Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ghosts Of Christmas Past, Present, And Future

So Christmas is all over and I am once again safe and sound back in Chicago - just in time to celebrate another New Year's Eve with The BF. Come to think of it, it's been ages since I celebrated two NYEve's in a row with the same person. It's gonna be fun.

I journeyed home for a few days to be with the family. It was a bittersweet trip as I could really see time taking it's toll on some of my older relatives. Ever since I can remember, on Christmas Day we all travel to my Aunt Susie and Uncle Bill's house. They put out a pretty large spread of food and we all gather to eat and talk - what my family does best. On Christmas Eve, Susie and Bill celebrated their 59th Wedding Anniversary. My aunt is 78 years old, and she admitted to me that for the first time, this Christmas Day was a pinch more than she could handle (my uncle is 83 and has been in failing health for a few years). It was nice, as always, to be in their home, however I couldn't help but wonder if this would be the last time Christmas Day would be hosted by them.

It panics me slightly to see them age. These two have been heroes of mine since childhood; generous, thoughtful, and loving people who opened their home and their hearts to everyone they knew. Uncle Bill taught me to ride a bicycle. Aunt Susie introduced me to Sinatra. I sang in their daughter's wedding and hosted their 50th Anniversary Dinner Party. I have 40 years of memories with these two people, who were more like an extra set of grandparents than an aunt and uncle. And with each trip back home, I can see them both becoming more frail. And it breaks my heart each time.

It was hard not to realize that there would not be too many more Christmases with everyone together. My family has been lucky in that we have all stayed relatively healthy for many years. The last funeral we experienced was an uncle passing in 1991. My mom's 7 brothers and sisters are now in their 60's and 70's, and my sister and I understood that beginning soon, we will be saying goodbye to each of them one by one.

But as sad as this thought is, it also made me appreciate my time at home more. And it caused me to reflect on the wonderful life I had as a kid, and the friends these people became as an adult. This Christmas perhaps has meant more than Christmases past, and will be reflected upon in Christmases future.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm Outtie!

Going to be taking the next several days off from posting. Traveling back home on Sunday night to spend a few days with the family.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Birth of Jesus - Lego Style

If you aren't a gentile, Jesus Christ might be a mystery to you. And you could be wondering who he is and why Christians celebrate his birthday. Or, indeed, why the entire world marks the passing of time from the moment this one man took his first breath of life. It is without question that this man existed. But who he was, and who he thought he was, is still speculated 1,972 years after his death.

If you are interested in learning more about the "reason for the season", here is a fun site I found that tells the story of Jesus, as well as a few other stories in the Bible, with the help of my favourite childhood toy, Legos.

Legos make everything more fun!

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Wish For Peace From The George Bushes

Borrowed from Zoe's mom. It's interesting to note that ever since "W" was originally "sworn in " on January 20, 2001, the world has not been at peace at Christmas. Less than 9 months later, the U.S. would be attacked. From that point on, the U.S. was at war.

And remember, Daddy was sworn in on January 20, 1989. By December of that year, the U.S. invaded Panama; and the Persian Gulf War started shortly thereafter.

"...a world at peace" indeed. More like "a world in pieces".

12:00 Noon Update: Yes, we are all quite familiar with "W" and Jeb and Neil and Happy and Sneezy and Dopey (oops, I just metioned "W" twice). But who is Marvin?


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pray For Me

Recalling my blog post last year about the hell that is usually my Christmas gift from my parents. During a phone conversation this week, my mother told me that she was very exicited over the fact that she bought my sister-in-law Brenda a chocolate fountain.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Winter Songs

I am not crazy about the idea that there are some songs that have been classified as Christmas Carols (or Holiday Songs, to be more PC) that have nothing to do with Christmas Day. Because of their wintertime imagery, they have been labeled as Christmas Songs. For example:

Baby, It's Cold Outside. This songs sounds more like a case for statutory rape than a Christmas song.

Good King Wenceslas. The feast of St. Stephen is celebrated in the Czech Republic on December 26th. That's the only reason this is considered a Christmas song.

My Favourite Things. Taken from the Sound of Music where it's sung during a springtime thunderstorm.

Frosty The Snowman. Snow people are built as long as there is snow on the ground. That can be as early as late October and lasting until early May, depending on where you live in the northern hemisphere.

Jingle Bells and Sleigh Ride. Two songs about a mode of transportation that became outdated at the beginning of the last century. These songs have nothing to do with Christmas Day. Actually, the mention of pumpkin pie in the latter song reminds me more of Thanksgiving than Christmas.

Jingle Bell Rock
. Seems to be mostly about a party. But not necessarily a Christmas party.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow. 'Nuff said.

Winter Wonderland. There's not a word in this song that has anything to do with Christmas. It's all about winter, which I was always told lasts until March 21st, officially.

It's a shame that these sweet songs can only be enjoyed for less than a month. Time spent outside on snowy days, sitting in front of fires, cuddling and nuzzling, good times with friends; these are not Christmas traditions. And perhaps it would continue the feeling of "peace on earth, goodwill to men" if we could listen to these songs longer than just 25 days a year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Grown-Up Christmas List

Penned by Linda Thompson Jenner and David Foster, someone else was clever enough to set Michael Buble's version of the song to scenes from the Harry Potter series. It's kinda sweet, and the song couldn't be more relevant in today's times.

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well I'm all grown up now
Can you still help somehow?
I'm not a child but my heart still can dream

So here's my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas List
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas List

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in that blind belief, can we ever find the truth

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas List

This is my only lifelong wish
This is my grown up Christmas list

Monday, December 11, 2006

December 12th

To understand what this entry is all about, click here.

2005 - My first day at work at my current job. Attend Blue Man Holiday Party with The BF.

2004 - Dinner at Ella's for Eric's birthday, then go to Tom-Tom for gifts and cake, then go to JR's to round out the evening.

2003 - Vacation day; go to parents' place to help them finish Christmas gifts being made in Dad's woodshop.

2002 - Day 2 at Bolger Center in Potomac, MD for Empower conference. Go out to JR's that night with Aaron, Bruce, David, Greg, Chuck and Chris.

2001 - Help friends Gregg & Keith move.

1999 - Out with friend Geoffrey; meet new friend Bill M. while out; get drunk.

1998 - Night of a Million Christmas parties with Ex#3: Office Christmas party, followed by Todd's Christmas party, followed by Jeff's Christmas party, followed by Pascaline's Christmas party.

