Monday, December 29, 2008

Maybe Gold isn't the Perfect Investment

Fradulent housing refi offers have disappeared from my mailbox and I just have to do something to fill the void, and I need to avoid shooting off my mouth about Israel honing the art of over-reaction as I don't know enough about that very deeply tangled situation. (Few do.)

Terri has been listening a lot to Air America and other liberal radio networks which is on AM radio on Green 960 (used to be called The Quake which is a much better name). I love it and really, really hate the ads. Even the legit ads like Laurel Langemeier's, sound like snake oil. Most of them are based on half truths and it drives me nuts. I'm forever shouting at the radio "That's NOT true!" which amuses Terri at least.

So I should spend time analyzing the ads, but it takes more time researching it than a simple fradulent refi offer that shows up in the mail, so I won't be able to do it as often.

But here goes. One thing I really hate is that they sometimes pay the announcers themselves to read the ads. These are people whose opinion I respect and I really resent that I suddenly have to carefully filter what they're saying (I'm sure they hate it too). One ad nearly all of the radio hosts has read is about Buying Gold with ITM Trading (and other companies).

The claim and implication is that gold is a great stable investment especially given that the dollar is down, the economy doing poorly, and with "geopolitical concerns" and that "some experts" claim that "gold's rise has just begun." After I'm done loudly exclaiming "WHAT rise??" I wonder just what the heck they're talking about. I've noticed that the ads change slightly every, so often just to keep the spin going.

If you bought gold in 2001 when it was under $300 an ounce, you'd be doing pretty well especially if you sold it around March of this year when it was in the high $900's. Now it's hovering in the $800's.

The trick with gold is that the prices are generally all over the place (I'll be referring a lot to the charts on the left - click to enlarge), much more so than the stock market which over the long (long) run tends to trend upward. Gold and other precious metals like silver, trend up and then correct steeply downward. If you get that wrong, it will hurt. An example (again, see the chart) is in 1976, gold was around $150/oz and if you bought it then you would have seen it go as high as $750/oz in 1980. But what if you had bought some right then (since it was clearly the thing to do). If you did - I'm so sorry. It plunged to $350 and for the next 19 (!) years has stayed between $350 - $450.

You would have been much better in the stock market even through the dot com crash and maybe even now. It's not that gold or other precious metal are a bad investment, from a diversity point of view it's fine. It's just not the (ahem) silver bullet that it's being pitched as. I personally have no idea which way gold will go. Given that the stock market is doing so horribly, it will probably trend up some, but there's been so much loss of cash that people don't have quite as much money to spend, so I really have no clue. The reason they're advertising so much is that they know that people are disenchanted with the stock market and are looking for other places to put their money. AM radio advertising is all about selling a dream which is a theme I'll be coming back to over and over. When evaluating investments it's really important to look at the long term.

Basic disclaimer, while I'm a fan of analyzing pitches, scams, and other financial lures, I'm not a certified financial expert by any means. Before investing please consult with a financial expert - one that you pay them for their time and who has nothing to sell. Remember that Free is rarely Free.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Social Significance of Shoe Throwing

I with the media would talk more about this. I'm no expert, but even I know that in the Arab world, having someone throw a shoe at you means you have been royally insulted. According to this reference, the sole of your foot is the dirtest part about you and flinging something associated with that at someone else is a grave personal attack.

The fact that no one publicly filled the president in on this is kinda sad That journalist is being hailed as a hero.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jerry Brown - My Hero

Jerry Brown, doing what I didn't think it was within his power to do, filed a lengthy brief with the court asking them to invalidate Prop 8. He doesn't even go in the historically losing direction of arguing that it's a revision and not an amendment to the constitution, but flat out says that it's not consistent with the rest of the constitution (Ref.) which is what Ive been hoping the judges would rule anyway. I'm really relieved that he has placed something that says so for the court to rule on as I don't know if judges can make up their own arguments or have to have a filed argument to rule on.

Apparently Brown is required to defend the Calif law unless he "cannot find reasonable legal grounds to do so."

The article goes on to say that witch hunter Kenneth Starr (the same) says that judges don't have an obligation to protect minorities. What planet has he been living on anyway?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama's inugaural religious bookends - a steep high road

So Obama has chosen Rick Warren to do the inaugural opening and Joseph Lowery to do the benediction. The LGBT community is angry at the choice of Warren since Warren has compared gay people to pedophiles and opposes abortion. Lowery is much more liberal and opposed Prop 8 (Ref.) It will be interesting what Lowery has to say.

Obama swears he fiercely defends LGBT rights, but that he thought it was important to reach out. I can see his talk to your enemies approach and it is brilliant but it still grates. I really wish he chose someone else though I'm sure there are no shortage of bad choices out there. But think about it. He's got Warren talking to Democrates and that way Warren can't help, but come in contact with LGBT folks and familiarity is how social change happens.

I can only hope it works and Obama doesn't start making compromises I wish he wouldn't. And I really dislike being tossed under the bus.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Enough Already, Just Loan Them the Money

The American Automakers that is.

For years I've been saying American cars suck, but it's one thing to whinge about them and quite another to torpedo the entire economy just because you think they deserve it.

This has been a series of hard lessons all the way around. First and foremost is that what people say they want and what they need are two different things. Hinging all your marketing decisions based purely on what people say they want will only work when things are going well. People say they want big cars so the Big 3 make them. Trouble is when things don't go so well with the economy, consumers change their mind in a heartbeat and after they take a reality pill, go buy that Toyota or Honda, and leave the US automakers who spent years making said big car holding the keys.

Thing is, the US Automakers are what I consider to be on Iconic industry. They're an important part of our history and culture. There is precedent for helping out such businesses. We helped out Harley Davidson many years ago with Trade Tariffs (need to find a ref for this).

Also Japan, who has no business growing rice when it is so much cheaper to get it from Thailand considers rice such an important part of their culture that they susidize growing it within the country (find the ref).

The point is that some things are considered important and it's worth helping them along. Sure Toyota and BMW who have non-union factories here may not agree, but they don't have the same amount of history.

And maybe the US Automakers should be history, but not until we find a way so they don't influence the economy quite so much. Maybe they need to be broken up into smaller companies.

And let's be fair, the US Automakers are working on more efficient cars. Yes, they're slow about it (killing the EV was a horrible mistake), but they are and they should be given a chance to make a car that sucks less.

Oh and I totally agree with Frangela on the Stephanie Miller show. Don't go begging for money in your private jet (they learned that lesson - duh). In fact, sell your freakin' jet.

Dealing with Muscle Weakness and Fatigue

I've been dealing with muscle weakness and fatigue these past few days. To the point of having to sleep off a couple of afternoons. It's really discouraging and I can't figure out if it's a weird virus or an MS attack. It kind of doesn't matter as I'm maxed out on MS treatment (until they come up with something better), unless I wanted to switch to Copaxone, but I've been doing so well on Rebif I'm loth to change.

I'm still struggling climbing at altitude - I feel like I hit a wall at 7300' - and I'm trying not to worry that this attack or whatever it is happened after a Shasta climb. (albeit a short one.)

Researching what causes muscle fatigue here:

Interesting that there is perceived and real muscle weakness.

After some digging I found this article
which talks about how a virus causes fatigue by causing inflammation of the muscle fibers which interfers with proper contractions. The author goes on to say though that it's important to not be too sedentary as
Movement builds up the proteins needed for muscle contraction. If you're barely stirring, the proteins deteriorate. "After a week spent flat on your back with the flu, you'll be weak as a kitten for days afterward," says Dr. Siegel.

I've been going to work 1/2 days for a couple of days wondering if I was doing more harm than good. The above implies it was the right choice.

It just occurs to me that if the fatigue is caused by inflammation I should be taking an anti-inflamatory - I'll try that.

Over doing it has its cost though. The proteins in the muscles link up so they can cause contractions. Over-stressing them causes the links to tear and it can take days for those to rebuild that article doesn't say where normal weight training falls. You want some break down to occur but I don't know how much.

Other things i happened across:
Glasgow parkour:

Oh and in the category of don't believe everything you see on the internet:
Hokum hokum hokum:

I did do a sit against a wall test to see if I was doing any worse.
I'm not. I was able to sit against the wall for 1 minute 30 seconds which is double the excellent level for men.

