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Something from the Prop 8 trial today triggered a recent memory. One of the Plaintiffs stated the difficulties of having to have people understand what your partner means to you, especially in some casual encounters, like saving a seat for them on a plane, or at a theater.

When Chris and I were headed out to San Diego last month we were some of the last to board the second flight headed to California. Our connection had come in a little late and the flight out was three terminals away.

We already had our boarding passes with our seats together. We got to nearly the back of the plane and there in the three-seat row were two people. Some guy who was sitting next to the window and some sheepish looking woman.

At first she didn't acknowledge us. He didn't even look our way. As I fumbled with the boarding passes and started to ask out loud in my usual I'm-getting-frustrated way about that there should be two seats she took about a minute and then finally told us, "Oh, I thought it would be alright to sit here, my seat is just up there."

She pointed to the middle seat three aisles ahead with no intention to get up and go to it.

Again after another pause, she finally said, "I just wanted to sit here with my husband, that's OK, right?"

No, it's not OK. He's not even in his correct seat, which is the aisle. Chris can tell I'm getting pissed and I really want to tell her to move.

Heck, what I really want to tell her, was "I want to sit next to my husband, too!"

Chris just gives a look and heads towards the seat a few aisles ahead. I guess it didn't really make sense to go into the whole thing, having to explain that we're a couple, and we are traveling together, and at least we had the boarding passes for where we wanted to be. No, the flight was finishing boarding and we just wanted to get on with our trip, so we let it be.

I never spoke to the woman. I think she tried to say a meager "thanks", but as soon as I could turn on the iPod and leave her behind, the better. She didn't even really talk to her husband from what I can remember.

Still, it's that difficulty with explaining your relationship. If I was married to a woman, people would just suspect the woman with me would be my wife, or at least my girlfriend. It takes more effort to describe my relationship to Chris, and it's one that I don't always want to go into the full story about with just anyone.

I wish it was simpler. Sometimes when someone asks, looking at my ring, if I'm married, I say yes. Then if they start asking more, then it's the though, am I coy? Do I just say it? Do I go into the whole California marriage thing? Why can't this be easier?

I love the whole "I'm married in selected states" thing, but having to explain it gets tiresome. You never feel like yours is a relationship equal to those that straight folks can jump into so easily, so carelessly. And when they come down the aisle in some plane, you think, well, they could be a couple. Us? I don't know what they think.

Sure, violence and more obvious discrimination like firing or in refusal of service is one thing, but just that little thing of being considered unworthy of an institution, well that's a deep discrimination that really gets to feeling a resentment and being labeled less than worthy. Boy did Prop 8 do that in spades.

Given that a similar scenario came up when one of the plaintiff was asked about the equality of their relationship, they way they feel discriminated against, or at least find things more difficult by the simple act of having marriage denied them, well it just makes me that much more interested in how this case is going to go.

And if you see the two of us coming, yes, I do ant to sit next to my husband, and not the back of the bus thank you.
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The seventh month anniversary of our marriage ceremony in California comes later this week. Now we aren't a couple that makes a big deal about tiny anniversaries or anything, but this one will be the first one that may be missing an actual valid marriage license, depending on what the California Supreme Court rules today.

I've been joking about our marital status ever since Prop 8 passed. Even from the beginning it was odd, only valid or recognized in certain states, and certainly not my native Texas. Are we married, or are we not? Depends. Then once Prop 8 passed, suddenly even the small amount of recognition was also in limbo. Suddenly a contract we had both signed was...well what was it?

Back home it seemed than there hadn't been much change. We started wearing wedding rings, and calling each other husband, not partner or boyfriend, but the relationship stayed pretty much the same. We've been lax about hiring a lawyer to draw up power of attorney documents and getting things taken care of legally, for no matter how California sees us after today, until the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned federally, we won't have the same rights and privileges here in Texas. Texas has a constitutional amendment that bars recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions, or the creation of them by the state. I think Texas would be one of the last states to get rid of the rule, much like it took a federal court case to get rid of sodomy laws here.

Our opponents are desperately seeking a win from the court today. the news lately has been heavily in the favor of marriage equality. Today they will hope that mob rule trumps the rights of minorities and they continue to try to paint the picture of marriage as one reserved strictly for heterosexual couples (or opposite marriage as some deep thinker put it).

It still makes me mad when they continue to try to spin that marriage is tied to the churches when it has long been the fact that no church would have to sanction the union of two heterosexual people (or two people of opposite sex, regardless of their orientation, really). State sanctioned marriage has been a separate institution as much as the separation of church and state has been the law of this land. No one has had to get the permission of a church for years to get married, and the state, not the church grants the rights and privileges of marriage - at least in this life.

And it's not like I couldn't fine a church to get married in. You might not be able to get hitched in a Catholic church to you same-sex partner, but plenty of other denominations will do it, and still have the same appreciation of your Prada loafers.

Let's face it, marriage hasn't been as sacred as our opponents make it out to be since they started granting no-fault divorces. Say what you want about the bonds of matrimony, but when it comes down to it, the partners can break the contract almost as easily as any two business partners. Marriage is a contract from the state, the spiritual stuff is up to someone else.

One thing that throws me is that ads that the proponents of "traditional marriage" (sorry for the scare quotes, but I couldn't come up with another way of putting it, but marriage has changed over the years, from a property situation to a search for a match between two people- another reason not to deny marriage equality) seem to come up with ads that keep up the scare factor that gays are going to come and steal marriage away from them. I never see an ad that seems to truly state why keeping marriage as a separate institution for heterosexuals is important. What is it that we are supposed to be stealing from them? We aren't taking away their rights, or trampling on their relationships. We aren't going to take their children away from them. Heck, for nearly half of them, it doesn't seem that marriage has actually been that great of a institution for them.

It's hard to state how marriage has changed my life, maybe because with the passage of Prop 8 it never seemed fully real. Sure, we exchanged vows in a quickly arranged ceremony under some really odd circumstances. It's something, like many other married couples, we might have waited a little longer to do, but the political situation and the fact that it was California pushed along our decision.

Still, hearing the vows, even if they were done in front of a small group in a conference room of a county clerk's office still made for one of the happiest moments in my life. Those words, weather there's a piece of paper with them or not still stand for me.

I know that chris' family would like us to have a reception, or even a larger ceremony, but I know I've shied away from it because of the political situation. My own family isn't really on-board with the whole marriage thing, so I'm not sure if they would be inclined to come to something or not (not that they don't like Chris, but it's one of those things that the reality of what's family vs. the political dogma don't always mix well). Maybe if things are positive for us today we'll look into doing something bigger, but for now a simple ceremony is fine, and truly, our core relationship together didn't change, and won't change from what happens today.

(Of course the jokey guys that we are, as he was leaving I said that we'll see if we are still married after today, Chris on the way out said i should watch the news and if Prop 8 is upheld he expects that my stuff will be out of the house, as he will not live with someone in sin. Heh.)

I'd marry Chris again if today's verdict comes down against us. I'm not sure there's any great push to do it though. Sure I could get married in Iowa, or New England, but really, without the rights being here in Texas, it's as meaningful as any other piece of paper in the printer drawer. The relationship remains the same either way. With Chris being from California, then the California license was special to us. I'd love to get married in Texas, and maybe one day, many years from now, we will, but I'm not waiting for it.

We will see how the court rules. Because of my work schedule, I don't think I can make it to the rally today, but I'm sure there will be many more rallies, because either way, there's still a very long fight to go, and we're going to have both wins and losses.

So who knows. I say that it won't affect me, but maybe because I've been trying not to get my hopes up, waiting these long months for a decision, maybe it will be something I take more personally than I care to admit at this moment. I look right now and I see that we have a chance to really make history, but I am trying to steel myself for the likely possibility that we will lose today, activist judges be dammed. On we go to the next fight, state by state, and eventually the country.

Still, I'll be keeping the ring on, and still calling Chris my husband,no matter the validity of a piece of paper. My day of decision came when we decided to date each other, and it's only been validated by the choice to move in together and late on the day that we said our vows. A ruling form a court isn't changing that. I think we can still get away with having a first anniversary celebration in October even if it's for our six year relationship.