1997 - Go to club Millenium in DC with friend David F. Meet Bill S. there. Date for a few weeks.

1996 - Work until 6, then go to Sign of the Whale with co-worker Frank.

1995 - Mail out Christmas cards; lunch with datee Ron L; college friends Kathy V. and Ron M. visit me in DC.

1993 - Watch "The Color Purple" with at Kathy's with Jeet, Tom, Rick, Brian, Kathy and Hank.

1992 - Exchange gifts with Ex#2 (before college break); dinner at Castiglia's with Ex#2 and Kathy; Deer Park Lodge with Ex#2, Matt, Bill, Josh and Rick.

1991 - Last day at Department of Education; drive to Ex#2's.

1990 - Bowling night with Matt, Jeff, Joe and Steve. Go to DC Eagle afterwards

1989 - Shop at Country Club Mall with friend Jim K.

1988 - Ex#1 returns from New York business trip; dinner out; shop at Tyson's Corner afterward.

1987 - A rare Saturday night staying at home. Must have been sick. Yeah, that must be it.

1986 - Office staff at hotel moves into new offices on site. We go drinking at Henny's to celebrate upgrade. Joy drinks me under the table.

1985 - Go to Bloodmobile on Kelly Blvd.; work 5-10:15; Christmas party at Brenda's beginning at 7:00

1984 - Lab practical II; Persuasive speech due in Speech class; work 6-Close

1983 - Wrestling practice at 3:30; play practice at 6:00

1982 - Day trip to Bedford Village with Ex-fiancee; Fire department Christmas dinner (Dad was the Fire Chief).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Let Nothing You Dismay

I work at an ultra-conservative insurance investment management firm - it reeks of Republican. But I can see the good in what we do, which is to invest money for insurance companies so that they have enough money to pay their insurers should disasters like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina occur. At least, that is how I rationalize it to myself.

The people with whom I work in my immediate department are pretty cool, though. They know I am gay and most of them have met The BF at some point during the year I have been there. The issue of my sexuality has never been, well, an issue. I seem to get along with everyone because I think there is a blissful ignorance that hovers over my office.

That ignorance has recently been put to a test, however. The reason: the annual office holiday dinner party. Everyone seems to be taking a spouse or a date. But then, everyone else is straight. I kinda dipped my toe into the situation when I told a co-worker that I wasn't sure if I could bring The BF or not. She quickly came back with, "Yeah, that would not go over well." She's been working there for 8 years, longer than anyone. So I am pretty sure she's right. I then addressed it with my immediate supervisor, and she basically agreed with my co-worker.

The BF takes me everyplace, his work holiday parties among them, and I think it's completely unfair that I cannot take him to mine. Well, in essence I can take him, but I just don't want the hassles of it all. Plus, I will not be the one they are looking at all night long, it will be The BF. Of course, The BF has no problem with that and lights up at the possibility of the attention. "Bring it on!" he giggles. No one told me that I can't bring him, but telling me it "would not go over well" is essentially the same thing.

What bothers me more is that this actually bothers me. I shouldn't have to worry about this kind of thing, but I do. I seriously don't care what most of these people think of me, but yet I don't want to rock the boat. I have accepted the fact that there is a time and a place to take a stand. And I think your office Christmas party is neither of those.

So The BF and I will go to HIS company Christmas party and have a blast. And we don't need the stuffiness of my office's function to justify our relationship to a room full of people I mostly don't care about. But still it makes me sad - sad that there are still those out there who are so close-minded and insecure as to not want to see two people who are happy and committed, and even more sad that said people will never get the opportunity to meet The BF, who is truly one of the most remarkable men I know.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fake Pals

The other day, I received an email I had received before. Last time I received it, I fell for it. As savvy as I think I am about online scams, this one fooled me.

The email was from "PayPal", with whom I have an account. It told me that there had been some questionable activity on my account, and that in keeping with basic security issues, it reminded me to change my password from time to time. The email didn't ask anything from me, it just suggested I do something. So naturally, I thought I should change it right away.

I clicked on the link, the PayPal screen popped up, and I signed in to change my password. And almost immediately, my savviness kicked back into gear and I realized I had been duped. So I had to go to the real PayPal and change my password - oddly enough, just as I had been instructed by the fake PayPal.

But check out the two PayPal windows. I compared them and was amazed at the work that went into creating the fake site. Of course, millions of dollars are at stake, so it pays to be painstakingly accurate about creating a fake site. But I thought the similarities were pretty impressive:

Can you tell which one is real and which is the imposter?** Hard to tell, right? The layout, colours, fonts, links, logo - all the same, or pretty accurate facsimiles thereof. However, the thing I noticed was that when I clicked on the real PayPal, my account name and password were already entered for me, because they had been stored by PayPal. The fake PayPal had none of that. And going back to the fake PayPal site, I discovered that none of the links on the page worked - they were just blue, underlined fonts. But how many people would check them out anyway? The first thing you would do - or I would do, rather - is sign in and go from there.

When I heard stories about how people are duped into handing over their life savings, I wondered how gullible these people must be? But then I was victim to something like this. Granted I realized the mistake almost as soon as I made it. But many don't.

Yeah, it's pathetic that there are people out there who create these things. And I think hell will be 20 degrees hotter for them when they die. But until then, I think it's our civic and social responsibility to bust as many of them as possible.

** the one on the left is the fake.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Pringles are my favourite potato chip brand. I dig the shape, I dig the packaging, and they are handy to eat while driving. As a neat freak, I like how easily they fit together. As a romantic, I adore how they spoon each other in the can. Yeah, you still get some broken ones, but by and large you still get a good many chips for your buck.

Mostly, I dig the flavours Pringles come in: Original, Loaded Baked Potato, Sour Cream & Onion, Jalapeno, Chili Cheese, Pizza, Cheddar Cheese, Ranch, BBQ, Salt & Vinegar, Pizza-licious, Spicy Guacamole, and the Reduced-Fat and Fat-Free versions of the same. There are even Pringles with movie trivia printed on the chip. Talk about a party!

If only Pringles made Onion & Garlic flavour, my life would be worth living.

But I have recently discovered that my favourite chip manufacturer has been cheating me out of sampling some pretty great flavours of chips, because there are some flavours that are offered in other countries that are not available in the U.S. Such as: Paprika flavour in Finland. Ketchup in Canada. Smoked Bacon in Australia. Cool & Hot in Brazil. There is also an Aroma line of Pringles with flavours like Red Pepper with a Touch of Olive Extract (Great Britain) and Red Paprika (Deutschland).

