About me

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Facebook might have censored me

While having my morning coffee, I read a retweet from Kathy Griffin.


Buying cyanide pill now:) RT : Kim Kardashian’s paycheck at Tao on New Year’s Eve: $600,000?!


She included a link to the report, but I'm not including it here. It's easily found if you're interested. However, the better read is in the follow-up to Kathy's tweet. You can find that at Twitter if you want.


So, being one to share the news, I sent Kathy's tweet to my brother so he could share in the joy of Kim's well-paid evening. 


Then I posted a tweet myself, and I sent it by text message.


Kim Kardashian will make $600,000 New Year's Eve. I'll do it for half that price. Just need a pair of fake boobs. And butt cheeks. And hair.


After a little more coffee, I decided to send the tweet to Facebook as a status update. Again, I sent it my text message. Moments later, I received a text message from Facebook.


Sorry this message cannot be processed.


After thinking a bit, I resent the text, and received the same response. At that point, I edited the text message to read as follows.


Kim Kardashian will make $600,000 New Year's Eve. I'll do it for half that price.


That one posted to my Facebook page.


Now, we all have seen substantially racier stuff on Facebook, and I imagine that most of those posts are by the web interface or some app on a smart phone. A few might be by text message, which is what I predominately use because it's, generally, more reliable than using the Android app. 


This left me thinking the text interface has a censoring routine applied to the text content, and that routine is not so apparent on the web and app interfaces, if it exists there at all.


That or the text processor had a problem that magically cleared when I sent the third, less racy, text message. Maybe I should experiment a little, but doing so would most likely end in my Facebook account being disabled, and we all know the disaster that would be. Nations would surely crumble.

Monday, December 19, 2011

He said God would bless me

I made a chicken stew and a loaf of bread to take to Granny and Buck yesterday for lunch. As I noodled my way out of the apartment building door, a gentleman followed. He appeared Middle Eastern by descent and accent, but I'm not all that good at discerning which region, and I'm pretty sure that degree of discrimination is not all that important, at least not here. He was carrying a bag, and in the bag, I was to learn, he had a roasted chicken. He was talking to himself, and I picked up on the conversation as he started going on about arriving too early, that he should have waited until 1.

With my iron pot full on chicken stew in my left hand and the lighter loaf of bread in the right (so as to not trigger Grandpa's tennis elbow), I had paused to get my bearings, breathe the late morning air, and let my eyes adjust to the brighter light of day. I really do need to get out more.

The fellow stepped to my side to bid me a good morning, but I wasn't expecting him, and I missed part of his brief story. Okay, I was hoping to ostracize the man so I could be left in peace this Sunday morning. That was not to work. His was a gentle soul, and he asked if I had a microwave he could use to heat his chicken. I said I did, but that I was headed to my mother's house with lunch. He said God would bless me for taking care of my mother, and that his chicken only needed a couple of minutes in the microwave. After a few moments, I acquiesced. Mama and Buck's preacher would probably go overtime again anyway. He often does.

The man accompanied me to my apartment, and we shared a little halting small talk. He had the deep vibrato of a wizened Egyptian though he was only inches over five feet. His English was accented and a little clipped, leaving me to remember to avoid contractions and peculiar words. However, I really doubt my stereotypical reaction to ESL was warranted on this occasion. I suspect his English was really better than mine. In the elevator, he wanted to know about my mother. Where she lived. How old she was. Her health. He shook his head knowingly as I described her. He was not set aback as I told him that we really do not know how old she is because she has no birth certificate, and no record of her birth was made by the family.

I left my pot of stew and bag of bread in the hallway so I'd have a free hand to open the door. We entered the apartment, and put his chicken in the microwave after some brief discussion of whether or not the bag was microwaveable. It was. I punched in two minutes, as he began to tell me of the bakery that he apparently owns with his family. Shortly, I knew exactly where it was, though I've never been inside. I didn't want to tell him that his driveway was just too treacherous at that busy intersection. Perhaps I'll walk over one day.

He encouraged me to visit and get some baklava, which I do enjoy, and then he said that I should not deprive myself of good foods like that just because they might make me fat. Where did that come from? And he said it with the "just because." I resisted telling him how I used to put Lily in the backpack carrier so we could go to the mall for sticky buns. Every night. Washing them down with cold, whole, sweet milk. I still miss those trips.

The microwave sounded its alarm, he took the chicken, felt it, declared it warmed, and thanked me. We left the apartment, chatted on the ride down in the elevator, and exited the building. I bid him adieu, and he returned the farewell, reminding me that God would bless me.

Maybe I should have bought another lottery ticket that afternoon.

Hebrews 13:2 - Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

And so it ends

The last installment of the Moon Project is up. Click here to see it.

It's been a good run, and although I'm sad to see it finished, I'm also glad to see it done because it's time to do something else. This is the second time I've used a year of full moons to motivate writing, and this time was better, not so much for the additional practice, but for the collaboration. Writing in conjunction with Diana's art was an eye opening exercise.

We live in this world together. We experience many variations of the same events. We relish our individual differences. Yet, we like to think of ourselves and our responses specifically unique, different from the others. That sense of individuality, a something that is exceptionally important in the American psyche, a something that often limits our ability to function as a society, that sense is not often the unique thing we imagine. No, it's more a fabrication that we hold dear long after the reality is clear.

Putting Diana's art against my essay each month drove that clear. (Shannon's insistence that I use shorter sentences was also clarifying, and we're all better off for it, if I did find myself writing bait for her now and again.) Many people asked how we could expect there to be any connection between the art and the essay, and my response, one you've likely heard here before, was that we live in the same world. We watch the same news. We know many of the same people. It's only to be expected that we would produce similar themes each month, and we did.

