Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Banana Bread

Tonight, we're moored at Marina Cay. Jerry and fixed a banana bread. We did this last year, too, and I think it's becoming a tradition. It really smells good.

The weather today started out rainy and very windy. We sailed the full length of Tortola from Little Harbor (Garner Bay) on Jost Van Dyke to Marina Cay (which is directly across the passage from the airport on Beef Island).

The passage was rough, but exciting. I was at the helm for part of it, but eventually, the skipper took command. (I was relieved.) We spent some time this afternoon on Marina Cay, and are now set to eat dinner, and, I am sure, a fabulous banana bread.

This banana bread thing is a running joke, of sorts. Jerry wants certainty in his cooking adventures. Of course, I offer no such thing. Last year, I just made up a recipe. This year, we went on the Internet (Google "banana bread" basic), and found a simple recipe for which we had all the ingredients. I'm sure it will be a feast.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Well, I guess I've really been to the British Virgin Island. We ate at Sidney's tonight in Garner Bay (Little Harbor) on Jost Van Dyke. Caribbean lobster is a different crustacean than its Massachusetts cousin. Sidney and crew offer fresh lobster from their own pots. They boil them, split them, and serve them with butter. Accompaniments include potato salad, cole slaw, and rice and beans. It's very tasty. Don't forget to have a couple of painkillers. Beware, you mix your own. Be very careful.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I'm on a Boat....

Hi Guys and Gals,
I'm in the Caribbean, BVI - the Bite at Norman's Island. I'm on a small sailboat (38') with four friends. I like the designed space of sailboats, talk about efficient. I'm glad I don't live on one, though. I'm too messy. I'm learning to sail here, and I'm beginning to think it's pretty hopeless - there's too much to learn, and I'm getting too riddled with holes through my brain. But I'm learning some great knots for all of you S&M freaks.

We're about to get underway for the day. I was at the helm most of yesterday, and I expect Jerry will be at the helm today. That means that today's lessons for me will be learning about moorings and anchors. Yesterday's lesson was about brakes. I learned that sailboats don't have brakes.... I love being on the water. I'll write more tomorrow.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Bags Are Checked

I'm sitting in one of the concourse lounges waiting to board my flight to get out of the Washington, DC winter and head to sunny Tortola. The three legs will make a long day, but well worth the bother.

I had about three unfinished errands when I left the house this morning. I guess they'll just have to wait.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gym as Spiritual Experience

Today at the gym, I was stretching in the room where exercise classes are held. Nobody was in there except me, until a guy came in talking on his cell phone. It really irked me. I like stretching after my (so-called) workout. I like getting into my head, closing off everything else, and just being there, and this guy is talking loudly on his phone, and I'm really letting it bother me.

Should I go over and tell him to shut up? Should I ask him to leave? Should I start talking crazily loud and just a little bit threatening? Should I go over and seize his cell phone and heave it across the room with all of my gym-enhanced strength?

I did none of these things. I'm amazed and a little troubled what my mind can devise when I'm irritated. I hope it's just a defense mechanism that defuses my aggression and nothing more. I don't even know this guy, and maybe he really has to make a phone call, although I wish he'd do it somewhere else where it wasn't interrupting my concentration.

His one-sided conversation was distracting. The more I consciously tried to ignore it, the louder and clearer his words became. I'm sitting, twisting, stretching, lifting, stewing, seething. I must have been a very pretty sight.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back Home in Wheaton

Reading the last two posts, you'd never know that I left Wheaton for a long weekend in Atlanta with Tim. We were squaredancing (of course!). We got home yesterday, and I crashed for the rest of the evening. Ron (bless his heart) made a wonderful meal (Chicken Sausage Jambalaya), and I did help chop the onions, so I wasn't completely useless.

I talked with my sister-in-law last night about my twin's situation. I'm still shocked that he's in a hospital in critical condition. It brings up some of my own ghosts. I keep thinking he can't die. In the big scheme of things, life is pretty cheap, but it's very clear to me that life is also very precious. I'm grateful in this situation for that insight, and I'm hoping and praying that my brother completely recovers.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Duck Soup

I feel removed from what's happening in the family. I've been away from DC since Friday, and during that time my brother's condition has remained critical although he is currently stable.