Man I am jealous!

And there are some flavours that seem to be in the wrong countries. In South Korea, you can get European Tomato. In Great Britain, you can get Texas BBQ; same in France. In Japan, you not only can get French Consumme, but also Spanish Salsa. And in Deutschland, you can get Spicy Thai and Greek Style Cheese. Can you imagine a Greek Style Cheese chip?

Someone pinch me!

Christmas is coming and I've been a very good boy. So if there is anyone living in South Korea, England, Israel, Japan, Finland, France, hell even Canada that would like to send me a few cans of your specialty chip...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Who's Sorry Now?

Yesterday, I read that the "Michael Richards' Mea Culpa Tour" is traveling back to the scene of the crime so that Richards can apologize in-person to the club goers he offended that crazy night with his racial outbursts.

I agree that what he did was horrendous. But I have to also wonder if the club goers will also be forced to apologize to Richards and/or to the rest of the people in the club that night, if not the rest of the entertainment world, for causing this ruckus in the first place?

Granted, no one deserves to be called names, specifically those names dealing with your race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Those things that one cannot control should not be used against him for any reason. However, the men attending the club that night were loud and abrasive. They were disruptive and obnoxioius. Richards was there to perform his stand-up act - to do his job. The rest of the people in the club paid their hard-earned money to see Richards and be entertained by him. They did not deserve to be brought into this melee. The men were rude and provoked Richards' inexcusable behavior. And now they are just sitting back and waiting for an apology as well as a possible cash settlement from Richards. That's right - they might get money too. So once again, in America, bad behavior gets rewarded.

As the worst of two evils, Richards is not traveling the circuit offering his apologies for offending. However, more than one man was to blame for this fracas. And I think all parties should be held accountable.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Dumbest Christmas Song Ever Written

Now I am as sentimental as the next guy, especially when it comes to the combination of mothers and Christmas. But there is a Christmas song I have been hearing over the last 5 years or so that wins the Yuletide Velveeta Award for its oustandingly cheesy attempt at melodrama (I hate forced sentiment). And it's not enough that it is a crappy song, it's also a book, and a television movie starring Rob Lowe.

Obviously written to attempt a tug at the heart strings, "Christmas Shoes" simply falls way short and lands someplace between hokey and trailerpark. The premise: a little boy in a store on Christmas Eve buying a pair of "Christmas shoes" for his dying mother.

Yeahhhhhhhhhhh . . . . . . . .

If I was that close to death that my spouse would tell my children on Christmas Eve that there's "not much time" left, the last thing I want is a pair of new shoes - especially the kind that my 8 year old kid would buy me. I'm all for keeping children occupied during a crisis, but sending your son out to buy your wife a pair of pumps to wear when she "meets Jesus" is just a little too bizarre for me. The weird thing is that this song sounds alot like the Fruit of the Loom commerical where the Apple sings "You Can't Overlove Your Underwear" (only I like the underwear song more).

Here are the lyrics to "Christmas Shoes":

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line.
Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood.
Standing right in front of me, was a little boy waiting anxiously.
Pacing 'round like little boys do.
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes...
His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe.
And when it came his time to pay,
I couldn't believe what I heard him say.

"Sir, I want to buy these shoes, for my Mama, please...
It's Christmas Eve...and these shoes are just her size...
Could you hurry, Sir, Daddy says there's not much time...
You see she's been sick for quite a while...
And I know these shoes, would make her smile.
And I want her to look beautiful, if Mama meets Jesus tonight..."

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"
He searched his pockets frantically.
Then he turned and he looked at me...
He said "Mama made Christmas good at our house.
Though most years she just did without.
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes."
So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out...
I'll never forget the look on his face, when he said...
"Mama's gonna look so great...

"Sir, I want to buy these shoes, for my Mama, please...
It's Christmas Eve...and these shoes are just her size.
Could you hurry, Sir, Daddy says there's not much time...
You see she's been sick for quite a while.
And I know these shoes,would make her smile.
And I want her to look beautiful,
if Mama meets Jesus tonight..."

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Matt

Just a shout-out to my brother Matt, who turns 39 today.

Perhaps because we are just a year apart, Matt and I hated each other growing up. It could have been a rivalry, it could have been that we were just very different and would not see eye to eye. But I know that on more than one occasion, we both denied even being related to each other. I realize now, however, that because of our hatred, I tried harder to excel in ... well ... everything.

And then while we were in our 20's, we lived apart: he lived in Baltimore going to school at Towson State, and I lived in DC, then finished school in Winchester, VA. For several years, we would only see each other on holidays and school breaks mostly. And during that time, something happened to our relationship - we found respect for each other.

These days, Matt is one of my best advisors. Our humour is the same and we bring out the orneriness in each other. And even though we live very dissimilar lives (Matt is married with four sons and lives 1/2 mile from my parents), we seem to have more in common than ever before. I have an older sister that I adore, and another younger brother that I admire. And I am lucky to have all three of these people with me as I journey through my entire life.

So to Matt, at least today, I tip my hat and say "thank you ... for making me try harder." And Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Tale Of Two Dops

I apparently have been cheating those who read my blog out of knowing the real me. There are apparently two sides of me - the "blog me" and the "real me".

A close friend has admitted to me that if he only knew me through my blog - he doubts he would like me very much. After some of my more opinionated entries, he will look at me with a slight squint and a shake of his head and say, "Um, your blog entry today ...." And then we debate about how I fail to see all sides of what I am talking about. These subject matters have mostly centered around things that I take very personally. And I admit that I can be very one-sided at times.

I get this honestly. Both of my parents are very opinionated as well. They aren't judgmental people at all, they just have their opinions and beliefs, many with which I do not agree. My dad seems more opinionated than my mom, I think. Perhaps it comes from his living in a small town all his life? Perhaps it's due to not having his parents for very long (my dad's mother died when he was 16; his father died when Dad was 30)? I say this because my sister and two brothers all live within two miles of my parents, and they all seem to have the same opinions and beliefs. Mine differ slightly. And I don't think it's because I am the gay one, but more due to the fact that I left home, ergo meeting other people who also had left their homes. Leaving home changes your opinion on many things.

The "blog me" is stubborn, sometimes brash, occasionally not very fair. The "real me" is easy-going, sometimes incoherent, occasionally not very serious. The "blog me" is stuffy; the "real me" is goofy. The "blog me" seems loud at times, almost abrasive; the "real me" is shy at times, almost wallpaper.

