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Over the weekend I went back home and saw the parents. Surprisingly they were looking a little more hearty than they had looked when I had seen them last. Dad has recovered pretty well from his prostate surgery and Mom seemed to be doing alright.

The state is widening the freeway out in the far suburbs of Houston where they live so there was construction all around as I tried to get to my parents house. There are many new shopping centers and businesses that still show the optimism of the area even though the housing market has fallen. It will be interesting to see if this is all worth it, or will they have overbuilt and the economy will leave many empty strip malls. The outlet center looked like a ghost town.

I visited my friends, Hans and Naima and their new baby. They had just recently moved to the outer suburbs when Hans’ job had relocated to The Woodlands. The Woodlands itself seems to keep growing and the master-planned streets are full of cars and SUV’s.

My Dad was his usual self, watching old westerns (who knew the Rat Pack made a western?) while my Mom stuck to new on Fox. I showed Mom the pictures from Chris’s and my quick California wedding. Dad didn’t want to see them, but did take notice of my wedding band.

Mom pulled me into a political discussion that I was trying to avoid, but I knew would be there. I showed my optimism for the future, at least in the long run, while they complained that the media was to blame for everything, especially the meltdown of the Republican Party.

One of my favorite lines was that John McCain wasn’t chosen by voters in the primary, but chosen by the media itself. Some how people are lead astray and the party faithful can be convinced to vote for someone they despise; someone who’s not Republican enough. The notion that it wasn’t that the country was rejecting the message that the Republicans were running under, but that the Republicans weren’t conservative enough seems ludicrous to me. It’s odd how bitter the party adherents have gotten.

Let’s face reality. The Republican message became toxic. It hurt their candidates across the country, and had they put up a candidate that wasn’t moderate, someone who followed a more Cheney-esque line of thought, the loss would have been bigger, not smaller. People were tired of Bush and those that supported him. The tide was turning in 2006, and crested with the 2008 election. Now, looking back, it would have been amazing to see the Democrats lose.

So instead of embracing the change, and looking to find opportunity to reach new voters, Republicans are retreating to their little corner, trying to shun the moderates and embrace the far right, christianist wing. It does not bode well for them, unless President Obama really makes a mess of things. The Republicans are looking like spoiled children and seem ready to play the obstructionist role one again. I guess it will be like the Clinton years where we have right wing radio throwing out ridiculous rumors and opposing anything the President did.

Hopefully the new president won’t pay much attention to the sideshow. I think he’ll continue to work with moderate Republicans and ignore the rest. He looks better when he makes attempts to be bipartisan and I don’t want him to quit that, but in many ways, he can’t let his agenda be stopped by those who aren’t bringing anything to the table. The Republicans have no new ideas, no direction other than opposition, and nothing to offer and it seems that their leadership is fine with this.

As always I know enough about the right wing talking points to hear it parroted by my parents. I love them, but I know when I’m hearing the same lines that Sean Hannity said. They talk about liberal policies being failed policies but they don’t see that their ideology has also been shown as a failure. There’s a denial at work here, and it’s sad to see. When you can’t blame yourself, then blame someone else, and once again it’s time to blame the media for all their troubles.

With Obama taking the oath of office in a few minutes, I find there’s a larger change at work here than at any time that I can recall. More than with the Clintons, this inauguration seems to be really creating a different era, and the many years of conservative rule, from Nixon to Bush II, could be at a true end. Everything runs its course, and so has the last 40 years of this country. I do get the feeling that we are entering something new and exciting, and though its growth pangs are going to be difficult, we can truly make this a better country.

So my parents, well, it seems that history is passing them by. They will cling to the old ways, and hope that things will swing back their way again, but I don’t think it will. Sure, conservatives will make a comeback, all things go in cycles, but I think they will really need to rethink who they are, and develop a new plan to appeal to voters in areas that aren’t the south.

I guess I pay less attention to what my parents are saying. I’ll never change them over, but maybe it’s not something to worry about. Times change and sometimes people change with them, and sometimes they don’t. Right now I'm enjoying a little renewed optimism after the last few years.

Let’s move forward.
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● My parents said their lights came back on last night. I got the answering machine earlier, so I knew things were good. Several parts of their area are still out, and it will take time before all power is restored in the area. My mom was quite happy that she could start washing clothes again, as she has a bit of an OCD thing with laundry.

● The market crisis has been interesting to see how the government and the presidential candidates have handled it. I find it interesting how much it shows that President Bush really has no real power here. Everything is being done by the Fed Chairman and the Treasury Secretary. Even the Congress is getting upset because these big money decisions are being made without their input. I saw the President blathering along, trying to assure people that the free markets are strong, even though we just federalized a major insurance provider. That’s not a free market, laissez-faire move there, that’s the move of a socialist country. When did Republicans become Democrats?

Obama seems to be keeping his cool, trying to show leadership, but he isn’t making headlines. McCain is making headlines, but more for his gaffes than for his leadership. McCain is trying so hard to look like he’s in charge, it makes mistakes like saying he would, as president, fire the chairman of the SEC (or as he said ones, the FEC, a totally different regulation group), which the president does not have the authority to do, look like he doesn’t know what he is doing. Finally the media is noticing this, and calling him on it.

It’s sad to see McCain try to blame everyone but his own party that was responsible for the de-regulation that caused this problem in the first place. It makes him look like he’s floundering, not trying to lay blame on Bush, or other Republicans, but on the regulators that have been de-clawed by legislation and the businessmen who were allowed to run free as they lobbied for the right to do so. Who’s asleep at the wheel here? It’s hard to say you are going to reform “something” when everyone knows you are cozy with the people, and corporations you’re trying to say are bad. It’s bad to be the insider trying to wear the outsider’s clothing.

Otherwise, the bailout plan looks to be another huge taxpayer-funded band-aid on the problem. Much like the Savings and Loan scandal in the 1980’s (which McCain was also involved in, see the lobbying scandal called The Keating Five – it rarely gets talked about), the government is going to open a clearing house to buy up all the bad debt these investment companies and banks have on their hands. As Chris said today, we’re letting them purge, but we’re not putting these companies on a 12-step program to actually deal with the problem.

It will be interesting to see if either candidate actually proposes real regulations to prevent the return to relying on these leveraged investments that had shaky foundations in the first place.

● I’m glad that I worked last weekend, and not this one. This week has been such a drain, especially with people getting out of stocks only to see that the market is regaining most of its losses. Of course it’s hard to tell people to ride it out, or to convince them not to sell at a low point. Heck, I have enough trouble with holding pat in my 401(k) seeing the losses this year, but I try not to think about it too much.