Update: So there you have it. Prop 8 was upheld by the California Supreme Court, but the existing marriages stand, makeing us a limited, collector's edition marriage that's still only recognized in a few states. Expect to see more litigation, both on recognition of these limited edition marriages, and probably a few trying to still invalidate them as they don't jibe with current CA law. The battle continues.

I guess I should frame that marriage licence after all.
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☆ Well, again I'm having to say something about how long it's been since I've written in my journal. For weeks I had a half written post about TBRU that never got off the ground. Partly it was due to stress at work and trying to get through tax season, and now that's over, thankfully. It may not have been as hard as we thought, but it's definitely been a stressful time at work. Otherwise I just haven't been so inspired to write and have been lazy, watching TV in my spare time.

Lets face it, TBRU can be boiled down to a few things. There was great people there, I did my best to stay out of crowds and kept the drama to a minimum. That's not to say that going to Six Flags during Spring Break was not frustrating with the long lines and rude people, but luckily the guys I went with were good company. Also, the Battlestar Galactica finale went great and it was fun to have fellow geeks come over to watch. It made viewing it much more of an event. The finale itself was good, not great, but I think there was a lot of expectations. I saw people I knew and was glad to see them, and met a couple of new people, mostly introduced by people I knew since I'm too shy to go meet them myself.

☆ I'll just a paragraph or five about politics here. I think Obama and his administration are doing fine. Sure, I don't agree with everything he does, but I do appreciate that he seems to be able to plan for the long term and doesn't get caught up in the day-to-day news cycle. Politicians are often too reactionary (see AIG bonuses) and try to respond too often to what the polling shows rather than getting out there and making real plans. I find it refreshing.

The tax day tea parties were ridiculous. What began as a libertarian thing suddenly became some way for disenfranchised Republicans to find a voice, but the problem with that voice is that it seems to find outrage but no substance or solutions. For many people there they seemed to be outraged, but didn't quite know what they were outraged about. Of course you have Fox News out there, actually adding their name to the event. If my parents ever try to tell me that Fox News is balanced again, all I have to do is point to this moment where the right-wing network didn't report the news, but tried to be an event organizer. While I don't find much in the way of objective journalism from any of the cable news outlets, I can't see either CNN or MSNBC trying to actually create a movement for their benefit. For anyone on fox who wants to remain a journalist, it's time to leave.

Funny that these tea bag protests about spending come after several years of Republicans raising deficits while Bush was in office. All this sturm and drang only seems to come around now that they are out of power. I'll take your message as seriously as I do the Code Pink housewives.

Oh, and our governor here in Texas, Rick Perry, is worried about a primary fight against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson next year, so naturally he decides to go to these tea party events to campaign. He's a complete idiot, but he knows the Republican Party here is a bunch of rabid fools (Just check out the Texas Republican Party Platform) so he knows he has to play to these guys. Kay is much more the moderate, and she would do better in a general election, but it will be harder for her to win the primary.

So Governor Good Hair, as we call him, goes out to start talking about Texas shouldn't be ruled by Washington, that states are sovereign and we need to look at secession from the US. Great! Just what we need here is an idiot telling us that we should leave the US. If we left the US, the US would also leave us. Do you think Texas would keep the US companies that headquarter here? Do you think that the US military would just leave all there equipment to us? Do you realize that there isn't a large enough bank based in the state to do commerce with? We are so tied into the US, that...why am I even arguing this, our governor is an idiot.

☆ Lastly, tomorrow we head out to LA for our cruise. I'm excited about going out to see a Dodger game tomorrow night and Saturday getting on the ship for a Mexican Riviera cruise. It's the Lazy Bear cruise, so there should be lots of good people on the ship. chris was on this same cruise a couple of years ago - as were a couple of other LJer's. I'll admit that I am not excited about any of the ports of call, but it will be nice to relax and get away from it all.

I'm packing, trying to get everything I need into one suitcase. You'd think going away for a week wouldn't require so much, especially going to somewhere warm, but I'm struggling to keep the bag under 50 pounds. Luckily this cruise I don't have to bring formal wear.

I have been on one other all-gay cruise, and that was the one to Alaska in 2007. I liked that one because people were dressed a little more warmly, but I see this cruise as a little more body competitive - beaches and pools and such. I'm sure there will be several people in skimpy swimsuits both on and off the ship. I'm already in my mindset that I will be the largest guy on the ship and won't want to be out at the pool area. Hopefully this feeling will change and I'll be able to let go and have a good time, but I'll tell you, it's easy to feel that you are very unattractive going into something like this.

Still I can't just stay in our little cabin all vacation long. This will be odd for me because I'm always looking for things to do on vacation but this one seems to be more about doing nothing. I hope I don't go crazy with boredom as I can't think of any of these ports that I want to explore, or anything. I'll be missing my internet access, too. I'm guessing I'm going to be on deck reading a book quite often. We will see how it goes.

Now if I can just cram all these T-Shirts in the bag!

☆ Oh, and it's possible that California's Supreme Court will rule on marriage next week. I guess we'll see if our marriage is still valid (in selected states) or not. We'll be without internet, but I'm sure we will hear the news on the ship. not that I'm expecting it, but if they rule for marriage equality that is going to be one big party boat.
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Obama's budget is a very broad package of ideas. There's an emphasis on higher education, health care reform, and to attach global warming by encouraging new technologies and using penalties and incentives to business. Subsidies for farmers would be cut (primarily because large corporate farms take the most of this money and taxes on the wealthy will be raised, if Obama gets his way.

For those who were hoping for more change from Obama with the stimulus, for those who thought that it didn't go far enough, should look to the budget. This is where the president is making his case for his campaign promises.

The budget couldn't be more different from those put out by George W Bush, well, except for the large budget deficit, of course. Still, there's actual cuts in some programs - something that the deficit ignoring Bushies never made much of an effort to do - and there's a new transparency at least in one realm. Obama actually puts the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars in the budget. A cost that had always been handled off budget as to not offend the American public.

Basically the Obama Administration is looking to make a fundamental change of direction in the budget, one that throws out thirty years of Reaganomics and harkens back to a more FDR route. There's an emphasis on government taking a larger role and using more money from the rich to fund projects to benefit the greater whole. Some call it "Robin Hood" others will label it socialist, or worse.

Of course many who shout such things don't truly know the meaning of the word socialist, and lack understanding that we have been a socialist nation, albeit less so than many other Western nations, for a long, long time.

Many look to change the problems of economic inequality that have continued to grow over the last 30 years, much of it increased to nearly a breaking point in the last eight. From this I seem to get the idea that Obama and company understand that a strong middle class is key to America's future, but I worry about trying to restructure and pay for so much directly from government programs, entitlements and subsidies. I look for smart spending and directed payments, not a general doling out of money.

I understand taking advantage of our current economic despair to make large, sweeping changes and to pull up the middle class. It's time to encourage better salaries and I'm even for government taking over healthcare from employers, something that we know is currently preventing employers from hiring and having them cut salaries and benefits. The private sector's backs are eventually going to break. I'm just not sure our government is up to the task.

What I'm hoping, and I'm likely naive about this, is that President Obama is just taking his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's quote about not letting a serious crisis go to waste to heart and trying to put everything on the table so it can be discussed and likely whittled down. He went for middle ground on the stimulus, but decided to shoot for the moon on the budget knowing that he would get only part of what he actually wants to accomplish. The proof will be how hard he pushes his agenda, and what he stumps for.

Now we will get to see if Congress is serious about fiscal responsibility or if they go back to their ways for the last eight years. What congressperson will say no to earmarks, and who will look to control entitlement spending? We can expect Republican's make a big stand and say no to everything, but will they actually bring anything to the table? Can they work with the president without just being obstructionist? We know that the Democrats could push much of the Agenda through without a single Republican vote if necessary, so it behooves the two groups to actually work together.

The Republican's have little to stand on after the spending binge they went on over the last eight years, but if they want to remake their party, now is the time.

There's smart ways to work with the president and try to be responsible with the people's money. The Obama administration has apparently put it thin Congress' court now. We know what Obama's goals are, but what are the priorities of Congress?

