Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: Closing of the Year

(photo: Sunset behind my parent's house, Christmas Day, 2007)

Best Weekend: In Charlottesville going with LTR to his competition

Best Blog Discovered and (apparently) Lost: Cooper's Corridor.

Best Performance: The Capitol Pride Symphonic Band's (CPSB)performance of Carmina Burana at our April Concert

Biggest Letdown: Coffee with a DCDD board member after the April Concert who completely took the wind out of my sails and made the concert seem a failure. It was at that point I began to give up.

Biggest Success: Conducting the CPSB and the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington (GMCW) at the Kennedy Center

Toughest Decision: Abandoning my independent consulting business and going to work for an agency again.

Best decision: See above.

Second Toughest Decision: Retiring from conducting the CPSB

Most Spiritual Moment: Standing alone between two glaciers in the Andes at about 15,000 feet above sea level just below Salkantay pass. I've never felt more connected to the universe.

Best Buy: Saddlebags for my bike.

Best Friend Made During my Travels: Aziz

Best Friend Made Online: Zac

Friend I had the most fun having drinks with: Matt

Happiest Moment with Friends: Anne and Bruce's Wedding.

Most Heartwarming Moment: Every time my son said "I love you" to me.

Funniest Moment: The Adams Family Finger Snap laid on me by the band during band camp in the first measure of the Melillo (you had to be there).

Best Moment on the Podium: Rehearsing the GMCW and realizing I had surprised them by being good -- or at least not bad.

Hottest Cover Model: Phil. You didn't think I'd leave him out did you?

On the public front:

Biggest surprise: Bush was right. The surge worked.

Human Rights Failure -- Local: Failure of Congress to grant Congressional voting rights to DC taxpayers.

Human Rights Failure -- National: Continued expulsion of gays from the military.

Human Rights Failure -- Global: Torture, continued suspension of Habeas Corpus.

Worst use of the Legal System: What else? The $65 million pants suit.

Unexpected Pro-Gay Hero: Straight, Republican Dan Zwonitzer, who's courageous position prevented an anti-gay measure from passing in Wyoming. I considered the San Diego Mayor who did the same, but Zwonitzer took his stand purely on principle; San Diego's mayor's daughter is gay, giving him a personal reason. Although that's not invalid, Zwoniter's position was more courageous, in my view.

Poster Boy for the Tragic Absurdity of Hiding Openly in the Closet: Larry "Wide Stance" Craig.

Obama vs. Hillary on Gay Marriage

In looking at the two positions between Obama and HRC (the person, not the gay fundraising arm of the Democratic Party) on gay marriage, I became interested in their inner thoughts about their positions.

First Hillary:

"[Gay marriage] is an issue that I’ve had very few years of my life to think
about when you really look at it, when you compare it to a whole life span. I am where I am right now, and it is a position that I come to authentically."

And:

"I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out," she said. "From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in civil unions or domestic partnerships and that is my very considered assessment."

Now Obama (from his book, the Audacity of Hope):

"No matter how much Christians who oppose homosexuality may claim that they hate the sin but love the sinner, such a judgment inflicts pain on good people -- people who are made in the image of God, and who are often truer to Christ's message than those who condemn them...it is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided...I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilictions and attributed them to God; that Jesus' call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history."

Knowing that Obama supports full DOMA repeal and the granting of all 1,200 federal benefits to gay couples in civil unions, I'm impressed with his expression of his doubts and at the same time addressing the public and religious aspects of the gay marriage debate so succinctly. The Hillary quotes were the only ones I could find that shed light (barely) on her inner thoughts. I wasn't looking for policy pronouncements here, but instead what each candidate was really thinking.

Obama's book made that easy for me. If there are similar such statement by Hillary, please pass them on.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Random Things

One of the perks of having a kid when flying -- other than getting to preboard (if sitting in a small tube sooner can be considered a "perk") is getting to go into the cockpit. If I can get Eli to say "hi" or "thanks" to the Captain either before or after the flight it's a shoe-in. Even in the post-9/11 world. BTW, those cockpits look surprisingly 1970s in their technology. So do most of the pilots.