I want to climb and climb strong. This is driving me nuts. I get these brochures of beautiful places and trips that I want to go on, but if I can't keep up I can't. I'd love to be able to climb and to run and to do adventure racing or whatever else I want. I'm not giving up on this.

I want to keep working on this, but winter is coming and I'm going to have to snowshoe to get to those altitudes which is fine but that takes more time. But of course the big project this winter is learning to ski (wa hoo).

I can't figure out what to do on Saturday. common sense would say just workout easily in the gym and maybe do a little yard work, but it's way tempting to go on a hike as well. I think one way to get a handle on this is to get really good at weight training as that helps weakness (I read that somewhere - can I remember where? - of course not).

Prop 8 The Musical

I'm a little bored of Prop 8 coverage but people are coming up with some very brilliant ways of addressing the issue.

I saw this first on the front page of SFGate:
A community college in Sacramento (allegedly) managed to convince some very famous people to participate in a Prop 8 "musical" and made a short video of it. It is just stellar and it's fun picking out all the famous faces. You can see it here. (I usually like to put the text of the actual link in so you know where you're going, but it was way too long.)

And in another very insightful video, the creator uses text, historical images, and an odd choice of music to tell a very powerful story:

A couple of times I've hear religious leaders, one catholic and one mormon both local oddly enough, say that it's time we moved on (meaning we should just accept what happened and accept the will of those particular churches). Wow, what wishful thinking and I think I'm hearing an edge in their voice (though I may be putting it in there) that is really saying something like: We see the writing on the wall and are just trying to forestall the inevitable.

One thing I couldn't work into my own video was Mark Leno's speech which mentioned all the things the conservatives tried to prevent (equal rights for people of color, segratation, no mixed marriages) and he kept saying "And they lost again." His words still echo in my head and every time I hear a prop 8 proponent saying that I hear those words. "And they lost again."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No on 8 Rally Video Montage

At a No on Prop 8 Rally on Nov 9, '08 that Terri and I attended, I brought a video camera. The area around the main speakers was too crowded to get very close to, but there was a ton of other things going on. Then I noticed the amazing array of home made signs and the real story started to emerge for me. This was much more than a carefully scripted event, this was a whole group of people who felt deeply wronged by society and who were really pissed off about it.

I started video taping all the signs I ran into and wound up with 130 or so (I've lost count). All showing an amazing amount of creativity, and initiative. And they wanted to be heard. They wanted to be filmed. While filming, I nearly fell over a little girl who wanted me to see her "I Love My Moms" sign. I was totally charmed, and on the spot, I made the decision to make a finished video. (She and her sign and her mom's are in the video). I hope they get to see it. Unfortunately, I don't know who they are.

I started out by turning all the signs into 3 second still frames and that was pretty cool in and of itself, but it really needed audio. I thought about just using some music, but discarded that idea as getting the rights to any music that would have the impact I wanted would be too expensive.

Then I had one of those "Duuuuh, you idiot, use the audio of the rally, use the chants, use sound bites." So I got to comb back through the raw footage to find audio clips that helped give the impression of what it was like to be there.

Then the iMovie wrestling match began in earnest. I have a buggy, out of date, copy of iMovie 6. I didn't know it was buggy until I started working with the audio. In iMovie, you take a video clip and if you want to mess with the audio, you "extract" it so you can work with it separately. That part works great. The part that is buggy is when you copy and paste an audio clip, the clip appears to disappear, but it's actually been pasted somewhere else on the audio clip sequence (sometimes even underneath another clip) and I had to go find it. This was complete crazy making, but there wasn't time to get an updated copy from eBay and I didn't want to fork over $100.00 for a retail copy (plus I'd have to learn a whole new interface), so I coped by memorizing the audio clip name and did a lot of hunting around. I got pretty good at it, and things started to come together over a week and a half.

The cool thing about video editing especially when you're working with adding audio is that it's very reinforcing. You get immediate feedback on whether your addition worked, and every good addition seemed to make the images more compelling. iMovie allows for two audio tracks, so I could layer audio also. Pretty cool, but I think I am going to upgrade the software though I'm already really over-stressing my Mac Mini and if I got a new computer then it would come with iLife which contains iMovie et al. Funny how you can talk yourself into spending a lot of money this way. Oh and I want a better video camera too.

At some point in time, I recover my senses, and remember that my big goal for the winter is to become a really good skiier. That's going to be expensive enough and I find it ironic that I'm interested in a hobby (videography) that make pricey things like skiing look cheap. Maybe I should take up flying next. (My brother is a pilot and I've actually had a couple of lessons, but I don't love it enough to give up everything just to be able to fly.)

Anyway, last night at 1:30AM I finished the video and this morning I uploaded the video to You Tube. And here is the link:

It's only been hours and it's already having an impact. That's cool. My timing turned out to be good as there was another rally at the State Capitol today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beware of "This Way is Shorter"

(Enough of Prop 8 - let's talk about something else)

Also known as Mt. Tallac: Not Even Close
So today I drove over to Lake Tahoe in hopes of climbing Mt Tallac (local vernacular calls it Ta-LOC')

Now Terri and I have been to this trailhead a couple of winters ago, but do I remember anything about it? Of course not. Do I remember that the turn off is marked prominently? Nope. So I proceed to take every other possible access road before I ever got to the correct trailhead, but I found myself on the road right beside Fallen Leaf Lake which I see on the map takes me to a different trailhead. Wending my way down to the road's end I look around for a trail but don't see one. I'm about to give up and go back to the other one but I saw some folks working on their house so I stopped and ask if they could locate me on my Desolation Valley map (thinking I may have been at the wrong spot.) But I was at the right spot and the guy I'm talking to points out the slightly hidden trailhead and says "This way is Shorter" [than the regular way].

Intrigued I decide to give it a try. Now this is a much less used trail and it's over grown and it's rocky and I'm having to go down the trail by the lake looking for a trail that goes up the mountain. Trouble is that I don't know just how far down to go so I take a couple of E Ticket wrong turns that have me scrambling up a large pile of loose rock. During one of these forays I realize that it's (a) Thursday - I took the day off (b) I'm hiking by myself and (c) I have not seen a soul on this trail. My solution to hiking by myself is to use popular trails where there's someone around. I'm suddenly feeling rather alone and I pick my way down the wrong turn talus slope very carefully.

I'm realizing that shorter does not mean faster if you've never done it before and I'm wasting a lot of time on these wrong turns. Frustrated I sit down to think about what to do. "Use the force" comes to mind. Great the force doesn't seem to be terribly interested right now. Then I realized. "Hello? You have a GPS." "Yeah but I haven't loaded the more detailed map into it." "But you have a map." The light slowly dawns. I look more carefully at the map and it tells me that I need to go 0.7 miles before the turn off. I look at the GPS - I've gone 0.5 miles. D'Oh. Gee I think I need to go a touch further. Because of all of my previous wrong turns I needed to go a bit further, but then a trail did appear that wasn't all talus.

The trail was rough but doable up to a point. I'm past my turn around time and I've hardly gotten anywhere but I decide to go a bit further. Then the deciding factor appeared. 3 downed treed and a boulder blocked the trail (see photo) and I couldn't find where it continued even after jumping over one of the logs. Seeing how the shadows were growning I decided to bail and maybe do the main trail at a later date.

Things learned
My boots worked great at protecting my ankles and keeping my footing, though my feet are a little sore and I'm wondering if I should switch back to Spenco's rather than the Superfeet.

I used my poles with the right angle grips which I still like (even though they're wearing out) but I should use some padded bike gloves with them.

I didn't get over 7500' (only up to 6950') so I'm not sure how I'm doing on the altitude issue.
I deliberately took my time and when my breathing was getting a little heavey I stopped and drank Gatorade and ate chocolate. My legs did not fail ever and was able to lift myself up some large boulder steps.

Wrong Turn Tallus Slopes and Fallen Tree (shows gradient)

Fallen Leaf Lake:

I am Married and They Can't Take That Away

Funny how these moments catch you sometimes.

The advantage of getting married in the backyard is that it's really easy to revisit it in a very surpisingly viseral way. I found myself standing in the same place as where I said my wedding vows to Terri and as the moment sank in I realized that no matter what happens, they can't take that away from us.