At least it's out there on paper, what the agenda is, at least fiscally. We know where Obama is heading but we need to know if the efforts to reduce the deficit spending over the next four years are going to work, we need to know what will be change and possibly cut in entitlements where we don't end up prolonging this economic crisis. We need to know more about the plans for healthcare and the details of rescuing banks that currently are "too big to fail". The devil is in the details.

Now we wait for the debate to ramp up. If you thought the stimulus package fight was nasty, you haven't seen nothing yet. Obama won't get everything he asks for, presidents rarely do, but perhaps it is shooting for the moon to get more than he bargained for.
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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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For the life of me I can't seem to get overly excited about the Rick Warren thing. Sure, I think it's a lousy pick, and I think the Obama could have done way better, but in the end, they guy gets his few minutes on stage and goes back home.

Now I know, you are say, this guy's an ass, and he will use this so he can be seen as a power broker, just like James Dobson or Pat Robertson, an in that way I'll agree with you. While he doesn't have the television presence like Robertson, or the radio presence like Dobson, he has been finding a larger audience by attaching himself to political movements and politicians. It's a pretty strange place for a preacher in my book, and it is sad that Obama is giving this man more face time.

That's what's more upsetting to me than the actual invite. Heck, Billy Graham has been doing these things for years, and I don't agree with him, either. I'm sure someone like Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson would cause a lot of furor as well. Warren is getting it from both sides as Fundies seem to not like that he's fraternizing with pro-choice politicians. We all have our battles.

I guess why I'm not outraged as much as other people is I see this as political payback. Obama seems to be making an statement for inclusiveness and for differences of thought, or at least trying to spin it that way, but I see it more as payback for not trashing him at the "Forum" Warren held and for not campaigning against him. Warren could have done more to rally his flock against Obama, but likely spent more of his efforts getting Prop 8 passed. Perhaps Obama is trying to use this inaugural platform as a way to keep this guy off his back for a while. I don't know.

If you want to protest this move, fine. write your congressmen and Obama and all that. It's good to stand up. I see this more as a blip than anything else, and there are much bigger issues. If you want to use this as a starting point to announce that you will be looking to the administration to do more for GLBT issues, then that's a positive. If you fell back on the idea that there was a democrat in the White House and we would be making great strides, I'd like you to look back to the Clinton Years.

We will continue to need to make our case for rights and a seat at the table. That shouldn't change no matter who's in Congress or the White House.

Disappointed, yes, outraged, not so much. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'm waiting on some bigger policies before I'm ready to write Obama off.


★ One bit of Rick Warren business, the Seattle Stranger's Blog (or SLOG) yesterday posted some interesting information from Rick Warren's church. Apparently he has a manual for church leaders out there. And some of the excerpts are pretty funny. Like many Non-Denominational and Baptist churches, they are against porn, against strong women, and against gays.

What I really found funny was the information on how to make church more appealing to men. Apparently churches have become to soft an feminine with quilts and banners and priests in Prada shoes and all, and church needs to get more butch in order to get the men involved. Warren suggests you take down the quilts and put up swords and animal trophies.

He also says, "years ago, I attended a church where everyone held hands across the aisles while singing a unity hymn. Men hate this — especially when they have to hold hands with other men." So apparently church has problems attracting men because it's too homoerotic!

No wonder churches want to put women in their place and "ex" the gays, they are ruining the church for manly men!


★ Speaking about making our presence known. There's a rally tomorrow. It's a candlelight vigil all across the country, and in most places it's taking place outside of shopping centers.

In Dallas it will be outside of the Galleria. Now I don't think this was the best choice as the Galleria is the place that out-of-towners shop, not people from Dallas. I think we could have done better by picking Northpark, but the choice has been made.

Is anyone here going to go to the vigil? I'm not 100% sure about this one, and I have my reservations about the format, but we'll see. Maybe I'm not excited because I don't care for the format. A candlelight vigil during the Holidays just makes you look like a group of carolers that aren't singing. We aren't supposed to bring signs, but instead have T-shirts with clever sayings. I'm not sure as people drive away from the Galeria they will get the message.

I'll consider it though, for the community and all. I'll have to find where I can get a good candle.


★ Lastly as the colder weather sets in, I can feel my joints tightening up. I always knew that I would likely start showing some signs of Arthritis as I got older, and can remember my dad having the same problems showing up as he got into his 40's.

My knees already cause some trouble, but that's from weight, not Arthritis. Luckily my ankles haven't been twisting and turning as much as they used to. Now my fingers get kind of locked up at times, and that hasn't been fun. I guess I'll have to start looking for Arthritis pain relief aspirin at the Walgreens soon.

Arthritis and some forgetfulness seem to be pointing to a bright future!

More Junk

Dec. 4th, 2008 08:31 am
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A few random things going on.

★ I rarely remember dreams. Often they have to be something that is going on at the moment the alarm goes off for me to recall anything about them. The other day I had one that was pretty strange. It seems that the girls and Mrs Garrett from the Facts of Life were having a reunion, but apparently they pisses off this one Eastland girl (I'm not sure if it was a redshirt or maybe Jo) who decided that she was so pissed at them that she was going to destroy the world. George Clooney was in it too. Apparently he was a secret agent that did some undercover work at the bakery.

Sounds like a Teen Titans storyline that was grafted onto an old television show. Very odd.

★ Otherwise, Thanksgiving was fine. It was a week ago, but I haven't posted in a while. Good food, and got to see some good people, though we had to hop some houses. Wish we could have stayed at one place for the whole evening. There were many good men there and one is an excellent chef. Still we had a nice dinner with our friend Mikel and his family.

It was good to also see my sister who was on her usual November vacation to visit freinds and family here. We had a great brunch where [livejournal.com profile] cristalskye and her husband came by as well. I've seen Skye twice in a month!

★ I had to work yesterday, and it was busier than I expected it to be. I guess fewer people were out shopping, so they stayed home to call about their retirement funds instead. I was really hoping to get some reading done.

★ I have already picked up a few new versions of my favorite Holiday tune, Sleigh Ride. One from Kristin Chenoweth, now from the late, lamented Pushing Dasies, and from KT Tunstall. iTunes says I have about 50 different versions of the song, but I think there must be some more elsewhere. Strangely I don't have any versions in foreign languages. I may have to look for a few.

★ Vanilla Milkshake Pop-Tarts (with extra calcium) are the worst I've ever had. Pop-Tarts keep trying to come up with these new flavors, but they really just need to stick to the classics. Of course, what do I do, but I purchase some "Fiber One" toaster pastries. We'll see if the grown-up thing is any good.

★ President Bush. Please don't buy a home in Dallas. Go live in Crawford where we won't have to put up with the traffic problems you'll cause. OF course right now Texas is one of the few states you could safely live in, but I'd rather you didn't.

★ I'm missing the exciting politics of the election season. It went on so long, and I was so wrapped up in it. It's hard to find something else to take it's place. I got used to reading stories all over the internet and following polls. The Prop 8 stuff filled the void for a little bit, but that is dying down too, and people seem to be easing into the holidays. The transition team stuff just isn't that interesting. Half of it just seems like a rehash of earlier this year. Remember when this guy/gal was running for president? Now he's/she's back!

Maybe things will be interesting once Obama takes office and can actually do something. I wish it was baseball season so I could turn my obsession to baseball news, but now I'll just have to find some other obsession.
eggwards: (Default)
I’m looking at the information for this weekend’s rally/protest/gathering here in Dallas and there seems to be a lack of information. All I have is the time, and the place. (Just for locals, it’s 12:30 at Dallas City Hall - check out the join the impact web site of directions)

I’m a member of Generation X. We didn’t protest the Gulf War, not the War on Terror. Perhaps we don't really know how. Although many of our generation have served in the military, there was never a draft for us to be polarized against. Generation X, known as the slackers that we are, never got as worked up about things as the generation before us. I guess we didn’t feel as much need to take to the streets, and we haven’t had the same events, Vietnam, Stonewall, civil rights, as they did. Watching the G8 protests or the protests at the Republican convention seem to be portraits of futility as they are far away from the event and only seem to get minimal attention (and lots of tear gas). Maybe we’re just realists and know that change takes time, and there’s other ways to make that change.

