Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mean Spirited

Usually when I use the words, "mean spirited," I'm talking about someone else. But sometimes it applies to me, too. Like yesterday after I got up. I must have gotten up on the wrong side of bed and taken some meanie pills, because I was a regular grouch, Happy with Bad Attitude and Bed Hair. I knew it would pass, but stay out of my way while I'm bad.

The person who suffers me most is Ron. And I'm publicly apologizing in this forum for sometimes (well... many times?) being snappish and nasty (in the bad sense) to him. If I ever treat any of you, my dear readers, this way, it usually isn't because I'm angry with you, it's just Happy being mean spirited. A walk, some food, maybe an extra coffee, a shopping trip, any combinations of the above will usually return my attitude to its normal sunny, sarcastic self, and you'll all be quite relieved.

Yesterday's experience involved computer hardware and software that was behaving badly, Ron trying to be helpful, me willfully taking Ron shopping* to a store that he wasn't all that excited to go to. I mean, it kind of gets diabolical. And I could feel it's hold on me, and I really had to restrain myself, which is scary, considering how mean I was being while restraining myself.

I don't like acting like Dick Cheney's public persona. I never auditioned for it, but I have it in spades sometimes. I don't know what kicks it off (well, Dick Cheney does), and I really do not like myself when I'm behaving so badly. It's my dark side, and my not-so-secret self. It's a mental thing, and it is hard to shake off when I'm feeling it, but happily, it usually passes very quickly, like bad gas at a cocktail party.

So if I appear ticked off, just give me wide berth for a half hour or so, then check back in. I'll probably be fine.

* After a few minutes, Ron did get kind of excited about shopping (Trader Joe's, what's not to love?) and by that time, my mood was out of the danger zone. Sweetie, I can be such a lunk, sometimes, and I'm sorry.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I'm bad for being organized (work was my great organizing principle), so today I made a list of about seven things I needed to get done. I've finished three of them, and I've done some other things that weren't on my list, but were pleasant distractions, anyway.

Not on my list: I wrote an email to my sister, just because it was fun, and I like staying in touch with her. Not on my list: I made some chicken soup. It's a cloudy, gray day here, and chicken soup seemed like just the ticket to make my world sunny again. We had some soup for lunch, and more is ready for dinner. A big plus is a lot of stuff from the veggie drawer in the refrigerator went into the soup. I had fun making it.

Visiting Dr. Bonecrusher wasn't on my list either. I joked with his staff out front, and he beat me up, again. It's weird, chiropractors (and he's pretty good) have to make some things hurt. I think it's in the cards. I don't mind it too much; I think it's more my response to manipulation than anything else.

I still have some square dance stuff to do. I also want to review the C-1 calls. The moral of today's blog entry is that lists do keep me focused, as long as they aren't too long, and as long as I have some other distractions to take my mind off my lists.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Intellectual Eating

Ron and I had a wonderful meal with my nephew, Joe, and his wife, Karen, last night at Bistro D'Oc. They had spent a day of sightseeing and lots of walking through the Jefferson Memorial and the National Archives. Then we met at their hotel and walked to the restaurant.

Bisto D'Oc features wonderful French country food in a pleasant, simple atmosphere. We dined in the blue dining room upstairs. We had a very knowledgeable and helpful waiter who took us through the menu and the specials. One item on the appetizers particularly interested me, lamb brains in a lemon butter sauce with capers.

Okay, I know you are already rolling your eyes and fighting the gag reflex. When I was a kid, my mother would scramble pork brains with eggs and serve them as a special breakfast. I remember those meals, and really enjoyed those augmented scrambled eggs with disguised brains.

In a few minutes our appetizers emerged from the kitchen. Five lamb brains were arranged in a large soup bowl, and they looked, graphically, like brains - something you would see in a medical text book, only cooked in a lemon butter sauce with capers. Indeed, I did have a visceral reaction to my plate, and some second thoughts about my decision (thinking, brain, thinking, food, thinking hmmmm).

I admit to some aversion to foods like brains, hearts, kidneys, and livers, although, I've eaten all of the above and enjoy them. I don't eat them very often though, not because they are rich with fat or filters for an animal's toxic wastes, but because organ meats somehow get at the substance and soul of the beast. These parts are what make an animal what it is. Somehow this kind of eating is different than hamburger or chop if not in fact, then in my mental construction of what meat is.

The lamb brains were delicious, but I think I'll wait another couple of decades before having them again. If nothing else, eating them gave me real pause, food for thought about my eating habits.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tim

Every now and then, the boys get together to celebrate. This time it was Tim's birthday. We took a magical trip to the far exurbs to examine our inner vegetarian selves.