We have a new ghost at home. I think I've talked about our unseen resident here before; yesterday morning at about 4:30 am in the kitchen I heard someone (I presumed the LTR) walking in the kitchen behind me and "felt" somone walk in and heard a mumbled "Mornin'" and turned around to see no one -- and the sense that someone had come ambling in was so strong that I called out the LTR's name thinking he had to be there -- only he wasn't. I guess a mumbled "mornin'" is much better than a whispered emphatic "get out!"

I got a guest pass from the gym down the street here. It's called 24 Hour Fitness. I asked them what was the most common question they got from visitors. It was "what are your hours?" As I expected.

Said gym is on the second floor. The only way to get there is to take a moving escalator up to it. I guess they don't want you to wear yourself out before getting there.

I saw a beautiful, unexpected thing tonight. I went to the 6 pm hula show on the beach expecting to be repulsed by something so touristy (okay, okay, full disclosure, I went to get a photo of the loin-cloth-clad polynesian young men lighting the torches). Instead I was mesmerized by the Hula as performed by the "elders" -- a group of 60ish something Polynesian women joyfyully doing the Hula -- in this case a dance representing the natural beatuy of the island of Kuaii. The host admonished us for not applauding them enough and stressed that these were the (tribe's?) elders. They were all beautiful -- but the oldest looking one was stunning -- she had a smile on her face framed by gray hair and wrinkles that radiated joy and beauty. We shove our "elders" out of sight but here they were celebrating beauty by being beautiful -- and their age was no small part of their appeal. It's too bad the Hula has come to be considered tourist shlock for it is an amazingly beautiful dance that links humanity and nature.

Speaking of tourist shlock I bought a Greg Brady Hawaiian Tiki Idol. As someone who now seems to have two ghosts in his house we'll see what happens next.

Surf's up!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love

Someone gave me a tee shirt that says "Fatherhood: the Toughest Job You'll Ever Love." It's a nice shirt, but it, like the "World's Best Dad" tees I've received have remained unworn in my chest of drawers.

It was easy becoming a dad. Being a dad is much harder. And I'm not sure I have bragging rights.

Eli is a great kid. His mothers have done a terrific job raising him. He never went through the terrible twos -- but welcome to the testy threes.

By testy I don't mean touchy. I mean he wants to test what he can get away with and likes to play opposites, meaning, he'll do the exact opposite of what you tell him to do and then look at you to see if you'll let him get away with it, often with a great smile on his face with great joy at this new game he's invented called "Let's Push Daddy's (or mommie's or Pappa's) buttons and see if we can make his/her head explode."

Intuitively I know this is normally and of course I've confirmed this with other parents. This is something I expected.

What I didn't expect was the anger and contempt he'd hurl at me. During yesterday's 14 hour (garage door to final terminal gate) trip he threatened (at the top of his voice) to hurl me from the airplane window and rejected almost every request with a Sith Lord look of defiance on his three year old face. "Eli, please sit down and fasten your seatbelt, we're about to land." "No!" he screamed, looking at me as if he himself would jump out the airplane to avoid doing anything I wanted him to do. (let's face it, he gets this naturally -- his old man is one stubborn son of a bitch). The worst was when he made an etch-a-sketch drawing, told me to save it, and then looked at me and said angrily, "I didn't make it for YOU."

Ouch.

Okay, okay, I know I shouldn't take it personally. And I'm trying as best I can to not outwardly betray any emotion other than calm (I'm not always successful.) But look, when you see the boy less than one-fifth of a year and he wants to toss you out of an airplane when you do, how could it not personally effect you? When a loved one says hurtful things they still hurt even when you know they don't really mean them, do they not?

Christmas night did not go well. We had a fabulous day and his presence and laughter was the best Christmas gift. Then his nighttime going to bed routine started and he was a decidedly unhappy camper. It ended with him hitting me (this is also new and part of his new defiance routine) and telling me later that "I don't want you to tell me a story I want Pappa!!"

I returned to the dinner table while Pappa went to tell him a story in bed. My dad was offering words of reassurance and everyone was telling me not to take it personally. Right.