● Something less political, or financial – this weekend looks to be busy. First for me is trying to get goodies at the “Mobile Pie Hole” – the trailer that ABC is using to promote Pushing Daisies. It will be at the Addison Oktoberfest this weekend. My sister wants a pie cutter that they will be giving away. Hopefully there won’t be a whole line of people waiting to get one.

After that, there’s gay days at Six Flags, along with many other pride weekend festivities here in Dallas. I don’t know about going for the parade, but I know I will go out to the rally on Sunday. Chris has to work, so he may join in later.

Somewhere along the way I need to do laundry. Lots of laundry. That’s one thing I wish my mother still did for me.

● Lastly, I’ve come up with a name of the workplace. The Shooting Gallery. The reason is that the office building is next to a skeet range. It’s far enough off that you don’t here people shouting “pull!” but the actual rifle shots echo off the building. Luckily there are trees in between us, and a few horses. They aren’t shooting towards the building. They do shoot towards I-35E, though.
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I spoke to my parents again tonight. Despite being 100 miles away from Galveston, they were without power. Their whole county is in the dark, and may be for several days. My Dad said that not only were many of the powerlines hit in the area, but the main powerplant was also damaged in the storm.

Ike hit the area pretty hard, knocking down trees and powerlines. Unlike parts of Houston that flooded, or the virtual rubbing away of homes that occurred on the upper Texas coast, Hurricane Ike quickly blew over where my parents live, but still did a number on the power grid.

My parent's home, in the city I spent many years in growing up, isn't all that rural. It's a city that's a northern bedroom community of Houston, but the power company is still run like it's the 1950's. Outages were prevalent. Conroe and the surrounding areas are the only areas of Texas that are not on the Texas electricity grid. It's actually an outfit that serves much of rural Louisiana as well, so they were already overpowered by Hurricane Gustav, now they have a whole new problem to tackle.

According to their website, the company has only 2% of it's cutomers restored in Texas. Estimates say it could be as long as three weeks.

My parents seem to be handling it well. Although in the dark the last couple of nights, they've gone out for supplies and gone to one of the Points of Delivery or "PODS" that FEMA has set up to get ice, bottled water and MRE's. They've also kicked in the camping stove and cooked on it. They've been able to get batteries, too.

I spoke to them about what I could see, as Direct TV broadcast a Houston television station all this weekend. I tried to explain images to them to images from the storm that many of us had seen, but they haven't. Radio has been the lifeline, but even then, few stations in Houston have one reporter, much less enough to be able to broadcast news and information 24 hours a day. Thanks Clear Channel. They are under curfew as well.

My mom, who's a chatterbox by nature, was happy to have someone to talk to. She started going on about Sarah Palin, asking me my opinion. I had to tell her, "We're having such a nice call and you want to ruin it by talking about her?" Mom seemed very excited about her, and I said I don't think it's a wise choice, and left it at that. I didn't want to comment on it any further.

Luckily, my parents had a trip planned this weekend and they will get away to be with my sister in Baltimore. They said they are having trouble finding clean clothes to pack since they can't wash anything. (My mom is a compulsive washer - she washes clothes every night.) They might just go and buy clothes there. I think it will be nice for them to get away. They may want to extend the stay if they can, and wait for the lights to be restored.

Luckily land line phone service seems to be just fine.
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Otherwise, as I work for a financial firm, I took a lot of calls from people who are scared of a market collapse and that they will loose everything. It's hard to reassure people that your company is stable and secure and had very little holdings in the sup-prime mortgage business (less than 1%). Still, people don't always understand what actually is causing this meltdown, and how to see that some companies were not involved in it. (Thank goodness!)

One of our competitors took a nosedive this morning and we were having several people calling to see if we could take a transfer from them. The only problem is that it will take weeks for the transfer to happen, and I'm sure the competitor will do their darnedest to keep the money with them. We are all fighting for a small pool or retirement dollars that seems to be getting smaller all the time.

Still, even my company is feeling the financial strain and let 80 people go in the processing area that is on the floor below us. As much as I complain about my job, I still have to remember I still have a job. Now if I could get a few more sales!

As for the overall economy, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. We still haven't resolved the fact that many investment firms leveraged assets so much, that there was no way to actually pay all the debt back. It's just like someone who maxes out their credit cards and suddenly finds themselves without a job. If you aren't taking in money, you can't keep payments up to just pay the minimum payments.

The thing I'm afraid of isn't the subprime mess, we're dealing with that now, although it's going to hurt. The problem is our government has also been taking on trillions in debt to pay for budgets and the war. what happens if we are trying so hard to prop up business, the government has difficulty paying it's debt service. That could really make things bad.

One disaster after another. That's our America!

Eating Out

Aug. 22nd, 2008 12:08 pm
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I like my in-laws. They are very accepting and supporting, but man, I’m always feeling that I have to be on point with them. Not only do I have to be a good guy, but I have to be witty and smart as well. It’s kind of intimidating.

In a way, it’s a feeling I seem to share with Chris. Having his parents around seems to make him a bit nervous and on edge as well, especially when our dog is being exceptionally needy around them.

It was a nice, if uneventful visit. They stayed at the house and generally just watched the Olympics, taking over the couch, with the dog. They also brought snacks. Lots of snacks. Personally, I try to stay away from snacks, but luckily the snacks they brought I wasn’t tempted by.

Chris and I tend to eat our meals late. Part of this is simply because of our work schedules, but we do tend to push dinner later than we should. Now add in Chris’ parents who have been snacking and don’t feel like getting off the couch, and suddenly it becomes even later. Eventually all you have is late night fast food that’s available, which is fine for them, but unlike me, they just want someone to go get it and bring it back so they can keep watching the Olympics.

Here’s a pet peeve of mine. I really don’t like takeout. If I’m going to eat out, I would rather eat it at the restaurant. This even goes for Taco Bell. I don’t like bringing bags of quickly cooling food home, and then have a mess because of it. I’d much rather have either a waitress take it away, or just be able to throw it into the nearest “Thank You” embossed bin. No muss, no fuss. If I’m going to make the drive for food, I might as well get it hot and fresh.

This includes lunch. I will often go out and someone else is at the same fast food place getting it to go. What, come back and eat over my desk? Eat in the breakroom? No thanks. I should be bringing my lunch more often to save some cash, but that’s different than if I’m going to take the trouble to go to Whataburger.