Google Map to the Washington Exurbs
Google Map to the Washington Exurbs

Perry, Ron, and I drove up together. Clarksville is about 15 miles from Wheaton as the crow flies, but considerably longer by road if you follow Google Maps or the GPS in the car. Google Maps has this neat feature where you can alter the displayed route. I did that with a vengeance, and mapped out a journey that took us through some splendid springtime scenes of twilight, full of magical flowering bushes and green meadows. Layhill Road, Edson Lane, Tucker Lane, Ashton Road were purposely beautiful, just for us.

Birthday Boy with Cake
Birthday Boy with Cake

I'm certain Tim uses skincare products to maintain his youthful suppleness, which was all in evidence last night at Great Sage, a great restaurant with at least one table of rowdy patrons. What a night! Good food, good company, and the world's hippest waiter two decades too late.

Tim, Oenophile
Tim, Oenophile

Tim selected a wonderful wine that worked well with all of our appetizers and main courses. And we also had mandatory drinks: Perry had a swirly, Ron drank cranberry juice (without ice). I forget what Brian had, iced tea? Tim had the ginger mojito and I had an all-berry punch. It tasted okay, but not quite enough vodka.

We all like appetizers. The artichoke-spinach crostini was the ultimate gooey dip of which dreams and fortunes are made. It had the whiff of great sex, randy, forbidden naughty.

Artichoke-Spinach Dip with Crostini
Artichoke-Spinach Dip with Crostini

The guacamole tostadas were short on the guacamole, but after the initial disappoinment had a strong follow through with crispy tortillas and very tasty beans, trusty vegan food with the tradition intact but without the Birkenstocks.

Guacamole Nachos
Guacamole Tostadas

This is the second time that Tim, Ron, and I have been to Great Sage. The restaurant is up in Clarksville in a strip mall. The restaurant is vegan/vegetarian and serves hearty, tasty food. I think we all enjoyed our entrees. I'm not much of a tofu guy, but my "Peruvian" style grilled tofu with vegetarian "ceviche" (the evening's special) was excellent. The tofu was well-seasoned and served with a cilantro sauce. The ceviche would never pass as the seafood variety, but taken by itself had a refreshing zingy taste and the crunchiness of onions with the chewiness of kernel corn. I liked the inventiveness, textures, and assertive tastiness of the food.

Brian had a vegetable Napolean (featuring roasted portabello mushrooms and veggies on polenta). Tim and Ron each ate the Indian Vegetable Cakes, and Perry lit into the Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Cream Pasta. Perry (touchingly) reserved the spinach in his dish for Ron.

When we had finished eating, the gentleman at the table behind us came over and chatted a bit about the wine, then he noted, "Four men...." I guess our secret was out. Urbane, witty gay men are perhaps rare birds in Clarksville, although we did note several diners who probably would have felt quite at home at our table.

We all finished big with dessert - the Hot Fudge Lava Cake with ice cream, Italian Sorbet, and Tim had the dessert special, Key Lime Cake with a cream filling. No hunger pangs were detected on the ride home.

Birthday Boy and Entourage
Birthday Boy and Entourage

Friday, April 25, 2008

This Week in Wheaton

We have had a busy week in Wheaton. After the square dancing and the weed wacking incident, the fun continues. Yesterday, Ron and I visited the Finance Guys (FGs). They told me that I'll have to go back to work. They were quite severe with me, telling me that my profligate spendthrift ways were imperiling the already weak dollar, and that I was one of the single biggest causes of the United States trade deficit. I plead guilty as charged. So I've decided to become a greeter at WalMart. See me in your neighborhood soon.

After meeting with the FGs, and I do have to say that their advice is very, very good - I also enjoy their sartorial presence, not to mention the deeply edifying, nay motivating engagement they have with us once a quarter to help us survive our retirement, or die trying, which come to think of it, will probably be the sad outcome. Meanwhile, we came back to Chez Boiz and took a pleasant afternoon walk.

The weather was delightful, and the mild exercise took my mind off of the plumbing problems that have plagued me of late. Ron doggedly set his course down the street, and I ran circles around him (literally, I mean I run around him while we are walking), mainly to find out what would happen. A smile slowly crinkled across his face, he rolled his eyes, raised his hands up in the air in a hopelessly resigned gesture, and hugged me, or ignored me, and life is wonderful and transcendent in this moment. I would not want to be any other place but here, acting very silly with the soberest straight man sidekick in the universe. But I do make him smile, and he makes me profoundly happy - much like the Finance Guys do, especially the cute one.

The urologist adjusted my medications, and you're reading the results. Joe, I'm sorry if you are finding all of this alarming, Pyridium does this to me every time I take it. Side effects. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, "Read the label." I didn't realize that something that could color my pee a violent orange would actually be such a mood elevator. And it's cheap, too. Of course, it can ruin your kidneys and stain your underwear, so you might take it with some caution, and not everyone will experience such salubrious effects that I have. Because, I'm special....