I am going to make a concerted effort to put more of the "real me" into this blog - not completely, just a little around the edges. 'Cause my friends find the "real me" charming and loveable (thank God!). And I would prefer to be thought of that way, rather than as cold and aloof.

But I still love a good debate.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Marketing Victims

Ah, but we Americans are gullible, aren't we? Especially around Christmas when we want to buy what "they" tell us is the best product out there. But how many of us stop to think about what we are are actually buying? To prove the marketing mayhem is not sexist, here are two examples:

The Titanium Turbo T2 Shaver
The ad: "The Titanium Turbo is the high performance electric razor that will give you a close, comfortable shave - the smoothest shave - at a fraction of the cost of other razors. It's small and easy to handle yet is powerful enough to us as your primary shaver! The secret is the razor like design with 24 micro blades in the titanium plated head."
Sounds great right? But what does titanium have to do with shaving? And what is titanium? The only real contribution titanium will make to a razor is that it makes the blades non-corrosive, which means it won't weaken the blades. Not weaken, perhaps. But that's not the same as not dull the blades. Razor blades wear down, that's a fact. Exactly how fast depends on a few other factors. No razor will last you forever. Shaving your face with the same titanium razor 5 years from now will yield the same results as if you were shaving with your titanium watch or your titanium golf club.

Revlon's Age-Defying Makeup with Botafirm:
The ad: "Want younger-looking skin in just 14 days? Try this exclusive patented makeup formula with BotafirmTM- a patented blend of hexapeptides and botanicals- to reduce lines up to 50% in just 2 weeks. Specially formulated for dry skin, this moisture-rich formula helps restore skin softness and smoothness with medium coverage to blend away imperfections."
You do know there is no such thing as botafirm, right? It's just a word created by Revlon to make their product sound more contemporary. And not coincidentally, botafirm sounds alot like botox - the botulism toxin that people have injected into their faces to reduce wrinkles. There is no scientific proof that a product called botafirm even exists. Really.

We all want the best, usually without having to pay the accompanying price, and we want it all yesterday so that it takes effect last week. And even if tissues are laced with copper, or milk contains glue to make it whiter, or toothpaste starts containing stuff called "bleachtex" - we will buy these products. Why? Because it just sounds too good to be true.

And you know what that means, right?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

On Notice

Saw this on my buddy Michael's blog a few weeks ago. If you'd like to do this yourself, click here. So here is my official "On Notice" board:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


This is the first Thanksgiving of my life that I will not spend with my family, around my parents' dining room table, surrounded by about 50 members of my mother's family. Instead, I have chosen to stay in Chicago and have dinner with the family I have created for myself: The BF, my roommate Ashley, and downstairs roommates Brandon and Darnell. We will eat alot (I even cooked a few things), drink alot, and decorate for Christmas afterwards while football games play in the background, occasionally distracting us.

I am very thankful for many things this year, some of which I have already mentioned here: a supportive family, great friends, an amazing boyfriend, my health and happiness. And I wish you all equal measure.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


In my ever-present effort to stay cardiovascularly challenged, I upped my game and moved from running on the treadmill in the gym to running outside. The treadmill was just driving me crazy and I found that I bored before I tired. Since there was a break in the weather this past week in Chicago, I decided now was the time to start running on trails and such outdoors to enliven my routine.

I stepped outside, inhaled deeply, stretched, and began my run. Twenty feet later, as I fumbled with my iPod, I accidentally dropped it on the sidewalk, then as I tried to sidestep it, kicked it another 50 feet or so.

Oh yeah, it's way dead.

The one time I really needed my iPod while working out and this happened - totally my fault with no one else to blame, too. Curses. I am also glad to see that I am not the only person distraught at the death of my electronic listening device.

Truth is, I've been wanting to buy the iPod Nano for some time now. It's better suited to working out and it comes with all those cute accessories like armbands and the Nike distance chip. And I couldn't justify buying the Nano when I already had the larger, 20g version.

So perhaps my dropping the iPod was subliminal? Doubtful. I am not that deep. But I am that clumsy.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tech Tomato

If you are in Chicagoland (and even if you aren't), and you have a sick computer - I have found your saviour! Joel Mehr at Tech Tomato is a God-send when it comes to fixing/repairing/resuscitating a computer. Last Fall, my laptop, which was only 5 months old, caught a nasty virus. Every day, I would just watch my memory disappear more and more. By February, it was all but dead.

And then The BF recommended Joel, a co-worker from Blue Man Group. I handed my very sick laptop over to Joel and hoped for the best. Within three weeks, the laptop was returned in the same shape as it was when I bought it in May. And I only lost 3 programs which were easily re-installed with software I already had.

Joel also installed additional spyware and virus software to help combat future problems, and since then I have had absolutely no problems.

Not only does Tech Tomato bring the dead back to life, they also teach the community to be more savvy computer operators. Here's an article that appeared about them in last week's addition of the Daily Herald. It's good to see a company that not only fixes problems, but takes the time to help the community combat the problems in the first place. Ultimately, if everyone knew how to correctly operate a computer, Tech Tomato wouldn't be necessary - yet they take the steps to - in a very roundabout way - eradicate themselves for the betterment of the community.

A selfless approach in a selfish world. Congrats guys!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Emmitt Smith & Me

The BF called me the other night simply to say that he had just finished watching Dancing With The Stars and wanted to tell me how much ex-Dallas Cowboys Running Back and current DWTS champion, Emmitt Smith, looks like me. "He's big and bald and smiles alot. And he's cute, " The BF said with a giggle.

I cannot tell you the number of times I was told how much I resemble Emmitt, just this week alone. A while ago, I blogged about a face recognition website that would match you up with celebrities who resembled you, or at least the photo you chose to use. Personally, I didn't see a resemblance between me and any of those other people. But after checking out some pictures, I actually do see the resemblance between Emmitt and me. As my co-worker, Amy, said yesterday, "Emmitt is The Black Dop."

Some say it's the beefy build, some say it's the bald head, some say it's the big smile (I wish it was the big wallet). So let's compare some stats:

Super Bowl titles:30
Feb. 3, 2005:
Retired from Pro FootballWatched Catwoman on Netflix

Okay, so maybe we didn't live parallel lives, but here are some comparison pics for you to judge for yourself:


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Anonymous Commenters

Over a year ago, I was unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some fairly hateful comments posted on my blog by someone who would feel comfortable enough to voice his opinioin, but not adult enough to sign his name to it. Based on his postings (I just surmised that "anonymous" was a male), it was clear that we did not know each other.