I know, you are thinking, well, here’s why he never learned to cook. He just likes to eat out. Well, sort of. I do like to eat out, but I never learned to cook because my mother decided to stop cooking when I was in jr. high. She was given a microwave for Christmas one year and that was the end of true cooking. You have never had Thanksgiving until you’ve had an all microwaved Thanksgiving.

My mother has even given up on that, though. The last few Thanksgivings I was with my folks we went out to Steak and Ale because it was one of the few places open. Why mess up her never-used kitchen? Now that Steak and Ale and Benigains are permanently closed, what are non-cooking people going to do on holidays?

Cooking is fine, and I like to eat food at home when I actually get around to doing it, but I do not like to eat my chili-cheese burrito out of the plastic bag while watching drag queens on Project Runway. It just feels white trash.

Out of frustration Chris cooked for his parents one night, which was very nice of him. Basically it was a cooked snack, rather than no-name cheese doodles. It was much better match with the millionth hour of girl’s gymnastics.

This is not to say that Chris’ generous parents didn’t take us out to eat. Oh, and also bought gifts for the two of us. I’m always a little worried about receiving gifts from the in-laws. They are always very nice, but I feel bad because my parents don’t give gifts to Chris. It’s not philosophical or political or anything, heck, my parents don’t get me gifts anymore either. I shouldn’t make a big deal if one group is more giving than the other, but I do feel more obligated that I should get them something as well. I’ll have to work on that.

Sitting with Chris’ folks over the last weekend did pretty much finish off my Olympic Fever. I’ve seen more hours of some of the silliest sports around, trampoline, equestrian, rowing. It’s all what you do when you are eating on the couch.
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Chris' parents are coming into town tomorrow. I love his parents, but right now we have only one shower working in the house, and it's in the guest bedroom. *sigh*

Also this weekend a co-worker is having a birthday party at his house, and I kind of wanted to go. Sean is one of the confirmed gays in the office and I find him cool, and maybe a little sexy (he looks a little like a shaven [livejournal.com profile] biggaloot). That being said, I had to tell Sean that it's doubtful we'd be able to come to his birthday party this weekend because the "not-in-laws" were in town. Now I'm sure he knew what I meant by the little joke, but I wasn't to sure that was the best name for my partner's parents.

Again, I really like Chris' parents, so I'm not trying to dis them, but where marriage isn't legal, in-laws isn't exactly the right term. What do you guys call your partner's parents?

Another Day

Aug. 4th, 2008 09:00 am
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The last weekend just confirmed that my 40's are here to stay.

41 seems to be such a non-event, and after the excitement of my vacation not so long ago, there really wasn't much to be done for my birthday. Although it's always nice to be acknowledged, I really didn't want to make a big effort or make a fuss.

Chris and I went out to Dave and Busters for a while and played some games. Chris finally got enough coupons to pick up Guitar Hero III for the PS3. I'm not sure how long he had been hanging on to all of those points. We came home and he played the game for a while while I napped. It truly was that exciting of a day.

Chris did cook for me last night. Note that this takes some measure of effort because I won't eat just anything. I'm super picky. Most of the recipes that Chris wants to cook he'd just be cooking for himself. I can only cook hamburger helper and mac and cheese, so I'm not much of a help as he's trying to eat healthier and trying to not eat out as much.

On Saturday we went to two pool parties. One was in the middle of the day, and I think it was a miracle that we didn't have a bunch of dehydrated men after the 105 degree heat and a lot of alcohol. It wasn't a party where I felt particularly comfortable as I think you needed a Big Muscle Bears Profile to get in. Normally those guys won't talk to me, and I make myself look more unapproachable as I sit silently amongst the crowd, with my shirt on. There were a lot of skimpy swimsuits, and plenty of good looking fur to watch, but I get ignored by most of the people. There were a few people I talked to here and there, so not a total loss. The hosts, however are very nice, and really put out quite the effort for these folks.

The evening's pool party was much more relaxed, thought the earlier party had me kind of closed in and anti-social. Still the people were friendlier and I actually did get into the pool this time. It made for a better evening.

My parents called me to wish me a happy birthday last night and my father and I got in an argument about politics. As much as my father tries to deny it, he'd just pushing the talking points he hears on talk radio: "We have plenty of oil if we'd just be allowed to drill it", "Alternative energy is dangerous and unreliable", oh, and my favorite "Obama is a communist" Really? A communist? I know you lived through the cold war, but I don't think you even know the meaning of the word anymore! Socialist, maybe, but not communist. I try to counter that the current administration is corrupt and a house cleaning is needed, but that doesn't seem to catch on. I said we needed to agree to disagree, and get off the subject.

So that's the excitement. Another birthday come and gone. Quiet and unassuming. For those who sent your wishes, thank you very much. I look forward to next year as I should be learning the secret to life, the universe and everything, right?
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My father went in for prostate cancer surgery this past week. his surgery was delayed a couple of times and actually landed on Halloween - a pretty strange day for surgery in my book. How do you tell who's the surgeon?

My sister called first, wondering if I heard any updates from mom. I had called my dad on Monday and he seemed ready for the whole thing, but nothing at the time since. My mother did call on Thursday giving me some details saying my dad was feeling pretty weak and would probably be staying at the hospital for observation.

This is certainly a better situation than when Dad was on chemotherapy and became really weak and had to spend a few days in the hospital. We Laura and I didn't hear about that until we saw them in Baltimore earlier this year.

It's interesting that my Dad's hair was just growing back from the chemo back in May, and it was totally white. When he and mom came up to Dallas in September, his hear was mostly dark again. I think I'm going to like having those genes.

The surgery is the last of the procedures, hopefully dad will need to go through. It's been two years from the diagnosis, and he had to go through several bouts of chemo before they would do the surgery. It probably would have been much, much easier if he had actually gotten checked out a few years earlier. He had been having enlarged prostate problems for some time before that.

So here I am at 40, and I have to get checked out for prostate problems, and now there's a family history of it, so I'll have to be vigilant. Ahh, fickle finger of fate. Still, as a gay man, prostate exams aren't quite the embarrassment than they are for straights, I guess.

So there you go, another lesson from my father, get checked and get checked early enough when taking care of cancer is easy, and you don't have to go through all of the crap - and the catheters. I really don't want to hear my mother talking about the catheter cleaning class she went to. Eww.
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Recently there was a news story reporting the results of a study that said children preferred food that was "from McDonald's" over the same food presented to them without the McDonald's packaging.

