Thursday, November 30, 2006

More Bert Monroy

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Photoshop Seminar Attracts 750 to Broward Convention Center

Attended a Photoshop seminar today conducted by Bert Monroy, an original Photoshop "guru" and creative artist who uses Photoshop (and Illustrator) to create works of art that look like photographs, only more real ("hyperreal"?). He currently lives, works and teaches in Oakland, CA. It was amazing to behold his fluid command of some of Photoshop's most mind-bending features. He's been using Photoshop since before it was even called Photoshop.

Was good for me to get out of town (to Ft. Lauderdale) for the day and get my mind off planning for B's party this Saturday night. That has been an all-consuming enterprise these past few weeks. Plus it was good just to get away from work for a day and be stimulated by something really different. Am tired, though. It was a long session, plus I got up early (for me) to take the bus to Broward -- didn't feel like driving. The ride home took
f o r e v e r. Time to chill.

George W. Bush's Problem

He never developed an intellect that was commensurate with his family's much vaunted standing, and in his weakness let himself be shanghaied by the Christianists. Nowadays, true to form, he remains a clueless patsy for power-hungry ideologues with truly bad ideas.

Do check out the link from the Guardian. It seems this family will do anything for a buck. Not exactly what you would call "patriotic."

Here's another tidbit, from "'Dynasty of Death'--Historical Perspective on the Bush Family," by Schuyler Ebbets:

There is no historic parallel that can be drawn, nothing compares with the accomplishments of the Bush family. No dictator or tyrant can equal the suffering and destruction they have wrought on humanity, as they are not mere tyrants themselves, but the makers and breakers of tyrants, the organizers and profiteers of war and death. They are not alone and solely responsible for creating the present day military industrial complex, however since 1915 the Bush family has been directly involved in World War One and Two, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, numerous CIA secret wars, the Gulf War, and now a “Never Ending War”. The past four generations of this one family have had a hand in promoting and profiting from most of major wars that America has waged since the beginning of the industrialized age.

The nightmare for the world began in 1915, with the establishment of an unholy partnership between the U.S. Government and the ‘War Industries Board', for-runner of America's present day 'military-industrial complex'. Some of those seated on the board of directors were Samuel P. Bush, great grandfather of George W. bush, and so-called chief of Ordnance for the Small Arms and Ammunition Section, Wall Street banker Clarence Dillon, Samuel Pryor, executive committee chairman of Remington Arms, and Bernard Baruch, who, as head of the War Industries Board profited in excess of $200,000,000.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

War (Continued)

I was all for the invasion of Afghanistan -- to apprehend, and bring to justice, Osama bin Laden, who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. The Taliban government was sponsoring him. Did they plan on attacking Miami next?

The invasion of Iraq, on the other hand, was totally uncalled for. Iraq was no threat to the U.S. That much was thoroughly documented, although perhaps you wouldn't have thought so if you relied on the "mainstream media" for your information. As odious as Saddam Hussein was, given his past bad behavior, there was no compelling reason to invade Iraq. And now, having invaded Iraq and upset the apple cart (to put it mildly), we've created a new haven for the very sort of terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

The neoconservatives had been pushing for an invasion of Iraq for years, largely in the interests of Israel. (As if the U.S. has never done enough for Israel.) They just had to find a stooge like George Bush to effectuate their plans. And now, in the wake of the disaster in Iraq, the neoconservatives are repudiating Bush, knowing full well they've helped to destroy the U.S.'s reputation in the world.

Meanwhile people are dying by the thousands, including our soldiers. I would like to think there'll be a special circle in hell for the neoconservatives.

(To be continued)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lombard Street, San Francisco

Found this shot on the Internet. The street descends from Russian Hill, one of the steepest in the city. On last visit to SF, we trekked up the hill along Powell Street from Ghirardelli Square. I had to stop and rest every 10 seconds or so, it was so steep.

There are switchbacks for the cars and steps for the people. Coit Tower would be upper left atop Telegraph Hill. You can see Lombard Street ascending it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

War (Continued)

I was spending a year in Germany as a Rotary Club exchange student when I turned 19 and became eligible for the draft. I don't remember when the lottery drawing took place [UPDATE: it was in February], but I remember learning about it from a newspaper clipping my mother sent me from home. Here's how the lottery worked:

The days of the year, from 1 to 366, were written on slips of paper and the slips were placed in plastic capsules. The capsules were mixed in a shoebox and then dumped into a deep glass jar. Capsules were drawn from the jar one at a time. *

The first capsule drawn was assigned the number one, and so on. The kids having the first 50 or so numbers could pretty much count on being drafted and sent to Viet Nam. (If you were in college, you were allowed only to complete your current semester of study before reporting for enlistment.)