Seriously, I'm actually not even using the Pyridium(although I filled the prescription), because I read its side effects label and decided, uh-uh. I really haven't needed any pain relief. And now, at Day Three, I feel much improved over Day One. So why the bizarre mood this morning? I'm not sure. I guess I'm just happy today, well manic today. And I kind of like feeling this way. It's spring and I have sprung!

Mein came over last night to review (yet again) Challenge 1 square dance calls. He and I went through just about every call on the list. We either walked through them or checkered them. The most confusing thing for me right now is distinguishing the various call names and movements from each other, because the names and moves have similarities across calls. This is why square dancing is so evil and so cool. I've never participated in an activity that is so intellectually challenging, so physically active, and so friendly all at once. Mein stayed for about three and hours after which my head was full, much too full.

Today started off with a bang, literally. A ManHunt buddy showed up on my doorstep at 7:04 a.m. (Maybe that's the reason for the elevated mood.) He wanted to come over, because he's moving to Virginia tomorrow. I'll probably never see him again, which is sad, because he is a very nice, foxy guy who amuses and amazes me. I'm thinking I'll figure out how to navigate to Virginia. Of course, he's always welcome here, too. He's young, and I find the differences between his life and mine to be fascinating. I just enjoy talking with him, and I'm not going to discuss the other stuff here....

Today, we're going to celebrate Tim's birthday. I'm excited about it. I love celebrations. After a deeply personal celebration, we're going to Great Sage up in Clarksville, Maryland for dinner. Ron, Tim, and I have eaten there before, and the food is truly wonderful vegetarian. I'll write more about it after our dinner. Perry and Brian are joining us too, and we're going to have a wild boys night out (yeah, right).

The other news for the week is that my nephew and his wife, Joe and Karen, are in town. We're having dinner with them tomorrow night at Bistro D'Oc downtown. This is the third year that they've come into town. Joe has business here, and Karen comes in for the weekend. I really enjoy this visit with family, and they are such a super couple. They also call us Uncle John and Uncle Ron, which sound so unfamiliar, yet so musical to my ears. Nobody ever calls me uncle anything, so I like it!

Finally, a word about the Finance Guys. They just published an article the Journal of Financial Planning, "A Guide to Serving the Estate and Financial Planning Needs of Gay Men, Lesbians, and Same-Sex Couples." Joseph Kapp and Nicholas E. Burkholder, March 2008. pp 54-64. They've gotten a lot of good feedback from other planners about the article, and lots of inquiries about how to serve lesbian and gay clients. More to the point, Joe Kapp and Nick Burkholder have worked very hard over the last four years to gain and earn our trust and business. I am so pleased that they are getting recognition for the excellent work they do for their clients. Readers, plan for our future now. Both Joe and Nick promised to come out and be guest greeters with me at your neighborhood's Wal-Mart, when I put in my appearance, there (just kidding) (or not).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Medical Bulletin

Okay, no big news to report. It still stings, and I still have some blood in my urine, but it's no big deal, and I'm not letting it get in the way of a good time. I'm more concerned about my Challenge-Level attempt at square dancing than I am about my penis, because frankly, I think that's the right priority. Nothing should get in the way of square dancing, unless it's a cruise in the Caribbean in January.... (Tim, talk to me.)

I talked with my Mom and my brother over the last couple of days, and both of them continue to improve. And that's about it for this episode of General Hospital.

Twenty-five Years

Yesterday marked twenty-five years that Ron and I have known each other. We think of it as our anniversary, although we have a different set of milestones, perhaps, than other couples. We met in one of the apartment houses on Cleveland Ave, NW in Washington, DC, in front of the elevator on our way to a potluck dinner. Ron was facilitator for a group called Washington Area Gay and Lesbian Scientists. The group was having its monthly potluck. He was looking for a scientist, and I was looking for one, too. I guess it was fate.

I impressed him that first meeting. I think he liked the way I smoked my cigarettes. Or maybe it was the hayseed on my lapel. I'm not sure which. At any rate, when the potluck broke up, Ron, in his best facilitating way, was going around thanking the guys for coming. When he got to me, I asked him if he liked to dance, and he said yes. I asked him if he'd like to go out, and he said, "When?" I said, "Right now." He agreed, and we went to the Fraternity House on our first date. It really was a date; we didn't have sex until the following week, so maybe we should celebrate our twenty-fifth next week.

Or maybe we should celebrate our twenty-fifth next year on June 1, the date we moved in together, or maybe a couple of weeks earlier when we signed our living together agreement. Gay couples have a difficult time figuring out exactly when and what to commemorate, so we've stuck with the initial meeting - a night at a gay bar discovering that we had absolutely nothing in common, and deciding over the next several months, that that was quite enough with which to fashion a relationship.

Early in 1984, Ron was notified that his apartment building in Arlington, VA was being converted to a condominium. He didn't particularly want to own a place, so he proposed that we live together. I told him that if we did, we needed a living together agreement, and he was amenable to that. I read what I could about such documents, and had some difficulty with it, because I didn't know how permanent we wanted to make it. After all, we didn't know any couples that had been together for a long time, so we set our time horizon for five years, figuring that it probably wouldn't last that long, but what the heck.