The last couple of days have had a surreal quality. I've been talking to family and hospital nurses. between square dance tips. The different parts of my life that I really do try to keep separate are colliding. Add to that I am also talking with the same family members about a spring family reunion, and I wonder what planet I'm on. I've wandered into a strange place, and it's going to stay this way for a while.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cold Spell

My brother has been in the hospital for the last two days, and seems to be getting out of the woods. He came into the emergency room, and ended up in intensive care because of a nasty virus that attacked his heart. This happened to a guy who is active, healthy, and a real nice person, too! The illness was very serious, and could have ended up with a very bad outcome. Our prayers and hopes are for a speedy recovery, and that his immune system can effectively fight the infection. He's in good care, and lots of people are rooting for him.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Traditional Values in a Modern World

I've recently been reading Fundamentalism: A Very Short Introduction, Malise Ruthven, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004, 2007. You should read this book, whether you are a believer, a traditionalist, a humanist - this book has a message for you.

Ruthven's main thesis is that Fundamentalism is an expression of traditional religious reactive experience to a modern, multicultural world. It's a world that's full of new, unimagined choices, and it's a very different world than that described and prescribed by tradtional belief and practice.

Ruthven describes the ingredients of Fundamental psychology and behavior that encompass Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and also Hinduism and Bhuddism. He points out the similarities between Protestant Biblical inerrancy and Roman Catholic integralism. He packs a lot of information and analysis into 136 pages.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Double Vision?

Well, not quite. I went to the optometrist today. It seems that aging occurs in every bodily organ, including the eyes. My lenses are turning yellow (normal with age). I'm getting increasingly near-sighted (normal). Of course, aging is better than the alternative, but why does everything have to wear out, now that I'm getting used to it?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Merry Adventures

Tim and I sometimes go on merry adventures, and yesterday was such an occasion. Beer and Cheese Tasting! MMMMmmmm. We checked out a beer tasting at the King Farm Wine Shop. "The Reverend," Avery Belgian Style Quadruple Ale (whatever that means), a great tasting ale, ended up going home with me. One of the beers offered, "Oak Aged Yeti," Great Divide Imperial Stout was a very dark and thick liquid, which the beerista termed "motor oil." Truer words were never spoken, a very strange brew, indeed.

We hit the Safeway next door. This is one of those upwardly mobile Safeways, not the type of store you're going to find in downtown Wheaton. I go to a store like this and almost wish I lived in King Farm, except it's such an ugly and barren place (IMHO). Every home is choc-a-bloc the next. And some of those suckers are huge! Who's going to clean house? Oh, if we could only switch Safeways.

Then off to Olney to Olney Beer and Fine Wine. I call our trips merry adventures, because they usually involve getting lost, at least once. There is no painless way to get from King Farm to Olney during Friday rush hour. Technology rescued us. I used my Blackberry® to chart a course, using it's built-in GPS. Wow! I love this gadget! We got lost in a parking lot in Olney, and sure enough, my Blackberry rescued us.

Those folks in Olney sure know how to impress retired gay men. They had some really great beer (Tim and I each bought a bottle of Jubilee Ale, celebrating the Queen's staying power (so, so Gay!) - the last bottles in the store, a great stealth maneuver on our part. The ale has a pronounced sherry taste. It's been on the shelf for six years, and will turn bad. So I have a to drink it....

The beeristas here were young, speaking with a practiced (rote-like) experience. But I guess that's how you learn, very earnest, but friendly, and with good advice.

The store also paired some excellent English cheeses with the English (or English-like[?]) beers, with some pâté to top it all off. MMMmmmmm. So I ended up bringing home beer, pâté, salami, and cheese.

I have to point out that both stores feature some knock-your-socks-off prices, so bring credit cards, rather than cash. The Olney store also features a wine-by-the-taste, -half-glass, or -glass Enomatic Machine. Whoa. This machine is cool. You purchase a debit card, then you drink. One of the wines being offered with this metallic sommelier, was $83 a glass. We didn't partake (but we thought about it).

But wait! Our adventure wasn't over yet. Olney features a Roots Market. We stopped and took a gander. The store features organic, fair trade food. The selection was very nice, and best of all, the store was uncrowded (well, best for us, but probably not too good for business). It's kind of like Whole Foods, only different. It also will take your whole pay check.

My Dad's Sermons

My father was a country preacher in a small community church in Juliaetta, Idaho. He preached there from the late Sixties through the early Nineties. After Dad's death, my brother took all of Dad's sermons with the intent of pulling them together, doing something with them.

I talked with my brother over Christmas, and he said he was sending me the sermons, could I figure out how to make them available to everyone else? I received a big box last week, and it's full of hundreds of handwritten sermons, sermons that kindle in me a new respect and love for my father and his faith.