Regardless of its legal status, we are married.

I need to really take that to heart when I'm feeling down about all the politics.

Supreme Court to Review Prop 8

Well what we hoped would happen is going to happen. The Supreme Court is going to review Prop 8. This also means that our own marriage will hang in the balance for 4 to 6 months which is a very odd feeling though I trust the supreme court a heck of a lot more than the electorate at this point.

Marriage is one of the most intensely personal decisions you will make in your life. And I'm having all these strangers weighing in on it. It's like if some distant second cousins who weren't invited stormed the wedding and said that they objected. The inappropriateness of it is beyond words.

Rather than cite a newspaper article here is the surprisingly readable court release (pdf format):

Here's the gist (quoting):

The court’s order, issued in the first three cases that had been filed
directly in the state’s highest court challenging the validity of Proposition
8, directed the parties to brief and argue three issues:

(1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than
an amendment to, the California Constitution?

(2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation-of-powers doctrine under
the California Constitution?

(3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on
the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of
Proposition 8?

The more general link is here:

And of course the yes on 8 people are talking about trying to recall the judges if they don't get their way. Given that 8 only narrowly passed, that's really not very likely. Though I don't see them giving up very easily at all as we make such a nice punching bag.

And that really pisses me off. It should be a crime to persecute lgbt people like this (or at least really tacky). And it's not only those of us who chose to be in the line of fire by getting married but every single lgbt person even ones who have no intention of marrying.

I am not looking forward to the next 6 months.

"In its order, the court established an expedited briefing schedule, under which briefing will
be completed in January 2009 and oral argument potentially could be held as early as March
2009. "

A decision would be within 90 days after that

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Whacking a Nest of Hornets - Nationwide Prop 8 Protests

The Prop 8 folks have whacked a hornet's nest.

Anti Prop 8 protests happened all over the country Saturday.
San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fairfield (you go!), and even little Alameda, and many more throughout the state.

But this SF Chron article here (and an earlier one here) and accompanying CBS5 video on the same page, say that there were protests in Boston (where same-sex marriage is legal), New York (where the fight is just beginning), Philadelphia, Las Vegas (which African-American comedian Wanda Sykes came out in) and FARGO, ND! (where it was literally freezing).

Let's hope this momentum continues. The Prop 8 folks are completely caught off guard as they are naively thinking this is all over. They are so wrong.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NAACP joins the fight against Prop 8, also Nationwide Protests Planned

What I missed yesterday is which minority groups were filing against Prop 8.

Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
and in a move that should go a long way towards healing:
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
(and two other groups that this article didn't name.)

And tomorrow should see the start of several nationwide rallies against Prop 8.
Details are here. It also mentions that there's a financial fallout as the identities of large donors to Yes on 8 are being circulated - even more detail is here and here. The article goes on to talk about how this could become a national movement, even as far a New York (honestly, NY really should already have same sex marriage). Wouldn't that be cool. The ultimate unintended consequence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Laramie Project - A Great Play

I went to see The Laramie Project at Alameda High School mostly to support the students (since a friend's daughter is involved in it.) What I hadn't planned on is that I learned a lot from the play. It starts with the attack and moves forward from there through the trials. The play is a summary of 100's of interviews that the playwrights made with the people of Laramie. While I find the subject very upsetting, I was also intrigued and wanted to know the ins and outs.

The acting is surprisingly good for the high school level and some of the actors very much have a future in acting. These were hard roles to portray. These were people who had there lives turned upside down by the acts of two of their members. It made them question the very integrity of their town and question their judgment of who is decent and good person. The dilemma showed though. Many kudos.

And Phelps? He was shown in the play since he and his minions and their signs were there for Shepherd's funeral, and were cleverly covered up by people dressed as angels. I realized that I was silly to worry about these kids dealing with Phelps - they'd be fine, they'd likely welcome it. However a local Alameda Police Detective Brock took a lot of time to verify that the Phelps crew has changed plans and will be going directly to Hawaii to do the noble thing () of protesting at Obama's grandmother's funeral (because she was such an in your face threatening activist? Huh? Low lifes.)

That aside - go see the play. You'll learn a lot, and have a thoughtful evening.
Alameda Little Theatre - 2200 Central Ave. at Walnut, Alameda, CA
Remaining Dates are today (Friday) and tomorrow: Nov 14-15, 7:30pm (get there around 6:45pm or 7pm). $10.

Justices ask Attorney General to respond to Prop 8 Lawsuits

After no word for a couple of days, I hear a heartbeat out of the courts. They have asked Attorney General Jerry Brown's office to reply to the lawsuits filed against Prop 8. Apparently that means that they are taking things seriously (well, duh) as opposed to refusing the case and making a lower court review it first. What they want to know from Brown is whether his office considers the cases valid for review (duh again - don't you love legal formality?). Apparently this is the first step of this process.

The article goes on to say that the justices have the right to suspend Prop 8 while its legality is being worked out. Can you imagine what a charge to the alter that's going to cause?

In another well, duh, moment, supporters of prop 8 are reporting being shocked at the intensity of the response to the yes vote. Hello? If someone took away some of your rights you'd be pissed too.

Many people I talk to say that in a few years this will work itself out. Opponents of same-sex marriage are a shrinking majority and you can bet that there are some who feel really guilty about it (of course there are going to be those who dig in as well). And we will take pains to reach out to those who will listen (an admitted mistake of the No of 8 strategy, as the polling data said the measure would fail.)

What I'm wondering is who's the next enemy? Bible stuff aside, we don't make a good enemy. I'm thinking that next up is back to illegal immigrants (now there's a dilemma for the Central Valley as their agrieconomy depends on them), or arab-appearing Muslims. It will be interesting to see what happens as more American Muslims run for political office.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Evil Phelps Group Threatens to Picket Alameda HS

Alameda is a relatively small city in the Bay Area. After some growing pains, Alameda has become very progressive and supportive of LGBT concerns to the point that they deputized the mayor (I'm sure it was her idea) and most of the city council to do same-sex weddings at city hall. That said, we're not really used to being in the limelight (ok the original anti-gay growing pains got us national attention, but that was 13 years ago).

Well Alameda High Schools decision to put on the Laramie Project has gotten Fred Phelps and Co.'s attention. Phelps is pretty much evil incarnate and get's his jollies off of picking things gay and progressive related, with the most appalling signage. Even among evangelical xian's he's pretty much a pariah. Word has it that they are planning to protest the Laramie Project at AHS on Friday. Word also has it (I refuse to put citations in for these bozos) that Phelps himself is off serving a higher purpose of protesting at Obama's Grandmother's funeral (!! - I did say he was a complete evil, agent of satan, pariah yes?), so his underlings will be there instead.

It remains to be seem whether they show at all (wouldn't be the first time they did a no show), but several people and the police and planning on putting up a buffer zone to shield the kids from this despicable vitriol. I also know they have some misinformation which I won't publish till after Friday.

I don't believe in hell but if there is one, Phelps will be there.

Alameda High puts on "The Larame Project"

My neighbor told me that her daughter is participating in Alameda High School's production of The Laramie Project. That is so extraordinary, that my brain simply didn't put it together at first. The Laramie Project is the story of Matthew Shepherd, his brutal murder (left to die on a fence in Wyo. simply because he was gay - he died after 22 hours), and the aftermath. My neighbor's daughter, is not only a cast member but is the stage manager and since I know how stressful the stage manager's job is (make sure every one in the cast is there and ready to go on at the right time, and calls every lighting cue), is to be doubly admired.

I'm going to see the play tonight, and I need to remember to bring Kleenex as the subject is deeply upsetting to me as unlike most of the cast (this is the 10 year anniversary), I remember all too well when that happened.

My neighbor is very justifiably proud of her daughter as am I.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Prop 8 followup

I am going to take a Prop 8 hiatus but will readdress it from time to time.

This just in Connecticut. just ok'd same sex marriage. Hooray! (Ref. Ref2)
People from Calif. are already talking about getting married there and coming back here to ask for it to be recognized.

And while I don't have a reference handy for it I just heard on KFOG news that some Asian rights groups are joining in the legal brief asking the court to reverse Prop 8.