When we moved in together in 1984, we stayed in that apartment in Silver Spring for five years and a month. Because of circumstances in the apartment building, we decided that we had to move, and did so in July 1989. At that point, we decided that we could extend our relationship horizon to ten or fifteen years, and bought a townhouse in Wheaton. Well, it's been downhill ever since, and now it's been twenty-five years, and it doesn't seem like that at all. I clearly remember our fifteenth anniversary celebration. We certainly talked about something for twenty five, but that will probably have to wait for fifty. Time is whizzing by at about the same pace that my nose and ear hairs are growing.

As time has gone by, we've taken opportunities to protect legally our relationship. It's difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to do. At this point, I think we're in it for the duration of our natural lives. And I'm just fine with that. I love Ron dearly and am deeply grateful that we have a life together.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This May Sting a Little When You Urinate

With those parting words, my urologist, cum surgeon, walked out of the pre-op waiting room at Suburban Hospital. He also told me no heavy lifting (fat chance) or working out for the next two weeks. "I want you to be a couch potato." He also gave me a prescription for Pyridium, which will turn my pee bright orange.

So today was the biopsy. I salute Doris and the other pre-op nurse who were really kind and very conscientious. The could say the phrase, "prostate lesion," without giggling, and were very sympathetic. Each had a twinkle in her eye. Doris was a little pained to see my pierced nipple and navel (we had to tape them down - note to self, shave the hair next time). She asked me if they hurt. I said I guess so, but that happened fifteen years ago.

They got me an extra-long hospital gown. As the pre-op nurse said, "You don't want to look mini." I thought that was quite considerate, considering the circumstances. After doffing my clothes and donning my gown, she got me comfortable in the bed and started an IV drip. At this point, Ron left the room hurriedly. Doris looked at me and said, "Needles." I nodded, figuring that she didn't need to revive him if he fainted.

This initial drama lasted about 45 minutes, at the end of which, I took my drip and pole and trundled off to the bathroom. You'd be surprised how complicated it is to hit the bowl while you are holding the tube that is dripping saline into your arm. I practiced a few square dance calls, too.

After Doris finished prepping me, my doctor came in for a chat, telling me about the stinging sensation after each urination for the next three weeks. He was going to perform a cystoscopy first, and then the biopsy, if it was necessary (it was).

As soon as the doc gave me his parting advice, the anesthesiologist came in, started a prophylactic antibiotic, then told me his drill - Versed, and two general anesthetics. He called in Shirley, the surgical nurse, who finished prepping me for the trip to the operating room. Each of the people involved, the two pre-op nurses, my doctor, the anesthesiologist, and the surgical nurse, all asked me my name and my date of birth. Some of them asked me where I lived. They all compared my patient number on my wrist with a plastic card, and my patient history. The surgical nurse actually asked me what my procedure was going to be. I thought about saying, "heart transplant," but then thought better of it.

The anesthesiologist started the Versed, and we were off to the operating room. I have to tell you, the operating room looked like an industrial cleaning closet (I used to be a janitor). I mean, I'm sure the place is clean, but it appeared cluttered with equipment, and stuff. I never saw the doctor again. I woke up in recovery. (I'm told that for the biopsy, he threaded a weed wacker up my penis, and just turned it on. My dick is about two inches shorter :-)

Christy was the recovery nurse. She was one busy person, and always smiling and energetic. She covered me with an extra blanket, which I really appreciated. I had three diet colas and some graham crackers. After resting for a half hour or so, Christy wanted me to take a pee. She said it might sting, and it did. She pulled the curtain, Ron came in, and I got dressed. I signed some releases, they plopped me in a wheel chair, and delivered me to the McKinley Street entrance to the hospital. I'd been there for about five hours.

The doctor had talked to Ron in the waiting room. The growth on my prostate appears to be benign, and I'll have results in about two weeks. Ron looked relieved to see me, and I was certainly happy to see him. We headed off to Silver Diner so that I could get some food in my stomach.

I had to go pee at the Silver Diner. I apologize to any who followed me, because although I did try to clean everything up, it did kind of look like an ax murder had taken place. I bled all over the front of my jeans, but that's what washing machines are for. I'm glad to be home, typing this.

I Forgot Tim's Birthday

Tim had a birthday on Sunday, and I forgot all about it. Ron asked me about it late Sunday night (I think), but I was already a day late and a dollar short. I've put it on my calendar for next year. In fact, I put all the boyz birthdays on my calendar. Of course, I'm quite capable of forgetting to look at my calendar, too, but there is less chance I'll miss the days completely. What was I thinking? I was thinking C-1 square dance calls. Tomorrow is Ron's and my 25th anniversary. That's a date I don't remember very well, either....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Busy Week

I'm back home from a long weekend in Poughkeepsie. For the record, we never made it to downtown Poughkeepsie, but we got to know the South Road strip pretty well. We came back home to rain, and Perry told me this morning that the forecast was for another 39 days of it. Really depressing!

