Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From My File Cabinet 1

I would like to do a series of posts "From My File Cabinet" as I go through old papers and clean out stuff I've been keeping for years, most of which is pretty uninspired.  Not to say that everything I post will be inspired, but for what it's worth:

Letter to State Legislator, 2003 (before Civil Unions and Same-Gender marriage)

I was born in 1948.  I grew up Catholic.  Everything was a sin.  You get the picture.  While my peers were dating and courting and marrying, I was struggling.  Thank God, I won the struggle after 35 years, went through my "gay adolescence", dated, courted and now have a kind, loving and wonderful helpmate, companion and partner.

We have been together for 15 years.  We own a house. We pay taxes.  We donate to charity. We go to Home Depot.  We eat out.  We go on vacation.  We vote.

We have families who depend on us from time to time...taking dad to the doctor, to the hospital, making funeral arrangements.  Getting mom packed and moved to Florida.  We have nieces and nephews,  brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles.

Sometimes we need to go to the doctor too.  We each have our own medical insurance.  My partner is self-employed and his health insurance company has been bought out by another company.  He may lose his insurance.  I called my insurance company because the rate schedule they gave me gives prices for "Single Male", "Single Female", "Two Person" and "Family".  So I called to see if he could be added under the "Two Person" category.  I was told, "No, that's only for married couples."

Let me understand this.  If, in your imagination, I got married to an opposite-sex partner today, my opposite-sex partner could get health insurance under my policy immediately.  But my real, same-sex partner of 15 years and a shared mortgage and with powers of attorney is not entitled to get health insurance as one of two persons in a "Two Person" family.

That is just one privilege that is taken for granted by "married" couples and extended as if it were a constitutional right. 

So we will seek insurance elsewhere.  We are used to it.  I mean we really are.  We are used to having to deal with discriminatory laws and policies.  We find ways.  We somehow manage to get by.  I takes a lot of effort.  It takes doing homework and learning the legal ins and outs of what others take for granted.

We sometimes talk about what would happen should one of us die and leave the other with funeral expenses and a mortgage.  Mom was married.  She collects her dead husband's Social Security.  Neither of us can collect our partner's Social Security.  It's just another reality we deal with.

We don't want to ruffle the skirts of the Reverend Monsignor or the feathers in the cap of the Grand Knight of Columbus.  We don't want them to change the Church (God forbid!).  But we do want a civil, legal recognition of our family as a unit of shared lives, assets, responsibilities and privileges.  It's really not a big deal...kind of like a corporation or small business.  Can't you lawmakers just get past the sex thing?  That's not what it's all about.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gay Popcorn Movie 3 - Netflix Pick - Saint of 9/11

Last evening, after some of the company left, Leon, my sister and I watched Saint of 9/11 on Netflix.  I knew Father Mychal Judge was a gay man and I had this documentary in the queue for some time.  Last evening seemed like a good time to view it and I wanted my sister to see it too.

The documentary was quite moving and, despite the limited available historical footage, this film presented a snapshot of a courageous and loving Franciscan Friar who, as a chaplain to the New York Fire Department, was killed in the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001.

The film had me shedding a few quiet tears at several points, especially when it documented Fr. Mychal's service to persons with AIDS and to the gay community and the expulsion of the Dignity Community from Church buildings during the "reign" of John Paul II, under the influence of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI.

This historical moment was one shared in many communities across America, including Hartford, Connecticut.  The edict of October 1, 1986 and is aftermath was, for me, the fatal blow, the final insult, the ultimate abuse, that pushed me out the door of the church (and soured my taste for any religions). (See other posts - Here)

For Father Mychal, it was just another silly letter from Rome to get around.

Father Mychal embodied what I always believed the Catholic Church stood for, what I was taught it was about by the good Sisters of Mercy: humility and loving service to the poor, the sick, the downtrodden, the marginal.

Father Mychal was living the "aggiornamento" of Pope John XXIII, another man of holiness and humility whose memory the current Church hierarchy wishes would just go away.

In my opinion, it is truly heart-wrenching to consider that had Father Mychal lived and continued to serve authentically, he likely would have been "silenced" or excommunicated by now by the current regime.

It is also disturbing to read the few hateful, anti-gay "reviews" on Netflix.  Compare Father Mychal Judge with that so-called pastor of that so-called Baptist church in Topeka.  They are not even in the same universe.

You can watch Saint of 9/11 streaming on Netflix, or in 8 parts on YouTube.  Here is part 1:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taking a Break From the Political News

Getting ready for the Turkey Day at our house this year. My favorite of holidays: good food; church, gifts, optional.  And we get the leftovers!

Check out Dinner's Ready for the details.