The study is trying to prove that preschoolers are seeing too much advertising and are influenced more by such ads. while sure, McDonald's does do a lot of work targeting their brand to children, I have to say that this is not all McDonald's fault.

For one, the news report doesn't say that the kids necessarily could pick out the McDonald's packaging, or what made the packaging distinctly Mcdonald's so they could tell the branding over any other brand. Did they really see the golden arches logo as being what they recalled was from McDonald's, or was the packaging just more distinctive than that of the generic food?

The story said they were exposed to McDonald's packaging and "unbranded", but colorful packaging. Had they used packaging from Burger King or Wendy's, would the kids have made different choices? It's hard to tell if it's just that the kids liked the packaging of McDonald's more, or did they really understand the brand?

My real culprit is not McDonald's itself, but the children's parents. Television can only do so much to reenforce a brand, and sure, Mcdonald's has been using Ronald and McDonaldland commercials for years, and used Happy Meals to get children excited about a vist, but think about this, it's parents who often use a trip to McDonalds as a reward. Parents use it as a threat as well. If the child doesn't behave, they won't get a Happy Meal. With McDonalds food having so much power in a young person's life, how could a kid not get a certain feeling that McDonald's must be better?

I know when i was a kid it was a big deal to go to McDonalds. Still, when I was a kid I never lived in a city where there was a McDonald's within 30 miles. I remember when my dad said we were going to move to Conroe Texas in 1978 I was so excited becuase Conroe had a McDonalds, and it was one with a play yard. I was instantly sold on the town, even though our current home, Nacogdoches, had a Burger Chef, and dairy Queen and at last, a Burger king that just moved in. Still, we would drive to Lufkin to go to McDonalds about once a month, so then my parents did make it special.

Now that there's one on seemingly every block, it's not so special anymore.

The whole study seems to be connected to trying to cut child obesity by cutting off the source. I'd say it's kind of wrong-headed. If parents would make better choices, their kids might too. I'm a good example, as my parents didn't really create good eating habits for me, I grew up with a poor diet for the rest of my life. Still, some people think if they can cut children's exposure to commercials, they won't want to eat McDonald's food, or have that sugary cereal. The fact is, you deny a kid something, and he'll eventually hear about it from some friends with more liberal parents, he's still going to try to get it somehow.

I'll be interested to see how the cereal makers do as they voluntarily take commercials off the air for cereals that have more sugar, or other unhealty attributes. While we loved the antics of Lucky, the Trix rabbit and Tony the Tiger, kids today will be enjoying ads for Cheerios, Mini Wheats and Kix. (I'll admit I'd be happy to see more ads with the Kashii bear, myself) I think if Saturday Morning Cartoons aren't dead now, they will be soon.

I just don't see how this revelation is a big deal. McDonald's adds healthier items to their menu, but people really don't care, they go there for a burger, and the children see this. If anything it could be good. If a child sees the apple bites, or carrots or milk and would rather eat those because it has a McDonald's wrapper, then bring it on. if McDoanld's can make that cool with kids over burgers and fries, then let them do it.

Most families don't have the time to prepare healthy food, and lower income families struggle to provide it. McDonald's is at least trying. they haven't been adding one pound burgers and enormous egg sandwiches to their menu, even when it might sell well for them. They know they are under scrutiny and have tried to do well under pressure.

I personally get sick of these nanny state developments where they try to take away something from everyone because they can't abide by letting people make a decision. I say bring on Capt'n Crunch and make a parent have to tell the kid no and buy them Wheaties. I try to keep my McDonald's intake low, and I think parents should make that decision too.

Personally I find these types of research studies a waste of time, especially when they are so pointed against one product or one company. I'd like to see this same study broadened to include other brands and to have a real test of wether the McDonald's brand really is that strong, or just better than the generic brand X. Plenty of studies have been made showing many people prefer branded merchandise.

Oh, and one last thing about McDonald's advertising. Did the Hamburglar actually make anyone go out and steal hamburgers?
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Since, with the Live Earth concerts starting tonight and going on through the day tomorrow (go Antarctica!), we're supposed to be thinking about the Earth or something. Some sort of of environmental happy-fest.

A few weeks back, Chris asked me if I wanted to go camping. Generally if I'm asked to go camping, the answer is definitely, no.

Sure, this was a gay campground, and there was the enticement of some other hot guys who would also be there, but dang it, camping is much more work, and much less entertaining than it's supposed to be.

My parents wanted to do the camping thing with the kids, and we probably did it twice. Dad bought a whole line of Coleman supplies, lanterns, stoves, coolers, porta-potties, sleeping bags etc. What he found out was having all that stuff was good, but you had to cart all that stuff out there, set it up, take it down, clean it up, then have somewhere to store it. My sister and I were to young to help much, and I remember being bored off my ass while we were at the lake. I'm sure parents hate bored children because they always want you to do something about it.

I was a cub scout. As a cub scout the farthest we ever went was sleeping outside in someone's backyard. While being in sleeping bags was somewhat annoying, their was the convenience of being able to head inside to go to the bathroom.

Eventually I started in the Boy Scouts and there were times the Scouts actually went out into the woods and camped, you know, the making fire with flint kind of stuff. Needless to say I didn't want to go. I liked my luxuries, and my TV (there was a reason I got a portable TV when I was in my teens) and the feeling of being in control...not somewhere where I couldn't easily get home, or call my folks. Yes, I was not the independent sort at that time.

Of course, my parents sent me to summer camp, twice. Camp had the slight advantage of having cabins and toilets, but still there was all that outdoorsy crap, and the forced fun, and the bad food. Camp is where I learned I wasn't very good at baseball, I could capsize a sailboat, and I enjoyed a good book over campfires.

My first camp was run by the YMCA, but the second one was run by the Methodist Church. Both were co-ed, but the church one was less segregated, with girls cabins near the boys. I tried to shower before all the other boys would get back, as i was embarrassed by my big body even then, and somewhere along the way there was a girl in our cabin when I was coming out of the shower. I was mortified. Apparently the word spread and I was then even more embarrassed, especially when I was given an end of camp award called "The Showering With Amy Ain't No Big Deal Award." Yes, i was quite the ladies man.

When I got into college there were a few opportunities to go camping with the fraternity...most of them involving pledging or toying with the pledges - something with current hazing laws can't be done now. The first time you don't have a lot of control, but you want to get in, so you'll give up some niceties and go out to a site you have no idea where it is.

