Friday, February 29, 2008

Warren

Warren, a year on, I miss your smile, your laugh; I miss you greatly. You gave so much to DC Lambda Squares, and I just never thought of the club without you. You were with us one moment, and gone the next, doing something you loved, teaching us how to dance.

We've struggled this year, trying to fill the hole that was left in the center of the club, and I think we're doing pretty well. I just wanted to check in and let you know that your loss still hurts, but I can summon you back every time I open the Vermouth. You're that close.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not in My Shower?

The Citizens for Responsible Government caused me a fair amount of work this afternoon. They have intruded from their showers into my retirement! I spent the afternoon scrutinizing signatures on petitions that CRG operatives have been distributing throughout the county. The petitions are being challenged, signature by signature. I'm glad to be part of that challenge. Hey, if not in my shower, whose shower? More on this issue, later.

Veep?

Remember back in 2000, when George W. set out to find a vice-president worthy of being his running mate, he asked his search committee, headed up by Dick (Darth) Cheney to find the right stuff? I'm hoping that the Republican and Democratic candidates will be more thoughtful this time around.

While I don't believe that Senators Obama, Clinton, or McCain will pay me any attention, I thought I'd offer my advice. For the Democrats, I'm thinking Bill Richardson. New Mexico's Governor probably had the best resume as a Presidential candidate, and he could bring real depth to an Obama or Clinton ticket. He's a long shot, but could save the Hispanic vote for the Democrats, and maybe spur more Hispanics to participate in the election.

McCain has a different problem. I'm not sure what Mike Huckabee's motivation is for staying in the race, but he should not be McCain's veep pick. Such a selection could well poison independent voters on McCain. But there's another Presidential-like guy out there, waiting in the wings. He has great hair and could appeal to conservatives without spooking the independents. Mitt, you might still make it on the ticket. Romney has experience that complements McCain.

Those are my veep picks, but don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dining out for Lunch

Today, we're going out for lunch to Andalucia, a Rockville restaurant. The restaurant is cooperating with other area establishments and donating part of its earnings today to help homeless programs in the area. We're meeting Tim and his father there.

We've eaten at Andalucia a couple of times. The food is very good. I like the tapas, and may not get around to an entree; we'll see. Rockville has three or four Spanish restaurants, and this is a good one to go to. It's an old-fashioned establishment with lace in the windows, pictures of flamenco dancers, and families. Reviews consistently call it romantic. The cuisine is traditional, too, no fusion or innovation, just great food.

Next Day: We had a very nice time. Tim's father was born and grew up in Argentina, so he told us a few very good stories. The soup of the day was seafood - lots of mussels and shrimp in a wonderful rich broth. My entree was roasted pork on roasted, sliced potatoes. The dish was very tasty, if not on my diet!

Monday, February 25, 2008

What Do Retired People Do?

I'm still trying to figure this out. I'm puzzled, I usually don't feel that I've accomplished that much by the end of the day, but I certainly have been busy! I wonder how I managed to hold down a job for 30 years and still get things done. I'm not sure how I did it.

I'm easing into a nice schedule. I get up and read for an hour or so. I love the luxury of reading! Sometimes it's the paper. Other days, I read the Economist or some other magazine. Sometimes, I just pick up a pulpy novel and dive in. What a wonder.

I try to write in one of my blogs each day. That's been a challenge, but I've really enjoyed that, too. I also spend time talking with friends on the phone, writing emails, and sometimes, doing nothing at all. That's also a new luxury. Of course, I'm back at the gym (want to know more about Ballys' customer relations?), cooking more and enjoying it more, and trying to get back to those two software programs that I want to write, sometime before I expire....

Another slice of my time is spent with my friends. I delight in their company, and they always bring a warm smile to my lips, even on these cold winter days. Whether it's cooking dinner, square dancing, walking in the neighborhood, politics, interior decorating, breakfast out, or sex, these guys bring an incredible joy to my life. I love them dearly. Ron, Perry, Tim you boys make me whole.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

After Bush 2

If you support John McCain, you expect the United States to continue spending its treasure and lives in Iraq and Afghanistan for as long as it takes. It reminds me of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The day would come when McCain or his successor would bring our troops home, but only because our military could no longer afford to fight, our morale destroyed, our defense critically weak.

