised us to get a gun.

This is clearly counter to the official DC police line, which loves the gun ban. Personally, I am pro-second amendment rights. It's just surprising to hear the police advise citizens to do something illegal, not to mention admitting, essentially, "we can't help you, so take the law into your own hands."

That attitude -- let the citizens and the thugs shoot it out and we'll come along and collect the bodies -- is the real threat to safety and security in the city.

In the meantime, I won't say whether or not we took the detective's advice.

But don't tread on me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

My Dogs are Safe

To everyone at my Easter Brunch party yesterday who viewed with alarm the Nestle Purina dog treats sitting atop my 'fridge (via CNN):

Importantly, no Purina brand dry pet foods are affected by the recall – including ALPO Prime Cuts dry. In addition, no other Purina dog food products, no Purina cat food products, Purina treat products or Purina Veterinary Diet products are included in this recall, nor have been impacted by the contaminated wheat gluten supply.

But thanks for bringing it to my attention and getting me to check it out.

Safety on the Trails is Everyone's Responsibility

With warmer weather (hopefully) returning soon the trails in and around DC will soon be crowded with walkers, bikers, joggers and others. This leads to greater chances for mishap as indeed happened last Tuesday, according to these first hand accounts from a passerby and the "victim" herself. I put the quotes around the word victim because it's not clear from the account what actually happened, only this much is clear:

A pregnant woman had an encounter with a cyclist that knocked her off her feet and resulted in a nasty head wound, broken ribs and multiple bruises. Nasty stuff, but she (and baby) are okay. Apparently she was wearing and listening to an Ipod while on the trail.

Other than that, we don't know what happened. The cyclist that struck her says he gave an audible warning. We don't know whether she moved in his way, he veered into her or what happened.

But if she were listening to Itunes, failed to move to the right after (not) hearing an audible warning, then she is possibly just as much to blame as the cyclist.

Cyclists get a lot of complaints from peds. But as someone who is on the Rock Creek Bike Trail every day and the Capitol Cresent Trail I can say this:

Most bikers I see are wearing helmets, are not listening to Ipods, ride single file and give audible warnings before overtaking and passing another cyclist or ped. What's more, they are always riding on the right side of the trail.

Not so most peds - they tend to walk two or three abreast, almost all single walkers or joggers are listening to an Ipod, and, when I give a warning I'm passing -- even if the walker is alone and in the middle of the path -- they won't budge an inch. And, worst of all, some walk on the wrong side facing traffic, a move that invites a collision on a blind curve which are plentiful in Rock Creek.

While cyclists do need to slow down especially on crowded trails, peds have just as much responsiblity to ensure safety as we cyclists. That means get your butt on your side of the trail, listening out and being alert.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sidewalk Conversation

While walking the dogs (with Eli) this morning, I was approached by a stranger -- a sweaty, funny looking older man in shorts with matchstick legs.

Stranger: Are your dogs bloodhounds?

Me (wary): No.

Stranger: Then they can't help me find my car?

Me: (blank stare...where is this going?)

Stranger: I can't find it.

Me: Oh?

Stranger: I was drunk last night when I parked it.

Me (moving on): Good luck with that.

Wow. Too drunk to remember where he parked, but still able to parallel park?

Actually, he was probably a DC Metrobus driver.

Bill Richardson

Chris Crain explains why Bill Richardson deserves a second look.

Bill Richardson continues to hit pretty much all the right notes in his underdog run for the Democratic presidential nomination. In a speech last weekend at the Human Rights Campaign's Los Angeles black-tie dinner, the New Mexico governor justifiably trumpeted a record of actually doing, rather than just talking, when it comes to gay rights.

More here.

Monday, April 02, 2007

20 Years

Yesterday, the LTR and I celebrated our 20th anniversary.

People sometimes ask "what's the secret?"

There isn't one. No magic answers, no silver bullet, no Cupid's arrow to pin you together forever. Love isn't necessarily enough (though a necessary ingredient). No, it's a lot of work, compromise and communication. And mostly, it's a choice.

I'm happy with the choice I've made. I love the LTR. Our relationship is not perfect (are there any?) but he and it make me happy.

He's in Denver now.

Sweet dreams, H. I miss you.


Mattydale is upset with Honda. My Dad wants to buy a four door standard shift Toyota Laredo truck.

Eli loves the Disney movie Cars (actually, I'm kinda fond of it myself).

Apropos of nothing. Just trying to get back to blogging.