So this morning has seen a flurry of emails to schedule reviews and learning new C1 calls. I think we're doing stuff tonight, Wednesday night, Saturday night, and a couple of sessions on Sunday. By that time, my brain should be like steel cut oats, not mushy, but certainly chewed on.

Tomorrow I'm going to Suburban Hospital for a prostate biopsy, or as the Dr. says, a "urethra lesion." They both sound bad. I'm not looking forward to it. I have to be there at 10:40 a.m., and the doctor does his thing at 12:40. He said it will take about a half hour, but with the anesthesia and stuff, I don't expect to get out of the hospital until after 4 p.m. or so.

Later in the week, Joe and Karen (my nephew and his wife) will be in town, so we'll spend an evening with them. I may not be able to make it to a Saturday dance practice, but that's okay. I like visiting them, and hope that we have good weather for their stay.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Day Three

Today is gray, and I'm exhausted. We have had a long weekend, and will be ending our dancing weekend with a short session before lunch. I think that's okay, considering that my brain is very fragile today. Ken Ritucci has been our instructor. He's very upbeat and supportive of the class. Many of the class members already know C1, but are taking this as a refresh, but Ken has been teaching it for beginners.

We won't get through the whole list, but we are far enough through it that we'll be able to pick up the remaining 20 or 30 calls on our own, then continue with the Wednesday Night Workshop, or with the Ettseteras. In any case, I'm going to continue with this. Michael is ready to organize an all-day C1 workshop to before convention. He, Mein, and I have been pleased with the weekend, but want to finish up the list and continue to dance C1.

Mein has been taking lots of photos and videos of our weekend. We are thoroughly documented. I'm sure that one or more pictures will appear, magically, on the DC Lambda Squares front page. Mein danced the weekend with Marion, so he was a boy all weekend. Michael was my partner. The gender thing was throwing a lot of the men dancers. They'd look at Michael and freak. I think he looks pretty girly. Especially the beard.

As for Poughkeepsie, we never made it to downtown. We're well acquainted, though with the strip malls between here and the dance hall. We've have a couple of very nice meals. We've mostly hung out at the hotel (The Poughkeepsie Courtyard Marriott). Each night after dancing, some of the dancers have gotten together in Room 270 for beer, snacks, and square dancing lore. I don't know how these people stay up all night then dance C1 the next day. And some of them have two decades on me. Oh well.

Michael looked at the weather forecast for today, and I'm not enthused about the drive home. It looks like we'll be driving into heavy rainstorms all the way home. It will be a slow, wet slog.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dance Weekend

Michael, Mein, and I are merrily dancing our way through Challenge 1. So far it's been a very good weekend, but I'm exhausted, and I notice that my concentration is waning. We stayed up too late last night.

On our way up here, we studied many of the calls, and that's really helped us stay ahead of the weekend, but we've reached the end of the calls that we've reviewed, so we are going to experience a lot more mental duress in the next day and a half. The weekend has been very intense.

When we get back to DC, we're going to try to arrange a couple of sessions to get us through the complete C1 list, and to review all the calls. Of course, we'll be dancing in the C1 room at Rehoboth.

During this weekend, Michael has been dancing girl with me. It has thrown some of the other dancers off a bit. They just don't expect to be dancing with a girl with a beard, I guess.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Michael, Mein, and I are in Poughkeepsie, at the Courtyard Marriott. Three guys in a hotel room. I guess I'm in heaven, or maybe with the angels (that was a bad pun, you square dancers out there). The three of us are in a C-1 Blitz Weekend here in Poughkeepsie. We talked C-1 calls all the way up here. We're about half way through the list, and we haven't even hit the dance floor, yet.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Drink 20 oz. of Water

Yesterday, I was on the go early. I arrived at the imaging center, ready for a sonogram promptly at 8:50 a.m. The person who had made my appointment told me to be there, and that I was to drink 20 ounces of water (1-1/4 lbs!) one hour before I arrived.

You can imagine my fragile state of mind upon entering the center. The front door told me that this was the right place for ma'amograms and pre-natal sonograms. Nuclear imaging was down the hall. I walked into a room of elderly woman, pregnant women, and day laborers with work injuries.

I signed in, and after a spell, the woman at the desk asked me for my Dr's orders and for my insurance card. She then informed me that my appointment had been cancelled. (Meanwhile, I was doing my little dance.)

I was stunned! I inquired why my appointment had been cancelled, and she replied she didn't know. After some clicks of a mouse and a few keystrokes, it appears that my appointment had been scheduled for the previous day, and that I had not shown up. This was news to me, since I had been very careful to schedule this appointment for yesterday, and had confirmed it at the time of making my appointment. After some to-ing and fro-ing, she rescheduled my appointment for noon.