I knew I couldn't let Christmas end this way so I softly entered Eli's bedroom where Pappa was in the middle of the story. Wordlessly I slipped into Eli's bed and lay down next to him. I listened to Pappa's story -- a story he made up about me riding through a rain storm to get to Eli, dubbed "The Muddy Bike Ride Story" which Eli always requests while here. Eli was laying with his back to me and I put my face deep in the sheets and silently cried tears over the frustration and beauty of it all.

Pappa said his goodnight and left us. We lay there silently for a few moments. Then Eli rolled over facing me, reached down with a little hand and grabbed mine, and pushed his tiny fingers between my own. We lay there like that in the silence for 15 minutes. Knowing he wasn't asleep, I whispered to him, "I love you very, very much." He opened his eyes and whispered, "I love you very much, Daddy."

Yes, it is a tough job. And I'm am often quite sure I'm not up to the task. But how could I not love it?

Goodnight Eli, and goodbye for now. Daddy loves you very, very much

Friday, December 28, 2007

Another Visit Ends

The visits come and go. His changes are constant. This trip he delighted us with increased conversation skills and challenged us with a willfulness to get his own way, which often happened to be the opposite of what we wanted.

It's 5 am, and we leave for the airport soon. The LTR has the hardest task, as we leave him alone here to see the empty room and the unplayed-with toys. No, the loss is not a permanent one, but it is still a loss.

My next blog post will be from Hawaii.

Postcard from Illinois

My parents live on a small lake in downstate Illinois. The lights of the houses look lovely reflected off the calm waters. On Christmas night we drove Eli in a golf cart around the lake to look at the lights. This is my parent's house casting its glow upon the waters.

I snapped this with my digital cam on zoom, no flash. Tips on night photography welcome.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An IM with the Gumshoe

I'm IMing with the Gumshoe as Eli sleeps and I do laundry in preparation for the trip tomorrow to return him to the "land where palm trees sway" (bonus round: Can you identify the song that description is from?) Anyway, here's a snippet of our conversation:

Me: Brb, have to go check on the dryer.
Gumshoe: K
Me: Back. Well, to paraphrase George W. Bush, my clothes are dryer, but not yet dry.
Gumshoe: Tell the dryer to 'bring it on'
Me: Or at least take off that 'Mission Accomplished' sign it hung on the door.


The Gumshoe and I always have deep meaningful conversations like this.

Whither Cooper?

He seems to have gone missing. Should we call the Mounties?

No Wall Between Church and State License Plates

Yes, I find them offensive to my Constitutional sensibilities.

I'm not the only one.

If you opt for one of these plates, the DMV will waive an administrative fee, making these plates cheaper than other specialty plates.

Why does God need favors from the Indiana DMV?

Look -- we all know that this God is the Christian God and these words floating above the American flag are meant to reinforce that we're a Christian nation. I'd be less upset if the state gave people the option to choose "In (fill in the blank) We Trust." And frankly, I wouldn't care if someone personalized their plates to say "JezuzBGr8te" or even, to go to the other extreme "I h8tegayz"

What people choose; fine. What the state chooses, if it strays into endorsing a religion; not fine.

Not Ready Yet

I admit (no surprise!) that I hope Obama wins the Iowa caucus. After a few days in the heartland, though, I am disheartened. One of my family members, upon hearing I was for Obama, said, "you'd vote for a Muslim?"

Oy.

I guess the heartland isn't ready yet to get past their prejudices, racial and religious.

The answer, by the way is yes, I would, if the candidate supported issues consistent enough with my opinions. But Obama, in point of fact, is not a Muslim).

Although Obama is a Christian, he does have perhaps more direct personal knowledge of Muslims than any other candidate running, due to his personal upbringing. That experience, I think, is uniquely to his advantage in dealing with the Muslim world, which is a critical task facing the next President. And although Obama didn't spend eight years not baking cookies in the White House, it is his personal history that gives him the leg up over "experience." Fareed Zararia agrees:

Obama's argument is about more than identity. He was intelligent and prescient about the costs of the Iraq War. But he says that his judgment was formed by his experience as a boy with a Kenyan father—and later an Indonesian stepfather—who spent four years growing up in Indonesia, and who lived in the multicultural swirl of Hawaii.