Which brings up, just how terrific the Asian communities have been in there opposition to Prop 8, as opposed to the lukewarm or even hostile response of other minority communities such as the African-American one. (The Latin commuity was split - and people like Caesar Chavez's granddaughter who had us all chanting "Si si puede" at the anti-Prop 8 rally, are terrific.)

I don't think it's fair to lay blame for 8's passage on the African-American commuity as there were a ton of Anglos that voted for it, but it was indeed weird to hear about those who voted for Obama and also for Prop 8. Feelings of betrayal in the LGBT community who voted overwhelmingly for Obama, were very present yet most seem not to be giving in to open hostility, just noting the irony. And those who are a member of both communities are really feeling pinched.

A well respected polling site has a great page on Prop 8 myths here.

The LA Times talks about the legal ins and out of the court challenges and what's ahead here.

And finally, Equality California is gearing up for a 2010 initiative, though since I am firmly of the opinion that civil rights are not up for vote I really, really hope it doesn't come to that.

I'm also quite happy that the Yes folks really suck at writing legistlation. They've screwed up twice now. The first one they didn't make it a constitutional amendment, and now that they did they neglected to make it retroactive. Now they're saying that's what they "intended" - like that holds any weight - morons.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Legal Eagles Continue to Weigh in on Prop 8

This is likely to be a series of posts.

The legal experts are already starting to weigh in on Prop 8.

One third of the Calif legislators have files a friend of the court brief asking that 8 be overturned;

And long time judge LaDoris H. Cordell has stated categorically that 8 will be overturned and also is of the opinion that we won't be able to convince religious African American voters no matter what we try and that it simply has to be legislated like everything else. Cordell is an African-American lesbian and grew up in that environment and became a lawyer and a judge (now retired), so she really is an authority.

In my mind this all comes down to:

What part of Equal Protection Under the Law do you not understand?

Keith Olbermann on Prop 8

This deserves its own blog entry.

Keith Olbermann speaks out on Prop 8
His passion and eloquence are unmatchable.

I am in tears.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Law of Unintended Consequences

We went to a very encouraging, fun, raucous, noisy, peaceful anti-Prop 8 rally in Sacramento, which gave me hope that there are a lot of really pissed off people who are more that willing to fight this through. I took a lot of video of the very creative signs, which I will make a montage of. I was in particular thrilled to see Caesar Chavez's granddaughter speak as some of us were beginning to feel abandoned by other minorities (but that's another blog entry).

Ahnold has weighed in again saying he hopes the courts will overturn 8, and while I wish he were more outspoken earlier I'm thrilled that he's speaking out and bluntly. (Ref.)

But while the demonstrations show the state that we're not going to take this lying down, the real power is with the courts and that's where our attention will be pointed. Conversations with cooler, insightful heads reveal that the Yes on 8 folks may have painted themselves into a corner that they may very well regret.

Calif law dictates equal protection. The court can invalidate 8, or there's another option that I've heard someone describe as the "nuclear option." If the church is so attached to the M-word then it could just disappear entirely from the state law and we all would have civil unions. I've heard this echoed more than once (3-4 times I believe). Wow, I'm quite sure that's not what the Yes folks intended or want - the tricky part is that it will be considered the lgbt community's fault even though it was the Yes folks who started this nonsense.

I'm hoping that 8 is just overtuned - I do like being married rather that civil unionized, though I'll happily take either as long as it's exactly the same as what everyone else gets. This will still lead to lots of arguing, but years from now the dust simply has to settle.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Prop 8's Real Victims

While every lgbt person is a victim of Prop 8's passage, most of us will fight on and will be ok. Last night, it occurred to me that the real victims are young lgbt people who live in the Central Valley and other homophobic Calif places. They are currently trapped, and I'm really feeling for them.

What about the kid who was just about to come out to their parents when this mob mentality hit? What are they to do? What about in schools? The yes on h8 people claim they worry about same-sex marriage being taught in schools (a lie - unfortunately), but they are teaching their children to hate (in schools, in churches and everywhere else). In our area, it's the young people who are huge instruments for change, teaching children to hate is so wrong, and creates an environment of terror that should have gone out in the 60's. I came out in 1982 and while I had support, it was still pretty uncomfortable. Now I hear stories of it not being an issue at all. How refreshing. I want to save our young people from that pain. For them to perpetuate that pain is beyond despicable.

Terri (who came our more recently) says that this is the first time she's felt discriminated against as a minority. Though she's very resilient, that's pain I would have paid money to spare her from.

Putting the Hurt on My Obama buzz

And that just ain't right.

Prop 8 is headed back to the courts with some very powerful lawyers gunning for its defeat.

Jerry Brown undoubtedly has the weirdest and most uncomfortable position (ref).
The comfortable position is that he gets to defend my marriage (and the 18,000 other ones) as still valid since they were done during a time when they were legal.
The uncomfortable one (that I know he must just totally hate) is that he has to be the unlucky one to defend Prop 8 from the legal challenges filed by city attorneys from SF, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles, who are claiming that Prop 8 is so far reaching that it can not be a simple amendment, but instead a constitutional revision which takes 2/3 of the legislature and is far harder to obtain. Let's hope that Brown chooses to do a really bad job of defending it.

Another legal challenge is by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights who are saying the measure is inconsistent with the constitution. Making the point that if voters tried to take away freedom of speech for women and not for men that it would be certainly struck down. ACLU (who is now clearly the one to watch as Equality Calif is being quieter than I care for right now) has an excellent article on it here.

There is still the fact that votes are still being counted. I don't know if 400.000 no votes would turn up, but given the millions that voted on each side it wouldn't be unprecedented.

I'm just hoping that the courts do what they've so often done in the past. Protect a minority from the tyranny of the [very slim] majority (ACLU mentions that too - hooray.)

I really want to let this go and enjoy the fact that history was made. Back on Super Tues (scary that I've been blogging long enough to self quote) I said while I was happily angsting about Clinton vs Obama (In: This Time My Vote Counts) that "But the thing is that Obama could create a revolution Right Now." and he just very well may.

I am so hopeful right now about us being able to rebuild our place in the world to be less of a spoiled, resource hogging, do it our way, bully. Of course, expectations are going to be so high that there's bound to be disappointment and I don't envy Obama after oh three months in office. But he signed up for this and he is a born president. After 12 years of conservatives trashing our world image, I do so look forward to this.

Staying tuned. And much as I want to be done with Prop 8, I will continue to blog about the legal challenges to it as it works its way through the court system.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Legislating Hate

I'm reeling from Prop 8 maybe passing.

The Central Valley (I reeeeeeally dislike the Central Valley) has decided that their world view of equal rights for only people they like is the way it should be for the rest of us (Prop 8 failed soundly in the Bay Area). They chose to legislate their hate and claim that it's for the good of the children. Ironically, if the trends continue the way they're going, their children will likely grow up and decide that their parents were complete full of it.

What really gets me is they lied. Repeatedly. People who claim to be Christians lied because it was the only way they would win. Appalling. I do hope that karma catches up to them in either this life or what follows.

Fortunately, such a heinous initiative that strips one group of rights sounds very unconstitutional (even though it's trying to amend the constitution), Equality Calif and several city attorneys agree. More info here, and here (page down to latest news).

I have sent them email offering to help with the challenge.

Oh and the best one liner I've seen during this campaign is:
I don't recall voting on your marriage.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day: The Waiting

I have never been so emotionally involved in an election. Terri (my wife) is masochistic enough to watch the polls from day to day, and the reassuring thing is that if the polling data is correct, she figured out that unless there is massive voter disenfranchisement/fraud, there is no way that McCain can win, which I find very reassuring.

Prop 8 will be closer and this is the first time (ok second, but Prop 22 was a long time ago - and I'm too young for the Brigs amendment - which much have been just awful to go through even though it failed) that I and my rights are being put up for popular vote. That's a really weird feeling and I'm not sure how to feel about that (angry, rueful, excited, you name it). Rights are not a popularity contest, nor have they been in the past. Social progress just doesn't seem to go that way. We make ideals (equal rights for all) and then courts make us hold to those ideals (no, it's not equal rights for some). If rights were a popularity contest then think how scary some states would be. It's an easy guess that some states would still ban interracial marriage.