Going into the protest this weekend, my thoughts aren’t about the impact, but more trivial things. Do I need a sign? Do I need to have a big breakfast? How long will it last? Will there be a bathroom? Will I have things thrown at me? Of course there’s the big one: What message are we trying to convey here?

I’ll admit I’m skeptical about the Prop 8 protests. It seems to me that this outrage and concern should have taken place before the vote. I understand the sentiment, but the efforts seem to be rather random and the message doesn’t seem well honed. While I’m skeptical, I support the effort simply because I hope that it will lead to more organization, and a honing of our message.

One of the biggest mistakes I think the gay community has made was not explaining well enough why marriage matters to us, and why full marriage equality is a civil right. We’ve done poorly in arguing that there is a big difference between religious marriage and civil marriage, and it’s the civil marriage we are fighting for. We’ve allowed the religious right blur the lines far too often where you’d almost believe that civil marriage should only be granted by the church. We have to do more to encourage the ongoing conversation of the separation of church and state.

We also need to do more work in bringing people to our side. This is where I’m not sure protesting works. I think our community needs to do more outreach, more works with the religious community and more work with people of color. I think SoulForce that goes out to mega-churches and religious colleges, as well as other groups within various faiths that are trying to work from within are very helpful. I think we’ve missed an opportunity to work with ethnic groups where we seem to encourage gays of color not to engage their communities. I’m probably wrong, but I don’t hear much about this. Perhaps I should read the Pam’s House Blend blog more often.

I think we may have taken too much for granted here, expecting that if we supported civil rights and social programs for others, they would come to help us with ours, but we really haven’t made our case. Perhaps taking to the streets will garner attention, but we need to make this turn into a lasting effort. People will tire of protesting and we need leadership to keep us involved, and the message current. One good thing I heard is to keep placing initiatives for marriage equality on statewide ballots year after year. The pro-life community does this, and though most of the initiates fail year after year, it keeps people talking about the issue.

I hope that the outcome of these protests around the country is that we will see more leaders rise from the grass roots. I believe we’ve gotten to this point because those we look to as gay leaders really weren’t there for the California vote. Groups like Equality California do great work, we need to stop thinking that each amendment is a single state issue, and take it as a nationwide fight. We also need to think longer term than just setting up groups like No on 8 that only work on one specific fight. I’m glad to see the No on 8 organization continue the fight, but the group wasn’t designed for the long haul.

What’s interesting to me is that we don’t seethe nationwide groups taking the lead here. I do see some nationwide groups that assisted including Lambda Legal, The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, but they didn’t drive the No on 8 fight, and they could have done more to generate nationwide support. I’m guessing most groups saw it only as a one-state issue.

The one group that I’m really disappointed in is the Human Rights Campaign. Where are they? I looked at their website and if you looked there was a couple of pictures of a protest, but there’s no action being taken by the largest gay rights group – the one that doesn’t have gay or lesbian in its name. I don’t see them organizing or assisting the protests. They stay in Washington and never get involved with state issues. For a group that takes so much money from the gay community, I really don’t think they give much back. I haven’t give them any money directly, and I personally don’t see much value in doing so right now. I’d really like to see more out of HRC, but I’ve learned to expect much less.

I was much too young for Stonewall, and I’ve attended pride parades, not marches. Perhaps we should look at more activism as we have allowed groups like the HRC fight for us while we went about our lives. We should have taken more action, and fight more of these amendments and restrictions, but we waited for others to do it for us. Now is the time that we should take the movement back and fight. It’s too bad it took another loss in a favorable state to bring us out into the streets.

Oh, and another thing, although the courts are supposed protect the minority from the majority, but we can’t count on them to solve all of our problems. We need to work legislatures and the population at large. We need to win referendums and we need to get governors to sign off on legislation. We can’t put everything into the courts and expect to be taken care of.

This Saturday’s protest could be a big win a big win if we follow through. We should celebrate wins like Connecticut nationwide, and condemn failures like Florida, Arizona and Arkansas nationwide as well. We will get more notice if we make it a nationwide fight. We should get motivated. Now we just need to know how to take this groundswell and turn it into something powerful that will outlast Prop 8.
eggwards: (Uphill Climb)
Now that we've been wed for a week now, it's about time I drop a few wedding photos on you. First are my two favorites:


Chris and I kiss Chris' mom, who was our witness, outside of the county courthouse.


We hold the booklet that the state of California gives to all people applying for a marriage license. I now know I need to take more folic acid when I get pregnant.

And in the ceremony...

The big "I Do!" to do. Held in beautiful conference room B at the Lake County Courthouse.

More photos behind the cut... )

Propped Up

Nov. 5th, 2008 10:59 am
eggwards: (kissy)
I have some thoughts about the presidential election, but I’m going to save those thoughts for later. Right now I’m thinking about something a little more personal.

As a newly married man I’m more than upset about the loss of marriage equality in California. I’m sad that others won’t be able to experience the excitement that I did a few days ago – at least not for a few more years. Sadly, it was so close that you could almost taste victory. I don’t know what more could be done. I gave money to the cause, but in the end I feel very frustrated that I couldn’t have a say in the decision.

When we got to California last week Chris and I were constantly being told by people, friends and family that they were voting against Prop 8. It actually became funny as people at the reception for Chris’ father continued to tell us of their vote whenever it was said that we had just gotten married. It was a knee jerk reaction. I guess it’s similar to saying you are voting for Obama because you aren’t racist. I knew it wasn’t intended that way, but it was an odd way to show support for us as a couple. Surely no straight couple ever has to be told that the congratulator is voting against a bond issue or abortion notification or any other issue when announcing that they are newlyweds.

Again, no love lost with Chris’ family, I know they were being supportive, it was just odd.

The moment we got married it felt odd. There were lots of talk about how it was only applicable in certain states, and we joked about being in a quasi-legal status. I told my work and they are still researching whether I need to report the marriage or not. In Texas it’s as if it never mattered. Chris and I already talked about getting a lawyer and setting up several of the legal protections that are natural in California for us, but you can’t get all of the rights of marriage.

Funny, I didn’t used to care about this stuff. Sure, I want the right to get married, but I wasn’t too worried about the legal side of it, more the equality. Now with the difficulties I see Chris’ mother going through to try to reorganize finances and ownership and everything that had been in her husband’s name, and I realize how much harder it will be for Chris and myself should something happen, it seems to bring the point home.

What’s upsetting about the passage of Prop 8 is that all the same-sex marriages like mine now end up in some sort of twilight zone of existence. Sure, they exist, and at this point and at this moment the marriages aren’t being revoked, or converted to domestic partnerships (though I suspect there will be a challenge to do so), but at this point they will always be seen as an anomaly, or a curiosity. In the public eye they won’t be equal to a “traditional marriage.”

So now Chris and I and many others end up with a second class marriage. One that may be recognized in Massachusetts and Connecticut and maybe New York, but may or may not be recognized in the state it originated in. What a strange place to be in.

Now I’m sure that the people who congratulated us last weekend did go out and vote no on 8, and the millions of others who did were sincere. It was obviously the easier thing to vote yes and say that it didn’t affect you. Certainly the Yes on 8 people did all they could to try to make you feel that you weren’t an asshole if you voted for the measure, but I can’t help feeling that these people were strictly voting against us. It makes me think we’ve come a long way to come so close, but there are still miles to go. Hopefully the new federal administration will be able to pass ENDA. We need those protections.

(Oh, and thanks for all of the congratulations from all of you. I haven’t responded, probably because of the looming Prop 8 vote. I will rectify that soon.)

Chris’ family wants us to have a real reception, since the wedding was done so quickly and under such odd circumstances. It is nice to feel welcome in Chris' family and amongst their freinds. Chris’ mom is insisting on a honeymoon. I guess we’ll have to work on those. I'm not sure if we would have a reception here in Texas, in California or somewhere else

Chris and I talked on the phone last night (he’s still in Lake County with his mom) and said we need to look at rings when we get home since everything has happened so fast. Despite the crazy legal issues, and continued pressure from the majority of people in this country, I think we will always see ourselves as married from now on. Thanks California, for that.