Ahhn but I did. I remember the location of Hell Night was a big, big secret, and pledges always speculated and actives always tried to throw out false hints. Still, once I was blindfolded and placed in the car, I recognized the way we went heading out toward my parents house, and then further out to Huntsville, Texas and into the woods. I remember telling my pledgebrother where we were, and our pledge master getting angry with me for being "smart."

I remember one of the brothers making homemade napalm to get the fire going and nearly starting a forest fire. I also remember being very happy that it was over, and when it was over, it was really late and not worth it to actually stay there the rest of the night.

One year we did it right and stayed at a brother's parent's farm where we could, just like in cub scout days could go in to the house and use the toilet. That was also the year we had a pledge that had never been out of the city, and became really fascinated by seeing cows. We had to tell him that he couldn't ride them.

Really, that's about it. I really prefer to keep my exposure to the great outdoors short and to the point. I get sea sick for one, so my dad's purchase of a boat was also not very satisfactory with me barfing over the side. I like sleeping in a bed, and now I'm thinking the less time in a sleeping bag - even on the floor of someone I'm visiting.

Perhaps I might be lured to go to a cabin if there's some cute eye-candy, but I haven't really ever had the fantasy of sharing space in a tent, or sleeping bag. As much as people might want to do it in the sand on the beach, I think being on regular ground is just as dirty and gritty - and has bugs. This doesn't stir my romantic heart, or make me want to rut in the woods.

Yes, I'm picky, and pampered and a wuss. I want to keep the beautiful vistas, but I'd rather see them from my car or maybe a cruise ship. Let's keep the environment alive so we can stay out of it. It's probably for the best.
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A week ago I was coming home from Baltimore after being dropped off at BWI airport by my parents and my sister. It was the most family-centric thing I've done in a while, and I felt really odd about it.

Things started out badly as American Airlines decided to cancel my 6:25 am flight, and we found out about it as I was trying to look up the gate for the plane on Chris' Trio as were were driving out to DFW. By the time I could get an agent on the phone to reschedule, we had already gotten to the terminal. we turned back and tried to sleep for a couple of hours at home before again making the trip out to the airport for the 10:50 flight.

By the time I land in Baltimore, and my sister, Laura, picks me up, it's really to late to do much besides pick up her still-finance (6 years now) Ed, from work and go out to dinner. As I love to do when I'm in Baltimore, I love to go to Little Italy and have some of the best food. Sure, some people will tell you about crabcakes and seafood, but give me a bowl of tortillini and I'm in heaven.

Laura then tells me the little thing that sets me on edge for the entire visit. My parents are coming out, and yeah, it's been a hard year for them, with some medical issues. my dad's been in recovery from his chemo treatments for a while, and this is there first trip away since then. First laura tells me that my Dad got so weak that he had to be hospitalized and almost could have died. no one had told me this, and it happened two months ago. Secondly, she tells me that he's had a lot of downtime to be thinking about things, and he's come to the conclusion that he's really bugged about my being gay. I thought this was the case, but my family doesn't talk to anyone directly about anything, and in fact, Laura said I should probably not talk about it at all over the visit.

Let's be real here, I'm not going to shut up about what's happening in my life to please my dad. Yeah, I won't outline what happens in the bedroom, but if I'm talking about going to bed, at night to sleep, yes, I'm going to say "we went to bed". I'm going to say Chris' names, and say wee, to say that we're going on a cruise to Alaska. I won't edit Chris out of my life to please my dad.

In a way, I wish Chris could have been there, for one thing, we would have all been in the same bed and breakfast, which could have been real interesting. (Being on my own, I saved by sleeping on my sister's couch.) The Bed and Breakfast is owned by the parents of Laura's hairdressing couple. My parents seem to like the innkeepers, so it's probably the closest thing to a PFLAG meeting I would ever be able to get them to, if they would actually get on that subject. I'm guessing that they didn't, though.

Well, My parents didn't land until late on Sunday, so Laura, Ed and I went out for brunch where Ed and I had our usual political debate (I think he likes Guliani for Pres right now - *shudder*). Laura sits by and waits for us to have it out. Ed gets all blustery while I usually calmly counterpoint. Chris hates this, and my Dad would be on Ed's side, so it was good that neither were there at that point.

We went out to the B&O Railroad Museum that day in the rain. lots of old trains, a few models and some other memorabilia in a large roundhouse once used by the railroad. the B&O is long gone now, merged out of existence by several steps now. There were large diesel engines and small horse-drawn carriages of a long-gone era.

Once my parents got in, it was off for another Italian dinner. We all talked, but mostly things stayed on the safe topics of my parents medical issues and what new buildings were going up in Conroe, Texas since I left a year and a half ago. Can you believe that they have two Best Buys now?

On Monday Laura and I dropped Ed off at work and took their car up to Philadelphia to see the Phillies play at Citizens Bank Field. Laura and Ed only have the one car, so we would have to come back to pick him up after the game. It had been raining for the last few days and I was worried that the rain would call the game, but as we travelled up I-95 the rain ended and we settled for an overcast day of watching the Phillies and San Francisco Giants.

The field is nice, another somewhat retro park with lots of steel beams and brickwork. Different from the more modern Eagles' Football stadium across the parking lot. Our seats were high and in a corner, but still had good views. Except for the Philly Phanatic, we really couldn't see him except for when the big green mass was on the Jumbotron. The Phanatic is probably more famous than any of the Philly players. of course the whole thing was overshadowed by Barry bonds coming up and the crowd booing, hoping that he wouldn't get any closer to Hank Aaron's home run record. Luckily he went 0-4 for the day, but the Phillies lost.

Otherwise, we had a little bit of time to kill to let the main rush hour, so we went downtown and out to Penn's Landing which was pretty much deserted. Back home we went to meet Ed and the parents who had been on the inner harbor of Baltimore most of the day. We went out to Pei Wei where my parents had never been, and I paid, because it looks good.

On my last day we went out to a new hanger in Fairfax, Virginia where the Smithsonian puts it's very large collection of Air and Space vehicles that don't fit into the building in DC. the building is next to Dulles airport and it's huge. They have hundreds of aircraft in there, including the Enola Gay, A 747 and the Concorde. They also have the Space shuttle Enterprise there, the one the fans of Star Trek named. Of course, if they waited a ship or two, they could have had one that actually went into space. You can go up several leves, which is good because they have many of the planes hung like they were model aircraft in a kids room.