By the time the lottery was conducted for my birth year, I'd already made up my mind not to return to the U.S. if my draft number was low. Yet as it turned out, my number was 363 -- about as high as you could get. No chance I would be drafted. I could go home to my family in peace.

(To be continued)

* Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

War (Continued)

While President Bush was in Viet Nam this past week, he said "that the lesson of [the Viet Nam War] was that the U.S. needs to stay in Iraq and 'win' this time." * I can only wonder what his Vietnamese hosts thought about that. The fact that he said it while visiting Viet Nam speaks volumes about how fundamentally thoughtless, how clueless, how reckless in his judgment he is. This self-proclaimed "war president" is a buffoon. It would be funny if people weren't dying.

Tragically, the lesson of Viet Nam fell on deaf ears. You don't send soldiers to die in a quagmire. And in Bush's case, it's a quagmire of his own making. I would like to think, riffing on Christian mythology, there'll be special circle in hell for George W. Bush.

(To be continued)

*E & P

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


You get to be skeptical about war when you're potential cannon fodder. (At least I did.) I literally grew up with the Viet Nam War -- that's how long it lasted. And the older I got, the closer I came to being drafted.

I don't recall ever knowing anyone who served in the Viet Nam War, much less anyone who was killed in it (and 57,690 U.S. soldiers ended up dying). The war was not being fought by people from Coral Gables. The kids in Coral Gables went to college and got deferments from the draft. When those deferments were up, they went to grad school and got more deferments. That was my plan, too. While I didn't even have a high school education (yet), I figured it would be smart not to get involved in that never-ending conflict -- certainly my untimely death was not going to change things. I was acquainted with the Domino Theory, but I didn't care. The politicians in Washington could have their war without me.

As I approached the age for being drafted (19), the lottery was in place.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

"History of Sex"

Watched it tonite on The History Channel. I've always been fascinated about Chinese foot-binding, which the series addresses. Amazing to what lengths people will go to be fashionable and sexy. (Reminds me a bit of "Dr. 90102." )

Foot-binding went on for centuries and basically hobbled the woman.

From among many articles out there (reference notes omitted):

"The process of foot binding started for the young girls anywhere from the age of four to six. It was done so early in her life so that the arch did not have much time to develop. The mother . . . was the one to bind the feet, and usually started the process late in the fall or winter, so the foot would be numb and the pain would not be as severe. The daughters' feet would first be soaked in warm water or animal blood and herbs. The special potion that was used for this caused any dead flesh to fall off. She would have her toe nails cut as short as possible therefore not allowing them to grow into the foot. After she received a foot massage, the four smallest toes on each foot were broken. This was not even the worst of the pain. The mother soaked silk or cotton bandages in the same liquid the girl's feet were soaked in. The bandages, which were ten feet long and two inches wide, were wrapped around the smallest toes and pulled tightly to the heel. Every two days, the binding was removed and rebound. This part of the process went on for two years. By this time her feet were three to four inches long. To assure the feet staying small, the ritual continued for at least ten more years."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

News Flash: San Francisco is Gayest U.S. City

Doh! Who'da thunk it?! From Advocate Online:

A study that shows the percentage of people in the nation's largest cities identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual lists San Francisco on top with 15.4%, with Seattle coming in second with 12.9%. Atlanta was third with 12.8%, and Minneapolis fourth with 12.5%. Four of the top 10 cities were in California, while all but Boston and Atlanta were west of the Mississippi River.

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, used census and other federal information to estimate the numbers.

The census data on same-sex couple households showed that between 2000 and 2005 the number reported increased by 30%. New Hampshire had the largest jump in same-sex couples, with 106% over the five years studied, with heartland states like Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and Iowa also showing substantially increased numbers.

The findings do not show a sharp increase in the number of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in general. Instead, the study suggests, people are more willing to disclose their sexual orientation in government surveys.