Sometimes the congruence floored me. Without belaboring too many details, consider this last month. Her moon casts it's light though the branches that block our sight, our path. Meanwhile, I traveled to New Orleans and walked along Bourbon Street, distractions aplenty, as I made my way to my thinking place where, as Papa once did, I sat quietly in the chaos and reflected on how I got there. We're all on a similar path, a muddy road, and at some point, if we're a little lucky, we find that moment to wash our spirit clean.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I dream of Margaritaville

Yes, I dream of Margaritaville, and I'll probably have lunch there this weekend. However, I do not dream of Margaritaville in the metaphorical sense of wanting to go there because it's fun and exciting. I actually dream of Margaritaville. Literally. Every few weeks.

It's a wonderful snippet of a false reality. This is, likely, why I, generally, prefer my dreams to my reality.

I'm entering the men's room at the Margaritaville in New Orleans, pausing to read the door. People put stuff on the door, or at least they did. It's been several years since I stopped by to have lunch and an Incommunicado. Or two. Okay, it was three that last time, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

As I push against the door, it falls open before me. Jimmy Buffett steps out, and we bump. I say, "Well, hello, Jimmy!" He pauses, smiles, and asks, "Hello, and who might you be?" I respond without thinking, "My mama called me Jimmy, and you may too."

From one Jimmy to another. I suppose those Incummunicados have residual effects. Here's the recipe.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Denim in December

The company I work with does many things to promote good culture, some more successful than others, and all of them appreciated because it's important to try even when we don't succeed. One thing that I find particularly rewarding is Denim in December. The company adopts a couple of families in need of a little help, and the peeps pay a dollar a day to be able to wear jeans through December. (Usually, jeans only fly on Fridays.) The money goes to the families.

Here's the collection jar so far.


There's more in there than you might think. When the email went out announcing Denim in December, I responded to announce a challenge to our CEO. I challenged him to wear jeans one full business day, and if he did that, I would add an additional $100 to the jar. Bear in mind that he does not own a pair of jeans. 

Management was holding a meeting at the time, and one of the VPs read my email aloud to the rest and announced that he would match the $100. There was laughter. Another matched. And then two more. The ball was rolling. My $100 became some $400 in a matter of moments.

Perhaps there's another career waiting for me in fund raising.

The question remains as to whether or not TheMan will wear the jeans. It doesn't matter much in the sense of giving. All the money is already in the jar. If he doesn't, he will miss a big opportunity with the peeps, but that's neither here nor there.

The important thing is the money and what that money will do. I am acutely aware of what it's like to face American Christmas with children in the house and little money in the bank. I also know what it's like having an unexpected angel drop cash on my lap in December. Of course, we all know our several hundred dollars split in twain will not correct the societal ills that put us here, not even with the pile of gifts that's mounting in the background as the peeps address line items on the two wish lists. These problems run deep, and they're far bigger than most of us.

However, in about a fortnight at those two houses, we do know that children and parents will gather on a Sunday morning, and instead of downward eyes, choked apologies, and all the rest that comes with a hard candy Christmas, there will be a few more smiles, perhaps a little more laughter, and for at least a short while, we'll all hold the thought that the editor's response to Virginia was correct.


Folks, it's all on the wheel.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Organization and planning

I fear there has been a dreadful misunderstanding about the pegboard in my kitchen from which I hang some utensils. We must attend to this problem before we can advance.

It is not about organization. It is not about planning. It's about being able to see what's available when I need something that's not in my hand. Besides, all this stuff was too much for the one little drawer in my kitchen.

I work with project managers at my day job. It's a necessary evil when projects are large, somewhat complex, and numerous. It would be unfair to the peeps to just bumble along from day to day doing things as the spirit strikes, though I'm sure most of them, at least from time to time, think I organize my day according to some notion of what might be fun. Actually, they do a very good job of keeping me reminded of which something is next, and while that does not preclude the occasional time when 15 things are next, it does lend a certain balance to the day job.

Bear in mind that I do not much organize my life outside work this way. I suppose this is why it's rare that I board an airplane for leisure. I prefer to drive. Or walk. Or even stay home. And while you gasp, note that I have queued online payments for known bills through June of 2012. One hour of focus pays a dividend of six months of not having to think about it.

Of course, there is a schedule. I just don't much share it. We do things at the doing time. We go places at the going time. We read at the reading time. We eat at the eating time. We bathe when we stink. You probably get my drift. You probably also get that I, generally, live alone.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Treasures from the parking lot

Usually, the treasures of my world accumulate in the laundry room. However, they've relocated, it would appears, and now they wait in the parking lot for me.

After the recent rainy evening, the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving, I walked out to the car, and what did I find, but this water-logged beauty.
And yes, Bigger Bunion has been getting frisky and producing a blister. If this is your 'boggin or you just need an extra for the summer, let me know. I have a few extra these days, and they're all washed to Ebay standards.

Under the next tree, found on the same day, I found this piece of a local uniform.
I can't decide quite how to launder this thing, and I'm certainly not putting it in the dry cleaning like the tag suggests. Meanwhile, if you've taken a PT job with Waffle House and need to augment the uniform, here's your scarf.

Blessing always come in threes, and this week was no exception. Yet again on the morning after the rainy evening, I found what I thought was a burka, which is likely spelled some other, less phonetic, way, but the thought of a nekkie burkette had me alarmed. Upon closer inspection, I realize it's an unfitted satin sheet. Someone was planning to get frisky. It's a table cloth now.
The truth is that I found this several days earlier, and I wrapped it about the nearby light pole thinking that the owner would surely return for it. Maybe Santa will bring whoever it was a new one for Christmas.