Was he an unrequited love? Maybe. Was he a disgruntled postal worker? Perhaps. Was he bored and lonely with no friends? Probably. For whatever reason, this dude hated - HATED - me and my life without ever meeting me in person, or even carrying on any kind of dialogue. He simply chose to voice his opinion and sign his name as Anonymous. Eventually, he went away, off to bother someone else no doubt.

Had Anonymous actually written anything that made sense, I might have encouraged him to continue to post his opinions. I do, after all, inadvertently invite some form of criticism by simply keeping an online journal of my thoughts and ideas which allows others to respond in kind. And while I am the first to admit that I probably don't have the most positive blog on the net, I do hope that what I write is considered interesting, fun, and sometimes offbeat yet thought-provoking.

Lately, another person (I am only assuming that this is a different person) has been offering his opinions (I again assume it's a man) and criticisms about the stuff I write on this here blog. Now, one can disagree with me all he wants, but the one thing I will not allow is to have my blog hijacked by someone else to serve as a vehicle for his own opinions. To that I say, "Get your own effing blog and leave mine alone." And Whitney agrees with me.

I encourage everyone who reads my blog to sign your name. My opinions cannot be swayed by someone with no credentials - or name for that matter. I consider comments to be a form of education, however I cannot respect a teacher who masks himself. This ain't Phantom of the Opera, toots.

So Whitney and I are going to be monitoring the comments a little more closely now. And if those left by anyone signing as anonymous are not up to par, they will be deleted. What is "up to par", you might ask? Well, it's a little like pornography - I can't define it, but I'll know it when I see it. And yes, this probably negates the concept of an open forum, but it should also propogate the creation of new blogs out there that others can choose to read or not read.

Just like mine.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Imagine - The Bush Remix

If only "W" really felt this way. It's interesting to hear the words of one of the greatest songs ever written from the mouth of one of the worst leaders there's ever been.

The amount of editing and work that went into this is staggering.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Coming Outs

I am a little late on this, but a congrats shout out to Neil Patrick Harris, co-star of How I Met Your Mother, and T.R. Knight, co-star of Grey's Anatomy, for publicly coming out as gay men!

While it is important for them to publicly acknowledge who they are as individuals, it is equally important for them to do so when they are at career pinnacles. While other actors have had to wait well into their careers and even past them (George Takei, Dick Sargent, Richard Chamberlain), it's so important for young actors (as well as other professionals and athletes) to announce their orientations. It also helps that Harris and Knight are likeable and positive men who are not tabloid fodder, unlike many of their straight counterparts.

And while I am at it - a big hiss to Knight's castmate, Isaiah Washington, for proving to the world that he is a hater and a homophobe; and a rousing Straight Ally Applause for Patrick Dempsey, for standing up for Knight.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Just Like The Pilgrims Did It

I love autumn. It is my favorite season. I love the colours, the smells, the temperature. Everyone looks instantly cuddly in their sweaters and scarves. And it's beautiful autumn days like today that remind me of a drive I took one November Sunday afternoon.

It was a beautiful autumn day and my ex-fiance, Crystal, and I decided to go for a drive. We were travelling down Old Route 9 just east of Oldtown, MD. It is an old, winding road with sharp turns and long straight-aways. And it was on one of these straight-aways when in the distance we saw a big clump of something laying just slightly off-center on the middle of the road.

"What do you think that is?" I asked my co-pilot.
"It looks like a garbage bag or something. Perhaps fell off a truck?", she guessed.
"Well there's no room to go around it. The jeep is high enough to clear it."

As we approached the bag, and were about twenty feet or so from driving over top of it, the garbage bag suddenly sprouted a head, a long neck, and wings! It was a damn turkey! I hit my brakes but couldn't stop in time.

"Holy shit!!", we both yelled. And I hit him going about 40mph with the grill of my jeep. His body flew up in the air, hit the windshield and disappeared. We came to a screeching stop and looked out the back window just in time to see this massive blob plop to the earth and remain motionless, feathers flying everywhere.

I looked at Crystal in amazement and said, "I can't believe I just killed a turkey."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Drive By Texting

When I ride the bus to or from work, I am amazed at the number of drivers I see on LSD (as in Lake Shore Drive, not lyseric acid diethylamide - although there quite possibly could be drivers on lyseric acid diethlamide, but I digress) who are talking on their cell phones while driving. I've never been one to talk and drive at the same time.

People don't seem to understand the risks involved, especially when driving on something as fast-moving as an expressway during rush hour. But drivers who are just talking on their cell phones are not the biggest safety concern. The other day, I treated myself to a cab ride home rather than taking the bus or the EL. I thought my cab driver seemed to be driving a bit erratically, until I realized he was also texting on his cell phone. (There have been times when I have asked cab drivers to please hang up and concentrate on driving - cab drivers already have reputations for being irresponsible and reckless).

So naturally, I asked the driver of this cab to please stop text messaging on the phone and concentrate on the road. And he had the nerve to get pissy with me. "I can do both at the same time," he shoots back at me. "Not with me in the car, please put the phone down!"

He did as I originally requested - he stopped texting. Only to place a call, probably to the person to whom he was sending the text - and speak in another language, probably about me, because I kept catching his eye in the rear view mirror.

So, then it isn't common sense to not be sending text messages while you are operating a motor vehicle, especially one where you are responsible for a passenger's safety?? Is this what they teach in taxi college??

The driver got no tip - I even asked for the coins back. And I reported him to his cab company, although I am not sure what will be done about it, if anything. This is no worse than a bus driver working on a crossword puzzle or a pilot watching a DVD. I realize cab drivers need to communicate with their dispatchers now and then, but typing into a phone when both hands are supposed to be on the wheel - not to mention both eyes on the road - should cease and desist.

The next great automotive idea? A signal that disables text messaging in a vehicle when said vehicle is in motion. Hey Saab, make that!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kati Gets Married

I went to a family wedding a few weekends ago. I don't go to many weddings. It's not because I don't have any friends, its just that all of my friends seem to be gay men who aren't getting married. The last wedding I attended was in 1994 when my youngest brother Mike got married. Twelve years later, here I go again.

Kati is my cousin-once-removed. She is the daughter of my eldest cousin Cathy. Because Cathy is so much older than I (17 years older) and Kati is so much younger than I (15 years younger), they are more like sisters than cousins to me. Watching Kati get married was the same as watching my baby sister get married. She is the first person who's birth I remember. I mean, I can remember other people being born, but I actually remember the minute she was born. I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news, the same way the Baby Boomers remember Kennedy's assasination.