If you support Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, you expect the United States to begin quickly withdrawing its troops, and be completely gone within months or a couple of years at the most - I think that's a common expectation. The day would come when Afghanistan would once again be the killing ground of warlords and the Taliban. Iraq very likely could descend into a bloody religious and ethnic civil strife. The United States might, indeed, find itself the target of a terrorist war fed on this strife.

I don't think that either view is realistic. I believe our next President has to sell a realistic policy for Afghanistan and Iraq to the American people, and to the nations cooperating with America's war on terror. I don't know what that policy is, but I think it would have some of these attributes:

  • The President and our political leaders must spell out for the American people what our strategic stake is in Afghanistan and Iraq. The American people need a dialogue and debate about the wars.
  • The American people need to tighten our belts and pay for the war as we go. We must have a tangible stake in the war. This is our generation's war - don't pass the cost on to our grandchildren. Raise our taxes to pay for this war.
  • Our nation must pay the price for peace by offering a realistic plan for reconstruction in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We have a moral obligation in both nations to help them rebuild.
  • Our next President must persuade the American people to follow through. Too often in our international obligations, we go with quick fixes and half-measures. The true test of our own democracy is to have the strength and moral fiber to meet the challenges of the Middle East with the time and resources that the challenges require. We cannot just walk away.

None of the candidates has given the American people a believable vision of a post-war world: how our nation is going to get there, the cost of getting there, the time to get there, and what that world will be like. Personally, I think all the presidential candidates have dangerous proposals for the future when it comes to the Middle East. I know the present course is not sustainable, militarily, financialy, or morally.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Wheels

New Wheels in Parking Spot
New Wheels in Parking Spot

Today has been eventful. We brought home a brand new 2008 Prius from the Darcars Toyota. If you ever want to buy a Toyota, talk to Alex. He's a hustling sales consultant who refuses to be undersold. If you speak Russian, you'll probably get an even better deal.

This purchase is the culmination of a fair amount of research, plus some visits to other car dealers, too. Ron and I did our homework, and we're pleased (though a little stunned) with the deal. The coolest gadgets in the car are a GPS navigation system and BlueTooth. I haven't paired my phone with the car yet, but you know it's coming. Undoubtedly, this car will be fodder for some additional blog posts.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Death Comes Suddenly

Today's Washington Post carried a sad story of life, death, and chance rolled into tragedy and existential void. The story describes the chance meetings, phone calls, and conversations that put people on a road in Charles County at 3 a.m. A car smashed into bystanders watching a street race and eight people are dead. One moment the crowd is cheering. Impact. Pain. Silence. Then the air fills with screams and moans. Confusion. Body parts. Death everywhere. Death came out of nowhere. It chose its victims and swiftly departed.

I read the story, morbidly fascinated. Death just comes out of nowhere, a hammer blow that flattens thirteen people, and kills eight. It's a rend of our human web. Suddenly, unexpectedly, eight people with families, jobs, friends, connections, religion, purpose are blinked out of existence and violent tears run through the fabric of family, friends, and acquaintances. Unthinkable.

When my mother and my father died after long illnesses, the family was prepared in each case. We saw death walk up the steps to the front door, and when death came, we were grateful for it being there. But sometimes death comes through the window, uninvited, unwanted, a thief. And it departs taking loved ones. After reading the news story, I could hear the breaking of hearts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Great Prostate!

I went to visit my doc yesterday for a physical. He told me (and I may be slightly elaborating what he said) that I had a remarkable prostate for a man my age: it's small, supple, not enlarged, and no nodules. And it's one part of the exam that I enjoy! The rest of the exam does indicate that the arrow of time moves inexorably in one direction only. I'm going to schedule that urology appointment, and there's a cardiologist in my future. None of the anomalies appear serious, but I want to take care of them. I got the tetanus shot, and was on my way to lunch with a colleague from my days at Fannie Mae, and sitting pretty....