We'll talk about those plates, saucers, and cups later. There are several stories there.



Someone bought a hamster

Yes, they did. A hamster. Upon getting home with it, they left it in the cage with food, water and a wheel. Five days later, they noticed the hamster was stuck in the wheel by its leg, which had turned black. They returned the hamster to the store for a replacement.

I think we know all who and what is really defective here.

Lily adopted the hamster with the support of coworkers who helped provide those things a hamster needs. She pumped it with antibiotics, and it lived a week. In the final day, she took it to the vet, and they decided to euthanize Captain Hook. Lily delivered the drugs. That was not a good day for Lily.

She girded herself at the dinner table last night with the thought that the hamster had a good last week. Who among us would not ask for the same, a good last week?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving with Bro

I started a pot of chili last night. You surely know the drill, and I'll avoid the details. Two pounds of beef. One can each of diced maters and peppers, chili beans, kidly beans, and black beans. Rinse each can with a third of tap water. Texas Pete to taste. It's better if all the products are from Food Lion, though that is not necessary, not if you're willing to cut back on the quality of the chili.

Let it sit over night. Let it simmer all morning. Turn the heat off to go to the gym. 90 minutes later, bring the heat back up. Cut it off. Move it to single serving containers.

Here's what it should look like when you cut the heat off.
Try not to think of dumping the black water from the RV.

I used the dipper for the first time ever, what with it being Thanksgiving and all, and filled four containers.
There was a small amount left in the pot. That'll be my dessert when I return from seeing Bro.

Let's not forget the ancient family heirloom napkins.
It'd be imprudent to tote four containers of chili in my hands, and that means we'll make use of the Food Lion bag.
It seems a reasonable bagging choice, what with all the components having arrived in such a bag.

Now, we drive. Well, after securing the chili in the bag in the floor in the backseat of the car.
It would be sadness to spill the chili now.

At Food Lion, we spread the banquet on the table.
Yes, we're using the hood of my car as our table. We're creative that way. It'd be better if this were a tailgate, but Crown Vics do not have tail gates. Times are hard, you do know.

Ten minutes later, I return home, and start the cleanup.
But first a nap. There's also a vacuum cleaner in my future. Yeah, Thanksgiving can rock that way.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

All I need that I do not have is a big rock.

Being the good boy that I am, I spent a part of Saturday night washing clothes. White shirts. By hand. In the kitchen sink. The drill is straight-forward. Fill sink. Add detergent. Add bleach. Smoosh. Drain. Add more water. Smoosh. Squeeze. Hang on the rack to dry over night. All I need that I do not have is a big rock.

During the rinse cycle, I noticed something that didn't below. I always good at that game, if I did usually find the other thing that did not belong.
A note. Six weeks ago, I received a call from a bud. Two weeks ago, he called again. This time I wrote it down. Three days ago, I put the note in my shirt pocket. Two and a half days ago, I put the shirt in the laundry basket. With said note. Two days ago, I remembered said note. One minute later, I forgot said note. Shiny... Last night I found said note. The writing was done in water-based blue ink with my italic nib fountain pen.

Is it any wonder I live alone?



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Decorating the office

I work with a, generally, sociable group of smart people, and Thursday, we had the office pot luck. Afterwards, our leader needed help with the orchids we keep near the front door, and I, being sluggish from all the food, didn't get out of the way fast enough.

OK, so that's a joke.

Truth is that I volunteered. I like visiting the assemblage of hot houses over in that area of old Morrisville. It's an area destined to be replaced with quickly build tract housing all too soon, if not yet another shopping mall, and that makes me sad, leaving me to wonder how generations past mourned that which was lost when it was replaced by the very thing I now feel sad to imagine gone. The importance of permanency is something we often underestimate.

You do know there was a time the railroad track did not exist there?

So we're off to move some orchids to the hot house where they'll recover from a season in our office. We'll return with a new set. Not too long from now, we'll do it all over again.

On the drive over, Jeffrey is chatting regarding the orchids. Do you suppose the clients like them? I paused, and he offered my initial thought that not many clients ever see them. Just a few visit our offices. However, he was headed down the wrong track regarding the rest of my thinking, and I quickly piped up to say that I thought the more important point was that the flowers offered a welcoming sight for the people in the office and that it was important for people to have such things in the office, especially given how many hours some people spend there. You know, it's easy to spend more time with the people in the office than the people in our families.

He then offered the most wonderful statement. He said, "I like them, and I think they're important." Whoa! Here's a man with what surely sometimes feels like the weight of the world on his shoulders, a man who could easily hide behind the thin veneer of important matters of leadership, yet a man taking time to make a small corner of the world a bit more beautiful, and in doing so, indirectly and immeasurable bringing a positive influence to the well-being of the people within the building. I do not need an accountant's ledger to demonstrate the assuredly positive influence such an act has on the company's well-being.

Behold the Jim Penny Memorial Orchid.

Always the starter

Yes, it's easier to begin than to finish, at least for me. Besides, these things are not projects. Nope. They're on-going therapy. Of what do I ramble? This.

A brand spanking new blog with one whole post that violates the rules right off the bat. How so? It's not Wednesday yet, and I've posted a picture of an orchid . I didn't even take the picture on a Wednesday. It was Thursday. I suppose my doomnation grows even deeper, which, frankly, is hard to imagine, but there you go.

Wordless Wednesday. Don't I follow the pack so well?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Somewhat ill-gotten brunch

Raul is out for the day, and I had to fend for myself in the kitchen. What's a poboy to do?