Kati was an adorably beautiful bride. She looked very happy and very much in love, as did her new husband Mark. It was a Catholic wedding, so there were alot of ups and downs (and if you're not Catholic, that means there's alot of standing and sitting and kneeling. It's like being at a college football game: stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!) And Kati managed to turn it up a notch by wearing a gown that was not entirely white. It was the first time I ever saw red incorporated into a wedding gown. Loved it!

It was a lovely ceremony, and I am very happy Kati married Mark, whom my family adores. He realizes how close Kati and I are, so it meant alot to him, too, that I returned home for the wedding. With this wedding, I feel more of a gain than a loss. I haven't lost a baby sister - I've just gained (another) little brother.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Today Is The Day

Get out today and vote! Time to change the regime! All the complaining can end today if we stand up and say WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! My optimism is very high. And by the end of today, I want to be able to sing,

"I can see clearly now, the reign is gone!"


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Giving Blood Through The Nose

I used to donate blood all the time. I think in total I donated about two gallons. I remember how disappointed I was when my name was not mentioned in the newspaper when I hit the one gallon mark. I was so proud of that achievement. And then I stopped donating.

Not because of the snub from the Red Cross. And not because I am gay either. I'm sure some people stop donating because of that but I didn't. I figured if they thought they had the right to ask me about my personal life, then I had the right to lie about it. I denied being gay just so I could give blood. I had my blood tested regularly, and I was not a risky person anyway, so I knew my blood was good. So I considered it a white lie for the greater good. My blood would help someone who needed it. So I didn't feel bad about being dishonest to the Red Cross. (Besides, they snubbed me.)

No, the real reason I stopped donating blood occured during a blood drive held at my college. I was in a fraternity and had talked all of the brothers into donating blood as well. I explained that it was a painless process and that it was such a great cause. They agreed to follow me. I checked in and sat down to have my temperature taken. An elderly lady with a name tag reading "Midge" was working that station.

All I can guess is, Midge just wasn't paying attention. Just as she began to put the thermometer in my mouth, someone called her name. She turned her head and instead of putting the thermometer under my tongue, she rammed it up my nose. I reared my head back and yelled. It echoed throughout the gymnasium. All of my brothers got up in unison and walked out of the blood drive.

Flustered, Midge asked if I was all right. "Of course not!" I screamed. So then she tried to stick that same thermometer under my tongue. "Don't put that thing in my mouth, God!" Poor Midge was so confused. My nose hurt for five days after that. And that's why I don't donate blood anymore.

And just because we were so damn cute, here is one more parting shot from Hallowe'en, courtesy of the Giant Panda himself, Will at The [Cherry] Ride:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pasta Can Kill You

I never would have guessed that something as mundane as doing the dishes could result in minor surgery (but leave it to me to find a way).

I was living with a roommate my senior year in college and it was my night to do dishes. The roommate had boiled pasta for spaghetti the night before and some of the noodles had ended up drying to the bottom of the pot. So I applied a little elbow grease with my fingers in order to scrape them out. Well, as I was scraping, one of the noodles broke off and slid under the index finger of my right hand.

It hurt. Like. Hell.

It ended up breaking off under the nail so that I couldn't even get to it. I tried soaking it in salt water, then peroxide, then just plain old hot water, hoping to soften the noodle. Alas, it wouldn't budge. After the pain eventually became unbearable (twelve hours later when I hadn't been able to sleep because my finger felt like the size of a lightbulb), I drove myself to the emergency room of the hospital. The ER physician was amazed! (Somehow he had gone his entire professional career and never once had a patient who had a broken piece of spaghetti stuck under his fingernail. Imagine that!) He said he would have to do a digital block (numb the whole finger from the knuckle down) and scrape underneath the nail. After three shots around the knuckle (and a subsequent warning of a sharp pain from the doctor) I laid for fifteen minutes while the novocaine took effect.

The doctor then came in and proceeded to scrape under my fingernail with a small pair of forceps. But my finger wasn't numb enough and I could feel it. "Wait wait wait wait!" I yelled. He thought for a minute. He scowled. He looked at me. He looked at my finger. He scowled again. Then he said to me,

"I want to do this with the least amount of pain caused to you as possible." "Thank you for taking that into consideration" I replied.
"We're going to have to numb your finger again."
"And it's going to be very painful", he warned.
"Well, I hate to be wimpy about it but it really does hurt."
"Oh, you're not being wimpy at all. Remember, things shoved under fingernails was a form of torture during wartime. What you're not going to like is where we have to inject the novocaine."
"Umm. . . where?"
"We have to inject it next to the injury."
"Meaning ... ?"
"We have to inject it under the fingernail itself. And it is going to hurt."

Ohmigod! A needle going under my fingernail! If I could feel those forceps, how in the world was a needle going to feel? I held onto the bar alongside the bed with my left hand. The doctor asked me to squeeze his hand with the remaining fingers on my right and I braced myself.

Never before in the history of my life had I ever experienced such physical pain.It hurt, and it didn't, both at the same time. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt dizzy. I almost fainted. After the injection, he lifted my nail and scraped the underside of it with the forceps, then flush out the end of the finger with a syringe. He then popped my nail back into place and plunged my finger into an iodine mixture. I was sweating at this point. He then administered a tetanus shot (which I didn't even feel compared to the previous situation), allowed me to rest and sent me to the pharmacy for a prescription of cephalaxin and acetamenophin.

I then went home and, with my other good hand, punched my roommate in the stomach.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


So here we are! The BF did an amazing job, didn't he? Yes - he made both costumes, all from scratch.

We attended the Parade on Halsted, Sidetrack and Roscoe's. And we were clearly the crowd favorites. We must have posed for 40-50 photographs, including some heavy hitter newspaper and websites.

You can see more pics of us at The BF's blog, and our buddy Will - another crowd favorite as the Giant Panda - will have more pics on his Flickr Page. More details to follow. But suffice is to say The BF did an amazing job, we looked awesome, and had a great time.

Now, about next year . . .

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Heart Cries A Little

Sad news on Hallowe'en. Usually, Hollywood breakups don't bother me but this one does. Not sure why. Still I feel sad.

However tonight will change all that. The BF has outdone himself, yet again! Pics to follow this week. Until then, have a safe, fun, and happy All Hallows' Eve!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

October 27

To understand what this entry is all about, click here.