Now we had to get from Dulles Airport to BWI so I could get on my 6:25 flight back to Dallas, so it's time to get on the never ending parking-lot of the Washington beltway. luckily my dad was driving, so i slept. i had been getting a cold, so I was on corisidan and was out of it. luckily the traffic was so bad that we couldn't go to my Dad's destination - the NRA museum. it would have only been good if Charlton Heston was stuffed in it.

i hadn't seen my parents in a year, and it was remarkable the changes. they are both in their mid sixties, so I wouldn't necessarily think of it as old - that's more like 70's and 80's now, but they were looking old, and moreso, frail. My mother has developed a pronounced stoop, and my dad's hair had fallen out from the chemo and was now coming in white. I guess I'm coming to grips that they won't be here forever, but it seems like it may be coming faster than i thought.

I would have liked to talk to my dad a little more about my life, and let him know I'm OK, and I'm very happy to be who I am. I guess it will have to wait until we can actually have some time apart from everyone else, but I feel like I'm going to have to have that talk with him soon. I don't like him telling my sister things, and not coming to me as well, especially when it's serious.

Well, Laura said that she sees herself staying in Baltimore for another year. Last year she seemed to think that she wanted to move back to Texas, but now see sees some other opportunities on the East Coast, so i may get another chance to get up there and see a National's game up in DC. For now, I've got another park crossed off my list.


If you want to see a few pictures I took, take a look at this flickr page. There's a couple of pics of my parents in there.
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I'm a little upset that I didn't get tickets to go see The Police in concert. Tickets went on sale this past Saturday and while I was at work, actually working, I forgot to log on and slog through the site to order tickets. There's also that thing about a concert in late June that kind of makes me forgetful about it on a day in March.

By the time I remember that they had gone on sale, it was Sunday morning and the first show was sold out. In a 20,000 seat arena. And they added a second show. And it had SOLD OUT as well! I was actually kind of stunned. I didn't think that the police were thought of so fondly, and I didn't think they'd get such a response since a). those who want to see Sting with a lute would be disappointed, and b). most people under 30 have never heard of the group since they broke up in 1986.

I then decided to take a look on the secondary market, and there were all of the tickets. Ticket speculation is just as big of a market as PS3 resales were - for about a week. Something tells me that if you can get tickets to shows easily, you could make a good living on the resales of those tickets.

I didn't need good seats, I just wanted to be there, but when the furthest seat in the arena was now going for twice the original $50 selling price, I decided that this was a concert event I was just going to have to miss. It's sad in a way, but then again I have seen The Police before. It was my first concert, and the first one that my parents let me got into Houston for. that was the 1984 Synchronicity tour and it was at the Summit - now Lakewood Church. Sting wore the big red, yellow and blue outfit from the Synchronicity II video. Ahh, those were the days.

I really have better things to spend my money on, but it would have been fun to see the same group...several years older. perhaps they will come again. Heck, the Stones still tour.

Personally, I'm looking forward to more new acts, like seeing the Scissor Sisters next week!

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Otherwise, my friend Jerry ([livejournal.com profile] goofycubb) sent me some questions to answer...

1. Do you miss Houston? Me? :) LOL

I'm finding hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I was last in Houston. My parents worry about me!
I don't miss the city so much, but there are a few places - namely Beck's Prime and James Coney Island. I also miss the ripcord and wish I could move all of those places up here. I also miss driving on Memorial Drive. As for you, I really wish you were here to watch the Amazing Race with! Or just to hang with. Those were good times. When are you coming to visit us? :-)

2. Will you ever go clean shaven again?

Well, most people who know me these days have never seen me clean shaven. I think the last time was 1994, and i have no plans to do it again.

3. What is the strangest thing that someone has said while you are in bed making whoopee?

Generally I'm the one who comes up with the bad puns and such! I guess it was the mutually crazy conversation about Bears releasing genetically enhanced pheromones on a dance floor, triggered by thumping dance music. It was at TBRU, and the sound created for this - "Paaaft!" -became a catchphrase for the weekend.

Let's just say that mixing the two of us in bed was not only fun, but also a lesson in non-sequitur thinking.

4. What is under your bed?

Occasionally Joey, but otherwise it's the surge protector outlet strip that powers the CPAP.

5. Did your mom ever catch you masturbating?

Thankfully no, thanks to a lock on the door, but occasionally she did try to open the lock with a coat-hanger. This would normally be when she was mad at me for something. I'm not so sure what she would have done if she caught me with a Muscle and Fitness magazine in one hand...
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I realized a couple of weeks ago, sometime after my birthday, that I'm a grown up. How do i know that? This year none of my family gave me cash in a birthday card. It's the first time it's ever happened. I guess as I'm now with my own relationship away from the parents, they didn't think I needed such little things.

My grandparents were usually the givers of such gifts for years and year. I could rack up an easy $100 between the two grandmothers, of course this was after the years where I still got toys and clothes for school. Always a problem with an August birthday, it's all about back-to-school shopping.

When my grandmothers passed a few years ago, the parents kept giving, but that normally wouldn't be more than $25. About the price of most of a tank of gas today, or the price of a Starbucks cup of coffee - yet it can feed an African Village!.

An aside. No one has ever bought me a "donation" as a present. Not that I want anyone to start. I'll be completely greedy and take that iTunes gift certificate over helping the Barton Springs Salamander any day.

So this year's card from my parents was just a card with my mother writing about all the fun medical problems they are going through (Dad - Prostate Cancer, Mom - Breast Cancer and she thinks she might have a colon thing. all new stuff to bring up with the doctor tomorrow for "family history"). It was bizarre.

I would have loved the cash, just as a little money that I didn't have to worry about, or budget, and it would be helpful on the trip, but hey, I'm making my own way now, right?

Other Things:

Chris worked so much over the last couple of weeks that his overtime allowed him to buy a new Xbox 360. He's been playing the Dawn of the Dead game, whatever it's called. Zombies in a Mall? I guess he'll now have something to do while I'm gone for a week. In hi-def, even.

I guess he'll have finished the game by the time I get back, so I have to decide whether to get him another game for his birthday, or re-take the TV from him.

Lastly...

So the biggest surprise in the news today was that they arrested someone for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. What the hell? They were still working on this case? I was thinking it had gone the way of OJ Simpson looking for the real killers. Apparently they needed something for the next episode of CBS's Cold Case.

I'm firmly of the belief that the parents at least had something to do with it, even if it was just to introduce their daughter to this schoolteacher guy who ran away to Thailand. Thailand? Isn't that where lecherous men have sex with underage kids?