Find his trusty iron skillet, splash in some olive oil, and fetch out the tofu he bought two months ago. Yeah, that mess keeps a long time. He slices up said tofu and slaps it in the skillet.

OK, that's about enough with the third person.

I fetched the green tomatoes I stole fair and square from my brother's mostly frost bit garden, chopped them up, and poured them all over the tofu.
To think I grew up learning that green tomatoes were poisonous. What's next? Smooching men is OK?

Next, we need an onion, but the onion I have is huge, and that means we really need a half onion. It gets chopped up also.
Now, you're probably thinking some Texas Pete would work well about now, and you are correct. However, cheese will work even better. Shredded Mexican cheese. Think of it as practicing your Spanish.
I put the whole shebang in the oven, uncovered, at 350. Those are F degrees. That many C degrees would likely lead to a meltdown, and you know it, so don't go get all smart with me, not this morning.

After some 30 to 60 minutes, you can take it out, and then let it cool.
You could eat some now, especially if you need another visit from the cute medic who will attend to your cheese-blistered palate. However, it might be better to call your favorite writing partner to discuss the statistics presentation you'll give next year so he can point out that the conference is at the end of February, not January like you were thinking. After that 30 minute confabulation, it's time to chow down.
I'll add the Texas Pete to the leftovers.

Bro bought some books

I drove east yesterday to have lunch with Buck and Granny, and afterwards, I scooted over to Bro's house to see what all he bought the other day. You see, Bro and one of his bud's have started buying storage containers, a la that TV show called Storage Wars, or some such.

One of the containers was full of books, most of which sit on his carport and front porch. These are apparently discards from several schools and county libraries along with a few privately held libraries, perhaps from estate sales. I suppose someone was panning to start a used book store.

Here's the carport. Yes, that's a pool table underneath all that.

Here's the front porch.
And from the other side.
I found just about every genre in the stacks, well with the exception of gay romance, unless you count the regular romance novels with the shirtless hunk supporting the swooning sweet young thing.

Bro estimates that he now has some 10,000 books, all of which are for sale. OK, minus the eight I brought back because they looked like they might have a second life on Amazon. I did not take the retired library book that gave deft instructions for supercharging MS-DOS.

Bro and his partner have certainly had a decent return on their money, though I doubt the reports yet include the time for their labor. In the matter of these books, Bro says this is the one container they wish they had left untouched. I'd likely be loading the mess into a truck, and dumping it off for recycling. Or mulching.

In related news: Not one book I opened contained a hundred dollar bill. What is this world coming to?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kmart is dead to me

I really gotta keep my eyes open better. That, or shop elsewhere. It was bad enough that I couldn't move in the local Kmart without being asked for a frequent shopper card, the one with rewards that could be claimed (e.g., the free Coke that didn't include Diet). Last month, I bought a digital TV antenna there when my neighbor moved and shut off the cable. The box did not appear to have been opened, but it lacked the signal amplifier. Fortunately, I had one from a few years back when Time-Warner was selling fish oil and calling it high speed Road Runner. However, the antenna works just fine without the amplification.

So tonight, Grandpa needs a little mess, and he's too lazy to drive the extra mile to Food Lion, which leaves him to walk to Kmart. While cruising through, I notice a bottle of vitamin C on a serious markdown.
I didn't notice the torn seal while I was in the store. At home, I did. This reminded me that the checkout clerk looked at it too. However, she was miffed that I didn't have my frequent shopper card, which left her calling me "sir." I should pay more attention.

Opening the bottle, what do I espy with my little eye?
Emptiness.

Kmart? The one on Western in Raleigh? You are dead to me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Because it's time

And two months earlier than expected.


The weather turned unusually cold in the span of 24 hours, prompting me to bring out the electric blanket this otherwise normal Sunday morning. The EB, not Easter Bunny, usually makes it's appearance towards the end of December, but with record October snows just miles above the border of Southern Gentility and Enlightenment coupled with my sad memories of two, maybe three, December snows last year, I fear risking inaction.

Besides, my piggies report being cool in the evenings, and while this report is likely the simple effect of a fan blowing directly across the lower half of the bed, it seems imprudent to risk pneumonia just for the sake of circulating air. Besides, the houseboy gets grumpy when rubbing clammy pigs.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The old home place

During our brief tour of Charleston, we stopped by one of the city government buildings. It was probably the primary city government building, but I'm a very poor tourist, and I don't take notes. If I have a detail wrong, I must beg forgiveness, though it's not likely either of us will ever know better anyway.

Nonetheless, a part of the building is pictured here. This is just a few steps inside, directly after the security show.


What we have here is a barred window to the old jail. I asked to go inside so that I could pay homage to my many relatives who have spent long weekends and seasons here. My request was declined. The attendant didn't see the merit in it. She also didn't see the humor either. You'd think she'd heard it before.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We can't eat like this often

I believe we all know the rules. Moderation in all things, which means that denial is, generally, not prudent. Well, except in the matter of highly addictive things like meth, nicotine, and cinnamon buns. OK, go-go boys too.

We had a quick lunch yesterday, and the chosen target of our culinary attention was Smithfield's BBQ. The que here is decent. It won't kill you. It won't even make you wish it had. However, you must remember that Smithfield's is a chain, one that serves fast food BBQ, and while that serves a definite purpose, it also comes with a definite reality.

BBQ, slaw, and tater salad with a cup of water. Yes, it should have been sweet iced tea to be complete, but that's just too much decadence for the Examplar of Purity that is me. Besides, the pound-o-sugar messes me up, and I'm cutting back on the caffeination so I don't have to hear about it on my next trip to the clinic.