Unexpected

Oct. 27th, 2008 10:01 am
eggwards: (Uphill Climb)
Chris' father died suddenly and unexpectedly on Saturday. Chris has
been working on plans to go to be with his mother in California and helping with the finances, which his father took care of. It's come as quite a shock.

While Chris will be gone for a week or so, I'm trying to figure out
about going out there for a couple of days to attend the service.
We've already found that bereavement fares for the airlines aren't really worth anything, and I wouldn't qualify for them anyway.

Chris' parents have been very good about making me feel like one of the family, so I want to repay that by being there during this
difficult moment. While I don't have to be there for the family
business, I have already given Chris some information on how to begin moving family finances into his mother's name.

It's an odd thing, but as we are going through things, and making plans for this weekend it becomes blazingly clear that we aren't
married, and the difficulties of that situation. I have to go to
work today and see if I can get a few days off to go out to California. I've never made a big deal about my relationship at work, so I don't know what hurdles I'll need to go through, especially when we are busy and it's hard to take time off. Yes, Chris is my beneficiary and my emergency contact, but we don't take domestic partner benefits or anything, so it's not like there's a lot of evidence to go on. I doubt I'll get bereavement pay, but hopefully they will let me use some vacation days I still have.

I remember a few years back having to work with HR at an older employer to get bereavement pay for Big Ed when his partner suddenly passed away. It was interesting as the HR department hadn't dealt with the situation before.

It's one of those things where it makes me think about the No on Prop
8 fight in California and how important it is. I wish we could vote while we are out there, just to help the cause. Both Chris and I have donated, doing out part, I guess.

We did talk about the fact that since we would be in California this weekend, should we look into getting married? It might be the last week, you know. Still, I think we came to the conclusion that though we'd be fine with marrying each other, to just run to do it for some deadline wasn't really the right thing, and it doesn't change anything for us - especially here in Texas. Besides, we can still get married in Massachusetts or Connecticut.

Since California doesn't have early voting, this still could be a good moment for Chris and I to do a little No on 8 testimony with his family - just by being there. Nothing obnoxious or overt, just us being ourselves.

I've never had to buy airline tickets this close to when I'm going to
fly. It's difficult to find something good! Right now I'm looking
to go out Friday and return Monday - probably making it more expensive, but I don't know what I can take off yet. Does anyone have some airline booking tricks up their sleeve?

I'm doing what I can for Chris, but I think he's still in shock and it will likely be that way until he gets on that plane and is actually heading home. That makes me sad because I can't be there for him on
that flight. It's odd, because I thought we'd be going to my
father's funeral before his, but life is strange, as always.
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● Chris and I like the Austin City Limits Festival so much that we have already bought tickets for 2009. They went on sale yesterday for those on the mailing list. Here’s hoping there’s some great acts next year, but it’s always a good excuse to get away to Austin. I hope more people will join us!

● Chris is going to Anaheim today to enjoy Miley Cyrus' big birthday bash at Disney. My travel budget is already shot for the year, and I already was close to Miley this year when I was in New York. I don't think I could take any more excitement like that. I was already at Disneyland this year too, but not with the 30,000 gays they are predicting for this weekend. Maybe next year, if everything is good, I might get to go.

● I’d like to give a shout out to Salon.com and the column/blog How the World Works by Andrew Leonard for keeping me informed about the financial credit crisis. Although I work in the financial world (at an extremely low level), I'm not a business major, economist or even an accountant, I have a large learning curve on some of the issues. I was warned about the mortgage crisis a long time ago (a hat tip goes to Trey ([livejournal.com profile] arkanjil), and I even had to learn about mortgage-backed securities and selling short when taking my licensing tests, but it’s been getting the broader picture, on how this has swelled into a lending crisis that’s hurting businesses that’s been the education lately.

● Again, I’m lucky to work for a company that’s financially strong, but since we aren’t a bank, and our retirement accounts are mostly annuities, not brokerage accounts, we have many callers who are concerned since we’re not FDIC or SPIC insured. Luckily since we’re a not for-profit company, we aren’t leveraged to the hilt. It's tough to re-assure people when their account balances are falling. Still, people don’t understand, even if they have been trough recessions before, that investment in the stock market can and will go down at times. Investment involves risk, plain and simple.

● Even though the House may vote for the $700 billion bailout bill today, that will be just a band-aid for what the economy is going through at this time. Even with the ability for banks to place bad loans at the feet of the US government, there’s severe trouble in lending right now that’s affecting businesses and consumers. Just like the gas shortages in the Southeast, we are a society that is so used to “just-in-time” logistics and deliveries, so when those deliveries don’t come, there’s no inventory to rely on. Many companies now take short term loans to help them meet payroll and purchase equipment, etc. This is done on a very short time table, rather than having a long term financial plan for financing, especially for small employers. When they can’t get the credit, or the small loans they require, business ends up having to curtail growth, laying-off workers and stopping production.

It’s going to be a while before money is flowing as freely as credit has been, if it ever does again. Many banks were far out-leveraging themselves to make these loans happen, and now with fewer big players, and the specter of more regulation on the horizon, both businesses and consumers are going to have to take a hard look at how they spend, and how much credit they will be able to access.

The biggest problem is that American’s have been made to consume everything at a rapid, get it today pace that really shouldn't be allowed. The desire to live beyond your means has been encouraged not only by big business, but by the Bush administration as well, and blame needs to be laid there on his feet. It’s this administration’s effort to not have any American have to sacrifice that has led to big deficits and an economy that was unable to sustain itself as there was no fundamentally sound underpinning. I wonder if Bush was just hoping to get out of office before the bubble burst. He sure looks like he’s just waiting for the bell to ring in January.

I’m wondering how the American people are going to take to a message of tighten your belts when we’ve been coddled so long by a system that says if you want it, get it, damn the future.

What’s interesting is hearing about the far flung suburbs, especially places like the inland Empire in California where tons of expensive McMansions were built and sold for inflated prices to people who couldn’t afford the mortgage payments and now can’t afford the gas prices to commute to and from them, so the houses are foreclosed, the people abandon the homes, and leave all their possessions creating ghost towns out of these suburbs as no one wants to buy them, even at bargain prices. I’m surprised we don’t see more of that in Texas where it seems the cities have grown so far out from the city core, that it’s created more, smaller city cores to compensate, but is that enough to justify driving for miles for everything?

The next president, who ever he, or perhaps she given some odd twist of fate, is, will have the very difficult task of having to pull us along through an economic crisis that may resemble the 1970’s. There’s likely to be some comparisons to Jimmy Carter, who inherited the spiraling inflation, high unemployment and stagnant economy from Nixon/Ford, and he found it very difficult to find a way out of it. Something tells me that no matter whom the president is, 2012 will be a big election year as well.

● Funny thing is that today at work they are feeding us, and passed out a slip of paper with a picture of a baked potato on it that we are to redeem for our lunch. Some people have said that one potato will not be enough, and others have said we should copy the paper in order to get two potatoes. With that there has been talk that we would just create a crisis if there were more slips of paper than potatoes and that the value of the slip of paper would fall as there was no promise of a potato backing the value of these “potato-based securities.” We’ve been having fun with talk of the failure of the potato market and since the delivery of potatoes hasn’t come in yet, the fact that the slips are based on nothing but the full faith that potatoes will appear. There’s also been word of a modern “potato famine” here in the office, but we are waiting for a bailout from management. It’s a funny way to apply the economic lessons we’ve learned these past few weeks.
eggwards: (Uphill Climb)
So a man who isn’t know for his strength in economic matters decides that his campaign polling is too low and he decides he must rush back to Washington to look like he’s the part of the solution. Great. What will he do there? How does his presence, after not being in the Senate for months, change what is already being worked on?

So Senator McCain wants Senator Obama to also come off the trail and come back to Washington at a time where early voting is already going on in several states and those final impressions are critical.

And Senator McCain also wants to cancel the first debate on Friday.

Someone is running scared.

It’s amazing. McCain’s campaign seems to be going strong if you just look at the surface, but looking deeper, you can tell the lies and the win at any cost mentality is starting to bring the whole house of cards down. For more than a month Senator McCain stayed away from the press, and Gov. Palin was kept away from giving anything but pre written soundbites and speeches. The fact is, the issues aren’t on their side, and neither McCain nor Palin can be trusted right now to not go off message.