Yesterday, I transcribed one of the sermons. I can almost hear my father preaching it, his folksy, earnest voice. Dad was not a great orator, but faith burned bright in his words, as well as his life. I am grateful to have these sermons, and I'm going to do my best to see that they are more widely available than in a box in my living room.

Reading his words makes me focus on my own spiritual life. I don't believe in God. I'm not a Christian. There are moments when I wish I had the capacity for belief, but I don't. On the other hand, I recognize the spark and life in my Dad's work. I know firsthand how he lived his faith. It's my prayer that I can follow in his footsteps and live a life full of concern, love, and respect for all who live here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Walk Around Wheaton

Apartments at the Wheaton Metro Stop
Apartments at the Wheaton Metro Stop

After going to the gym today, I took a little walk around Wheaton. I think it's interesting that my hometown looks differently than any other hometown in America. Whenever I arrive in a new place, it somehow looks foreign. I may dismiss the place as looking rundown or unfriendly. I feel like an outsider. But I look at my hometown (which, indeed looks a little seedy and rundown), and I have this warm, welcoming feeling, because I'm part of its fabric.

I don't know every shop in town, but I've at sometime or another in the last 18 years, walked past every one of them. I know the cracks in Wheaton's sidewalks. I love the smell of the row of Peruvian chicken restaurants on Ennals St. I noticed a new Salvadorean restaurant today.

Town is changing, though. A row of townhouses went in on Amherst last year, and this year, dozens of apartments are being built over the Metro stop. Already, the construction is becoming part of Wheaton's "skyline." The town is dotted with Hispanic restaurants, pawnshops, and Latin banks.

It's my hometown, though, and I love it. Wheaton is the place where I feel right at home.

Mitt Romney's Faith and
the Evangelicals

Noah Feldman wrote an interesting article about a "soft bigotry" apparent in American politics that may be causing problems for Mitt Romney. The article, "What Is It About Mormonism," appeared in the January 6 New York Times Magazine. (The link may not remain active for very long. The New York Times site requires registration, but it is a free site.)

The article describes how the Latter-day Saints or Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS) have used secrecy to assure their survival and to deflect religious discrimination. Feldman's theses are 1) that evangelical Christians are wary and unaccepting of Latter-day Saint belief, 2) that the LDS Church has a culture of secrecy about its esoteric practices, and 3) that the LDS Church presents itself to the public in a way to minimize its religious differences from other Christian faiths.

Feldman's commentary is right on target. It certainly reflects my own experience in the LDS Church. I don't think that members of the LDS Church consciously misrepresent their faith, but they are culturally tuned to talk about it in ways that don't reveal the breadth of their belief or the difference of their practice. As converts, or neighbors, or critics discover the larger truths of the Latter-day Saint faith, they may feel that they've been knowingly mislead. In fact, Church members and missionaries never tell the whole truth to outsiders.

While some of this reluctance is culturally ingrained (members don't even know that they appear to be dissembling with associates who are not members of the Church), it is also fed by a deeply held belief of Church members that "You can't run before you can walk," and a belief in continuing revelation from God through Church leaders, beginning in the home, and extending to the words of their living prophet.

That is, Latter-day Saints realize (at some unconscious level) that their esoteric beliefs do appear odd to outsiders, and that they have to lay a foundation of acceptable propositions, before outsiders can understand these divine truths. Latter-day Saints also believe and expect their leaders to continue to instruct them in deeper, larger truths. Their reality is rooted in a richer revelatory experience. God continues to speak to them in a tangible way at every level of their priesthood within the Church.

Mitt Romney is having problems because of his religion. No matter how he explains his religion, it will sound odd to outsiders. If he says he believes "... Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the savior of mankind," that won't work with evangelicals, because they know that his declaration of that truth (and Mr. Romney really does believe it) is only the beginning of a number of propositions that lead to additional conclusions about the nature of Jesus and God that are far outside of mainstream Protestant theology. Evangelicals are a very fussy sort when it comes to Christian orthodoxy, and they don't much like LDS heterodoxy.

Mr. Romney cannot comment much on his religion. I personally think this is great, because I don't think that religious discourse should be present in the political arena. The Founders prohibited a religious test in our Constitution for good reason. Mr. Romney cannot comment on his personal beliefs because his religious culture prohibits it. One phrase heard among Latter-day Saints is "sacred, not secret." What that means is that their sacred, esoteric beliefs can only be shared with other believers. Their temples are closed to outsiders, not because they are "secret," but because they are "sacred." That same practice extends to Latter-day Saint beliefs.