It's so odd. The economy is tanking, we need to rebuild our tarnished world image and you're worried that my marriage is somehow cheapening yours? If my marriage can hurt your marriage then perhaps your marriage isn't quite the bedrock that you claim it is?

My hope is that all those unpollable cellphone-only young voters are going to trounce Prop 8. On Halloween each year we're invaded by hordes of Trick or Treaters. 3 different young teenagers saw our No on 8 sign and happily said "Vote No on 8" Made me wish they could too. They will someday and our future is with them.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Today I was called a Wife

I went into Summit's palatial and brand new Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center for a mammogram. The place feels like a spa and is probably the most warm and fuzzy place on Pill Hill. But the warm and fuzziness paled compared to one moment that took my breath away.

During check in they routinely go over your record to make sure all the information is still current. The woman said "And Terri is your Significant Other?" Unconsciously looking down at my left hand I said "Well, actually we're married now." She said "Ok, let me change that to Wife." Tap, tap, tap on the keyboard while I sat there semi-stunned soaking in the moment and trying to look casual. This has never happened to me before beyond getting married.

I am married. I have a wife. I am a wife. No judgment (not that Summit ever has - they're terrific about partnered relationships). No hand wringing. No hems and haws. Nothing. Just business as usual.

I realized in this moment this is something I really want to keep and am willing to go to the mat for. When I got back, I donated more to No on 8.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Puzzling through Certified Mail

So I need to send that letter with some sort of delivery confirmation to that collection agency. I'm forever confused by the post office options so I thought I'd take this oppertunity to learn it as I really need to do this with Health Net next year anyway.

I thought you could just send something "Return Receipt" but it turns out with much looking at that Return Receipt is only an extra service of Certified Mail and there's an extra charge on top of the $2.70 that Certified Mail costs (yikes). Fortunately, my work has the Certified Mail stickers and there was someone at work who could help me affix the label properly and retain the number on the receipt that I am supposed to keep (I was just about to give up and go to the post office.) There are instructions on the label and I had figured out some of it, but there is a place on the receipt for a postmark that apparently is not necessary since the tracking number is on there.

So the steps are:
Weigh the item
Calculate the 1st class postage ( can help with this)
Add $2.70 for the Certified Mail
Affix the postage using a postal machine or your PCs printer (I wouldn't bother with stamps)
Get a Certified Mail Receipt form (either your work or the post office will have these.)
Fill out the form on the right hand side of the form (this is your receipt so it is optional)
The important part
Detach the left hand side of the form fold on the dotted line and attach it to the top of the envelope on the right hand side of the return address. The fold will be along the top of the envelope. Most of the label including the bar code will be showing on the front. Oh and peel off one of the numbers and attach it to your receipt - though I notice that number is already on this receipt so that's optional too. (Could attach it to something else I guess.) I'd have a picture but it already has been picked up.

[quote from]
Extra Services
Place labels for extra services above the delivery address and to the right of the return address, or to the left of the delivery address.

Here are some screen shots of my initial investigation to see if I could just get return receipt with out certified mail - nope.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SF Chronicle Trial Subs have strings it seems

I was bemoaning that my mailbox was absent of predatory lending housing refi offers. Seems those jokers have moved on. But another writing opportunity just appeared today. Cool (I think).

In January I bought a trial sub of the SF Chron to help a student in a college scholarship. The pitch was that all I would have to do is write "Cancel" on the bill and that would be the end of it. Well after doing exactly that (twice), the Chron is trying to bill me for "transportation costs." I'm feeling stubborn and I want them to honor their offer, so I've been refusing to pay the silly $16.92. Well today I got a letter from a collection agency. Ya-hoo let's see where this leads. Here's the letter I just wrote to them:

Ellen Clary

California Service Bureau, Inc
3050 Fite Circle #107
Sacramento CA 95827

CC: SF Chronicle Subscription Dept.

Oct 29, 2008


I received a letter from your company that the SF Chronicle has turned over a bill in the amount of $16.92 to you.

This is in regard to a trial subscription that the Chron failed to cancel at the time it was requested.

Order of events are:
1/9/08 I purchase a $15.00 trial subscription for the SF Chron from a prospective college
student in a scholarship competition the understanding is that when I receive a bill
that if I no longer wish to receive the newspaper that I should write "cancel"
on the bill and that will be the end of it.
1/17/08 That check (#1407) is cashed (see enc)
7/10/08 I receive a bill and return it with cancel written on it (see enc)
8/7/08 I receive another bill and again return it with cancel written on it (see enc)
8/28/08 I receive another bill (this one for $16.92), I return it with a note explaining that
this was a paid for trial sub. and no further money is due. (see enc.)
(I incorrectly state the amount in that note as $35.00, but that was inclusive of
another subscription.)
10/28/08 I receive your letter

While the money is not really an issue here, the principal certainly is (hence the cc to SF Chron). A student was led to believe that the trial subscriptions he was selling were obligation free, for that not to be the case is distressing.

My preference is that this "debt" be simply canceled as this can not be worth your time and I write about financial processes and consumer issues.

This will go out Return Receipt tomorrow. Hopfully they'll get the hint that I can waste enormous amonts of their time. We'll see if I get Consumer Affairs or the Better Business Bureau involved. I don't know if they can do anything to my credit report as they did not extend credit to me and I'm happy to document this silly thing to all of them as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Olympia "Mountain"

Mountain is in quotes as it's only 2968'. However if you start from 700' and do a steep climb it's an excellent training hike. Olympia Mountain is in the rear section of Mt. Diablo State Park. It's a much more obscure part of the park and finding the trailhead off Marsh Creek Rd. at all was a challenge.

Not only that, but I was able to address some up the climbing/descending issues I've been having and learned something important. I still don't really like going downhill on dirt - it's pretty dull even when I'm able to descend steep slopes safely and pain free.

I went up the less steep way as I wasn't familiar with the route so I didn't know how ridiculous the trail might get (turned out, it would have been fine.) Even the less steep way was challenging. Ascending this time I didn't push myself into anaerobic gasping but instead stayed at a ground covering but reasonable pace. When I had climbed 1100' I stopped and ate some and that helped avoid any energy depletion or crashing. Then I was able to complete the steep ascent.

My original intention was to go up to North Peak, but once I got to Olympia I realized that it was important for me to figure out how to safely descend and I wanted to do that while I still had some energy, plus I had a dinner commitment. In summer the trails/fireroads in this area are dry and gravely and the footing is treacherous for me (see photo which is looking up a hill). I have slipped and fallen many times to the point where before I found the Micro Spikes that I wouldn't hike in summer.

I had brought my Micro Spikes, and had my new Vasque boots since the Keens are not able to protect my ankles from twists on steep descents, and of course I had my trekking poles (the Black Diamond ones). And since I wasn't exhausted I also had the all important ability to pay close attention to where I was stepping, and to my body position to make sure I wasn't leaning backwards.

It all came together and worked beautifully. I was able to go down trails that I simply would not have been able to. And there were at least two times where I would have twisted an ankle but the Vasques prevented it. The trade off is that there is much less cushioning with the Vasques and my hips are telling me about it (the day after), but that is much better that a screwed up ankle.

So I did it. I have successfully addressed most of the issues that I've been having around hiking save perhaps the important at altitude one. And with all that now taken care of in my mind I've able to see more clearly the real issue. Descending on foot on dirt is really dull. Your goal is usually to climb something and the descent is just what's left over. you're usually tired so it's often the riskiest part of the climb and your head just isn't in it (which makes it more dangerous and more accident prone.)

What makes the descent more interesting? Skiing, biking, glissading, rapelling - maybe paragliding though I've never tried it. Even using snowshoes on snow makes it more fun. Dirt is well, dirt.

So this winter, I'm going to be focusing on learning to be the best skiier I can be and learning backcountry skiing as well. I'm going to be spending a lot of time at Squaw as they have lessons of all levels every hour and there's this small detail of it being an Olympic site so you know the mountain is well regarded.

I'm going to be consulting again with mountaineering trainer Courtnay Schurman of Body Results but I think instead of focusing on trying to summit Shasta I think I want her to help me train for skiing. I'm going to be up visiting my parents in Seattle where she is and I'll meet with her in person.