Before I went into see the doc, I filled out an Adult Vaccination Screening Form. Even if your doctor doesn't look at it, it keeps your mind focused about what you should ask your doctor. (If you are interested in a recommended vaccination schedule, you can find it on the Centers for Disease Control web site.) At the office, I was given an electrocardiogram. The test was over before it began. Quite a hookup! As usual, I was clueless about what to do with the urine sample. I mean, where am I supposed to put this cup of pee? Once when my brother was very young (eight or so) he was told to put his sample in the tray, so he poured it in the tray. I've been tempted ever since, but have tamped down the urge for watersports at the doctor's office sufficiently to keep my behavior in check.

I wore underpants. I sometimes forget. One time I had a somewhat urgent doctor's office visit and wasn't wearing any. This only leads to an embarrassing place for me, although the doctor, the intern, and the nurse never batted an eye. I think I was blushing from head to toe, though. Ever since, I carefully check my unders.

Books, Anyone?

Today's special task is to remove six boxes of books and trundle them off to the Friends of the Wheaton Library. I spent part of Sunday and Monday pruning my books. I'm saying goodbye to Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Darkover series. I loved you, but I'll probably never reread it, and maybe my books will give joy to someone else. My sole criterion for determining whether a book would continue to occupy the shelf was, "will I ever get around to opening this book's cover?"

The whole process was a little sad, after all, these are my friends. I discovered some hidden treasures, which will remain for now. I still have two rooms to go through, so I imagine I'll be delivering a lot more books to FOTWL. It's a very sneezy process, with some genuine regret thrown in.

Eloquent, and Anything But Empty

Today's headline in the Washington Post is Wisconsin Voters Give Obama Decisive Victory. Senator Obama continues to make toast out of Senator Clinton. Senator McCain is leveling his aim on Obama, claiming that Senator Obama offers an "eloquent but empty call for change." Get prepared for Clash of the Titans, Part II.

Of course, this could all change in two weeks in Texas and Ohio. This campaign excites me, and yes, gives me hope that real change can be made to heal our political institutions and bow them to the will of the people. I'm gratified that the three people left standing are Obama, Clinton, and McCain. I think Americans have a clear choice in the remaining Democratic primaries, and I'm happy that the Republicans chose sanity over disaster.

In the first round, Senator Obama clearly has a TKO, if not a knock out. His organization, his campaign, and his rhetoric prove his ability as a candidate. Whether he can maintain his momentum all the way through the convention and to November is this year's political mystery thriller, but he is an impressive candidate that the others have underestimated to their chagrin.

Senator Clinton has turned nasty. In a normal election year, it would be hardly noticed, but it is such a counterpoint to Obama's campaign that it underscores a huge difference in style. Style is important this year. Senator Clinton not only has to walk the walk, she has to talk the talk, and she appears incapable of fashioning a rhetoric that's believable or sincere. If she is to remain in the race, she has to score a couple of homeruns in Ohio and Texas. Senator Obama is moving into her constituencies. Her bases are shifting away. In the spotlight of Obama's rhetoric, her campaign appears mean spirited and old school. Indeed, blue collar unionists, women, and hispanic voters deeply desire change in a broken system. I think many Democrats are coming to the view that Senator Clinton is part of the problem.

Now, Senator McCain is talking about Senator Obama's "...empty call for change." I have to question whether McCain has been watching the Illinois Senator. The American people are not responding to an empty call for change (or they would have voted for Dennis Kucinich). The American people are responding to the challenges of this generation: to end a disastrous war, to build a just peace, to bind a weary world's festering wounds, to care for the weak among us, to bring justice, compasssion, and opportunity to a broken political system. Only one man in this campaign talks that talk. We may not know now whether Senator Obama can walk the walk, yet, but millions of Americans have listened to his talk and are betting that he can.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy's Advice for Sex Profiles

I never thought when I was growing up that I would be 56 and worried about my profile on ManHunt.net. For those genteel readers who don't know, ManHunt is a web site where men can find other men for sex, friendship, or relationships, although it's primarily for sex.

I first wondered if my profile was delivering the right message when a guy came over for sex, looks me over, and says, "You look much older than your profile." That's not the right answer. I've since uploaded some new pictures (yes, I look older in them), and I decided to emphasize connection in the pictures, rather than sex.