So at eleven o'clock, I drank another 20 ounces, and headed off for the imaging center at 11:30. This time, they got me in promptly at noon, and got to work immediately.

This was the third sonogram I'd had in my life, but the second I'd had this week. You sprawl out on an examination table, the technician smears some goo (it's glacial mint blue) on a probe that looks something like a rubber spatula, then runs the probe over the skin above the body parts being imaged. The doctors want to see my kidneys and bladder - this in preparation for next Tuesday's biopsy.

The technician asked me to lower my pants, and yes, I wore underwear this time. She then had me hold up my shirt, and she draped my groin with paper toweling and went to work, first my right kidney, then my left kidney, and then my bladder. It's a weird feeling to have someone pushing down on your bladder with a medical device when your bladder has 20+ oz. of liquid inside. I was summoning thoughts of the Kalahari.

Finally, she directed me to the men's room, I came back, and she imaged the bladder again. She told me this was to determine how effectively I emptied my bladder (pretty damn good, I think!).

Monday, April 14, 2008


Well, almost. I went to the doctor again, today. It's becoming a habit, except it's always a different doctor. Today was a pre-op physical for my prostate biopsy a week from now. In contrast to the Dr.'s visit on Friday, today was quick, efficient, friendly, and professional. What more could a guy want while worrying about his prostate? I'm grateful for my health insurance coverage.

My doc asked me if my cholesterol was normal. Hello. Isn't that his job? But it's okay. He was having a bad bout of hay fever and was feeling pretty miserable. He looked like warmed over death, too. It's perversely comforting that doctors have maladies just like the rest of us. The white coat only goes so far for disease prevention.

Movie Reviews

Into the Wild is the story of a driven, emotionally immature college graduate who is seeking to expiate the sins of his parents in an ill-fated Alaskan adventure. Emile Hirsch plays the character, Chris McCandless, a lost soul on the road looking for something, creating a myth.

I liked this movie. It's a raw film that captures the arrogance, innocence, and tragic inexperience of youth. Chris's hubris is not letting go of a poisonous past, while fleeing the people who really love him. Chris has a dream, a quest that seduces him. Part of growing older is gaining the experience to know that we don't have to live our dreams. We can be less than our dreams - a discovery Chris makes too late.

Hal Holbrook plays the character, Ron Franz, an old retired army guy who is living a reclusive, fearful life. Chris happens into Ron's life and changes it. Holbrook's performance is masterful and poignant, and is the humane, loving heart of the movie.

Orgazmo (1997) is a sophomoric farce starring Trey Parker as Joe Young, a Mormon missionary cum inconvenient porn star, and Dian Bachar as Ben Chapleski. Through various plot twists, Joe ends up starring in a porn flick as Orgazmo, a sexual superhero with Ben playing Choda Boy, his heroic sidekick.

The plot is contrived, the performances are over the top, this is a good film to watch with beer and popcorn. I really liked this film. It manages to skewer the Mormons, Hollywood, and pornography in one convenient DVD.

Its portrayals should not be mistaken as literary truths. The film takes a lot of license with the facts (e.g. conflating Catholic iconography with Mormon practice), but gets at some deeper truths about the nature of belief, desire, and fame. I want Choda Boy's helmet. I loved the costumes, and I'd really like to try out for the part of "Stunt Cock." P.S. This film is rated NC-17 and is offensive to just about any audience.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Doctor Is In

Well, maybe not. He did apologize for being late, though. Today I went to see the cardiologist. He isn't nearly as much fun as the urologist, but a lot more demanding.

In February during my annual checkup, my physician noticed some irregularities on my EKG. He said he didn't think that it was serious, but in light of my family history, he wanted my heart checked out by a cardiologist. I had an initial visit with the cardiologist two weeks ago. After my checkup, he said he didn't think anything was amiss, but he wanted to do a stress test, which was scheduled for today.

Before the stress test, a medical technologist performed an echocardiogram. I had to strip from the waist up, which was okay, even though I had forgotten to wear my tightie whities. (I really need a medical visit checklist.) I enjoyed the echocardiogram, because I was able to sleep through most of it. It consists of smearing goo on your chest and abdomen, then the technician holds a scanning device next to the skin. The only collateral damage is a lot of minty-blue goo smeared over your chest.

Then came the stress test. The technician wired me up to an EKG, took my blood pressure, then sat me shirtless (I wish I had six pack abs at this point) in the room for the next 20 minutes or so. I played a video game on my cell phone, but then thought that maybe this would be stress inducing.

Finally, the Doctor ambles in and gives me the shameless apology, "Sorry I'm late." He tells me that I'm going to be audited by the IRS just as he flips on the EKG. And that was the stress test.... Just kidding.