The Stuffing Is Ready
And The Rolls Too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Michelle Booed at Nascar

This is old news already and I won't post the video, but apparently Michelle was booed by a large section of the Nascar crowd in Florida.  

It is evident that hatred, much of it racist, for the President and Mrs. Obama is out there and people, even "genteel" southerners have lost their sense of propriety and feel free to cross the lines of civility.

Comments made by news/video feed readers and watchers reinforce this, and, although some "justify" the booing based solely on the President's disapproval record, their hatred and racism is still evident.

To add insult to injury, Rush Lamebrain defended the boo-ers, calling Michelle "uppity" among other things.   I couldn't even get through the entire clip because the sound of his voice makes my skin crawl.  I don't think even Dante could have conceived of a level of Hell low enough for him.

Sometimes I really get the sense that there are two species of humans on this earth, and we have been under the delusion that we are all one.  Either that or, as eminent physicists have theorized, we are trapped in  some nightmarish "parallel universe".

Either way, this sucks.

morgueFile Free License

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remember Kent State

We are entering an era of mass protest reminiscent of the 60's and 70's. Judging from this video, not much has changed except they use pepper spray instead of bullets, but this can change too.  So what happened to to the right to peaceably assemble, the right of free speech.  The unrest is international and is focused on the economic crisis but is really about the deeper issues of justice and equality.

The Super Failure Committee could not have done other than what it did. I believe it is too late to stop the train and history is playing out here and abroad and will play out until some degree of justice is achieved. Cops spraying non-violent protesters like they were roaches. There will be some ugly times ahead. God help us all.

Congress and "Super" Committee are Laughable

Three New Vegetables: Pepperoni/ Cheese;
Grilled Chicken/Asparagus; Eggplant/Sausage
Laughable if it weren't for the fact that they are not governing this nation or even making an effort to solve the problems we are all facing.

"Super" Committee - what a pretentious title for a bunch of Super Idiots.  We all knew the outcome of this Committee would be ZERO, ZILCH, NADA, NOTHING.

Meanwhile, their colleagues were able to decide one major issue over in the Halls of Congress:  we can all rest easier now, knowing the official status of PIZZA is a VEGETABLE.  What's next?  Chewing tobacco?

What makes the pizza story even more disturbing is that it was once again Congress paying homage to Big Business and corporation lobbyists...the frozen pizza and tomato paste industry.

Note to members of Congress: I guess if you can't deal with the real important issues that we elected you to deal with, you can waste your time and our taxpayer money (yes, we still pay your salary and generous health benefits) discussing trivia.  Grow up and serve this country like intelligent and reasonable men and women.  And to the Dems: Senators and Representatives - you're a disgrace. You discuss whether pizza is a vegetable while allowing Republicans to hold our country hostage to partisan ideology while more people in the USA are unemployed, lack health insurance and are on food assistance than ever.

Congress be damned, my homemade pizza is still made from bread dough!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One Senior Voice of The 99% - Perhaps

Unknown Attribution
This Email has been making the rounds and expresses the "fed-up" attitude of many of us.
But a check on (and some of their additional Links) while not refuting the sentiment and the the basis for it, is also very interesting.

Link especially the interview with Alan Simpson, Senator from Wyoming , Co-Chair of Obama's deficit commission, who calls this [senior citizens] the Greediest Generation as he compared "Social Security" to a Milk Cow with 310 million teats.

Here's a response in a letter from (Fill in the blank) in Montana ... I think s/he is a little ticked off! S/he also tells it like it is!

"Hey Alan, let's get a few things straight..

1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole for FIFTY YEARS.

2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63).

3 My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero ambition losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would have made Bernie Madoff proud..

4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and your ilk pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age 67. NOW, you and your shill commission is proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN.

5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now you morons propose to change the rules of the game. Why? Because you idiots mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal money from Medicare to pay the bills.

6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you incompetent bastards spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off YOUR debt.

To add insult to injury, you label us "greedy" for calling "bullshit" on your incompetence. Well, Captain Bullshit, I have a few questions for YOU.

1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?

2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?

3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?

4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or, as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?

It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators called Congress who are the "greedy" ones. It is you and your fellow nutcases who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers. And for what? Votes. That's right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it.

And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a bitch..

Be sure to read the Comment Section for this post, also.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Last Facebook Holdout

Am I the last person left to sign up on Facebook?

I have resisted the pressure to join for a number of reasons.

From the start I was repulsed by the term "Facebook".  I can't say exactly why, but perhaps it reminds me too much of the FBI's Most Wanted posters; or a catalogue of masks; or a hall of mirrors; or a dusty yearbook.

All scary images.

As the social network phenomena progressed, the nightmares of harassment, invasion of privacy and worse that made the news gave me pause.