The answer is to stop having to talk to anyone. Run back to Washington and cancel the debate. No questions allowed, nothing but propaganda is given to the press. It’s an amazing development that should scream to the public, this man cannot be trusted with the presidency. It’s all image and no substance, and you’ll be vilified if you try to look beyond the veneer.

It’s similar to being a patriot these days. If you don’t buy the line that in America everything’s fine, then you are the enemy. If you dare ask if McCain or Palin are ready to be president, off with your head.

I’m certainly outraged by the tactic. Sure, McCain has been saying that the campaign would have been more civil if Obama had just agreed to campaign with him, and do the town hall tour with him. Now McCain will try to take the high road, saying that he came back to Washington to help the people, while Obama continued to give speeches. I hope people don’t buy this line of bull.

Why have a debate if you aren’t ready, and you might be asked substantive questions. If you can’t win on the issues, make the campaign about…nothing. McCain’s strategy is baffling and frightening.

Senator Obama’s camp has released a statement saying that the debate is still on. I hope Obama wipes the floor with him.
eggwards: (Default)
A few notes today:

● First, I watched the season premier of Heroes the other day, and I think we can start a drinking game with the number of stolen plots. Sure, they say there are only 153 plots in the world, but when you can clearly see they are stealing from “The 4400”, “X-Men”, “The Sixth Sense” and every other movie where the villain is somehow related to the hero. It doesn’t feel fresh and new. Of course, reading comics for so many years makes most of the plots and characters seem kind of old.

Although they didn’t introduce many new characters, there’s too many of them out there, and they rarely work together in any meaningful way. Sure, the idea is that at the end of the story, everything comes together, but the writers seem to have a hard time with that. Here are a couple of thoughts. Kill some characters. We’re starting to get some redundancy in powers and it just muddles everything. When you do kill some of them, then let them stay dead. There’s no way the audience can feel for the danger the characters are in if everyone can easily come back to life.

Speaking of new characters, there was the one “villain” who was locked up with the others in the paper factory. He is a cute Hispanic cubby, but since he apparently has been switched out with Peter Petrelli, now that he’s escaped, we the audience only see Peter, and the cute cubby in mirrors and reflections. It’s a lazy way to not have to explain to the audience that he’s really Peter, but that could be explained in dialogue. I’d rather see the cubby.

It’s also interesting how they are spending their effects budget. Some effects look great (the freezing, the speedster’s streak) others look terrible. I know you are working on a television budget, so you need to choose carefully.

Hopefully with the extra time off, Heroes writers worked harder to put together a season-long story arc like there was with the first season. There’s some indication of this, but it is tough to see how some of the storylines work together. One last thing. Too many characters can see the future. One is OK, but you have dreamers and travelers and sometimes they see different visions. It’s confusing to the audience and it’s used as a cheap way to build a threat – much like our current administration warning about attacks that haven’t happened. Let’s limit the visions of the future on this show.

● The Emmy Awards show was terrible, but I like both Mad Men and 30 Rock. It’s rare that I like the shows that win.

● I love that to try to preserve the economy until at least a week into November the Bush Administration wants to have an unelected official have the power to distribute 700 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to banks and investment firms that couldn’t control their own businesses? No way. The Bush Administration has done terrible damage to the country grabbing powers that were not a part of the executive branch, or once had oversight by other branches of government. Congress has too many times rolled over to let them take it’s oversight power, or allowed the administration to write in restrictions to judicial oversight. Sorry, but this time we need to say no, even when the economy is tanking.

The bailout will happen, but it needs to be on terms that protects taxpayers and works to protect the government from falling into deeper debt. Mortgage lenders don’t like the idea of the government coming in and re-writing loan provisions, but it’s better to prevent foreclosure and have people pay back the loans rather than to have them just walk away. This was done in the great depression and can be done now. I hope Congress will have the guts to demand it.

I’m sure Republicans will try to block the bailout legislation if it comes in with a lot of oversight. They will say that the Democrats were just trying to grow government and put in a lot of wins for them, but the Republicans can easily use the bill to try to make political points as well by refusing it. Since Republicans like to say they are for free and open markets, they can say, oh, the bill didn’t pass because there were too many demands (like the CEO pay bit) that made it unpalatable to business, and argue that business will drive the economy if it’s left alone. Bull. These companies got into trouble and are driving the economy to ruin. I don’t want long-term oversight, or government ownership, but there has to be restrictions and accountability. I don’t think the Republicans are up to the challenge. Hopefully the Dems will be.

● I’m getting ready with Chris to go to Austin City Limits Festival (ACL) this weekend. I’m ready to get away from the calls and callers we’ve had these last two weeks. It’s been crazy as people are looking for advice, but we can only provide information and a bit of guidance. People always pick the worst time to take action with their retirement accounts, selling out of funds when they are down, and buying “hot” funds when they already are at their highpoint. It’s tough to tell them that. I also hate when we are told to reduce our lunchtime due to the high volume of calls. I’d be happier to stay later than cut my lunchtime.

● As for ACL, I don’t think there are many people we know going. I’ve heard from a couple, and of course we are excited to see Nakia ([livejournal.com profile] austinchubbylimits) take the stage at the event. It should be cooler this year, too. 90 degrees instead of 108. There’s a lot of overlap this year during the afternoon hours where two or even three good bands are on at the same time. There will be lots of choices to be made.

● Damn, I’m already wanting lunch and it doesn’t come until 2:30 today. The person who popped popcorn needs to die.
eggwards: (Default)
● 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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This week, John McCain made the stupidest move of his political career. He put Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on the national stage.

It’s not that he put an unvetted, untested young politician in the spotlight, nor is it that he put her family, unwittingly or not on the national radar. It’s that he put out there a politician that will outshine him at his own convention, and possibly for the rest of the campaign. He placed a woman on the ticket that energized the Republican base and connected with them unlike McCain who had been struggling with them since the primaries began. With one pick he once again fired up the culture wars where we seemed to be actually talking about issues…for a moment.

Set up by low expectations, Sarah Palin has come out swinging, but just like McCain there’s little substance behind the snarky attacks against the Democrats, the media and those uppity citified folks who live on the coasts. Sure, she can give a speech, but the Republicans are holding her back from talking about foreign policy, or even domestic policy. Not only is the party keeping her sequestered, but they also claim that any criticism against her is “sexist.” It’s funny how they are trying to tell us that she’s so experienced, but apparently they are afraid to let her in front of a microphone without a script.

Still, Sarah Palin represents something far, far more dangerous. She is the candidate that the Christianist base of the Republican Party has been waiting for. While having to deal with Romney and Giuliani trying to make plays for their votes, and Karl Rove devising issues to keep them in line with the party but never fully delivering, here’s a candidate that has been lifted up for their approval. While we’ve all been cynical of her appeal to Hillary voters, the true beneficiaries of this candidacy are the hard core right wing Christians who finally have one of their own.

She is the culmination of all of the years of Bush-Cheney-Rove politics. As they encouraged the attacks on culture, and tried to rally people with talk of morals and fighting back against attacks on Christmas and life and marriage, you never got the feeling that their heart was really there. You never felt like they would actually fight for those issues more than putting it on the table for the next campaign.

Instead it encouraged more and more of the true believers to seek public office, to get in there and make the changes in small towns, and become state congress people. You end up with mayors trying to ban books and state representatives telling their supporters that homosexuality is the darkest evil, right after Muslims. Slowly these people have been empowered and it was just a matter of time before what would have been something on the fringe, like the John Birch Society, took hold of a major party.

So McCain unwittingly puts one of these true believers on the ticket. Reports said he wanted Joe Leiberman, but was told by the core base of the party that it was unacceptable so he quickly pulled Palin’s name. He didn’t know that she undermined his ability to be a reformer, a government spending cutter, and a maverick. Whatever she told him originally was an opportunistic lie that’s being borne out of her record as a small time mayor and a governor of a distant state. As much as any other regular politician, she goes with whatever message she thinks will sell until she’s caught in a lie. She doesn’t prove he’s a maverick, she proves that McCain can’t make important decisions.