He put me on a treadmill, and started me off at 2.5 miles per hour. The test ran for about 12 minutes, and at the end I was walking at 4.2 miles per hour up a rather steep slope. I was sweating like a mad dog, and trying to act nonchalant. I was worried that my pants were slipping. I was thinking, "I should have worn my gym shorts."

The upshot: my cardiologist has eaten at The Inn at Little Washington, and highly recommends it, although his wife thinks the cost is "obscene." My echocardiogram and EKG appear to be normal, although he's going to look at the results more closely and give me a call next week.

I'm thinking I'm going to check out the Inn at Little Washington. It comes highly recommended.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We Don't Get No Respect

I was riding the train this evening back from square dancing. The husband of one of my former work colleagues was also on the train and struck up a conversation. He asked me, "Are you and Ron still together?" I'm sure he meant no offense (and I didn't take any), but it's a demeaning (and stupid) question. The fact that Ron and I are not married confuses some people. They assume that our relationship must be casual, or not quite as stable, or as real as marriage.

You read it here: Ron and I are still together, and will be for the forseeable future. Next week, we celebrate the 25th year of our casual, not quite stable, not quite real relationship. (No irony, please.)

Character in Fairfax County Schools

The Washington Post published an interesting article summarizing a study about character education in the Fairfax County public schools. The study seems to show that African American and Hispanic students receive lower marks for "sound moral character and ethical judgment." Needless to say, school board members and administration are scratching their heads about a staff study that tries to quantify character and moral behavior.

They should scratch our heads. Here's some examples of what the study considered to be moral behavior for third graders: '"respects school and personal property," "complies with established rules" and "follows through on assignments."' Other skills that were assessed included "contribute effectively within a group dynamic." The Board's goals for students included, '"Model honesty and integrity" and "Respect people, property and authority."' In earlier grades, character evaluation was done by teachers subjectively assessing students. In higher grades part of the moral assessment were based on student incidents that had to be reported to the state.

This quantification of character and moral behavior raises contentious issues. On the one hand, in spite of the "asterisks and footnotes" in the report, some people will maintain that African American and Hispanic students simply lack the character that other students display. That would probably be a false conclusion. Still, persistent educational issues lurk beneath the numbers and the subjective observations that need to be considered thoughtfully by the School Board.

I'm wondering if "complies with established rules" and "Respect... authority" are values that represent moral character. Do these goals and behaviors reflect the needs of the teachers and the education system, or do they promote respect for cultural differences, especially for children who are not part of the mainstream White American culture or who may not be part of the predominate socioeconomic status? Do the behaviors that are subjectively observed reflect the values of the observers or the values of the students? Motive-driven behavior arises from values, but unfortunately, when one observes behavior, one cannot necessarily deduce motive or the underlying values.

I believe that public schools should encourage some core values: participation in the classroom, respect for other's opinions, hard work, cooperation. I think the Fairfax School Board is right in trying to emphasize and assess character education. The puzzle about this study is whether it is really measuring character, or instead, is measuring observer and cultural bias.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Religious Persecution

I was watching CNN last night, and the breaking news about the Texas sheriff's raid on the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints' compound, then the busing away of 401 children.

I'm disgusted by the media coverage. It's unbalanced and inflammatory. One commentator called the polygamists a cult. Another talked about statutory rape and abuse, but no one was defining those terms, or telling the public what is really going on.

Admittedly, polygamy, especially from the outside, looks like an ugly, difficult life. But these people are practicing their religion, and they fervently believe it. Furthermore, it's been their way of life for at least a hundred years. This didn't just start happening yesterday! Most apalling to me is that the Texas authorities are seriously thinking about taking children from their parents and placing them in foster care, because of "imminent danger."

Religious freedom doesn't count for much, if you can't practice your religion, no matter how odd that religion seems to the rest of us. Certainly, some of the girls did enter into early marriages, but by the standards of their religion and culture, it certainly isn't rape. What's going on in Texas amounts to state-sanctioned religious persecution.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Media Skank?

Dr. Bonecrusher's office provides many print media opportunities. Today, while waiting for my scheduled pummeling, I picked up Cosmopolitan. Girls, do you actually buy this mag in the supermarket checkout? What kind of boyfriends do you have?

Reading Cosmo makes me happy I'm gay. This magazine walks a fine line between "Fearless Female" and skank. What demographic is this Hearst Communications, Inc. targeting? I thought sexy was different from skanky.

I'm not surprised to see a mag in which women are displayed as sex kittens with claws, and their guys are basically dicks with brains. I just expected more from the 21st Century. And ya, my brain has a dick, but I don't write about it in Cosmopolitan.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Perry Has a New Man in His Life

We went out to dinner last night with Perry, and had a chance to meet the new man in his life: Charley. Charley is eight years old and weighs 16 pounds, a big ol' middle-aged cat. He's very friendly, and didn't mind the introductions at all.