But what really irked me was when someone "invited" me to view their photo album on Facebook and I linked on, only to find that I needed to join Facebook - that is open an account with my personal information, and yet another username and password.

Now,  anyone can view blogger - you don't need to sign up or join anything.

Lately, Facebook has become so ubiquitous that it seems you can't do anything without it.  The local TV station holds a daily give-away that requires you to "LIKE" them on Facebook for a chance to win.  Non-profits sign up to win grants and cash by accumulating "votes" on Facebook.

New businesses and community groups all want you to connect on Facebook.  What ever happened to a simple Web Site?

It seems that all communication is now through Facebook.  What ever happened to simple Email?

From what I've seen of Facebook on other's accounts it is a confusing, irritating mess of drivel.  OK, so a lot of blogging is drivel too, but again, you don't need to be here in order to support your favorite non-profit or join some nebulous network of people you don't know in order to read my drivel.

People seem to have to announce their every activity and "LIKE" this or that, from the local cafe to their friend's new hair style or the party that all their kool friends were at last night.  There is definitely an aire of snobbery to Facebook - or at least that's my impression.

In general, the whole Facebook thing strikes me as juvenile.  Like school kids in the cafeteria.  Perhaps it is a generational divide.

I really would like to support Connecticut Labrador Rescue, Inc. which is where our dog Benni came from, but I am still resistant to join Facebook in order to do so.

My greatest fear of Facebook is that, like the Borg on StarTrek:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Can It Be "Indian Summer" ?

As I jokingly commented during the freak October snow storm, "we'll probably have Indian Summer next week."

Well sure enough, it was pretty close to 70 degrees - practically a beach day (with a few patches of snow still melting here and there).

I always found Indian Summer to be a real treat - one last burst of glorious weather before the dreaded foul skies and windy days of November.  I do hope it lasts a while.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Turn Off Your Breaker For A Week

Some thoughts on being off the power grid for seven days:

There are folks here who have been without electricity for more than a week and who may not have their power restored until Wednesday.  It is difficult to convey the degree to which being depraved of electricity effects one's life.  So much time and effort is consumed substituting available resources for those that are suddenly unavailable.

Hundreds of thousands of people experienced extended "survival mode", perhaps for the first time in their lives.

The priorities came down to
1. Staying warm (during an unusually cold late October and early November nighttime temperatures in the 20's)
2. Having drinking water (if one depends on electric powered well pump for water)
3. Having water to flush toilets (if there is no running water)
4. Obtaining food when many grocery stores were closed for many days
5. Obtaining medications when many pharmacies were also closed
6. Preserving perishable food without refrigeration (plenty of snow was available)
7. Cooking, for those wholly dependent on electricity
8. Obtaining gasoline for generators and transportation with so many gas stations closed
9. Buying and selling goods and carrying on civic and business activities
10. Communication through telephone and electronic devices - TV, internet, etc.

Depending on their level of preparedness and common sense, some people are/were better off than others.  I find it difficult to believe that there were people who would not take advantage of the snow and outdoor temperatures to keep food cold or use melted snow to flush toilets.  There were others who had access to a generator and used it to run a sump pump in the basement but didn't consider plugging in an electric heater.  Others who may have had a wood stove, but failed to buy, gather or ask for fire wood.  Persons with a whole house generator who had failed to have a newly installed furnace connected.

Then there were the tragic few, actually quite a few, who died needlessly from carbon monoxide from gas or charcoal grills in  the house or from generators in a basement or too near the house.  If this had been December or January or February, many surely would have died of hypothermia.

As I have mentioned before, Leon and I were fairly well prepared - at least for a short-term inconvenience.  Our portable generator could handle powering up the fridge, but even at that, we put leftover hot foods outdoors to pre-cool before putting them in the fridge.

Our propane kitchen stove was kept busy boiling water, baking biscotti and making roasts or shepherd pie or chicken.  A small vent-free propane heater in our basement kept the house at 58 degrees or more.  We had put up sixty gallons of water for washing and flushing and maybe 15 gallons for drinking and cooking but juggling hot water for washing self and dishes, washing and rinsing was a challenge.

We had flashlights and lanterns and a battery radio; we even plugged in our TV and satellite receiver and the bed warmer for a few hours before turning off the generator at bedtime.

Even with all the preparations we had made and the fact that we were not shivering or hungry, by the end of day five we were feeling the stress, the 19 inches of wet heavy snow to clear the first day notwithstanding.  The sheer physical effort involved was unanticipated.

I don't consider myself too compulsive but I do like to wash dishes and rinse them thoroughly in hot water.  In the fifties we took a bath once a week; now I feel gross if I don't shower at least once a day.  Sweeping the kitchen floor didn't do a thing for the unvacuumed carpet and I was thinking of transporting the pile of laundry down to the river and beating my jeans on a rock.  Hauling 5-gallon buckets of water up from the basement got tiring fast as did refilling the generator.  We probably went through 12 or more gallons of gasoline and a 100 pound tank of propane.