So this was a surprisingly instructive little training climb as it's helped my get better focused. Of course in a week this may all change but this is something I've been working out in my head for a while now. The niggling problems were bugging me and I'm glad I've come up with solutions that work for me and it's an important lesson for me that unresolved issues drive me up the wall.

I still haven't given up on summiting Shasta, but I think I want to have more skiing skills first. I will also go back to Whitney as I still haven't stood a top it (even though I've done the hardest part of the climb twice now) and that's something I'm willing to suffer a little for. But I'm going to refrain from taking on very many hard Sierra climbs on dirt as I can only tolerate a few obsessions at a time. :)

And yes I did finally find my car. The trails at the start are confusing and not as well marked as I would like.

Oh and I've sure I've done this before but I really need to rant about the Mt. Diablo trail signage. Trails are sign posted like you're driving on the freeway. They're labeled where you going to, not where you are. That's totally confusing. A hiker wants to know if they're in the right place, then the may want to know about directionals. An example is to the left, You are not on North Peak Trail. You are actually on Mt Olympia Trail (see the teeny tiny printing at the top of the sign) and you are headed in the direction of North Peak Trail and you will get there in 1.35 miles. Confusing yes?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The local UCC church fights back

In the "you started it" tradition, the local UCC church First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ (which is very open and embracing of diversity) has put up a huge No-On-8 banner and is helping its members order No-On-8 signs. I was tipped off about this as the signs started to crop up in my neighborhood and I asked about it. I was just driving by on Central to go to work which is a slightly different route than I usually take and saw the banner so went back when I had a camera.

Oh an I spoke to another member and she tells me that the two guys that put up the banner: are heterosexual.

I normally think that churches should not be involved in politics, but given that the Mormon and Catholic Churches are pretty much trying to buy yes-on-8, this seems more than appropriate. Kudos from a non-Christian.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The effect of the behavior of strangers

So I take classes at my gym, and I often see the same people all the time. Generally it's "hi how are you" typical kind of acquaintance relationship sort of thing, but sort times I see a behavior that stands out and it catches my attention. There's a woman who I see a lot who talks a lot to some of the other people in the class but will speak maybe two words to me if I ask her a question or say hello. This time she set up the bike next to me and didn't say word one which is not atypical of someone you've never seen before, but we've seen each other for more than a year, so it felt really weird.

What do I represent to her? She doesn't know me, so it's very likely nothing I've done.
I have no idea of her sexuality so I have no idea if that plays into it at all. I feel like I've walked into a play and haven't been given the lines or even the plot. Forcing the issue wouldn't accomplish anything and this is not a relationship I need at all, but not knowing still bugs me, so I write it here.

It's a good exercise for my ego to realize that I don't have to interact with every single person, and not every person wants to interact with me. Believe it or not I used to be painfully shy, so maybe I'm over compensating by wanting to talk to lots of people. I like commanding attention now and am good talking in front of people.

It's funny what buttons being deliberately ignored pushes for me. Suddenly I was back in Jr High with the popular kids paying no attention to me at all. I write this now as a way to learn to step back and not be so frustrated by it. Let people be who they want to be as long as it's not hurting anyone else.

The other button is the "lonely in a crowd" one. Where you're surrounded by people, but they're not talking. The other day I heard a description of casual carpooling where there is an unspoken rule that people in the carpool do not interact with each other. Sounds like a personal hell for me. I would be running the carpool where everyone talks and heck with conventions. (I don't really have a commute since my work is close, so I've never done it.)

My brother and sister moved out of the house while I was pretty young. I spent a lot of time by myself and it has left me permanently weird about it. I can and do spend time by myself (I often climb by myself as it's hard for me to find someone who hikes or bikes at my pace), but I can only do it for so long and then I start missing Terri, friends, and the dogs.

One reason I love dog agility is that it's so inherently social, but even starting out in that was tough as I didn't know people well. The cool thing about the sport is that you train in classes so you get to know your classmates, and for an agility trial to happen at all, they need a lot of volunteers and most of the jobs involve social interaction. It's a blast.

But I can't help but wonder if there's something I've done to offend this woman. The answer is likely that the only thing I've done is resemble some person or type to her (I can come off a bit "hard core cyclist" sometimes, but she's pretty good at RPM too so I don't know). I need to let this go. Show kindness and give her space, and not try to force anything. This is not about me.

from a brave friend in Kern County

Cool, I have other people writing my blog entries for me. This is from Celia who lives with her partner (now wife) in Kern County. As you might imagine, Kern County is not exactly a hotbed of glbt rights. It's a place I visit to go hiking/climbing in the Sierra's but I would never, ever live there. To call her brave is way understating things.

I was at the river today and in a state of painful exhaustion, I broke down and cried. All the ignorant and hateful energy behind prop8 just sent me to my knees in utter and complete agony. And, of course,Nature performed her healing magic. Some things are too personal to write and some things are meant to be shared NOW. I flashed on the time I was confronted by a group of skinheads, how I saw beyond the hate and saw instead a scared group of kids. Imagine that, kids with chains and clubs were afraid of me! I did a Peaceful Warrior breathing technique and visualized them moving along peacefully. It worked. Flash to the last time I saw my father on this earth, him hobbling on the beach with a cane. At first I was in panic as he was walking my direction( it had been several years since I last saw him)then an unexpected and amazing thought came to me"It's not your job" what? I snapped out of my panic attack. "It's not your job to hate him. It's not your job to punish him". I became invisible to him as he walked right past me and the monster I grew up with was just a little old man with a hat and cane. Later in a vision, I saw him as a scared kid putting his drunk, alcoholic father to bed and dealing with his mother who was nick named"crazy Hazel".At one time I fantasized about doing a "go to hell" dance on his grave, I now found myself leaving a "Thank You" note instead.He was a scared kid.Flash to me several years ago, attending Westmont(christian collage) and again, in sheer and utter desperation, begging to die and contemplating speeding the process along.I was trying to change my feelings about the possibility of being Gay. The church people had prayed over me to rid me of the "demon of homosexuality", and, as I was extremely uncomfortable with strangers touching me with strange energy, I found a way out. I did the best performance of my life and acted like I was "slain in the spirit", falling to the ground and babbling, which they took as "speaking in tongues". It worked. they backed off feeling certain that I was "healed and now heterosexual". Still at collage, I was in a "support" group where, among other odd things, a counselor checked in with me to make sure I was not "falling into temptation" by masturbating.(creepy!!!!!!!!!!) Other young women were in the group and we were given the names of famous men who were cute. the fact that they had to TELL us who was cute should have given us a clue that heterosexuality was not natural for us!Again, I flashed on these people. Again they were scared.I flashed on growing up with unspeakable abuse at the hands of both parents, one man, one woman, heterosexual and "christian". I flashed on being in a good therapy group and listening to men who were abused by catholic priests only to be told to be quiet. I flashed on a time when I taught teaching credential students how to detect abuse in children. A woman told me that, as I was telling my story, she flashed on a girl in her preschool, reported suspected abuse and was right. The little girl was protected, given therapy and is doing well, the perpetrator in jail. I flashed on how different that little girls life will be because of that intervention and everything I had gone through now had a purpose. Knowing that I have helped at least one child makes the struggle worth while. Flash to now, prop 8.

I confess that there have been times when I have not been the "Peaceful Warrior" but the "Pissed Off Warrior", flipping certain hand signals at "yes on 8" signs and endlessly arguing with narrow minded bigots who spout off the "evils of the homosexual lifestyle" ad nasium.To many nights I have awakened to arguing with these stupid people who just won't listen to reason. I've been sick and painfully tired. Another flash, when I was one of those condescending, holier than thou narrow minded bigots. I went to church since before conception and was trained to fear anything that was different.I was scared.My spiritual path has taken me on many adventures and I've done more soul searching than there are words to speak. I have been to "hell" and, I have been to "heaven". Many of these experiences are just to amazing to put into words so I won't go there. What I will say is that I know who I am and I AM OKAY!!!!!!!!!!My spiritual health is great and it has nothing to do with anything written in a book. So, I don't care what religious people spout off about. They are afraid.I have compassion for them. So, I am reminded to bring back the Peaceful Warrior, see beyond the hate and love those who appear to be my enamies.Flash on Wayne Dyer and Marianne Willamson talks. When I pass a "yes on 8" sign, I say "In spite of my feelings, I send you love". I feel better.