2005 - Have a stress test with my new cardiologist. Celebrate Ashley and Brandon's birthday and go out afterwards to Sidetrack with the twins and The BF.

2004 - Drinks at Gazuza in DC with Jon, Eric, Kelly and Kevin.

2003 - Dinner with Ashley for his birthday. Babysit Tucker.

2001 - Take jeep to Jiffy Lube. Friend Geoff W. visits and we go dancing at Colours of Fall at Nation. Still fairly warm in DC.

2000 - Drive to parents place for family Hallowe'en party.

1999 - Movie night with friend Paul E.

1997 - DC's High Heel Race with Ex#3, Scotty, Brett and David.

1995 - Move into first solo apartment on the Hill in DC.

1993 - Go pumpkin shopping with friend Colleen, then dinner at Ground Round with friend Tom.

1992 - Wait tables at Chi-Chi's from 4:15 til Close. Friend Jeff's back surgery following car accident on the 23rd.

1991 - Drive from college to have dinner in DC at Annie's Paramount Steakhouse with frends Jeff, Matt and Ex#2

1990 - Move to Silver Spring, MD after moving back to my folks place following my internship in NYC.

1989 - Hallowe'en party at Deer Park Lodge - voted 2nd place for ugliest costume (although I don't remember what I was)

1988 - Ex#1 returns home from 6 weeks in NYC for work (I'm sure sex was had).

1986 - Dinner at my sister Kim's house.

1985 - Visit Pam and Chris with fiance Crystal. Dinner and board games.

1984 - Early Bird exam at 8:00 AM to pass out of Tudor-Stuart England class.

1983 - Chaperone Sock Hop at Eckhart School 7-9PM.

1982 - Ride in Hallowe'en parade in Cumberland with friend Debbie L. who was running in school board election.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kids 'n Computers

Several years ago, I needed (or rather, wanted) to upgrade my computer. There was nothing wrong with the one I had - it still ran fine, had lots of memory and all the appropriate virus protections. I just wanted a change. So I gave my old desktop computer to my parents. It was their first computer, and I really only gave it to them so they could email me and keep some files. Which is all they would ever really need it for. Within two years of having it, the computer died.

So then I thought that maybe I would graduate to a laptop instead of a desk top. So I bought an HP laptop and gave my parents my desktop to replace the one that seemed to die. Again, within two years, it was destroyed.

I couldn't figure out what was going on until I found out that my nieces and nephews (who are not allowed on the computers at their respective homes) were accessing all kinds of websites and downloading games and God-knows-what-else onto my parents' computer. Every time I went home there was a new icon on the screen, and the pentium III processor seemed to be running on turtle power. My folks took it in for repair several times to have the hard drive wiped clean and reinstalled.

So last year, when a friend of mine was moving in with his new partner and no longer needed his computer, I bought it from him to give to my parents - again. It was a brand new computer that he bought three months before and only turned on once. I gave it to my folks last summer with explicit instructions to not let the kids on it. And then this morning I get an email from my mother saying,

"I am having a problem with my computer, it says I am running out of disc C space and it gives me options to delete files I don't need, but I don't know if I need them or not. How do I tell if I need them? You know how dumb I am about this machine. Maybe I will call you this evening after I get home from work and see if you can tell me anything. "

First of all, there is no way the C drive is full. My mom uses the computer to email me and spreadsheet her and dad's medications. And she might play solitaire now and then, but that's it. Which means that someone has been dicking around on their computer - again! My dad never touches the thing. If he needs anything, he gets Mom to do it.

I am going home this weekend for a wedding so I will have to check out the computer. And if I find out that the kids have been playing on it and downloading stuff again, heads (no matter how old or cute) are gonna roll.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Daveland Strikes Again!

About two years ago, I discovered this artist online and asked him if he could recommend anyone who could do a cartoon drawing of me that I could use for my now-defunct website. His response was basically, "duh!" So I sent him a few pics of me and he created the image you see on the left. It's truly the best likeness of me ever made. And along the way, Dave and I became good friends.

He also made this creation for me - sort of an ultimate musclebear cartoon. I love it. Dave is extremely talented. And he now does a fairly good business doing cartoons of people for websites and blogs and such. I like to think I started the whole thing.

I have more projects for Dave in the works, as he is my go-to artist. Visit his site and enjoy his work, and even commission him to immortalize you as a work of Pop Art. Also, explore Dave's "adult" work by going here (hint: type NEWUSER for both user name and password to gain access). You'll also get to see the full version of my cartoon too.

Monday, October 23, 2006

One Year Together

This past weekend, The BF and I celebrated our official One Year Anniversary.

It was a little tricky trying to determine when this day would take place. We actually met a year ago this past June. And then I moved to Chicago a year ago September 25th and we pretty much began dating from that point on. But we didn't officially consider ourselves boyfriends until October 22nd, which I guess was necessary to do considering a week later, The BF was going to dress me up like this - and I don't get dressed up like this for just anyone (and this year's costume is gonna be outRAGEous!)

I kissed alot of frogs before finally meeting this prince. He's the best boyfriend I've ever had, and it's been a great year!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Honey, They Got Me Riled Up

Boy, I tell you. You criticize Madonna and the 'Mos all come out screaming!

My blog entry this past Wednesday was less about Madonna and more about adoption in general. And it's really easy for me to get passionate about this, seeing as how I was adopted and all. My only real issue with Madonna is that if she wanted to adopt an African child whose life has been victimized by poverty and AIDS, she could have easily gone to South Africa - that place is riddled with children who need parents too. AND, it's LEGAL to adopt children there. She possibly chose Malawi so that she could be the only person in the western world with a Malawian child. I mean, come on - it is, after all, Madonna. And that's my opinion that I am entitled to believe (the same way I believe that Uli should have beaten Jeffrey). Because really, there is no way to prove it one way or another.

My problem with the "Madonna situation", however, centers more around the fact that her potential son, David, already has a father who placed David in an orphanage when David's mother died soon after giving birth to him. Let's be clear here - Madonna is adopting a child from an orphanage, but she's not adopting an orphan. David has a father who has shirked his responsibility.

-- pulling out soapbox --

Let me shout out loud here that first and foremost, it is the responsibility of the parent(s) to raise the(ir) child. That's your job: you get a new title, unconditional love, dependability, and all that goes with the responsibility of being an adult. If God made you physically capable of reproduction, then you are mature enough to handle the responsibility, regardless of your financial situation or your environment.