The danger with her is that she’s a nasty piece of work. If you got sick of the “Loyal Bushies” over the last few years, then you’ll love a mayor who asked everyone to resign just to prove their loyalty. Or one that raises taxes, signs up for a lobbyist who’s attached to Jack Abramoff, builds unnecessary buildings and puts a once solvent town into debt just to get her vision of what the town should be.

Gone is the true spending cutters. Seven years of Bush have shown us that government can be bigger and more invasive than ever and when it comes to the Christianist base, the more the better. They are happy to see more spying, if it means knowing how the neighbors are plotting against them, happy to spend more for programs that used to mean money out of their pockets, like charitable works. Why shouldn’t the government give churches money to feed the homeless so the churches can then use their money for a bigger church, or a fancy new car for the pastor? Why not build a bridge to nowhere as long as it’s the government’s money, not ours. Oh, but don’t raise our taxes.

Sarah Palin is a person who would thank Bush for the Iraq war because she feels that it’s the Lord’s will. She’s already said that a new pipeline in Alaska is also the will of God. Anything can be wrapped up as a good thing if we just add God and Patriotism since those are the things you cannot attack, cannot criticize, but you can sure use against someone else in your attacks. It just goes back to the hypocrisy of saying your family is off-limits when embarrassing truths come out, but then you parade them on stage for half of your speech. Nothing is too outrageous of a claim to make anymore.

If you want four more years of Bush, the John McCain is not your man. It’s not to say that he’s not a sell out, and won’t be beholding to all of the people in the Republican Party who have put him there, but the true heir to the Bush Legacy is Sarah Palin, and many, many people may be looking to jettison McCain and go right to her. It’s not the fact that she’s great on policy, or foreign relations or that she’s a capable leader, it’s that she’s a true believer. Sure, she has an unwed pregnant daughter, but that sin is completely redeemed by the fact that the daughter will keep the baby, and has pledged to marry the poor sap that knocked her up. In the next few weeks they will find ways to find excuses for so many other shortcomings just because she’s one of them. You could see the glee in James Dobson’s eyes when she was picks, and now he suddenly supports the ticket.

Tonight John McCain will make one of the most important speeches of his life, but most people will come away not speaking of him, but praising the fact that he brought them Sarah Palin. I heard this morning on talk radio a caller saying he was happy that McCain brought them the second coming of Ronald Regan. Wrong president, but you get the idea.

She’s the legacy of the last 30 years of the conservative revolution, the natural extension of the pandering and selling of fear tactics and setting up straw men in pursuit of power. She is the natural end of a party that has overreached, overplayed their hand, and been eaten by the people they once laughed at as they courted their votes.

There’s very little he can do tonight to help himself, he’s already overshadowed by his pick, not just from the party base that loves her, but she’s gained all of the attention from the media and the Democrats, too. Just when McCain should have had his night, he finds that he’s been passed over for the new model.
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A right-wing news site called Newsmax likes to drop in ads that they hope people will click on in order to "vote" for something. All clicking on it really does is allow them to start spamming you with a lot of bullshit email (I'm sad to say I was curious and fell for it). The emails are less entertaining than that of the AFA, when I used to be on thier list. I think the AFA kept track of how I voted in their polls and took me off the list.

Nevertheless, Newsmax usually has pics of Hillary or Obama asking "Hillary Finished?" or "Over for Obama?" I think that they are trying to get Democrat-leaning independents to come over to visit their propaganda.

The last couple of days they've features the picture below. I guess Sarah Palin is so new to the national scene it's difficult to find a good picture. Still, the picture for me looks like an advertisement for a bad sitcom.



Here's how I think the network description for the sitcom would go:

John McCain (John McCain) was having trouble keeping his business organized. When Sarah(Megan Mullally), fresh from her small Alaska town showed up at the office John thought she was sent by the temp agency. Sarah, trying to make it in the big city will do anything to help, and quickly finds herself running the office. Sarah's honest, good natured attempts to help Mr. McCain lead to comedic complications. John, finds himself attracted to her rural ways, but watch out John, this gal is packing heat!

Also starring Debbie Reynolds as Sarah's Mother, Hillary and Leslie Jordan as the closeted office queen everyone knows about, Billy, both who serve as Sarahs' foils for her good deeds. Watch the sparks fly between the mis-matched pair John and Sarah in this May-December comedy starting this fall on NBC!
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I’ve been watching a little bit of the Democratic National Convention this week. It’s not all that interesting really; many of the not-ready-for-prime-time speakers just list off a bunch of talking points with all the excitement of Ben Stein. The prime time speakers that I’ve seen snippets of have been good, but not great in their speeches. They seem afraid to really go out there, and really try to fire up the crowd, instead playing it safe, like they don’t want to get cast in the next Republican commercial (except for Dennis Kucinich who decided to go all-out).

When things are so carefully scripted, when everyone works so hard to tow the company line, then no one is actually selling anything but pabulum. When you hear people complain that there isn’t much of a difference between the two parties, it’s because of events like this that never seem to convince you of any reason to vote for anyone. The message is always we are better than the other guy, but we don’t want to go out on a limb to show you why.

Many years ago, I supported John McCain in the Republican Primaries in 2000. The man was more of a moderate, seemed to be less fire and brimstone, more fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and he wasn’t George W. Bush. W. was our state governor and except for Ann Richards I can’t think of a single governor of Texas that I would like to see as President. McCain was beaten soundly by the lies and attacks of the Karl Rove machine that eventually brought W to the White House.

The McCain of 2000 is not the McCain of 2008. The ego of John McCain is so driven to become president that he’s left his principals, his stances, and is morals at home, and embraced the Karl Rove smear at all costs style of campaigning. It’s sad when blind ambition really takes over a man, and he’s not the man he once was. I just think he sold his soul to the devil. I see the Log Cabin Republicans say, “oh, he’s just doing this to get elected” but it’s more than that. When you sell out, you then have bills to pay, and promises to keep if you do make it into office. Unlike our more hopeful gay Republicans, I don’t think John McCain would go back to who he was. Heck, he has to run again in four years.

So it’s interesting when the Democrats have been selling themselves more as “not John McCain” than as leaders themselves. You think there would be a lot to sell about Barack Obama, but the message I was seeing from Hillary is that we need to vote for the Democrat, who happens to be Barack Obama. With all you have going for you this year, why is it so hard to sell the Democratic Ticket?

I like Barack Obama, but after the primaries, my enthusiasm has waned. I’d like to see more specifics. Sure, they are there on the website, but saying that is like calling customer service and they refer you to the pamphlet. Can you really articulate just how you are going to make healthcare insurance available for all; can you tell us how you really would withdraw the troops? We get bits and pieces, but it’s still vague.

When you leave your plans vague, it allows your opponent to do the same. McCain said he wants to win the war in Iraq. Would someone please hold him accountable to two things, what is victory, and what strategies will you implement to achieve victory? We’ve gone so long without anyone getting an answer from the Bush Administration on these questions; I guess we forget to hold the guy running for his spot to the fire.

The McCain campaign seems to be solely focused on trying to paint Obama as the outsider and a celebrity, which are really two messages that are at odds with each other. The McCain camp has decided that the election will be about whether or not you like Obama, rather than trying to promote McCain’s policies. The whole thing seems to be saying that McCain would have a hard time running on his policies, and the record of his party, so as the Republicans have done for the last few years, the object is to make the other guy look out of touch, extreme, unlike the average American and unelectable.

It worked with John Kerry and it seems to be working against Barack Obama. It’s easy to make someone different when they are different from the norm, so you really need to sell yourself as something better, a man of action, and man with plans. Sadly, when it seems like it would be easy to fight back, I feel like the fight as been very weak. This week has seemed to be the McCain strategy from the other side, vote for us because we are not them.

Tonight is a big night. Will Barack Obama actually be able to draw clear differences between his policies and McCain’s? Will he be able to address his policies and give everyone a real reason to vote for him as a choice, not just a vote against the other guy? Will he really be able to deliver his vision for the country and actually tell us how he hopes to reach that vision? Tonight’s the best opportunity to sell himself to the American people, but he has to do it differently than he did in the primaries. Change is fine, but now it’s time to start defining the changes you want to bring about, and how you plan to reach those goals.