More facts from Wikipedia:

San Francisco is a minority-majority city as non-Hispanic Whites make up less than 44% of the population. Asian Americans, principally Chinese, comprise nearly 31% of the population. Hispanics of any race make up just over 14% of the population. At less than 8% of the population, San Francisco has a lower concentration of African Americans than the United States as a whole. Few of San Francisco's residents have lived there their whole lives. Only 35% of its residents were born in California; 39% were born outside the United States.

San Francisco has the highest percentage of same-sex households of any American county, with the Bay Area having a higher concentration than any other metropolitan area. Gay men outnumber lesbians; it has been estimated that one in five males over the age of 15 is gay.

(The "City and County of San Francisco" occupies the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula and measures approximately 7 by 7 miles, with a population of 739,426. By comparison, the City of Miami is slightly smaller in land (i.e., not including water) area and contains an estimated 379,724 inhabitants. With five boroughs (or counties), New York City has a population of over 8 million within an area of 321 square miles, making it the most densely populated major city in North America (with Manhattan being the most densely populated county in the U.S.). San Francisco is the second most densely populated major city in the U.S. [mostly from Wikipedia] [photo of Coit Tower courtesy of me])

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Belly Fat" More Than "Unsightly"

Caught this story on CBS News tonite, "Slowing Down Men's Biological Clocks."

"A lot of people think as they get older that there is erectile dysfunction. But there's more than just that," [Dr. Harry] Fisch says. "There's excessive weight gain, tiredness."

One of the factors determining the pace of the ticking is testosterone.

"Testosterone is the major male hormone," says Dr. Peter Schlegel of Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York.

That hormone helps regulate mood, sex drive, fertility and muscle mass. And over time, it drops — at the rate of about one percent per year after age 40.

After age 60, roughly 20 percent of men are testosterone-deficient.

"One of the problems that occurs as men get older is they convert more testosterone to female hormones or estrogens," Schlegel says.

That's right. The structure of testosterone is remarkably similar to the structure of estrogen. With just one enzyme, the body can convert this male hormone into a female hormone — and body fat speeds up the process. So a bigger belly may mean lower testosterone.

* * *

"The obvious answer [to how to keep testosterone levels normal, naturally] is that size really does matter — that is, the size of the belly," Fisch said. "The easiest thing you can do to keep your biological clock from ticking too fast is losing the weight around the belly."

Note to me: Watch belly!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Midterm Elections

I'm still a bit shell-shocked, but now that the stinking haze of battle has lifted, the view from the foxhole looks hopeful.

As much as I try to brace myself against the onslaught of Republican gay-bashing that always happens around election time, I can't help but take it personally. Gays are a threat to no one but themselves, i.e., when they hide in the closet and cowardly suck up to their oppressors: the Republicans who hate them and would just as soon they didn't exist. (I learned that lesson during the "Silence = Death" era of Ronald Reagan, and things haven't changed much since then, if not in some respects gotten worse.) I have no special place in my heart for self-loathing, Republican gays. As I've watched Rep. Mark Foley and the Rev. Ted Haggard crash and burn, I'm glad to see they're finally starting to get their comeuppance. I look forward to more of these outings. Those clandestine forays out of the closet can get you into a heap of trouble, especially if you're a professional gay-basher by day. "Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . ."

And, on that topic, here's an interesting tidbit from The Jewish Week via Americablog:

Then, as if things could not get worse, there was the disgrace of [religious right leader Rev. Louis] Sheldon’s own friend and colleague, Rev. Ted Haggard, the Colorado mega-church leader and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an even bigger pillar of Republican support on the Christian right. Sheldon disclosed that he and “a lot” of others knew about Haggard’s homosexuality “for awhile ... but we weren’t sure just how to deal with it.”
Months before a male prostitute publicly revealed Haggard’s secret relationship with him, and the reverend’s drug use as well, “Ted and I had a discussion,” explained Sheldon, who said Haggard gave him a telltale signal then: “He said homosexuality is genetic. I said, no it isn’t. But I just knew he was covering up. They need to say that.”
Yeah, if it were ever to come out that homosexuality has nothing to do with Satan, these guys would be out of a job. (But wait. Isn't that what genetic researchers have been saying of late????)

The last I read, Haggard will be undergoing a spiritual "restoration."

"I see success approximately 50 percent of the time," said H.B. London, vice president for church and clergy at Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian ministry in Colorado Springs. "Guys just wear out and they can no longer subject themselves to the process."