Take a look at mormonism.org, an official web site for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The teachings on this site give the reader a vocabulary and a rationale for the LDS Church without revealing many of the fundamental differences between Latter-day Saint and Protestant belief. Those differences that the web site does portray are couched in language familiar to a Christian reader. However, the LDS church has a fundamentally different theology than Protestant or Catholic Christian theology.

For example, Latter-day Saints believe that they can become perfected and become Gods, themselves. They believe that numberless Gods and those Gods' creations co-exist with the creation in which we live. They believe in a literal blood atonement for some extremely grievous sins that they claim are not covered by Jesus's atonement. Neither Mitt Romney nor Church leaders can erase this divide of belief without fundamentally changing the nature and focus of Mormon theology.

This all puts Mr. Romney between a rock and a hard place. Although his social and cultural values certainly reflect those of many evangelical Christians, he will have a very difficult time convincing them that he's one of them. He's caught up in the institutional and cultural secrecy of his faith, and evangelical voters can't get around that fact. I believe that those voters will interpret his religious secrecy as being dishonest, and Mr. Romney's faith as being inauthentic and heretical. Ultimately, I think Mr. Romney will be unsuccessful in his attempt to capture the hearts and votes of America's evangelical Christians.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

On the News

Every story is the New Hampshire primary. I'm very happy with the results. Hillary, you go grrrrlllll!

More Gadgets!

Now I have a Bluetooth® earpiece for my Blackberry®. Cool! Now I can look like all the other dorks walking around with something stuck in their ears.

Impeach the President and Vice-President

The time has come for Congress to accept its Constitutional duty and impeach President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. Each week, it seems, more comes to light about how this administration has consistently lied to the American people, and operated above and beyond the law and the Constitution. It's time for Congress to act.

This is the President who lied to his Secretary of State, to the United Nations, and to the American people, to take us into war against Iraq.

This is the President whose administration abysmally mismanaged reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan so that the terrorist threat to the United States is actually greater than it was when the Iraq War began.

This is the President who flouted international treaties regarding treatment of prisoners of war and torture of detainees.

This is the President who ignored detainees' rights to habeus corpus and instituted secret military tribunals without constitutional protections for the accused.

This is the President who through irresponsible tax cuts and unprecedented deficit spending to finance the Iraq War has run up a $9 trillion debt.

This is the President who has illegally tapped phones of American citizens in the United States.

This is the President who has ordered the detention of American citizens and denied them the right of adequate counsel, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to see evidence.

This is the President whose administration's response to hurricane Katrina was tragically inept and to this day continues to be inadequate and underfunded.

George Bush's legacy includes 4000 American troop deaths and 600,000 Iraqi deaths. George Bush's legacy includes a bungled, mismanaged relief effort for New Orleans. George Bush's legacy includes a nine trillion dollar deficit. George Bush's legacy includes lying, misleading, and spying on the American people. Is the United States safer from terrorists than it was in 2004? Congress needs to do its constitutional duty. Clean house, the sooner the better.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Automobile Blues

Ron got hit by another driver today. We believe that it's probably totaled the car. We aren't exactly sure of next steps, but we'll probably rent a car tomorrow, and buy a newer car within the next couple of weeks. This is an echo of my early retirement. This is early car buying.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


So I had a guy over, and there was a little accident with a buttplug. When one bounces, it can leave an ugly stain on the carpet. Big time. I recommend Gonzo® Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner. It really works.

You can order Gonzo products online, or you can buy them at some retail outlets. We got a 22 oz. bottle at Linens and Things.

Now the problem isn't the stain from the accident, it's that the carpet that was stained is now clean, and the rest of the carpet looks really dingy. I think we have a carpet cleaning in our future.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Heard on NPR

Two atoms were taking a walk. One atom says, "I just lost an electron!" The other atom says, "Are you sure?" The first atom replies, "I'm positive."

Yuck, yuck, yuck. Now that is REAL geek humor!

Friday, January 4, 2008

My New Toy

This Blackberry really is like crack. How did I get along without this?

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Gadgets Are Fun

Yesterday was a red letter day (what the hell does that mean?) For me. Sprint sent me a Blackberry, and I installed some square dance software. It doesn't get much better than this.