I never thought I'd agree with Obama. I've spent my life acquiring formal expertise on foreign policy. I've got fancy degrees, have run research projects, taught in colleges and graduate schools, edited a foreign-affairs journal, advised politicians and businessmen, written columns and cover stories, and traveled hundreds of thousands of miles all over the world. I've never thought of my identity as any kind of qualification. I've never written an article that contains the phrase "As an Indian-American ..." or "As a person of color ..."

But when I think about what is truly distinctive about the way I look at the world, about the advantage that I may have over others in understanding foreign affairs, it is that I know what it means not to be an American. I know intimately the attraction, the repulsion, the hopes, the disappointments that the other 95 percent of humanity feels when thinking about this country. I know it because for a good part of my life, I wasn't an American. I was the outsider, growing up 8,000 miles away from the centers of power, being shaped by forces over which my country had no control.

Informal Yard Sign Poll

We actually didn't see that many presidential campaign yard signs as the LTR and I traversed Southern Illinois and Indiana this past week. In fact the only signs we saw (truly) were for:

Ron Paul. Even saw a few Paul bumper stickers.

The early passion in this election is change. We'll see soon enough if enough people want change bad enough to actually vote for it. I want to feel hopefully, but I'm doubting it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Noah and Luke

A reader left me a link to this YouTube as a kind of Christmas present (thank you!). Of course, everyone else in the lavender universe has probably heard of Luke and Noah from As the World Turns but I was totally clueless. I still was able to follow along, appreciate whoever put this together, and enjoy the warm fuzziness.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dispatch From Illinois

(Blogging by Blackberry)

The LTR and I crossed the Wabash intpo Indiana to hit the closest shopping mall (Eastland Mall in Evansville) to wrap up our Christmas shopping. We also got guest passes at a local gym.

Two things of note:

The guys at the gym were friendly. Not at all the standoffish surliness we encounter often in our home gyms.

The other was the Indiana license plate. The words "In God We Trust" floating over a waving American flag. I had been telling LTR how disturbed I was about the increasing intermingling of government and religious belief. Here was symbolic proof.

The "In Rational Science We Trust" or even "In Mohammad We Trust" was strangley absent.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sex in the City

For MattyDale:

My Simple Christmas Wish

For you, Dean R.

Top 10 Quotes of the Year

Via Pam.

1. "Don't Tase Me, Bro!"
-- University of Florida student Andrew Meyer on September 17, as he was tased protesting campus police when they tossed him out of a town hall meeting by Sen. John Kerry,

2. "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us."
-- Lauren Upton, South Carolina contestant in the Miss Teen America contest, when asked why one-fifth of Americans are unable to locate the United States on a map.

3. "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country."
-- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's at Columbia University in New York

4. "That's some nappy-headed hos there."
-- Don Imus, referring to the Rutgers University women's basketball team

5. "I don't recall."
-- Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' repeated response to questioning at a congressional hearing about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

6. "There's only three things he (Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani) mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11."
-- Sen. Joseph Biden, speaking at a Democratic presidential debate.

7. "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody (Vice President Dick Cheney) who has a 9 percent approval rating."
-- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

8. "(I have) a wide stance when going to the bathroom."
-- Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig's explanation of why his foot touched that of an undercover policeman in a men's room.

9. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
-- Biden describing rival Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

10. "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."
-- Former President Jimmy Carter in an interview in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

It's Begining to Look a Lot Like

Bye Bye Electability Argument

Via Chris:


Obama (D) 53%, Romney (R) 35%
Obama (D) 47%, Huckabee (R) 42%
Obama (D) 48%, Giuliani (R) 39%
Obama (D) 47%, McCain (R) 43%
Obama (D) 52%, Thompson (R) 36%

Clinton (D) 46%, Romney (R) 44%
Huckabee (R) 48%, Clinton (D) 43%
Giuliani (R) 46%, Clinton (D) 42%
McCain (R) 49%, Clinton (D) 42%
Clinton (D) 48%, Thompson (R) 42%

Edwards (D) 50%, Romney (R) 38%
Edwards (D) 47%, Huckabee (R) 41%
Giuliani (R) 45%, Edwards (D) 44%
McCain (R) 46%, Edwards (D) 42%
Edwards (D) 51%, Thompson (R) 35%

From a Zogby poll.