Those who fail "end up selling cars or shoes or something, and being miserable and angry the rest of their lives," London said.

* * *

"I'm sure there will be those who lay their hands on Pastor Haggard as an act of faith, calling on the act of God to restore and heal," he said. "The prayer can be therapeutic, the laying on of hands can be ceremonial."

Harrumph. The process Haggard has subjected himself to can take five years. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So it appears America has regained its senses. I must say I never lost mine. Then again, I tend to watch the Republicans closely, since so much of what they say and do (or, in some cases, don't say and don't do) can affect the lives (or bring about the deaths) of gays. And mostly they're against us. I have to forgive my fellow Americans for not being quite so vigilant, but maybe they should have seen it coming. The current Republican administration rises to power under a cloud, against the will of the voters. Rather than humble himself, George Bush believes that he, like Moses, has been sent by God to lead the people. And it only goes downhill from there. Need I go on...

At last we have some checks against this self-styled divine rule of kings.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On an entirely different note, made a great batch of lasagne today. Started last nite, making the sauce.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Playing For The Long Term"

Read this post from "The Left Coaster".

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Nite - Who Can Sleep?!

Don't mean to sound greedy, but hope to wake up tomorrow to hear the Dems have won (without resorting to dirty tricks, mind you) control of both houses of Congress. Right now, Senate races in Virginia, Missouri and Montana are too close to call, but Dems are leading and they need to win all three to take control of the Senate. It's already a given that they'll take over the House. God bless Nancy Pelosi from the great city of San Francisco -- our new House leader!

Busy day: voting, work, doctor's appointment, election party. Tired!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What You Won't See in "Marie Antoinette"

"The perfumer was shocked by his first visit to the palace for some of the reasons it must also have shocked Marie Antoinette, who had grown up in a court and a family where impeccable hygiene was an article of faith. Not only did courtiers at Versailles look embalmed behind their masks of white powder and rouge but the many who bathed only once a year smelled like corpses. The filthy halls and courtyards stank of the excrement from humans and pets; dead cats floated in stagnant water; and a butcher plied his trade—gutting and roasting pigs—at the entrance to the ministers’ wing."

--JUDITH THURMAN, "DRESSED FOR EXCESS; Marie Antoinette, out of the closet," The New Yorker, Sept. 25, 2006

(In case you're interested, there's a bunch of Marie Antoinette portraits here. And although Halloween's over, some of you might be interested in this. There's always next year!)

Watch a Great Video


from Tristero at Hullabaloo

After all, no matter how sensationalized the reports and how deep the sin, it is Christ – not Ted Haggard – who is the head of this Church. [from an editorial in The Christian Post]

If that is so, that "Christ is the head of this Church," then Christ has just sent his Church - through the travails of Ted Haggard - an unequivocal message to stop bashing and obsessing over gays. And stop forcing them to hide in closets.

Since Haggard before his fall was consumed with making marriage for certain Americans constitutionally illegal, Christ now is telling evangelicals to behave with mercy and grace towards gays, to stop obsessing over the gender of two people who love each other, but to accept them, to love them.

And if I were a member of "this Church," I'd very much attend to this message Christ has sent our way.

[Read more at Hullabaloo]

Quiet Day at Home

So glad last week is over. Yesterday was a pisser at work.

Last night I made chicken and dumplings for today's lunch. B. loved it. He's off at work now. I also served the kale, which B. refused to eat. He likes the collards, though. Right now I'm making some black-eyed peas with smoked ham hocks.

Last night B. brought home some beautiful orchids, which I put in a water pitcher (q.v.).

I had planned on going to the gym after yesterday's nap, but I didn't wake up till 9:30. I'd set the alarm for 8:45 but the time was on a.m., not p.m. I considered this an "Act of God" and headed off to the store. I really do like going to the gym on Friday nights, however, since the place is practically empty (which is not to say that I like going to the gym).

Will amuse myself a bit further online and then go take a nap. Looks like a storm is brewing outside.

Windy Out

The grey horizontal stripe in the middle of the picture is the roof of the indoor marina next door. Above it to the left, Arch Creek, with Bal Harbour in the distance. In the foreground is the pool deck.

Bougainvillea Down

The wind has been wreaking havoc with the bougainvilleas. (That's why we went out and bought the plastic pots.)