Believe me, when I'm on ManHunt, I'm looking, but I want to connect with another guy, too. I want to know part of his story. I want to see his face before I see what is in his pants. Frankly, I want to see him wearing some pants, at least in one or two pictures in his profile.

I have developed some profile heuristics. Use them at your peril:

  1. Be truthful. You will regret any prevarication that creeps into your profile. You will be found out.
  2. Show some broadmindedness. If your criteria for hooking up are too narrow or your standards are too high, you won't get many hits. Keep your standards low.
  3. Include at least one face picture. Other guys really do want to know what you look like, and ditch the sunglasses. And no crap about your important job, or that you have to be discreet. Ahem... you're on a sex site! If you're discreet, you wouldn't be here.
  4. Include one or two pics that show you doing something you love, that tell a story about you. These pics can be clothed or naked, but should show other men you have a life. Show a little mystery!
  5. One or two penis shots are okay. Six are too many. Same goes for buttholes.
  6. Apply this test: will other guys look at your pictures and ask, "What was he thinking?" or worse, "What was he smoking?"
  7. Pictures should be clear, and large enough to show some details. Thumbnail pics make your endowment and everything else look tiny tiny.
  8. Finally, it's better to tell guys what you want, not what you don't want. Keep the text upbeat. Sell yourself with a smile.

It's just that simple! I certainly have found sex on the Internet, but I've also found love, and wonderful friends. And it's a lot more comforting, when you're desperately seeking sex, to know that you have a trusty profile.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Manhunt helps boys stay on the farm

The Internet has revolutionized how gay men find sex partners. The net has several social sites where guys can hook up with other guys, and they usually aren't hooking up to play cards or visit the opera, although the latter is more likely than the former.

The site I use (fairly often) is Manhunt.net. I like it better than its arch-competitor, Men4SexNow.com. Manhunt is a convenient and useful site that quickly brokers a sexual transaction. Men4SexNow seems to be a little clunkier in its navigation, and it isn't as snappy as Manhunt. Both sites, however, get me results. So I keep coming back.

I'm pretty sure Gay men have more sex with more partners than most straight men. Sexual pleasure is a positive value for most Gay men, and Gay men will live in areas where they have better opportunities for expression of Gay sex. Certainly with tools like the social web sites, it is easier to hook up with men in a geographical area. Furthermore, it can be done without having to go to a bar or a park or rest stop, all of which could entail a degree of personal risk and danger.

These social web site have also made it possible for men in rural or socially conservative areas to find sexual partners, as well. In the long term this may enable gay men to find companionship and sexual outlets where they live rather than having to move to often distant urban centers. Gay people may find their home at home, which could stem the trend of gay men moving to the big city - a trend that has been going strong since the end of World War II.

Sometimes, technology can take us back to the farm, to the towns we loved but felt we had to leave. Maybe the day will come soon when gay men can find community in their communities.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Importance of Being Earnest

Tim and I just watched Anthony Asquith's 1952 film adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde really was a genius. This witty comedy skewers manners, class, and church in just about equal measure. It's a pleasure to see what Wilde created from a truly awful pun. If all homosexuals could be so talented, oh what a world it would be!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I have some exciting news!

Today is the last day of WAMU's Winter Membership Campaign! I am so gratified. Beginning tomorrow, I can listen to uninterrupted public radio again. I am so excited about this development.

These campaigns cause a time distortion anomaly (TDA) in my temporal lobe. The endless blather of campaign-speak dilates time and affects my auditory and semantic processing capabilities. It makes the Winter Membership Campaign appear to be endless in length (an infinitude of gooey, sweet, and anaestetic guilt-ridden arm twisting), and I break out in cold sweats and flatulence.

So you can see why I'm excited. I'll have Ira Glass all to myself without a local host trying to pick my pockets. I'll be able to listen to Diane Rehm without her producer telling me how much she would like me to support Diane. I'll turn on the radio and listen to quality programming about subjects that deeply interest me and engage my mind and heart.