I’m all for trying to shoot down the other brand, but I want to come out of this election cycle wanting to vote for my candidate, not just to vote against the other guys. I did that with John Kerry, never liking him, but disliking the other guy more. I like Obama, but he’s definitely left me wanting a bit after defeating Hillary. When I see him sinking in the polls, it’s making me mad as I can’t fathom that people don’t see through McCain and his strategy.

I’m mad that people can’t understand the damage the last several years of Republican policies have done to this country. Then I hear people who are unsure of Obama. For some it’s belief in the emails and smears and whispered rumors about his heritage and his past, but when it comes down to it, I think many people would give him the benefit of the doubt if they could feel confident in what they were voting for. It’s different since it isn’t the choice we’ve always had between two older, white men. There is a difference this time, so there’s uncertainty. It’s time for us to know why we should vote for Barack Obama, not some vague feeling or fear, but why he himself makes the difference.

I know who I’m voting for, and I like the man, but I want to be confident about the leader, and so do many other Americans. Tonight is his best chance to get his message out, to get beyond the vagaries and the buzz words and really sell us that he’s the man. I know there will be a lot of talk about the past, and how it led up to now, and that’s fine, but I want to know about the future. Let’s talk about how Barack can lead us into the next decade. We know McCain can’t do that, it’s all about the mindset of the past, but now we need to know, how Barack will make our future.

Sell me on it.


EDIT: Not wanting to gush, but I think he nailed it tonight. Looks like he was just waiting until now to throw the hard punch. Rope-a-Dope it is.
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I'm probably writing this way too late, but system problems at work yesterday made the whole day a total bitch, and I never did get around to writing down my final Olympic thoughts, so here goes.

First, credit where credit is due, NBC did do a better job of showing all of the different sports this year - if you had cable; and you were willing to stay up into the wee hours. Badminton? Sure. Wrestling? Yes, a day after it happened, but yes. Where NBC used to show a more diverse lineup of sports in their latenight segment, this year they just placed it all on cable. There's still the bias of showing events that American's are in, but not as much as NBC Primetime.

NBC does a lot to protect it's affiliates, holding many of the big sports for primetime. This year was very odd because some events would be taking place live in the morning, Beijing time, and others would be held back from the night before. Of course everything was highly edited. It's odd when they are covering just a small group of competitors and suddenly you find that someone has taken a medal and was never covered.

Lets reduce the amount of beach volleyball. it's an awful sport and only serves as a way to get scantily clad women on TV. At least they aren't underage, but still. They barely show the Decathlon, the classic Olympic sport, won by an American even, but they show hours of people in the sand.

The second week of the games just fell flat, not only because the Michael Phelps show was over, but because the US wasn't doing so well in the running events (we did fine in the field events, but they don't focus on that), that NBC seemed a little bitchy about it. The games seemed to run out of steam after swimming and gymnastics were over.

Lastly, the closing ceremonies certainly didn't bring the excitement and the wonder that the opening ceremonies did. It didn't help that NBC tried to stretch out a 90 minute event into 3 hours with tons of flashbacks. The large tower just made the floor show look like the worlds largest showing of Chinese Acrobats at Six Flags. The fireworks still amaze, though.

London really came in and rattled the whole thing with the rock-and-roll double decker bus. Leona Lewis and Jimmy Page? Talk about a change in tenor at the ceremonies. They really livened up the ceremony, and then China couldn't really comeback because their pop-spectacular features government friendly songs sung by Jackie Chan and a group of people you never heard of. "Beijing, I Love You" is no "Whole Lotta Love."

For the 2012 games London should just load up the entire opening ceremonies with world-class pop acts, Annie Lennox, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Pet Shop Boys, Spice Girls, and whoever is hot at the time. Screw the thing of we have a billion people, just show that a small island has put out a ton of pop culture over the last 50 years or so and have that as your opening ceremony. Done.


Hey, note to the Republican convention guys, if you also thought the second week of the Olympics was too much, so will the second week of political stump speeches. People are already tired of presidential politics this year, and will be even more so next week when your giant American flag is up in St. Paul.

Otherwise, I am sunburned again. I can't seem to use the aerosol spray cans of sunscreen without missing some very large swaths. I have stripes right now.

Off to work, from what I hear the software problem we had yesterday still isn't fixed, so it should be quite a day.
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The McCain campaign suddenly came alive this week. After weeks of half-hearted speeches about domestic policy and trying to make his case for continuing to stay in Iraq, suddenly the conflict between Russia and Georgia came up and McCain and his staff knew they had an opening.

McCain already has relations with the President of Georgia and one of his staffers is a paid lobbyist for Georgia. Suddenly McCain is Georgia's best buddy and wants to take a strong stance against Russia for invading a sovereign nation. McCain actually said in a pointed speech "In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations." He said this without apparent irony.

While President Bush waffled a bit, thrown off that something big was happening while he was trying to stay on message about the Chinese and still enjoy the Beijing games, McCain decided that he was going to play John Wayne, throwing out strong rebukes and even sending in a team of advisors to the region. It's interesting to think if Obama pulled the same thing, the cries of "presumptuous" would be growing louder and louder.

I think we can all understand that Russia is making a power play. As many of the breakaway Soviet republics make moves to embrace the West and look to strengthen ties to Nato, it was just a matter of time before Russia got it's act together and started to control the actions of it's neighbors again. Russia hasn't been happy with President Bush's overtures to the Ukraine and Georgia, promising NATO protection.

Of course Russia was more than happy to play the bluff and show that the US really didn't have power or resources to back Georgia up. Of course never worry that McCain would be faced with having to deal with reality. I guess that's the good thing about not being president yet. You don't actually have to back up your threats...yet.

The fact is, the neocons in the Republican party have been struggling to find an new enemy since the fall of the Soviet Union now about twenty years ago. If you recall, before September 2001 the newly minted President Bush sent a spy plane to China to build a conflict there, but luckily, or unluckily were were allowed to go declare war on Afganistan and then make the case for Iraq making our new mortal enemy "extremist Muslims". The face of evil has been painted as Al Queda , and Iran and Saddam Hussein, with a little North Korea just for a little Asian flare.

Still, none of the conflicts seem to be black and white.

It seems that there are people who would welcome a second cold war. McCain seems to be one of them. After the ambiguity of Vietnam and the problems with current conflicts, being able to go back to a clear white hat/black hat situation in the world appeals to many. Given that the cold war goes along with a threat of nuclear conflict, it doesn't really appeal to me. After going through all my childhood with the fear that we would actually have to stop, drop and roll because of a missile exchange with the Soviets, it's not something I'd like to reprise.

All the posturing, from both our current administration and from the McCain camp seems to come with some strange compartmentalization. Somewhere there's a disconnect between the problems with our troops being stretched thin in current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the desire to start a new conflict and to face an old enemy. I know they don't want to admit that America's power has diminished, certainly diplomatically, but it's true. Figting a third conflict with a much bigger foe would be pretty disasterous at this time, and it's not a conflict that our NATO allies seem to be ready to back us up on as much of Europe receives natural gas from Russia.

Can we handle a man like McCain? How would we handle yet another president who wants to send in troops first, then ask questions later? How could he purse the conflict he's proposing to protect Georgia without having to call for a draft? President Bush and Vice President Cheney knew that the key to not have the civilian protests like we saw in the 60's and 70's was to not have the American public have to sacrifice for the war. The longer they could still use the volunteer armed forces the better, but it's clear that our men and women have been sent on far too many tours of duty and we would have to change policy if we were to open up another battle.

Are we as a country ready to take on a new cold war? Are we needing another president that shoots from the hip? I think we need to be very careful with Russia, just as we are with China. We've lost serious clout in the last 7 years and it will take time to rebuild it. While we may still be a superpower, our actions show we have difficulties with that yoke, and our status as the world's policeman is drawing serious anger from other nations. Pursuing a go it alone strategy, and refusing to take diplomatic steps to resolve conflicts has created a lot of ill will in the world.

While John McCain wants to be Teddy Roosevelt, in this realm he seems to have sold himself out to be another carrier of the Bush Doctrine, not realizing that both models are seriously outdated. McCain wants to be a president for the 20th century while we need one that lives in the 21st.

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