This being an Old Fart does have it's down side.

The real problem with Smithfield's is not that it's all about fast food BBQ; it's this.


Fresh, fried, homemade pork skins. Sometimes even with a bit of hair left intact. Yes, I could eat the entire bag.

Every culture on this planet has known hard times, some more recently than others, and the people of the American South, regardless of culture, are no exception. There was a time when nothing of an animal went to waste, right down to the hair. My daddy used to swear by a Tom Thumb, pork sausage stuffed into the pig's stomach. I remember eating pickled pigs' feet as a boy, and calling it good. My brother was speaking just the other day of coming home late in the evening to see Mama sitting at the table eating a pig's foot. I have a miserable uncle, one I can hardly bear, and his favorite part of a chicken is the neck. My grandfather always sought the back in the plate of deep fried chicken. My grandmother could make brains and eggs from which you would define the perfect breakfast if you were ever so lucky as to have it.

We don't much have to eat like that any more. However, we choose to eat like that now and again because it makes us warm inside, not so much from the indigestion as from the clear link to that from which we sprang, those humble beginnings that cast us upon a rocky shore to live or die, and live we did.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In recovery from the NC State Fair

As though the traffic weren't bad enough, as though the parked cars all over creation weren't bad enough, as thought the fireworks late at night disturbing my slumbers weren't bad enough, as though riding my bike on a crowded dark street and being spotlighted like a deer weren't bad enough, the pitiful excuse for a $2 ham biscuit at the fair took the cake. My grandmother would have hung her head in shame over what I was served.

The biscuit was passable, though it was very much a beginner's biscuit. The real problem was the ham. It was smoked and sweet. Like sandwich ham. Sandwich ham! We will all agree that sandwich ham is usually good, especially in a sandwich, but I asked for what was advertised: A ham biscuit.

How much further can my people fall?

To help us all recover from this travesty, I made ham biscuits for the peeps at work. Here's how I did it.

The YouTube video.

A few of the peeps at work know the difference between a decent ham biscuit and an abomination such as I received at the State fair, and I can report that the bowl was about empty after an hour. I think they liked them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Raleigh: Communication gives life and consequence

The Wall Street occupation appears to be spreading, and now, we even have media coverage. Odd, it seems, to have what we applauded in Egypt starting here, though so far without overt violence. That could change very quickly, however, and I worry for the innocents in that regard. Even in London, we saw this happen, though the take-away from the UK is to steal money, lots of it, not a half-liter of water. That take-away is formed by a light review of the sentences received by both trespasses.

So here we are in Raleigh. I attended what I thought was the first General Assembly, only to learn later that it was the second. Who knew? Here's the video from that evening.

The guys in the masks are spooky, and after speaking with them off camera, I question their sobriety. Well, they were sober. They're just not given to clarity of thought. If I felt as they expressed, I would not be drawing such attention to myself, and I certainly would have been elsewhere.

Nonetheless, the group is very loose knit, and keeping up with what was going on was difficult, at least at the distance I maintained. Yes, my fringe-dweller self kept me on the outer edges. I used the live tweets to keep me informed.

Yesterday, I found myself downtown again, and I decided to step over to see what the daily 6:30 gatherings look like. Yes, there's a video. There were, maybe 2 dozen peeps, and the task appeared to be learning how to vote by raising both hands. The part to be learned was adjusting the angle of the wrists to express a degree of agreement or concern. I would never keep those details straight, but we knew that already. They called this process one of establishing a consensus, but I question voting to achieve consensus. However, I was not facilitating, so my concern regarding consensus building is very much moot.

I see these activities as a natural consequence of corporate greed that appears to only grow, especially among the banks. Not so long ago, such a revolt would pass unnoticed. Now, we have nearly instantaneous worldwide communications, and for better or worse, communication gives life and consequence.

Most of us see that the cards are stacked against this little assembly in Raleigh. However, great things often arise from humble beginnings, and I found a certain prescience in the juxtaposition of this small group and the brass acorn that represents the City of Oaks. We could be in for interesting times.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I saw Mary

Yes, Mary, the Sainted Mother of Jesus. I saw her with my own eyes through the screen on my phone. I was also looking through a fence covered in some sort of vine. She was about to swan dive into a pool.
And I was stone, cold sober. Looking at the picture now, I fail to see her as clearly, though I can find her with a little concentration. Of course, a picture is not the real thing. After the vision, I was blessed with a delightful early dinner or late lunch.
This was decidedly the best meal of my visit to Charleston, and I have to attribute that to the earlier vision. The rum and Diet also helped, I'm sure, as did the delightful company. Perhaps it'd be prudent to eat lunch at 3 P.M. more often after riding a bike through a historical district.

Now, just HUSH! It was Friday, and I did eat fish. That's about as pious as this heathen is going to get anytime soon, and it was still good enough for a vision.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Spider lilies

I freakin' love these things. We had one in the yard growing up. Mama bought it on a lark. The leaves popped out in the spring, they grew, they died, and we forgot about it until later, much later, in the early fall, one day, we'd wake up, and there would be the gossamer red bloom, springing unannounced, unheralded from the dying, if not already dead, grass that we'd probably mow anyway.

So here I am in Charleston, the one in South Carolina, and let me tell SC now that it would do well to better emulate Charleston. I got lucky. How often do we go somewhere one might really choose to be, and then also have a spare couple of hours in which to rent a bike and see something worth seeing? Those times are few and far between, let me tell you.

And what do I do but wade through ancient graveyards. Yes, I'm weird that way, but you knew that already, and what do I espy with my little eye this day? A cemetery of tight graves and tiger lilies.