My spiritual path is my own and I know what I mean by prayer, God etc. I'm not into the bearded guy in the sky thing but I respect whatever path anyone is on as well as there being no path. I can only suggest that we ban together for the good of our world and make our part of the world a little bit better. For me, I go to nature. I am soooooooo grateful to be so close to the creek and river. Also, I'm soooooo grateful to have my theatre families in Ridgecrest and now in Bako. I can't imagine going through this without these wonderful people! And, of course, my dog Scodie who provides endless comic relief. Flash again to when "GOD" showed up in a "dream". God was a DOG and answered all my questions. I look in the eyes of dogs and I do see God. Makes perfectly good sense to me!

I love you all and I send you dignity and respect. Lets hope that everyone can send the same to us, or, at least, a majority of CA voters. I have my shields up against anything other than good energy and send out only good energy.

I have written some letters to papers to try to encourage grey matter activity. While I'm not great with the computer, I'll do my best to send them.

Take care and know that there are some good forces at work. If you need a comic relief, find a dog or watch Ellen [Degeneres]!
Love Celia

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Consider Voting Absentee

I previously wrote that I liked to vote at the polls as I liked to feel I was taking part in the process and it always annoyed me that the Absentee ballots were counted last if at all.

I heard very recently that nearly half of California voters would vote absentee, and that combined with the absurd number of initiatives that are on the ballot it makes sense. (I hate the initiative process - do I look like a legislator? is my job description Legislator? Most initiatives that are not put there by the legislature are placed there to steer around the legislature and manipulate the public. Beyond irksome.)

With a sample ballot, you can sit down in front of the computer and do some research on or other site and ponder the implications of arcane legal language even if it is summarized. Normally I would then tote that into the polls, but with so many things to vote on, I fear making a mistake and stakes are just too important in this election to screw it up, so last night I carefully transferred the information to a real ballot and mailed it in.

Note to Calif Voters. That humongous ballot weighs 1.1 oz and will cost you 59 cents to mail. I'm sure they'll take it postage due, but who wants to take that kind of chance? 11pm: THIS JUST IN - Most counties have an agreement with the post office to deliver ballots even if they are short of postage - ref.

For voters in contested states where voter disenfranchisement is rampant, voting by mail is a very effective way to sidestep the crap about all the voting machines for the polling place save one are broken and you'll have to wait for hours. Plus voting by mail means no voting machine to magically switch your Obama vote to McCain (I forget the ref - think it was on dailykos, but I'm not sure.)

However you do it, be sure to vote. My preference is you vote Democrat of course.

Cautiously hopeful.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Most Passionate No On 8 People are: Heterosexual

I've had five (now over 10) or more conversations with heterosexual (all women) friends about prop 8. And they all tell me how angry it gets them. "It's a civil right." (Meaning not up for debate at all.) They are all married or have been married or are about to get married and are so happy for my partner and I being able to get married and they are all taking the yes on 8 stuff very personally. I am so deeply touched by their passion. It's funny how you get when your relationship and orientation are not taken seriously. You get used to the institutional discrimination as fact and feel privileged to finally be allowed to get married.

And I must admit to having Eeyore moments some times in the "Oh, they're going to take it away again. Oh well." Even though I would be profoundly disappointed if 8 passed, as it means a lengthy delay while we wait for the demographics to continue shifting in our favor as they already are, so the Calif Constitution could be reamended (Calif constitution is amended and reamended all the time so, while it's a pain, there's nothing written in stone about it at all.). But I'm digressing. My point is that you get used to discrimination and you kind of expect it. I've lived in the Bay Area for 15 years and it's been so refreshing to not be treated like a second class citizen, but I'm always aware that a large part of middle American would rather see me dead or at least not there.

Heterosexuals don't feel that discrimination, yet my friends are very aware of directed at the glbt community, and since they have not had the experience of being discriminated against, it makes them really angry to see us treated in this less than human way. Where us glbt folks (I'm a monogamous bisexual actually though I don't worry about such details in the fray of prop 8) are too used to it. I need them to feel the righteous indignation that I've had beaten (not literally, fortunately) out of me.

I am profoundly grateful for our heterosexual allies. - Social Extortion is an evil, evil good idea. I am firmly in their clutches and I'm not sure what to do about it. Signing up is free, entering some of your info is free, reading other people's info is free. You can see who else has signed up. This is all cool, BUT if you try to communicate, they want money (pay to play if you will). i thought I was safe as I never tried to use the service to communicate, but instead made a note of the person and resolved to use another method to find them (i.e. Google, online phone books, ...)

But there's something I hadn't planned on. Someone who I went to school with is trying to communicate with me. Classmates will cheerfully send me the email, but as soon as I click on it I get a message (see image left) that basically says: if you want to read this email from Sue (her first name) pay up. They are evil in that they carefully tell me exactly who(first name, last name) is trying to send the mail and it's someone I knew. I can just hear the subtextual: "neener, neener, neener, gotcha." Which I believe the proper response is "Yoooou bahstards!" :)

It is someone I actually am curious about and I do want to see how she's doing. I'm likely going to give in on this, but not without some public whining about it here.

The problem with finding her using other methods is that her last name is common in that area (Google is finding me all sort of incorrect people), and if she's at all like she was in HS, she won't be very technical or have much findable presence on the internet, and she probably won't know how to find me - which isn't that hard at all. But I've been surprised before and she is using The cool thing is that at least classmates will tell me her name and if she changed it and she hasn't. She was gay when I knew her so no name change is no surprise and despite my being very used to people who question their sexuality, I can't imagine her deciding that her orientation is different, but then again she's in her 40's now and I can't imagine that either.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Obligatory No on Prop 8 Entry

The Yes on Prop 8 folks have started their deceptive advertising, so I grudging am writing about politics again.

The TV ad shows a clip of Gavin Newsom saying the [same-sex marriage] floodgates are open and you better get used to it (that's a paraphrase). That's supposed to scare us? Oh, that's right I am hardly the intended audience here given that my same-sex partner are now married. I swear if it wasn't for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda we'd be public enemy #1 in some people's eyes.

Anyway the claim is that 4 judges went against the will of the people. Er, hello, the California Legislator approved same-sex marriage twice. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed it saying that he wanted the courts to decide. And sure enough the courts did decide and he certainly if fine with it and opposes Prop 8 saying that it's a "waste of time" and that there are more important things to worry about (such as a tanking economy).

So it's not just 4 judges, by a long shot. During the time in between when Prop 22 was approved (which was a very specific prop and not constitutional amendment - and I'm not going to look it up) and now, a whole bunch of younger people have reached voting age. Many of our youth have grown up knowing non-hertero people and don't see the big deal. Granted, there is still the thriving let's beat up queers section, but there appears to be a sea change in perspective (and I can't find the excellent sfgate article discussing the phenomena).

And the real heros here are some amazing heterosexuals. Gavin Newsom of course, but also Jerry Brown, our attorney general, who changed the wording of the proposition to say that what it specifically would do: that it would eliminate the right of same sex partners to marry (ref.), as opposed to something more general and flowery about defining marriage blah blah blah.

I just read that Jerry Brown says that Prop 8 is not retroactive and that those of us who are already married will still be married. Let's hope that remains irrelevant.

Respectfully Submitted,
Your Political Football

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We Survived Getting Married in the Backyard

It really happened. We got married. And things actually worked very smoothly.

It took a lot of planning and key help from 2 friends Mark and Jan who agreed to be the wedding coordinators for the day and my sister who did the photography. And a lot of luck was involved. The weather was perfect, the only leaf blower on was way down the street (I had talked to my next door neighbors about the timing), the train that brought Terri's family over from Elk Grove was basically on time.

One unexpected thing that happened was that a cat snuck into the house because we had the back door open. Half way through the ceremony, Yoshi, the more nervous of my dogs, was in his crate and started barking furiously. Jan went in and he settled down. What I didn't realize was going on was there was some elaborate cat herding going on that involved a lot of closing and opening of doors. Thank you Jan.