Let me add that having a child may be the single-most selfish thing a person can do. It has nothing to do with the child and absolutely everything to do with vanity and tradition. People have children for their own reasons, as the child has no reason to be born otherwise. I cannot accept bringing a child into the world when you are already aware that the elements (life, finances, time) are against you. In David's case, his father said "I am the father of David, who has been adopted. I am very very happy because as you can see there is poverty in this village and I know he will be very well looked after in America."

Okay. This might be me at my most ignorant, but when you are aware that your child has little chance of survival, why on earth bring a child into the situation? Some people will argue that these people (Malawians, for example) are undereducated and don't know any better. But if a one year old touches a hot stove and burns himself, he might touch it once more to be certain of what happened, but then that's it - he's done. There's no going back and learning that lesson again and again. If you look around you and children and adults are dying, poverty surrounds you, and life is horrible, what kind of selfish person must you be to bring a child into the situation, and then give it up when you realize its too much to handle??

-- putting soapbox away --

So please spare me the endless harangues about how wonderful Madge is for snapping a child out of an abyssmal situation. She can adopt the whole country for all I care. They can all call themselves "Madonnians" or something. But unless you know what it's like to be given up - not because you don't have parents, but because they just didn't want the responsibility of raising you - as I was, then save your lectures for someone else, please.

On Monday, we will return to our normally boring, yet sometimes interesting blog.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Stupid Invention #17538

The Back Pack on Wheels.

Apparently, whoever invented this has never had to navigate pedestrian rush-hour traffic. I have tripped over more than my fair share of these contraptions. In crowded rail stations and sidewalks, no one looks down - everyone is focused and rushing straight ahead to either catch a train before it departs, jump on a bus before the door closes, or to go into the pocket. If I see a space for me to jump into while walking, I don't think to look down to see if someone is dragging a backpack.

How heavy must a backpack be for someone to have to drag it rather than just sling it over a shoulder? Most of the ones I have seen look to be practically empty. If you need to carry your work to and from in a backpack, you apparently have very poor time-management skills. It seems to be mostly older women who use these things, probably spouting off that they have back problems or simply cant lift or carry a bag. However, I am sure these same women have no difficulty carrying shopping bags during a sale at Marshall Field or a 10-pound ball on bowling night.

Immaculate Misconception

Madonna has a child without being impregnated. No, it's not the story of Jesus's birth, but the latest in Hollywood accessories.

It has been made official (after a few weeks of lies) that Madonna is adopting a child from Africa. I have a few problems about this:

1) While I am well aware that is it easier to adopt a child from a foreign country than it is in the United States, there are still plenty of parentless children right here in our country, some living in as impoverished conditions as those who live overseas. It's not like Madonna NEEDED a child, as some childless couples do. She already had two and it's not like her clock is ticking. She could have waited the appropriate amount of time to adopt an American (or even British) child.

2) The boy she adopted, David, isn't even parentless. He has a father and a grandmother. Sadly, his mother died a month after he was born and he's been raised so far in an orphanage. My question is why isn't the father raising him? As a parent, that's your job - to raise your child. It's your obligation and responsibility, no matter how difficult. The father is 32, so I would guess the grandmother is only in her 50's. Between the two of them, surely they could care for one child who is only a year old.

3) This seemed to be less about adopting a child from an impoverish country and more about Madonna's publicity. Otherwise, she wouldn't have have trekked over to Africa several times to visit several orphanages. If your heart tells you to adopt an impoverished child, then you take the first one you see. You don't go shopping for a child like he's a handbag.

4) Malawian law specifically prohibits non-residents from adopting Malawian children. They feel it is better for a child to stay in his/her own environment, surrounded by his/her own kind. I wonder if Madonna chose this country simply so she could be the only western person in the world to have a Malawian child?
Adoption of any kind is near and dear to my heart. And I do applaud Madonna for reaching out and doing charity work with her megamillions. But I also believe that charity begins at home. In 2002, there were 20,009 foreign children adopted by U.S. families. That's just over 20,000 U.S. children that could be living in loving family settings instead of orphanages and foster homes.

Admittedly, it is sad that these children are born into such horrible conditions. But the thread of our country is unraveling because of a lack or absence of parenting ability and skills. Plucking a child out of his environment in a foreign country, no matter how despicable, might make your soul feel warm, but it's little consolation to the countless number of US children without parents, the 600,000 children in the US foster care program, and the several thousand childless couples who would love to have a child of their own but cannot employ the same means as a pop star.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Luke Visits

This past weekend, my friend Luke visited me while touring the U.S.

Luke lives in Australia, and we met a little over two years ago in NYC while he was visiting for the U.S. Open and I was just beginning a test phase for a heart treatment at Columbia Hospital (we all know how THAT turned out, don't we?).

When Luke and I met, it was as if we had been friends, or rather mates, for years. We spent two days together in NYC, and then he came to DC for a weekend before traveling back to Australia. For the past two years, we have stayed in constant contact via email and phone. Last year, before my heart surgery, I instructed my sister to call 5 people and give them updates on my condition. Luke was one of the five (my best friend Jeff, roommate Ashley, gal-pal Kelly, and The BF before he was The BF, were the other 4).

When visiting the states this year, Luke put Chicago on his list to spend a few days with me and meet The BF. He arrived on Friday night after spending a week in LA and Miami. And Friday night kicked off a drunkfest the likes of which I have not partaken in ages. I don't go out to bars very much, so going out three nights in a row was a huge deal. And Luke was constantly entertaining.

On Sunday, The BF and I attended a birthday party at Bin Wine for our friend Heather. We invited Luke to come along, but he took the three hours to sit at home alone on the couch and chill. I realized that he probably hadn't had any alone time since his trip started, much less time to just relax and do nothing. We went without him and he met up with us later at Mary's Attic for Gong Show Karaoke.

Luke flew out Monday morning for NYC, where he will stay with his best friend for the next two weeks before returning back to Oz. His three favorite things about Chicago were:

1. The surplus of beefy, older men
2. Quiznos (which they don't have over there), and...
3. The BF

It's a great feeling having friends that you might not see all the time or even talk to much, but when you are together, it's as if no time has passed between visits. I think that is what defines true friendship. We've scolded each other, listened to each other bellyache, praised each other and laughed alot. Perhaps it will be another two years before I see him again, perhaps not. In any case, no matter how long it will be between our visits, it will seem like yesterday.

It was a blast, mate! Bon voyage!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Subliminal Advertising

I'm just saying ...

Do you see it? If you are having trouble, just look at the cube and focus on the brown areas.