Friday, September 28, 2007

One Down, One to Go

Dagani Retires!

I went to Ron's retirement party today. One of the gifts he received is a poster of a magazine picture featuring, well, look for yourself. The party was very nice. They serve great food at the American Chemical Society. It's enough to make me a chemist!

He's still at the office, and it's dinnertime. Isn't that weird, that you'd work overtime on the day you retire? I guess he just has a really healthy attitude about work.

I saw many friends and acquaintances from Ron's life at Chemical and Engineering News. Some of them asked me about my plans, and I told them I was retiring in December. Believe me, I don't think my party is going to be like Ron's. Of course, part of the reason is that people really LOVE Ron. The accolades were sincere, and the staff is going to miss him. I'm not sure my colleagues see me in exactly the same light. In any case, they have two and a half months to plan an unforgettable sendoff for me....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Marriage in Maryland - It's Not Gay

Ron and John, Haven't They Suffered Enough?
Ron and John, Haven't They Suffered Enough?

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently decided that marriage is not gay in Maryland. It reminds me of the Michael Shaw New Yorker cartoon. The court admitted that marriage is a fundamental right, just not for gay people, yet. Like Michael Shaw, I'm of a mixed mind about marriage. I'm pretty sure that the relationship that Ron and I have is not what most straight married people have. I'm also sure that the legal relationship that Ron and I have constructed is not as complete or satisfactory as marriage, and in fact has to be enforced by the courts.

Two Maryland legislators have announced that they will be introducing legislation to permit same-sex couples to marry in Maryland. That probably won't get very far considering that the crazies are already announcing that they, too, will be introducing legislation to ban same-sex marriage.

It could get very nasty in Annapolis come January. I don't expect much to happen, though, because it is an election year, and legislators usually don't take risky positions while the voters are paying attention, at least while the straight voters are paying attention. Gays and lesbians getting married - haven't they suffered enough?

Do You Suppose We Could Get Married?
Do You Suppose We Could Get Married?

Taking Offense

President Ahmadinejad is speaking at Columbia University today. A member of Congress from New York said on the news that he was offended that the Iranian president was speaking at Columbia, and that the university was wrong for having invited him to speak.

I think the New York congressman's offense is wrongly placed. Columbia University is only doing what universities should do: encourage diversity of ideas and the freedom of thought so that well-informed citizens can make up their own minds about the issues.

Certainly, much of what President Ahmadinejad says is offensive to me and to many people, but I would rather hear his speech and be offended, then never hear his speech and remain ignorant. Furthermore, if we never meet our enemies we will never stop being enemies. We will never have the means to find (sometimes painful) accommodation with each other.

At least let me hear the President before I take offense. And letting him speak is about the most red-blooded American thing that can happen to this guy.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I come from a small town in Idaho. I live in a big city on the East Coast. Those two places are worlds apart. Recently, I've been trying to reconnect with classmates and family. I moved here in 1983 and left everything behind. I left my roots behind, too, and at this time in my life, I feel rootless. I have some existential angst. If I were not here, would it make any difference, and would anyone care?

So I spent a couple of hours today uploading photos to A lot of my classmates are on it, but most of them have a free membership, which means that getting in touch with them is difficult. I went ahead and purchased a membership so that my email would at least reach them. More than the email, though, I want them to know I'm thinking of life and experiences rooted in an Idaho town nearly 3000 miles away. Nostalgia? Sentimentality? You betcha.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fixing up the House

Back in June, I saw my neighbor painting the trim on the front of his house. So I got a wild hair to get all the house projects out of the way that had been accumulating since 1989. This included painting the front door trim, repointing the steps, and hiring a home inspector to identify other things that needed to get fixed.

In July, I joined Angie's List. This is a great resource. It's a consumer-driven comment site that rates contractors for different kinds of home services. The front steps were in terrible shape, so I looked up masonry contractors, called a highly-rated one, and within a day had my estimate. The steps were fixed the following week.

Well, one thing lead to another. By now, windows and a back door are on order, and the roof has been replaced. Oh, and I had some concrete work done on the patio. The only flaw in my plan is that if the place gets fixed up too nicely, I won't want to leave it after retirement.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Name That Atheist Contest!

I'm sponsoring a "Name That Atheist" contest. I don't like the term, atheist, because it defines a person's belief on what it isn't rather than what it is. But if I tell people that I'm a rational humanist, or a human secularist, or a secular rationalist, they just don't understand. I need a short catchy phrase that tells the world what I am, and the telling shouldn't require a half-hour parenthetical conversation, either. An added bonus is if the new name doesn't cause certain groups to either pray for me, or inform me (sometimes politely, and sometimes not) that I'm going to Hell.

Here are the rules: send me your Name That Atheist entry in an email to: Make your entry short, catchy, and comprehensible. I'll announce the winner when I get around to it. The winner will receive mention in this blog, and perhaps a request to write a guest entry here. Yeah, I know, I'm cheap.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ron Had a Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You!

All of the boys took Ron out for his birthday last night. We went to Pizzeria Paradiso. It's great pizza, the best in Washington as far as I'm concerned. Ron had a great time, and a very happy birthday.

Brian, Ron, and Perry
Brian, Ron, and Perry
Perry and Tim
Perry and Tim

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Slippery Slope of Solicitation

If any senator were going to be "entrapped" in the solicitation laws, well, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy than Senator Craig. Having said that, I agree with Senator Craig. Indeed, I don't think he did anything inappropriate. He was merely practicing free speech, a right guaranteed to him by the United States Constitution.

If the person he solicited (an officer of the law, in this case) didn't want to have sex with Senator Craig, the officer simply should have said, "No thank-you." I'm sure that Senator Craig would have understood completely, and would have widened his stance on the other side of his stall.

The principle here isn't one of public morality or anything like that. The principle is that speech in a public place should be free, even if people find it annoying or immoral or offensive. Just because speech is offensive doesn't mean that people who engage in it should be arrested, booked, or jailed.

There's also the matter of the double standard that solicitation laws impose. They are only enforced against prostitutes and gay men. They are never used against men hitting on women. If they were, a lot more lawyers, construction workers, and rap artists would be behind bars.

Because solicitation laws prohibit consenting adults from publicly arranging sexual liaisons, you should probably be careful what you ask your girlfriend in the bar or on the dance floor. You may be a felon, and not even know it. Just for the record, Senator Craig has never solicited me.