Still, why would a relative stranger come in, kill a kid in the basement, and run off - pretty much unnoticed, and run off to Thailand? Is there a motive? Sadly the media loves this case - more than missing blonde girls in Aruba, so expect to be hearing about this for weeks.

Still, what it says to criminals everywhere is don't mess with our nation's precious, precious prosti-tots and expect to get away with it!

Randomizer

Jun. 28th, 2006 11:52 pm
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So I'm trying to get back to journalling every day again, and here I am needing to go to bed. Getting up before 7am really sucks, and i wouldn't do it if I didn't have to. I haven't quite worked it out to get my whole morning routine - shower, shave, eat breakfast, and read a little overnight LJ, in less than an hour. How did I ever do it when I was actually making posts in the morning before leaving for work?

Work is going through a "transformation" where they are changing up job roles and descriptions and who reports to whom and all. Personally I'm very nonchalant about the whole thing because there's no basis for "how it was before" to me, but others are worried. Still others are just saying that it's going back to the failed programs of previous directors, so that should turn out well.

Still, the new cafeteria at work seems to be getting better. Yea for hamburgers and pizza, but occasionally barbecue, too.

The pool in our neighborhood is out of commission for the summer. There's not enough money in the association budget to fix it, so all it sees is the occasional duck. Chris and I really should make it a point to find more friends with pools.

My friend Hans and his wife are coming to visit this weekend and we're taking them out to a Ranger's game this weekend. I don't think they will be staying all weekend, so I don't know how much we'll have to show them, but maybe they will stay for the Addison fireworks display - oh wait, Addison's Kaboom Town will be on July 3rd - great, I guess I can go after work on Monday. Dang, I hate it when these holidays are on middle weekdays. Still, if anyone wants to hang out and watch the fireworks...

Also, my mother called tonight and said that she and Dad were thinking of coming up to Dallas the weekend after next. luckily she said that they would be staying with my great aunt. I'm not sure they are ready to stay with us. Of course I really didn't offer. I've only had the folks visit my apartment a couple of times, so visiting in another city would be a little strange.

Still, I thought I'd get back to Houston before they got up here. Suddenly they are traveling all the time, since they have gone to Las Vegas and visited my sister in baltimore this year. Funny, they never travelled much before!

Lastly, I need to nail down what I'm doing for my big vacation this year, but i think i'll write more about it soon...needless to say, I have the last full week in August, and not plan one of what to do. I need to get things going before airfare becomes astronomical.

So, that's what's on my mind now...
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I'm here enjoying the holiday at Chris' house, with Chris' family, including his brother, Andy. it's a full house here with Joey the dog running around from person to person. We haven't gotten around to presents yet, but I have to be a little embarrassed having not gotten Chris' parents a gift, while they have one for me.

Last night we climbed into Chris' parents rental car and went out to get booze (for cooking) an d to go get some food, but we got started too late, barely getting into the liquor store before it closed (all liquor stores have to close at 9 in Texas, and are closed on Sunday, Christmas or no) and then went out for food.

Our initial destination was BW3, but they were dark. We went up and down Belt Line Road seeing every place closed. Chili's had a lot of cars in the parking lot, but once we got there, they said they closed at 9:00. The Whataburgers in the area were also just as dark.

We finally found the Sonic on Frankford was open. It was the glowing oasis in a sea of darkened hopes and dreams for the hungry family. So it was burgers and hotdogs for the hungry crew. We took it home because it was already a long time for Chris, Andy and their mother to all be crammed into the back of a rented Taurus.

We ate our found bounty while watching that holiday chestnut, the 40 Year-Old Virgin. Strangely the virgin doesn't get pregnant in this story.

We checked in with NORAD later in the evening, finding that Santa had already passed us by. I guess we should have gone to bed earlier. Still, there's still presents under the tree that need our attention.

I need to call my parents and my sister. We're all scattered this year, with Mom and Dad at home, Laura and Ed in Connecticut, and I in Dallas.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, Happy Holidays to all the others!
eggwards: (Holiday time)
Last night I was out with my parents. They are still liking the new car. In a way of showing off, knowing my Mom's love of the season, I put on the Holiday music channel. Yes, that's what I said, the Holiday channel.

My mother brought up the whole "Holiday" issue that has seemed to explode this year. Many evangelicals and some other Christians along with mouthpiece Bill O'Reiley have been making a big stink about retailers, broadcasters and others use of the word "Holiday" instead of Christmas. One of the most virulent voices has been the Rev. Donald Wildmon who has sent out email after email urging boycotts of stores that "refuse" to wish people a Merry Christmas.

Yep, I'm on the American Family Association's mailing list. I got on it when I emailed the form letter to Walgreens for supporting the Gay Games. Of course I made plenty of changes to the form to actually praise the drugstore for their support - support as the AFA reports, is actually based on trying to drive up HIV infections to gain customers. Lovely conspiracy theory there, but something tells me that the average AFA reader really doesn't care about the HIV infection rate among gays and lesbians.

Still, I get these messages telling me that all of these retailers and broadcasters are tying to destroy Christianity in America and get rid of Christmas. this shows a big lack of thinking on their part. The only reason that retailers, during their busiest time of the year, would want to remove Christmas from their store is to try to be more inclusive, to try to not alienate other customers, and to try to drive larger sales by getting people of many faiths involved in the gift-giving season.

In this nation, should you work to include everyone, suddenly the group who was once singled out by their year-ending celebration feels slighted. Why? Because suddenly their feeling of specialness is gone. the rubber stamping of their values has been pushed aside, or so they believe.

Personally I see plenty of signs of the season, lights and special sales and hear the songs of Christmas and other holidays. It hasn't gone away, and those who want to celebrate the birth of Jesus christ can do it. Religious freedom isn't dead, it's just that stores and broadcast outlets and cities have realized that there are other people out there in the world. Millions of other people who don't believe the same thing and don't wish to have The Little Drummer Boy drummed into their head. People and organizations have done their best to try to promote tolerance.

Unfortunately we still have this bunch of crybabies who, instead of feeling empowered to personally be able to celebrate their beliefs is going out to try to tell the rest of us that we're wrong, and only the loudest crybabies can work to get their Christmas back. They challenge these stores and tell them that they must tell them merry christmas of they will shop elsewhere.

The funny thing is that Target and Wal*Mart are two of the stores that have "removed" Christmas from their stores and advertising. Given that these two stores have driven out many other retailers from towns everywhere, just where are these people supposed to buy their presents? Amazon.com?