We decided to have Trek our other dog be the ring bearer, and the risk was what was she going to do in that strange situation. She has an excellent recall, but I wasn't sure what to expect. She was perfect and brought the rings to us and then of course started to melt into the ground ("I want to stay with Mom") when I handed her back to Mark, but he picked her up and she was fine (she earned lots of treats for her trouble.)

After the ceremony, we then went to close by Ching Hua restaurant where we had preordered a whole bunch of appetizers and they could order whatever drink they wanted (sans coffee), which folks really liked since they didn't have to think about what to order and since they were appetizers if they didn't like one they could just wait for the next one.

Then we went back to the house for cake (a yummy dolled up chocolate mousse cake from local baker Boniere Bakery) and drinks.

It all worked and I didn't excessively cry during the ceremony and Terri and I were able to hold it together (Mike's advice of when in doubt slow down, really worked) and read our vows to each other outloud (and people loved the vows which was very touching to hear) and then repeat the traditional lines back that Mike (who was marrying us) said. I sometimes had to force myself to focus as I was marveling so much that it was all really happening.

Now to see what happens in the November election. With any luck we'll still be married, and will be planning some very large parties (since the ceremony was small). Oh and the cool thing about having the ceremony small was that you could treat them all very, very well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We really are Getting Married in the Backyard

In July, Terri suggested we get married in the backyard which set in motion much angsting and activity (documented here in painful detail). Well, the ceremony is tomorrow, and as I look at the yard I marvel at what our patch of dirt has become. It's a real backyard now. The dogs in particular love the grass (rolling in it and chewing on it) when they're not tearing it up by rough housing on it. (It's established now, but still relatively fragile as it hasn't had time to develop that Tall Fescue turf toughness yet so it's actually much more pleasant to walk around on right now.)

Plus we got a lot of flowers first as plants and today I got a whole bunch of cut ones to make flower arrangements. I've discovered that if you have any artistic eye, that flower arranging is really easy to do.

And our friends and family have been so supportive mostly emotionally, but also helping out with all sort of things (even though we're deliberately keeping it to a very small almost entirely just family ceremony - with a look to a large party come November after the election.)

Now I just have to keep my head together enough to get dressed and made up tomorrow and try to keep the dogs from going completely nuts with 8 other people in the house.




The Ex-Homecoming Queen's Has a Gun

OMG I love Julie Brown and her novelty songs especially [Everybody Run] The Homecoming Queens Has a Gun. She's on The Stephanie Miller Show this morning and it turns out she's rerecorded the song to be about Sarah Palin: The Ex-Homecoming Queen's Has a Gun (The Girl-VP has a Gun).

It is a scream. Unfortunately I can't find Julie Brown on iTunes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

GOP chooses Sarah Palin and insults all of us

I've been avoiding writing about Sarah Palin for 2 weeks now hoping it would all blow over, but it keeps getting worse, and Move On is encouraging us all to write letters to the editor. I'll just consider this my letter to the editor.

So much has been said about Palin that it's hard to be original. She keeps proving over and again that she is completely out of step with current knowledge. She still thinks Global Warming is not human caused. She still believes that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. She's anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-evolution and thinks it's fun to shoot animals purely for sport (I'm not bothering with references - I trust you can look it up).

She was chosen not because of any qualifications, but instead purely on idealogy and because she's a nice looking woman. Never mind that this royally insults every Hillary Clinton fan, but honestly Palin is who should be insulted. Instead she doesn't mind being used - if there's something in it for her. What does that make her? Radio commentator Randi Rhodes would call her a whore for that (this isn't a letter to the editor so I get to write that, but there are plenty of men who do that as well so there has to be a better (but equally judgemental term let's hope) way to say it.)

One thing that scares me about Palin is one that is just now being touched on. If someone in her administration disagrees with her, she immediately tries to fire them. That may sort of work in small government (though it backfired on her twice - one with trying to get the librarian to consider banning books and the other with Troopergate), but every private enterprise CEO who turns to politics (not that she's ever being a CEO by any stretch of any imagination) has to learn the lesson that you can't do that with elected officials, you have to learn to negociate and compromise - that's politics. This more than a lot of things really underscores how woefully unprepared she is for life in the big leagues.

Call me prejudiced, but I want my presidental candidate to be a brilliant law professor who also does social activism and who is a caring parent, not a power mad, gun toting hockey parent and PTA member who doesn't believe in evolution and plainly isn't that bright.

I just heard that Obama has shattered fundraising records for August. Yahoo! I do so want this to be a decisive, landslide victory.

A friend just sent me the link to Women Against Palin which has a great video of the various signs that were at a recent rally. My favorite is: This Insults Pitbulls.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Wedding Writing

There were two more portions of the wedding ceremony I needed to think about.
One is a special greeting that I wanted to be said by either Mike or I (haven't decided who yet).

Thank you all for coming today, both Terri and Ellen are deeply honored that you have chosen to join them in their marriage celebration. You are here in a ordinary backyard for a relatively uncomplicated wedding, but you are also taking an extraordinary part in history. This event simply could not have happened as recently as 3 1/2 months ago. They are grateful for your support and know that you will be with them regardless which way the legal and political winds blow. Thank you all very, very much.

The other is an optional reading. After going through several, briefly thought about writing something and decided that was too much work and far too presumptuous (it's more commonly a recognizable quote), I came across a great Diane Ackerman excerpt whose work I have admired before. It makes me smile. Though I did cut the quote off a line early as she talks about diatoms in the next line and I couldn't quite parse how small razor sharp little chips had to do with love and decided I didn't want me or anyone else in the audience pondering that.

from A History of Love by Diane Ackerman

“Love. What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful. It has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings. How can love’s spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable? Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilization, with taproots spreading into deep and mysterious days."

Angsting about Vows

So yesterday we met with Mike, the person who is marrying us, to go over wedding details. The difficulty was that I wanted traditional vows and Terri wanted more original ones. I wanted traditional as I've spend more than 20 years being excluded from marriage and I want what I've been denied all these years.

Fortunately, Mike (a former priest who is now happily married) was terrific in reassuring us and laying out what the structure usually is while stressing how much flexibility there is. We finally decided with his help that we can do both. Have a non-traditional vow that we read to each other and then roll straight into the traditional vows. Sounds great but now I had to come up with something to say. Aaaaaa.

Fortunately Terri was nice about letting me stress all the while saying that it wasn't supposed to be a super stressful thing and that I could choose anything. I was flipping through various ideas and none seemed right. Then it finally occurred to me that if it didn't sound right then I already knew what I wanted to hear and I should just write it down.

Was that every a "Duh, of course silly" moment. Got a new window on the computer and started typing and had it in just a few minutes. A few more minutes of adding and rearranging and it was done. Maybe I am a writer (or just a good plagiarist).

I see the magic of your smile
and feel power of your gaze
I am awed by the brilliance of your mind
and charmed by your humor
and I know the love I feel for you is also
shared by you to me.

In this and in every setting
I give myself to you whole heartedly
With no regret or hesitation
To be a part of each others lives in marriage.

[traditional vows then follow]

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Betrayed by Appetite and Metabolism

I've often been about 10 more pounds heavier than I needed to be and I've just sort of put up with it, but like many folks in their 40's, if I don't watch out, that number starts to creep upward.

So I decided that I wanted to at least lose the 10 pounds, so I would have a better margin if I got injured and couldn't exercise.

You would think that for an active person with a good diet this would not be so hard to do, but as just about anyone who's tried can tell you, it's very difficult to convince your body that yes indeed I want to burn that fat off. My body is programmed to be a certain size and it thinks it is life threatening to lose that padding, and convincing it otherwise just isn't really working.

So after trying many different (not radical - I've not really overweight) tactics, I've resorted to simply getting used to being hungry and not snacking in between meals and often not eating breakfast at all. I no longer trust my body's inclination to eat (unless I'm really, really hungry). My appetite is dialed into when I was younger and had a higher metabolism, and even with regular exercise that metabolism and appetite have not meshed. It's very difficult and not really maintainable, but it is sort of working. I'm part of the way there. Though I notice that if I give in for just a little bit the pounds go back on (though they seem to come off easier now too.)

I'm hoping to be further along on this before the holidays undo everything and I have to start over.