Here is the first to catch my eye. I thought it might be an anomaly, something planted by a grieving soul over a century ago, here now to brighten my unexpected day, which it did sans initial intent.
 And then another.
And another.
People spoke differently of the dead back then. Perhaps it was the constant walk with death and the on-going reminders of mortality. I suspect burying a lot of children brings a certain perspective most of us should be glad to no know. Yet, where now might you find a stone with much more than a name, a pair of dates, and maybe a poignant line or two? We don't think like this anymore, and we certainly don't speak this way anymore, which is likely a good thing owing to the underlying reasons, but in this change, I think we give up so much clarity, respect, thoughtfulness. OK, humanity.

What have we become in this pursuit of progress?

And then, with the turn of a single step, a line of simple beauty fading in the light of early fall.

I need to live here.

Another day. Another time.

In another day and in another time, I had a plan, and the plan had aggressive financial underpinning. Think 30 feet and a sea breeze.
But not this one, which would need a crew, and for as much as I would enjoy a crew of inadequately attired boat boys, and for as overly aggressive as the financial underpinning was for a man making quite less than $30k a year, this example would be too large. There's a smaller example not pictured because it's less photogenic even at 4x optical zoom, and besides, we're portraying a lost dream here, and lost dreams can be exaggerated some.

Besides, I'm making it sound like I rue the loss, and that's not true at all. It's substantially unhealthy to look back like that, look back with a rueful eye, which is something I avoid. I don't even look back all that much, and besides, always in motion is the future. Who know? The Lillian Rose might still sail one day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Molded cheese for dinner

I stepped out for dinner as I'm about to be eating hotel food for a fortnight, and while we don't stay in dives, there is often a certain monotony that comes with food in the hotels.  I went over to the Boylan Bridge Brewpub where that still carry a summer ale that I've grown quite fond of, and I had a pint of that with a fruit and cheese tray.  Am I, or am I not, just the upscale bitter old queen?

One of the cheeses had blue-green flecks.  Upscale mold.
It was quite tasty, but I found myself thinking how I often toss out cheese at home that develops mold.  I'm probably wasting perfectly good moldy food.

Upon my return, I checked the fridge.  First, the shredded Mexican cheese.  This is four cheeses shredded and mixed.  I doubt you could find it in Mexico despite the name, and yes, it has blue-green mold.  I could be in the money.
The blue spot will become a blue ball in time, and usually, I just toss it out.  From now on, I'm selling it the the Brewpub for fancy appetizers.

Then I checked the cheddar.  It's just plain Food Lion cheddar that I keep in a plastic container after I open the package.  It's not as greasy as the rat cheese Mama fed us, but it serves it's purpose.
I believe I have found my retirement plan.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A moment at Pride

Yesterday, we had the state's Pride festival over in Durham on the Duke campus.  You can see 12 minutes of ribaldry here.

As you might have noticed, we had rain at the end of the parade, and while that did soak just about everyone, the joy of being steeped in acceptance was not dampened. This day, we were not just fair weather friends.

However, I do have an expensive hairdo to consider, and for that reason, we stepped under an ancient oak on the Duke lawn.  Yet another reason to love a campus.  As the rain progressed, the drops started to win, even under the tree, and I covered the top of my camera bag lest something get a touch too wet.

With that, a fellow at a small tent near us pulled out an additional tarp, and he began to set it up.  Bro and I have a demonstrated skill with not being able to do much more than pinch fingers in these activities, and we stood getting wetter while the female member of our troop stepped over to help.  In time, we were all under the tarp, thanking the gentleman for being there.

He was a world-weary man, a man with too much history written on his face, a history that spoke of pain followed by matter-of-fact forbearance, a man and a life worthy of a Faulkner short story or two.  His was not the visage I often expect at a Pride parade.  In a few moments, as a lull in the casual greetings and follow-up conversation appeared, he spoke, first haltingly, then with familiar vigor.

His son, his Sean, had been murdered in a hate crime.

He spoke at length as the rain continued.  His accent was natural, fluent, soft as a man speaking his peace calmly with the practiced control of underlying emotion that concurrently lent him strength and threatened to overwhelm.  With the rain on the tarp and the rise and fall of the surrounding celebration, he was sometimes difficult to hear and understand.  He repeated himself without impatience, and I suspect he's learned to do that often.  Practiced, he is, in getting out his message.

You can find it here.

I suspect the intentional death of a neighbor's farm animal received more attention from the South Carolina authorities than did the murder of his son, an act intended not just to kill one more gay man but also to strike fear in the rest of the gay population.  In more civilized places, such a crime is seen as a hate crime, and the pursuit of justice progresses with greater vigor, but few of us live in civilized places, and even my North Carolina of late has become far less civilized, leaving all of us are at risk to meet a similar violent end.

Please send this man some money so that he may continue his good work.  We will never know the specific good that one extra dollar will bring or which life it might save, but we all will welcome the nudge, the gentle turn, that dollar will make in this tiresome world, a world in serious need of pause, thoughtful consideration, and illumination.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Castor beans

If you're looking to stockpile ricin, here's what you put in your garden, your very large garden.

I used to requisition small patches on the farm, often by the garden, in which I'd grow flowers.  Zinnias and cockscomb were my favorite, and they still are, or would be if I had a garden, but often, off to the side of the side, or at the end of a tobacco row, I'd have a few castor bean plants.

The one in this picture grows by the fence at the local arb.  It's rather petite, mainly because it's eeking out an existence under very difficult circumstances.  Till the soil.  Add some fertilizer.  Water on occasion.  It'll grow 15 or more feet high.  Those leaves will be two feet wide, if not wider.