Some retailers have been giving in. Some, like Walgreens have said that they will comply with the demands of the boycotters and will include the word Christmas in next year's advertising. Maybe it's the truth, maybe it's just stalling, or maybe they will actually use "Christmas" in conjunction with several other seasonal celebrations, like Chanukah, Solstice and Yule.

I personally remember my bitch of a cousin being upset with the US Postal Service when they issued Chanukah and Ramadan stamps along with the traditional Christmas stamp a couple of years ago. Heaven help us for another round of damned inclusiveness. Luckily Ramadan has moved on so she can just be outraged by the Jews this season.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind Christmas. It's often a nice, fun festive time of the year, and I look forward to the music. Still, you won't offend me by calling it a Christmas Tree, nor would you offend me by saying "Merry Christmas". Sure, my actual faith in the religion has waned, but I'm not scared of offended by the holiday. in fact, it's mighty easy to celebrate without the ties to the miracle birth.

That brings me to my father. As a pert of the argument about the loss of christmas (my parent's watch Fox News), he mentioned that Kwanzaa is made up and doesn't need to be celebrated. "Ok", I told him, "Christmas Day is just as made up as Kwanzaa." As he started to bark at my assertion I stated, "Whether or not Jesus (the son of God version) walked on the Earth, the fact is, December 25th wasn't his birthday, it was a day chosen to take advantage of the Pagan rituals and feasts that were already there in the people the Christians wanted to convert." Dad didn't have much of a response.

when we kept talking about the role of Christmas in America, I said to them, "One of the reasons that the season has gotten away from its religious roots is that people have let it. Over the last 75 years, more has been done to make Christmas time about family, crass commercialism, and the innocuous images of innocence (and of course Santa Claus) than it has been about the son of God. As you know, it's the Christians who helped make it this way." The idea of the perfect present took over from the reason why the celebration started for many people.

I mean, there was a Garfield Christmas Special, for goodness sake. The Charlie Brown special is the only one that actually mentions Jesus and rejects commercialism. Garfield? pass the Lasagna.

So I asked the question to them, and I'll ask it again, "Why does a majority have to go on whining about their plight? Why use tactics of, and try to make yourselves out as a minority to get their way?" I guess I'll never know.

Personally I'm tired of the debate. call the season what you will, and enjoy the beginning of winter with your family, or friends, or loved ones, whomever they might be. You can wish me whatever you want, I won't be offended, and I wish that a few others would stop being offended as well.

Just don't push. It's the most wonderful time of the year, you know.
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I went, as usual, to dinner with my parents tonight. I had plenty to talk to them about tonight, with the layoffs and seeing Tim Bratcher, and looking into trying to diagnose my clutch problem on the car. Dad is much better than I on mechanical problems.

Both my parents remembered Tim and were wondering what he was doing now. I told them what I knew, and mentioned that he remembered that we owned a computer back in 1979 and was grateful for the exposure. I also threw in that he was looking to move back to Houston, and my Mom asked why, I told her, "because gay life in San Antonio kinda sucks."

My mother then proceeded to state that she knew it all along. Really Mom?

I was meaning to talk to my parents about one more important issue, but I was waiting until we got back to their home before starting in on it. However, my mother ended up bringing it up indirectly in the car. Texas is having an election in November, and the ballot for most Texans is simple a selection of nine different proposed amendments to the state constitution. The Texas constitution is full of amendments because the actual constitution is so poorly written.

Mom said that early voting was coming up in a week, but this year they were not doing it on weekends. Since I still vote in the district (don't get me started) this would prove a problem for my being able to vote in this election. I'll have to make a special trip. Still, my parents always vote early, so I needed to cover the topic before early voting started.

This year the inept Texas Legislature, instead of revising property taxes or fixing higher education funding or anything else that they were sent to Austin for passed a raise for themselves, debated a "sexy cheerleading" law, and placed the unfair and unneeded marriage amendment on this ballot. Proposition 2 is a slightly watered down version of what was first proposed, but still would prevent marriage equality, and keep a civil unions bill from coming to the floor. Of course these are both already prevented by the DOMA law passed several years ago under then Governor Bush. The proposition also would prevent any other implements of marriage from being granted to same-sex partners.

What they originally wanted was to prevent any same sex partners from being able to obtain equivalents through law, mush like power of attorney, or wills, but this was later recended. What is a part of the proposition is still vague enough so that a legal interpretation could try to invalidate domestic partnership benefits and adoptions, and I'm sure there will be those who will try to use it as such, even it it's current language.

So I tried to talk to my parents about it. I did talk to them once we got home, but Dad had already turned the TV on. He was watching some old western, as usual, so I know he was trying not to deal with the issue. Mom at first said "Well, it doesn't change anything," and I had to explain to her that it does, because it tries to provide an legal edge that people could try to challenge gains we have already gotten, and things that help our community. I also added, if it didn't change anything, what would be the reason for it?

I could see that Mom was actually a little bit open to the argument, especially as I explained that in defeating this, it still doesn't remove DOMA, and it's certainly not something that Texas judges would be striking down anytime soon. Texas judges are just as conservative as our legislators are. I told them that this was just a way to keep things at status quo for now, and trying not to put discrimination into the constitution.

Dad groaned at that one. I guess from someone who still doesn't like women in the Episcopal ministry, it's kind of par for the course.

I did mention to Mom that I knew that this proposition was a bit of a disappointment to the legislature because they couldn't move it to the 2006 ballot when they could use it to drive more evangelical voters to the polls in an election year. The only major elections happening in the state this year is Houston city council. This is why there hasn't been quite as much of a push to pass this law, and a big push to defeat it, well, at least have a good "against" showing.

The fact is, and I even told my parents this, Proposition 2 will likely pass. It's pure numbers in this state. Even with the expected low voter turnout, politics and culture in Texas is definitely conservative. There are television ads here in Houston, to try to hit the area with the expected largest turnout, to try to show people that a vote for this proposition is a vote against real, live people. People who live in their community.

So it's odd to be trying to tell someone to please vote, because even a close vote will be a "win" here. Still, I asked for my parents to consider it. I didn't try to force it, or demand that they tell me how they would vote and why. I know that it's still a bit of a stretch for them, so trying to explain why it's important for their son is difficult without seeming overbearing. I guess I'm trying for the soft sell, wafting somewhere over the current cattle drive on the tube.

I think it's also the difference about accepting their son, and having to accept a community.

It could be interesting if they get to meet Chris in the next week or so. I'm not sure if Chris is ready for them.

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