Friday, December 21, 2007

My Favorite Christmas Song

On oh so many levels.

Jimbo's 2008 Banned List

I would add:

Sean Hannity
Keith Olbermann
Fauxhawks
Drapers
Excessively long voice mail greetings (really: we all have known since the early 1990s we need to leave a name and number and that you're sorry you missed our call and you will get back to us as soon as you can and, oh yes, wait for the beep).

Bill Clinton's 9 to 1 Advantage

Bill Clinton is stumping for his wife. Small problem:

But reporters who have tallied his words say that he talks more about himself than about his wife -- at a ratio of about 9 to 1.

But he does admit Hillary is a "world class genius." After all, she was smart enough to marry Him, right?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Action and Tangible Commitment, Not Political Correctness

A reader writes that Obama's inclusion of rabidly anti-gay ex-gay Donnie McClurkin on a gospel tour disqualifies him as credible on DOMA repeal. I was hoping someone would bring up the McClurkin thing, as it's an old controversy and I have been thinking about it.

I would rather support a candidate who will bring about real, beneficial change even if he or she hangs out with people I don't like or agree with. Hillary is very politically correct, goes to the right dinners, hangs with the right crowd and obviously has won the well, support I guess (you can't call it affection) of a great deal of the establishment, including the gay establishment (read: HRC). So she may not have ruffled any gay feathers but she won't stick her own neck out either on behalf of the gay community.

Obama has and is -- by telling the black religious establishment that they are wrong about their homophobia.

Obama is not perfect and he has flaws like any other candidate or human being. I'm not nominating him for saint (I happen not to believe in them). But I am considering giving him my vote (I still have until Feb. to make up my mind).

Here's Obama in his own words defending his record on gay issues as well as stating plainly that he will legalize federal marriage benefits for gay couples in civil unions. I cannot imagine Hillary being so direct.

Obama v. Hillary on Gay Marriage (with an update on Edwards)

I'll never understand the fascination and respect that many gays give the Clintons. I recall when Bill was in office a friend of mine was swooning over the president and I asked him to explain to me why. "He says our name," he gushed. Meaning, that Clinton wasn't afraid of being seen with "professed homosexuals" to use Huckabee's term. Ironically, that same week my friend and I had that conversation, Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. And that's the problem with Clinton(s) -- symbolically supportive yet not willing to take a true stand and enact real positive change for gay Americans. I acknowledge the symbolic support, it frustrates me that Clinton's adoring gay fans can't see the flip side.

Which brings us to Hillary. As with the husband, so with the wife.

A commenter remarked that Hillary was better than Obama on gay rights. In point of fact, that's simply not true, especially on the subject of marriage.

Obama was opposed to DOMA when it past and favors its full repeal now. Hillary was for DOMA and favors only a half repeal. Obama would support legislation giving gays in civil unions the nearly 1,200 rights and privileges under federal law now enjoyed by married couples. Hillary is more vague.

John Edwards has also recently come out for full repeal of DOMA.

Thus, Hillary is the candidate farthest to the right on gay marriage among the top three Democratic contenders.

So for true, positive change on gay rights, my money, literally and figuratively, is on Obama.

The Morning Report

Each day, when Eli wakes up, our conversations begin like this:

Me: Good morning Buddy! How did you sleep?

Eli: Goot.

Me: How do you feel?

Eli: Goot.

Me: Did you dream?

Eli: Yes.

Me: What did you dream about?

Eli: Tars (cars).

Cars are Eli's favorite thing in the whole world.

Then one morning he surprised me with:

Me: What did you dream about?

Eli: You.

It's the little things, ya know?

Eli's Day Christmas Shopping at the Mall

Well, it wasn't FAO Schwartz, exactly, but Eli spent a good 20 minutes playing on this interactive screen. I may have joined in a few times.







On the way home...Eli insisted on something sexy for his cousin, Kylie.








And here we are, adding the new train car ("twain taar" in Eli-ese) that Eli picked out (after Daddy got lost in suburban Northern Virginia and actually found the model train store) to the collection.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Christmas Intervention

Santa Claus is an enabler. And we can't stop the madness.