Over dinner, we mused some about Mookie, Perry's recently departed cat. She was very different in temperament and stature than Charley. She was much smaller, and very regal, not a good ol' boy at all. She ruled with an iron-but-velvet paw. So I'm looking forward to getting better acquainted with the new guy in the neighborhood.

We ate at the Austin Grill in downtown Silver Spring. The atmosphere is young family-friendly. The wait staff's average age appears to be something between 10 and 14. We had a very solicitous waiter who always disappeared about the time we wanted to order something or had a question, not that there's anything wrong with that. I do not recommend the pecan pie, although the Joe Ely combo, while perhaps too much food, tasted swell.

So this is what gay men do on Saturday nights in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Exploring Drupal

I'm tired of creating handcrafted websites that require custom functionality. If I could just find a package that had nearly everything, so that I wouldn't have to invent the wheel, I'd be grateful. So, I'm now in the middle of installing Drupal, a website platform package, on one of my websites, then I'm going to play with it. So far, though, installing it has not been straighttforward. I'll eventually get it figured out, though. I even bought the book....

Friday, April 4, 2008

Under the 'Scope

This is another blog entry about my plumbing. In fact, it now appears, that I'll probably have a whole reality TV series about my plumbing! Today, I had a cystoscopy, a camera session with the doc. Those urologists - what great equipment they have!

I had problems finding the office. It's just off a main road. The GPS guidance in the car got me close by, but also got me confused, and it took me a few extra minutes. Have you noticed how doctors' offices tend to be full of unhappy looking people? I feel bad about that. It's like going to the doctor is going to be an unpleasant experience, or something.

Nurse Number One escorts me to the dressing room, which is about the size of a broom closet. She spreads out a plastic sheet-like covering on the bench and says, "Take off all your clothes below your waist, but you can leave your socks on. Put on a gown, open in the back." She is a very cheerful, upbeat nurse. I'm thinking, I trust these people. I'm happy that I'm here.

I remove my shoes and jeans, stuff them, my jacket, and umbrella in the locker and read The Economist. Reading world news calms me, and I think the Economist's style is kind of classy. Nothing like sitting in a closet, half naked, reading about Heathrow Airport. The nurse knocks on the door, then leads me down the hall to the surgical suite.

Aw, very interesting. The suite has what looks like a nice Barcalounger-like chair, which I believe is properly called a "table." It's very comfy. Nurse Number Two begins her briefing. Her voice is calm and well-practiced. She, too, is exceedingly upbeat and is acting almost like I'm doing her a favor by being there. "I'm going to clean the area with a Betadine (iodine) solution. It will feel cold." Boy, did she get that right! "We aren't using any needles." I'm cool with that.

"I'm going to drape you. Please leave your hands on your chest. It is very important that you relax completely." I'm beginning to twitch. "I'm going to take this syringe, no needle, put an applicator on it, and SHOOT THIS NUMBING JELLY UP YOUR PENIS." I'm quite sure she didn't shout, that's just what my ears heard. "You may feel some stinging, and it might be unpleasant."

She's saying this with a very calm, happy voice. Then I remember, I'm the one who's getting jelly shot up his penis, not her. I do feel some stinging, and it's distinctly unpleasant. "Dr., you can come in."

My urologist greets me with a happy smile. He explains that he'll be threading a tube through my urethra so that he and insert a camera into my bladder. We're talking about serious photography here. In the process, he'll be irrigating my urethra with a serious amount of water. "You'll feel like it's wet, and it will feel strange." Well, he certainly got that sensation correctly. I felt like I was peeing on myself, but it's really the flow of water up my urethra into my bladder. Nature is sadly backwards.

The nurse told me how important it is to relax, but it's difficult not to tense up when you feel like you're peeing backwards. I feel small tremors in my thigh and groin, and I have to explicitly remind myself to relax. It stings, it's unpleasant, I feel wet where I don't like to feel wet. The doc backs away from the scope and says, "I'll talk with you in my office as soon as you're dressed."

Betadine solution is all over my crotch, making it look worse than it feels. Nurse Number One comes in and fetches me back to the broom closet. I change into my clothes then go see my urologist. It turns out that this is just the second act. I'll be back in a few weeks for a biopsy. It appears that I have some kind of growth in my prostate that needs to be checked out. The doctor told me that the burning during urination after a biopsy lasts about three weeks. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tea, Enemas, and Men on Film

Okay, we've had sex, we're sitting on his couch drinking tea, and having this random conversation about the prep work involved in getting ready for sex. The tea was very good - I had green and he had peppermint to take care of some subtle congestion, of which he was aware, and I was not. The tea brought a warmth and shine to the moment. I had this flash, that this conversation should be recorded and put up on YouTube, and a lot of perplexed straight people would be wondering exactly how we were sticking what up where to do this before that in order to be... prepared.

He laughed, and we started our bad impressions of In Living Color's Men on Film, which lead to an illuminating discussion about gay stereotyping and self-inflicted victimization. I am so happy I am a gay man!