After the power was restored on Saturday I put in a load of laundry and as I turned on the machine I held my breath lest it might not come on. As water filled the washer I thought to myself, "I will never take this for granted again."   It took us all evening Saturday and most of Sunday to get everything "back to normal".  It took a thousand or more line crews, most from out of state, seven days to get the power lines "back to normal" in this small corner of the country - and they are not done yet.  Imagine a similar but more widespread catastrophe.

What we consider "normal" requires vast resources and massive infrastructure.  Most of us could not survive without the conveniences powered by electricity, without water and toilets and stoves and furnaces and gasoline and propane and gas and oil.  But all of this upon which we depend daily is, of course, part of the problem.

As we burn up our fossil fuels to create and operate nearly every aspect of our lives we also create the conditions that make the extreme weather events that bring us to our knees.  We create economic conditions that cause unbelievable wealth as well as suffering and hardships.  We create health problems that will make us sick while curing all kinds of illnesses.

Yet we couldn't survive a world without our appetite for and consumption of power, i.e. electricity.

If you think we are making progress in our attempts to restore the balance of the globe's ecology, try turning off your breaker for a week.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Welcome Back to the 21st Century

We got our power back today at 1:30 PM.  Three hours short of a week.

We cleared out the water jugs and the pots of water on the stove.  The generator and the electric extension cords that were all over the house are also put away and the 15 gallon bins in the bathtub emptied.  A load of laundry is washed and dried and hot showers were taken.

Pizza is in the oven and the dog is snoozing on the couch.  All is well here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Young Gay Man Murdered in UK

Just read about a horrible hate crime against a young gay Brit, Stuart Walker, who was brutally murdered recently.  Such crimes are obviously not restricted to the States and our sympathy and solidarity should be with the victims and their families wherever they are.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Little House in the Colonies

Some Minor Tree Damage
This must be what it was like back when the colonists first shared the table with Native Americans. Cooking on the barbeque, melting snow to flush the toilet, waiting in line for gasoline to power the generator, boiling water to wash dishes and body parts, and not having telephone or internet service or vacuum cleaners or battery chargers.

People are dying all over our state from carbon monoxide from running generators in their basements or garages instead of outdoors. When everything from cigarettes to plastic bags have warnings printed on them, you would think that generators would be plastered with big letters warning: “For Outdoor Use Only – Carbon Monoxide Emissions Will Cause DEATH If Used Indoors”.
Our Little House Generator
Water, Everywhere
Kerosene Lamp
Connecting The Essentials To Electricity
Gasoline To Run The Generator -
Part Of The Cause Of Global Warming -
That Got Us Into This Mess
Leon and I are about as prepared as possible. We put up over 80 gallons of water in large bins and coolers, we have a small generator to alternately run the fridge and a small heater as well as the TV and a couple of lights;, we have a gas/propane stove so we can cook and heat water, and we have a small vent free gas heater in our basement. The only thing we miss is running water, especially running HOT water, as the well pump requires electricity and even though the hot water and heat are oil, both require electricity to function.

We’ve had hot showers at our friends’ house across town - they have been fortunate not to lose power. People who have no generators, and are completely dependent on electricity are much worse off than we are. Especially in view of the fact that overnight temperatures have been more like January than early November.

For a country so dependent on electricity and electronic communications, it is ludicrous to have power lines that are so vulnerable to Mother Nature’s terrorism. Imagine how easy it would be for nefarious groups to purposely wreck similar havoc.

Here in the Northeast we have a slew of uncharacteristic weather events this year alone. Some fairly destructive tornados, a hurricane, unprecedented floods and destruction, now a freak snow storm with an aftermath that has nearly shut down normal day to day activities, not to mention that rare earthquake that shook DC.

Cars are lined up for a quarter mile each way at gas stations that are still able to pump gas, grocery stores, post offices, restaurants, schools and pharmacies are all closed due to power outages. Predictions are that power may be restored by Sunday, November 6. That will be eight days, if they are serious about the time frame.

The rest of the cleanup could take weeks, months, even.  There are some millions of cubic yards of debris to haul away and dispose of.  Spoiled food, lost wages and revenue, cleanup expenses.  This seems to be happening more often all over the country and where does the money come from to pay for the recovery efforts?  FEMA?  The government? Taxes - probably, but on the poor guy, not on the wealthy, of course.

I'm in Panera's parking lot accessing wifi; will post without pics first, then try to add some photos if I can.  Success there I think.  And I didn't even have to buy a coffee!


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