My family is out of control when it comes to Christmas. Since my sister and I were kids, my parents went all out at Christmas time, especially on presents. This was great when we were young, but it hasn't stopped. Christmas giving is like a crack addiction in my family. It feels good and we can't stop until we run out of money. And my sister and I have become addicted too. We're like the Osbornes whacked out on spiked eggnog.

Every year it's the same. We exchange lists and then we go do each other's shopping. I cringe when I hear those five dreaded words: I need your Christmas list. Then I'm obliged to spend days browsing for things I think I might want. When I do find something online I want I have to quench my desire to put it in my shopping cart right then. You mean I have to wait weeks to maybe get this? Thus Christmas robs me of my Internet given right for instant gratification.

But the worst thing about my family's out of control Yuletide is the sibling rivalry of giving. Each year my sister and I have an unspoken competition to see who can get my parents the "best" gift. It's always below the surface, but palpable after I arrive and disgorge my Christmas booty and place it under the tree. Then she and I stand there pretending to admire the tree but really sizing up each others gifts, wondering which one of us will have delivered "the" gift to Mom and Dad that they will remember.

And she's not above tricking me. I called her one year ahead of time to talk about what we each were getting the folks. I was hoping for a truce. Hell, they even suspend shooting wars sometimes for Christmas. But she's a sneaky Sis, and she led me to believe it was going to be a run of the mill Christmas. So, I show up with my gift wrapped items from Target and Macy's, confident that this year Christmas wouldn't get out of hand. It was not to be. I realized this as my Dad opened a large framed photo of him standing next to my sister, dressed in her cap and gown at her high school graduation, with a poem about the lifelong relationship between a daughter and her father. As the tears rolled down my Father's cheeks I looked at her and thought "fuckin' bitch."

(This year, though, I got her. I realized what to do this summer when I was home and my Dad and I got out the remote control hovercraft that I got my nephew last year that had sat unused since...Christmas. Operating the craft and watching my Dad, I had an epiphany: the Old Man wants toys! So this year I got him a remote control helicopter. Take that, Sis.)

So, we need an intervention. We're in a gift giving binge and Christmas is the trigger.

We don't need the 12 Days of Christmas, we need the 12 Steps of Christmas. Can somebody help? Mr. Grinch, where are we when we need you?

A Change Election?

In DC's mayoral election last year, relative newcomer Adrian Fenty went up against the DC Council Chair Linda Cropp. Cropp had been on the council for years and was a seasoned DC pol who had the "right" resume to be mayor. He was a green two-term city councilman. She ran on experience. He ran on change. He won.

DC is an unlikely bellwether for the US presidential race, but it is another sign the voters -- everywhere -- are hankering for something different.

Monday, December 17, 2007

That Brady Lesbian Thing Again


Not Marcia this time...Christopher Knight (left), who has the distinction of being the Brady Boy who grew up to be the Brady Woof! is threatening to leave his model wife for a girl-on-girl photo spread she did.

Um, Peter, given turnabout is fair play, how about a photo shoot of your own?

I nominate Paul Rudd for your "co-star."

Irony Alert

But the Catholic Church has long been a champion of pure scientific inquiry, right?

Christmas Sounds

The house is now filled with the sounds of a three-year-old playing cars and occasionally voicing a truncated Christmas carol: "Frosty da snowMen! Happy soul! Core-cob pipe but-don nodse eyes made outta toal!"

This morning he helped me put ornaments on the second floor Christmas tree.

It's going to be a lovely Christmas

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Annual Sarah Brightman Challenge

It's Christmas time, which can only mean it's time for the Sarah Brightman Challenge: What the fuck is she singing? Enunciate!

The Email Campaign

I signed up for both Obama's and Edward's campaign a while ago. I had been thinking that I was deluged with constant emails from Edwards. But a tally for the past week shows Obama: 4; Edwards: 3.

I just signed up for Hillary. We'll see where she comes in on this.