And TDA will recede into the recesses of my cerebrum, until the Spring Membership Campaign hits the airwaves. I really will tune in WTOP. I promise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Day 5, just 2 to go

Today is the fifth day of WAMU's Winter Membership Campaign. The station is still asking me (repeatedly) to donate bucks, and get my coffee mug. Evidently, the today's radio personalities didn't get the notice from the WAMU finance guys that I donated yesterday. Bill Redlin and Caryn Mathes both used the imperative mood on me several times this morning. I just want to hear my regular radio programming. I paid my dues, and I get this irritating hands out attitude, instead! I'm ready for my second cup of coffee. And I turned off my radio.

At the Dentist

I had a 9 a.m. dental appointment this morning. I got out of the house early to clean off the car from last night's ice storm. It was messy and my steps were still icy, but the parking lot and roads were not (just wet). The ice really makes the trees look beautiful (until an ice-laden tree takes out a power line).

So I get to the dentist early. He and his assistant were talking about yesterday's primary. The assistant appears to be a keen Senator McCain supporter, although she doesn't like his stand on the war in Iraq, and she thinks he's too old.

I did not offer any political analysis; after all she had her hand in my mouth and was armed with a mouth suction hose.... Here is a woman who probably is not earning a great deal, and is an immigrant. I sat there wondering why she did not like Senators Clinton and Obama.

What does it take to get the message through to people that Senator McCain is wrong on health care and social spending? What does it take to get the message through to people that McCain opposes a woman's right to her own reproductive health? What does it take to get the message through that McCain will continue the failed Iraq policies of president Bush?

The Democrats still have a long row to hoe, but I think we'll have the best nominee to do that.

Okay, I voted for Clinton

I had a daunting experience getting to the polls last night - freezing rain. I walked rather than taking the car. It was pretty miserable. When I got to the polls, the location had no ballots, so I was given a piece of notebook paper, told to list the offices and my candidate choices, and that's the new era of Maryland ballots: write your own!

I knew before going that Senator Obama was probably going to take Maryland, I just wasn't prepared for how much. I stuck by my woman. I believe that Senator Clinton is the best person to lead our nation during the next four years. But I'm not dismayed with the result, either. I will work for the Democratic nominee. I can't overstate how important it is for our political status quo to change. We cannot continue our present course. We cannot continue with a Republican president. America can do much better than our current president and his short-sighted, undemocratic, and heavy-handed government.

So, Senator Clinton, I hope you do well in Wisconsin, Texas, and Ohio. For both Senators, it's my fervent hope that you'll reach out to each other, that the contest will not embitter supporters, that whoever the winner is, we'll have a united front against a formidable Republican establishment. Our eyes should not be only on our favorite candidate, but on the ulitmate goal of bringing a new vision and conscience to the White House, a Democratic president who will lead us to peace in Iraq and prosperity for all Americans.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Primary Colors, 2008

It's 9 p.m., and I just got back from voting in Montgomery County (Maryland) Precinct 13-32. Earlier today, Perry and I had agreed to go vote when he got off work at 7 p.m. Before we could vote, frozen rain had covered our steps and sidewalks. The conditions were really treacherous. I turned on WAMU (Yeah, yeah, yeah...) and Kojo Nnamdi reported that the Maryland polls had been extended from 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. My moment of opportunity was upon me!

I got on my hiking boots, bundled up in my wool car coat, slung my Modelo scarf (I am a gay man, after all) around my neck, and slogged off to my polling place, about three-quarters of a mile from my home. It was a dark and stormy night - rain falling on ice, and the temperature a few degrees below freezing. With my trusty boots, I did not slip, slide, or slither (there should be an activity named after that).

The parking lot at the elementary school where the polling was held was nearly empty. When I wandered into the polling location, judges outnumbered voters about two to one. One of the problems with electronic voting is that it follows some pre-programmed rules. The voting machines shut off at 8 p.m., and the judges did not have any paper ballots, provisional or otherwise, for those of us who showed up late.