2008 Beckons

So the season of Presidential Politics culminates in a few weeks of winter frenzy in the Iowa permafrost and the New Hampshire arctic. I didn't like the Iowa results (I wanted Hillary Rodham Clinton to clean up there). I'm hoping for a New Hampshire victory, but I think her message of experience may be no match for Barack Obama's message of change.

Okay, so I contributed to both campaigns. My nephew was raising money for Obama, and was hitting up his family and friends. I also sent some money to the Clinton machine. Barack may have my soul, but Hillary definitely has my heart and my head.

The Republican result is pretty dreadful. All I need in the White House is a fire-breathing fundamentalist populist. Yes, Mike Huckabee, I'm one of the elite East Coast "Chattering Classes." Your foreign policy pronouncements are scary, your social policies are despicable, your tax policies are unworkable. But those Iowa voters love you. I hope New Hampshire voters take a harder, longer look.

Not that I think Mitt Romney is much better. Here's a man who can't make up his mind about his stand on virtually every political position that he has taken since he entered politics. For a man who claims moral character, he certainly engages in a lot of double-talking. His attack ads don't say much about his civility, either. So, John McCain, I'm looking for you to take out both Huckabee and Romney in New Hampshire.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I purchased a gym membership the day after Christmas. For all of you skeptics (or cynics) out there, I've been to the gym four times since then. I guess this is as close as I get to a New Year's resolution. I don't like going to the gym, but once I'm there, it's okay.

The place is full of some unusual rituals. The locker room spawns all kinds of (what seems to me) weird behavior. For example, some of the guys are paranoid that they'll be naked in front of other guys. They wrap a towel around themselves to get out of their pants and underwear, and to get back into them.

Another strange one is guys taking showers with their shorts on. Now some of them are undoubtedly on their way to the sauna or hot tub, but most of them are going back to the locker room to get dressed. Is this strange behavior?

Out on the floor you see a thing or two, as well. Men do a lot of posing for the women, and it doesn't seem to matter which man or which woman. I wish some of the men would pose for me, but that's probably too much to ask. I think if I were of another gender, though, I'd quickly get tired of the attention.

So what do I like about going to the gym? For one thing, it's a place where I'm entirely in my own head. Nobody talks to me, and I don't talk to anyone else, but I'm in the midst of a crowd of people. I feel comfortable there, but my activities there are solely my own.

When I cool down, I feel meditative. I go up to the big room, stretch, and just sit quietly for ten or fifteen minutes. I can listen to myself. And that's maybe the biggest benefit of working out. I'll see if I can keep it up.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

We Didn't Get Hit by a Drunk Driver

Why I'd rather go to a gay New Year's Eve Party...

The New Year's Eve party was quite festive. The hosts go over the top decorating for Christmas (one is a window designer at a department store, and knows how to out-Stewart Martha). Lots of goodies were in abundance. This isn't a party where you need to go home hungry.

Brian picked up Charlie. The two of them got acquainted during a hygienic maneuver in Charlie's bathroom. From Charlie's house, the two came and picked us up, then off to Langley Park/Silver Spring to whisk away Kelly to a delightful night in Arlington.

We got to the party around 10:15. Fewer guys attended this year, but I think the quality was up. The hosts have a very efficient operation, drop the food off in the kitchen, then undress in the bedroom. Some guys actually do look better with their clothes off.

This party is the only social event of the year where I see a lot of the guys, so I had to make the rounds and say hello. Not a lot of attitude here, and the occasional grope was welcome. My tattoo is always a big hit.

In past years, the making out and sexual play usually didn't begin until 11:45 or so. This year, the play-by-play action started around 10:30. I let three different guys tackle me in the bedroom. I'm that much of a tight end! A couple of the guys were studly hot, but very very charitable. In the past, the scoring usually ended around 12:15. This year, at least one run into the end zone was in play when we left at 2.

Charlie has a reputation with many of the guys, even though this was the first time that he had attended this particular party. He has organized some of the nudist activities in the area, and the guys know him for his infamous poker games. He's a very funny, happy guy, and not the least bit shy. I'm really glad he came with us. Brian and Kelly were also big hits, as well they should be. Kelly got tackled during the fourth quarter.

Ron stuck with civilized conversation and sampling the New Year's spread in the dining room. His eyes may have roved, but nothing else did, he reported. I guess he was looking for great food and conversation, and I was just looking for meaningless sex.

I enjoy this party and love the hosts. Whether you played, watched, or ate canapes, it was a fabulously gay evening.