While the children were small and prone to eat whatever they found, I kept the castor beans out of sight.  Later with the doods older, I put a few in the garden.  We used it as a teaching tool.  They examined the seeds.  They knew that a single one would kill them.  They marveled that the bugs could eat the bean and survive.

One grew at the edge of the drive next to the neighbor's yard.  The local world marveled at it's lush tropical foliage.  Then came the October Blow, as Cousin Lulu called the hurricanes.  The castor bean fell directly into the neighbor's yard, and yes, being ever the typical suburban dweller, she was on my porch telling me as the sun rose that morning.

I hate suburbs. (I moved the castor bean a few days later.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We face no greater risk

After we come out, it's all down hill, and this is the big reason that I encourage the peeps to "never piss off the queer staff."

Watch this video.


A soldier. Trained for battle.  Trained to help bad guys to meet their makers as necessary.  He might have never been so scared in all his life as he was on this one call.  Do you suppose he now has a new bar for what defines a stressful moment? I guarantee you he does.

After coming out to my own pre-teen children, I can assure you there's no risk left to take.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Then it would be an assignment

Diana and I have a new post up over at the moon thing.

More than once as I've described this project to other people, they've expressed surprise that Diana and I do not compare notes before the moon.  The question is always a variation on: How do you know you'll each do something that fits with the other?

I usually reply that we live in the same world.  We watch the same news.  We have a large circle of shared friends.  Well, OK, her friends and my colleagues.  They're paid to put up with me.  The thing is that we do not live in a vacuum, and neither of us lives on a fringe of reality, though I do often yearn for that.

The more important thing, and I believe this is true for us both, is that if we compare notes, if we decide what it's about ahead of time, then we don't have the creative expression we want, we need, but instead, we have an assignment.  Neither of us needs another assignment.

Call it unbridled.  Undisciplined.  A waste of good planning.  I call it a delight, and without this one delight this one moon, I'm not sure I would be retaining my rights as an American citizen, what few the gay citizens retain these days, but instead I'd be at risk to be a ward of the state, or at least the county, give the rage I felt over the insult we all endured from the elected officials, the ignorant, dumbass, sons of bitches, each of whom needs a solid whomp upside the head for not remembering the simple humanity most of us learn at our mothers' knees.

How can a citizenry that started it all, a citizenry that developed a simple document, the Halifax Resolves, that soon became the precursor to The American Declaration of Independence, a citizenry that, just seasons before, sent the colonial governor packing by moonlight, well more like torchlight, to Virginia, a citizenry that later developed a state constitution in which Article I, Section 1 states without equivocation "We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.", text such as you've probably heard before, how can a people descended from unimpeachable stock such as that pass a bill to put an amendment before the voters of this state by which the civil rights of a minority are determined?

Trust me: I'm calm from what I was earlier, and I need to go and recalm myself now.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Not barbecue

This is not barbecue.  However, I'm going to use that word for the sake of being understood, all the while hoping the folks back home don't come chasing me, again, with pitchforks and torches.

We lucked into some boneless pork chops at Food Lion today.  Three packs.  I cooked two packs, cut up the chops, froze one set, and stashed the other away for sandwiches over the next week.  The left the third pack.

Oh what to do.

So before the houseboy can remember to wash the pan, stir all the left over stuff together.  Or not.


Now, add some rices.


I sprinkled on some salt, but I doubt you can tell it, probably because I added the salt after taking the picture. That's just the kind of guy I am.

Now, add that third pack of pork chops.  I do love a sale.


I splashed on some olive oil for good measure. Yes, it's who I am; it's what I do.


That olive oil can be hard to see sometimes.  It's effect on my blood chemistry is equally hard to discern, but that's another matter, and I still have a few gallons of the mess in the cabinet.

Then I slathered on what Kraft calls original barbecue sauce.  It's good, but I'll tell you right now that this is in no measure barbecue sauce.  However, I would rather not start Armageddon this evening.


On goes the lid.


I do love iron cookware.  This thing goes in the over at 450F for a couple of hours.  You'll know it's done by the smell.  If your nose is stuffed, and you can't, your ears will let you know when the smoke alarm goes off.  Please turn off the stove as you evacuate the building.  Do not take the elevators.

And finally it's done.


I'll leave the lid off for a while to let it cool while the rices continue to soak up the liquid they need.  This mess won't last long.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Letting one go

Letting go of old emotional baggage is important.  Of late, I discovered one that surprised me.  Of course, it shouldn't have.  I've known about it for decades.  It's just in this season, this month, and especially this week that I've decided to deal with it.

The driving cap.


Yeah, that's me, sweating the weather that's going to keep me from pedaling downtown for a nibble, unless I choose to revisit Sunday last with wind, rain, lightning, and that sobering three-fold brush with my mortality.

Back to the cap.

My daddy wore these pretty much 24/7.  I never did, and he was the reason.  I suppose I've rejected a good many things because of him and our relationship.  One exceptionally naive counselor even attributed my homosexuality to him.  Yes, I managed to restrain my reaction because I was trying to be good, not argumentative, but I still break out in a good laugh when I think of that.  The old fool was too deeply entrenched in the Catholic priesthood to be of much use to about anyone.

Oh well, both he and my daddy are a thing of the past.

I used to dream of fighting with Daddy two or three times a week.  I'd grab him by his feet, swing him around me, and dash his head to a pulp on the rocks and trees around us.

He died some 20 years ago, and his ashes are buried in the cemetery by the church where his daddy once preached briefly.  It took another five or so years to work through my feelings about him, and no, a hired gun counselor was not involved.  I generally do not trust those folks much, though I'd likely benefit if I'd deal with that on too.