The judges were able to check us in, and then harkening back to elections we held in the sixth grade, we were handed a blank piece of paper on which a judge had written a ballot ID, and we walked over to a sample ballot on the wall, then wrote the office and the name of our choices on the blank piece of paper. I was very careful with my spelling. I signed a provisional ballot form, and a couple of other pieces of paper, sealed my ballot in a provisional envelope, and deposited it in the provisional ballot box.

I have no idea whether my vote will actually be counted, considering that I was voting a handwritten ballot, but I think it will be. My hat goes off to the election judges of Precinct 13-32 who were working under difficult conditions, but were eager to help, and full of smiles after a very long day in a school cafeteria.

The Traveler and the Tourist

I just got back (well, last week) from a sailing trip in the Virgin Islands (Br.) with some friends. I had a wonderful time, and the exhange rate is just right! It's almost becoming a rite of spring for me to head to the Caribbean, and certainly I enjoy the sun and the beaches, but more than that, I enjoy the adventure of seeing places I've never been.

What I like about travel is the wonder of it all. The Baths in Virgin Gorda demand to be explored. Sidney's Peace and Love on Jost Van Dyke is not like a Washington, DC dining experience. Sailing into the wind over deep, blue sea is an excitement and a delight that I don't experience in Wheaton.

Oh, and I did some of the tourist stuff, too - I bought those t-shirts (made in India) that tell everyone I was in the islands.

WAMU Membership Campaign, Day 4...

All right, I've taken the moral high ground and pledged to support WAMU with lots of money. All I'm hearing on the radio today is, "blah, blah, blah, chatter, chatter." The campaign irritates me enough to find another place on the radio dial this week, (WTOP, anyone?). I guess WAMU wants to punish its listeners, and it does this four (count 'em!) times a year - four weeks of my life lost to blather on public radio.

I'm hoping that the marketing folks at WAMU will devise a gentler way to separate green from their listeners' wallets. There has to be a better way than the "Winter Membership Campaign."

Send This E-Mail to Your Friends...

Dear Friend, The service WAMU provides cannot be found anywhere else! Join me now in becoming a member of WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and help support the NPR and local news that keeps you informed and lifts the spirit. I've attached a link
where you can find out more information and donate now.

https://secure.ga3.org/03/feb08_0240/step1/r6ddwskd1hPhS

Monday, February 11, 2008

Public Radio Pledge Week

I turned on the radio this morning to Pledge Week on WAMU. The radio talk this morning consists of endless pleas about how supporters make the difference on public radio. Oh, what a long week this portends. Of course, my brain processes all of this talk as "blah, blah, blah."

"Our Winter Membership Campaign" on WAMU awaits the unwary listener each hour throughout the day. The talk takes up a good part of each radio program. The station's moneyraising works by hypnotizing listeners into a zombie-like state in which the unwitting listener's fingers claw out the station's phone number, and in a halting, quavering voice, the listener gasps out, "I pledge, take my money, but send me my coffee mug!"

I haven't succumbed yet, but that distinct possibility remains. I suppose I could listen to Washington DC's all-news WTOP and its commercials.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chiropracty

So now, I'm going to a chiropractor. My first visit was yesterday, and I have another appointment tomorrow. I have never had adjustments, or maybe the chiropractor I went to in the past didn't believe in physicality.

My chiropractor's middle initial is probably "B" for bonecrusher. I've never heard so many popping noises before in my life. My body has never been bent, then crushed that way before, not that I'm complaining, or anything.

I woke up this morning with some new aches and pains, but went to the gym for a regular workout. I think I'm ready for the next "adjustment." The adjustment feels weird, but if it gets results, that's what I'm going for. Here's hoping.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Just about Home

I'm sitting in San Juan International Airport. I had a great time in the Virgin Islands. I still don't really know how to sail a boat, but I learned a bit more than last year, and I am already thinking about the next trip.

Captain Rick, our boat's skipper, stayed with me last night at the Fort Burt Hotel in Tortola. He has lots of ideas about the sailing trips - he'd like to spend a lot more time sailing. Jerry, the trip organizer, also has lots of ideas. I'd like to do more sailing, and I think Rick and Jerry are key to helping me do that.

I have a couple of ideas too, and I think I would enjoy working on some trip "marketing" with these guys.