Quote of the Day

"If I wanted money, I would have blackmailed him," Jones said. Evangelicals across America probably wish he had.

--Lauren Sandler, Salon's War Room, quoting homosexual escort Mike Jones

Friday, November 03, 2006

Thursday Nite

One more day till the weekend. Yippee!

This morning, as I was standing at the corner getting ready to cross the street to my bus stop, I noticed something crunching beneath my shoes. I looked down and it was a cigar, or cigars, burned at the tips, arranged in an arc at the edge of the sidewalk. In the grass beyond lay a red and black cloth upon which had been arranged a little tableau of burning red and black candles, sliced fruit, cowrie shells, and what not. It was really quite attractive. Had kind of a gay sensibility to it. B. just told me that today was el dia de los muertos (the Day of the Dead). So we had a little voodoo offering going on at the intersection. That was a first.

Tonite I made kale. I'd never made it before (or eaten it, as far as I know). I must say, I prefer collard greens but they didn't have any at the store.

Going to go watch "Queer as Folk" on Logo. Nite!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Quiet Night (Continued)

(Eating some of that sauerbraten right now, cold. And finishing off the ginger snaps.)

Since I moved in here over 4 years ago, I'd never had a trick-or-treater knock on my door. (The first year, I bought candy.) Last night I had a bunch of them but no candy, so I put ginger snaps in plastic bags and handed them out. Plus B. had a few snack cakes lying around.

Back to the other topic. Nowadays the Republicans will do anything -- anything, no matter how vile and depraved -- to win elections and hold power. It's all about winning -- and playing a dirty game. Since most Americans are basically Democratic in their thinking, the only way Republicans can win is by spreading lies and distortions about the opposition, lying about their own agenda (since the voters otherwise wouldn't approve, e.g., starting needless wars and privatizing everything to enrich themselves and their cronies to the detriment and at the expense of the public), scaring the voters, and subverting the democratic process by tampering with elections. (And of course the Supreme Court helped in one instance.)

As much as today's Republicans lack in principles and scruples, they also lack in ideas. And the mantle of morality in which they cloak themselves is but a thin veil for the hatred and hypocrisy that in essence define them. I just hope the voters will stop being fooled. And we've got to get rid of those paperless voting machines, too.

Time to chill.

Quiet Night at Home

(Hmmmm. I began to type this title and it popped up. I must have used it in the former blog.)

I was going to go to the gym tonite but decided to stay home. B. is at work but has tomorrow night off. It's been hectic around here and also at work. I'm tired. Can make up the gym visit. I haven't been on the blog since Saturday.

Last night I came home and began finishing off a sauerbraten that had been marinating since last Thursday night. I hadn't made this dish in a while. I came to love it years ago while I was an exchange student in Germany. Before then, I don't believe I'd ever had it. At least in the region of Germany where I spent most of the year (Westphalia), this dish was made for special occasions -- I think I first had it at Christmas dinner.

I had run out of juniper berries (for the marinade) a while back and, as expected, the local Publix didn't have them. Rather than make an almost impossible mid-week run to Laurenzo's or Epicure Market, I decided to go with pickling spice, as called for in a recipe from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook. (I'd also gathered up a few recipes from the Web to consult.) The pickling spice did a serviceable job, but I prefer the flavor imparted by the juniper berries and will stick to using those from now on.

Yesterday I also prepared a sauteed cabbage side dish from The Joy of Cooking, along with potato dumplings -- from a box. Both turned out excellent. I'd been afraid to subject finicky B. to the traditional German sweet-and-sour cabbage (which I love) and go with the sauteed cabbage, since I'd made it before and he liked it. This is a rather simple affair -- a grated head of cabbage sauteed in bacon drippings with onion or garlic (I used both) and then baked in the oven with a cup of sour cream. (I also drizzled some vinegar in it.) The last thing I made was the gravy from the meat marinade, thickening it with the usual ginger snaps. Came out great but everything took several hours, including cleaning up the mess in the kitchen. Hence, I'm taking the night off.

Changing the subject. What about all the flap over John Kerry's maliciously misconstrued joke! I'd like to see George Bush come out and apologize for causing the deaths of 2,800 U.S. soldiers and who knows how many Iraqi citizens. (More anon -- have to run to the store.)