Yeah, that's probably another set of baggage for another day.

I thought I was about finished processing my feelings toward my daddy until last week when a local store put hats on clearance, a serious clearance.  On an impulse, I laid down a few bucks, and brought 100% cotton Woolrich cap home.  Shouldn't it be made of wool?

Then I wore it, briefly at first.  Looking in the mirror, I saw him.  Now, everyone at some point looks in the mirror and sees parents.  It's what we do, especially at midlife.  Then it occurred to me that I was denying myself a hat that I liked simply because I once had problems with a dead man.  I should be smarter than this.  That I wear the cap does not make me his post-traumatic stressed self.  (The man fought at the Battle of the Bulge in the second world war.  How do you come out of that and not be scarred?)

Then it was clear, just as I realized five years ago that I could find the courage to climb and sit in the shoe shine chair in the Washington airport, and thereby let that withered man and handsome soul earn his living, I could find the strength to wear a cap I really do like, and step beyond the bullshit of all those years past.

That our past colors our present and future is nothing we can change.  In fact, it's something we should embrace.  What defines us, however, is another matter.

High school reunion?  Don't go get all funny, not yet.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I cannot believe this

I cannot believe this.  Take a breathe, brace yourself, and click here to see a something you won't believe over at the New Yorker.

This is to help parents teach children about 9/11?  Give me a freakin' break!  A Bin Laden double-tap coloring book?  Where are the lynching coloring books?  Where are the atomic bomb in Japan coloring books?  How about an electric chair coloring book?  I know!  Let's make a coloring book of dragging people down the road behind a truck full of rednecks with rifles, shotguns, beer, and not an IQ point to share among them.  Even better!  Let's have one of Mathew Shepard tied to a fence gate.

This book is NOT about teaching children the events of 9/11.  It's about promoting hate in this already hate-filled world where compassion is a weakness, education is held in distrust, and fear stalks the land as thinly veiled concern, a world in which "Love Thy Neighbor" only counts for the few who are secretly worthy, and "Feed My Sheep" has been supplanted with "Build a Bigger Church."

If this is the best we can do, we do not deserve our place in this world.  We only assist the terrorists as they continue their march unimpeded to our assured destruction.

Friday, September 2, 2011

NC and gay marriage - reprise


North Carolina is entering the gay marriage debate, which seems reasonable. The unemployment rate is high, and many people have nothing else to do. The legislature might as well debate a constitutional amendment that institutionalizes second class citizenship for anyone not heterosexual while it waits for all that saved tax money to trickle down and feed some hungry people.

Here is my suggestion for dealing with this problem.  (Yes, revised from a couple of years ago.)

Marriage: Let us define marriage as something the church does so that people can get frisky without going to hell. A church may apply the filters it sees fit to maintain it's purity and it's heaven. If you meet the specifications defined by the church, the church may marry you. Although this marriage infers that you'll be headed to heaven because you're not living in sin, you get nothing from the state. The marriage is all about going to heaven. If you want legal things, you need to see the next paragraph.

Civil Union: Let us define civil union as something the state does to recognize the union of people. The state may not deny the right to a civil union to any citizen. The civil union granted by one state will be recognized by all other states. With the civil union, you get all the legal things like inheritance, joint tax, hospital visitation, but you do not get to go to heaven. If you want to go to heaven, you must find a church that will accept you.

What's good here: What is good here is that the separation of church and state leaves both to do what is right for them. If the Mormons want to bring back polygamy, and some never let it go, they are welcome to it. If a splinter group of queer Mormons decides to accept polygamous same sex marriage, they can do that. If a Baptist church gets more than a little hot and bothered by the snakes it uses, parishioners could marry one. It's all cool.

The state, on the other hand, will grant civil unions to citizens with all the rights and privileges therein, as defined by law. If space aliens land, settle in, and start to get frisky with the locals, the space aliens can become a part of the tax paying citizenry, visit the local magistrate, and start filing join tax returns with the rest of us. If at some point, we determine that house ferns are sentient beings capable of loving and giving relationships, the law can be extended to permit those marriages as well, though it'll probably be a while before we can go green.

What's bad here: What's bad here is that there are more idiots in this world than I will ever count, and some of those idiots carry a substantial degree of influence such as the representative who made the local cable news loop with his remarks that link gay marriage to bestiality. I do wish that man had to stand before my children and explain himself.  I suspect he would wither before the glare I know m'Lily can produce.

Why in the world an expression of love should elicit such unnecessary expressions of hate is simply beyond my comprehension. We got over it with the Indians. We got over it with the Blacks. We got over it with the Mexicans.  (Yes, the Indians, Blacks, and Mexicans will say we still have some work to do.)  It's time to just plain get over it, people, and move on to some real problems.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hotel security

People steal a lot of stuff from hotels, and the only purpose it serves is to run up the price for the rest of us. You can take the toiletries, which are likely product placement in every instance. The towels and stuff are another matter.

So are the decorations, even the sculptures.


Check out the security system used with the sculpture. You know it's there because someone somewhere took something similar. I can only imagine what is securing all the art hanging on the walls.

Good biscuits

The morning breakfast and snack table was graced with above average biscuits yesterday and today. Yesterday's biscuits were ham, sandwich ham, and my grandmother would have offered council because proper biscuit ham is salt cured. However, I found myself willing to forgive what I saw as a very minor transgression.

Today, we have sausage and cheese.


They were good, very good, even with American cheese, if not the proper hoop cheese, but again, that was a very minor transgression, one that can be easily forgiven.