Coming to a Billboard Near You

David Beckham. But But are they real?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Tips for Minimizing Weight Gain During the Holidays

Key word here is "minimizing" -- you can't eat crap you don't normally eat and work out less and not gain weight. The key for me is finding a way to enjoy holiday eats while still controlling it in some way. Here's what I do, it seems to work for me:

Do Something: I spend Christmas with my parents -- which means I miss out on my daily cycling. But I find ways to exercise -- like walking in the morning and after dinner. Find a way to get some exercise, even if it's only minimal.

Only Cheat with the Best: You're going to go off your diet, but make it worth it. I'd rather have an extra piece of my mom's Pumpkin Pie instead of a Frosteeze from 7-11. I'd rather enjoy my mother-in-laws oyster stuffing instead of McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. In other words, don't go for easy calories. Go for the best calories.

Snack Healthy: Don't reach for a cookie or fudge between meals (even though my mom makes mouth-orgasmic tasting peanut butter fudge). Have an apple instead.

Portion Control: Keeping your portion sizes reasonable is good advice at all times. It's especially true during the holidays. I will do something at my mom's I would not do at home: have a sweet with every meal. However, I limit it to one.

Binge Last: If I do all the above, I will relax these rules on the last day or so of my stay. Knowing that I'll let myself eat more fudge and cookies at the end of my visit helps me maintain discipline and keep from eating that way during my entire stay. Which I would if I let myself.


I've found if I follow these rules I can keep my weight gain to around a pound. Which will come off pretty quick once you start back on your regular diet.

Anyone have other suggestions?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Meet My Fellow Blogger

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Really.

His blog is even more permissive than Andrew's. He allows comments.

I wonder how long it takes DHS to note the fact I link to Iran's glorious leader's blog in my file?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

WWII Memorial at Twilight

More from yesterday's DC dusk tour.

Potomac Sunset

I hit the gym late yesterday afternoon, then treated myself to a massage (I paid someone to do it, I didn't massage myself), then biked down to the Potomac behind the Lincoln Memorial and took several shots of the setting sun. This one is the best I think. The string of lights to the left is the Memorial Bridge.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Romney Speech

UPDATE: It gets worse, Romney in Iowa is now saying the Constitution was written for people of faith. Ryan has the details.


I'm late to this party, but the arresting statement in Mitt's religion speech was this:

"Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone," the GOP contender said.


Doesn't seem like much of a leap from that statement to assert that the non-religious don't deserve freedom.

Scary.

And the statement itself flies in the face of religious history...didn't Christianity itself get started and prosper under the yoke of Roman tyranny? Hasn't Christianity itself been the catalyst of crushing oppression? Seems to me that religion has often been the enemy of freedom.

Ryan Sager's thoughts.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Postcards from Vegas

Here's the gi-nourmous Barry Manilow that greeted me at my hotel.








And here the devil took me to the heights and promised me that all the earthly pleasures below could be mine...

Thought for the Day

From a long post about flying home after a job interview, Christopher, watching the sunset from the vantage point of his seat aboard his airplane, says:

The horizon is a lot larger than we realize from our typical vantage point here on the ground; if the future is as much larger than what we can see from our vantage point there is a lot to look forward to.


That's an optimistic and beautiful viewpoint I'm going to try to hold onto.

Gay Marriage Threat to Civ, Says Huckabee

Perhaps Mike Huckabee should have spent less time watching Chuck Norris films and more time reading his bible. In an interview with GQ, he said:

You have to have a basic family structure. There’s never been a civilization that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived."


Really? The 1950s image of the mom and dad and two kids with the white picket fence idea of marriage was handed down to us unchanged since Eden?

Let's go to the Bible:

  • Genesis 16:1-11 Abram impregnates his wife's maid, Hagar. He later marries her. And angel of the Lord appears to Hagar and blesses her and her baby.
  • Genesis 26:34: Esau, son of Isaac, takes two wives
  • Genesis 28:9 Esau takes a third wife, to annoy his father, Isaac.
  • Genesis 29:15-15-30: Jacob exchanges labor of seven years to Laban, in exchange for getting the right to marry his daughter Rachel. At the end of seven years, Laban pulls a switcheroo and sends his older, less attractive daughter Lean "in" to Jacob. When Jacob discovers the deception, he works another seven years so he can take both women as wives.

