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