Now -- that's the way things worked way back when and guess what -- we don't do things like that anymore. Society changed the definition of marriage. Women aren't passed into marriage --at least in the West -- as property. Most people would say marriage is based on love between two equal partners.

Marriage is a social institution and as society changes it can and must change. It certainly has since Biblical times. Or is Huckabee saying we must return to a time when men could buy multiple wives? Nah -- but he is cherry picking the Bible to pick on the rights favorite straw man -- the rights of gay Americans.

Iran Executes Man for Gay Sodomy

Well, back to sad reality:

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
(IGLHRC) has learned today that despite an order by the
Iranian Chief Justice to nullify his death sentence,
Mr. Makvan Mouloodzadeh was executed in Kermanshah Central
Prison at 5 a.m. this morning,Iranian time.
Neither Mr. Mouloodzadeh's family or his lawyer were told
about the execution until after it occurred.


Mr. Mouloodzadeh was convicted of committing anal rape of other boys when he was 13. All his accusers have recanted their testimony, saying it was coerced. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has more details about his case.

Human Rights Watch press release (pre-execution) here.

Learn more about the treatment of gays in Iran from the IRanian Queer Organization (and contribute -- I have -- they are doing good work, such as trying to prevent the deportation of gays back to Iran where they will likely meet the same fate as Mr. Mouloodzadeh.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why Bette Rules

There was a little dust up in the comments section about pop divas in a post that was purpotedly about Star Trek. My readers defended their favorite pop stars. Let me defend mine.

Bette Midler is the best.

The video below is why. The range here in one song -- from tender to desperate rage -- is raw and real. No other "star," not Cher, not Madonna, not Celine is capable of it. This is not to say that the others don't have talent (true, I took a pot shot at Madonna in the comments section, but only to get an easy rise out of my friend A.D., which worked) but so much of their talent, especially Madonna's (forgive me, A.D.) is in packaging.

Today the Divine Miss M is seeking (and successfully I think) the mantle of Rosemary Clooney (who, you ask? I'll not even link to her wikipedia article, you youngsters can do your own Googling) which means she is relying on music as an artist -- not production values.

And that's pretty rare for a "vocal" star these days.

Here's the clip I wanted to share.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Star Trek Experience

Remains, alas, outside of my personal experiences. I've now been in Vegas 1.5 days and although I've accomplished some of my professional reasons for being here (to check up on a vendor my boss isn't real happy with. I feel a little like Darth Vader coming to check up on the unfinished Death Star II and telling the hapless subordinate -- the vendor in this case -- that the "Emperor is not as forgiving as I." Without the heavy breathing, the bad skin condition and family problems, of course. But I digress). I still haven't accomplished the one personal thing I would like to do.

I was going to go workout this morning but it's a $25 fee to use the fitness center. I'm disinclined to spend money to go sweat - but then I lost about $15 last night on blackjack and spend another $10 on drinks (I wasn't gambling enough to get complimentary service -- this is a crummy hotel) so $25 wouldn't be a bad investment considering. Maybe I'll take a walk instead. It's free, the mountains are beautiful (I'm not staying on the strip now) and the fresh air would be a treat.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

United Airlines thwarted my desire to visit the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton. We left Dulles almost four hours late, which put me here well after the close of the attraction. Damn -- I've wanted to visit it since I first read about it in Wil Wheaton's book, Dancing Barefoot.

Anyway, I'm here. I was greeted at the Hilton by a ginourmous image of Barry Manilow on the hotel's facade. He's performing here. Also performing here is "Menopause -- the Musical" (it's a period piece). The hotel bills it as "dollar for dollar, the best show in Vegas."

I wonder how Barry feels about that?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

What Happens in Vegas...

I'm off for a business trip to Vegas. I've not stayed there since 1972 when I was 8.

I'm staying at the Hilton tonight, and yes, I'm going to do the whole Star Trek Experience thing. Okay -- maybe a part of me is still 8. I'm such a geek.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

When the Nights Turn Cold in Winter

Spend it with those who will keep you warm. What a treat with Ella, Roy and the Count Basie Orchestra:

Friday Morning on the Bike Trail

On the way to work...the path curves through a small woods back towards the river as the sun rises.