Saturday, July 28, 2007

Some Random Thoughts

I have intended to update this blog for the past couple of weeks but just didn't feel like I had anything of substance to relay. There have been a few things here and there that have caught my attention but nothing that made me want to sit down and vent or try and rally others to react.

However, I did just see a news story on CNN's Headlice News while I was eating lunch in the breakroom at work that sort of freaked me out. Europe is now going to provide the Department of Homeland Security with all this personal info regarding visitors flying into the U.S. including sexual orientation!!! What in the fuck could a person's sexual orientation have to do with their propensity to be a terrorist, which is allegedly the reason for sharing the information!?! I would have written a whole post just on this topic but I'm sure this is going to be a big deal and there will be a grassroots effort to express displeasure regarding this invasion of privacy. You can read about this shit here.

Moving along. I bought an mp3 player with money that I got for my birthday this month. I didn't get some fancy ass iPod because I knew my needs and budget weren't that big. Man, mp3 players have sure come down in price since the last time I looked at them. You can now get a 1gb player as cheap as $30 to $40 currently. I bought a 1gb Sandisk brand that has direct USB connectivity, so I can just plug it directly into my pc and drag and drop files. It's also memory expandable with a micro SD card, so I could potentially double the memory for a mere $15 bucks! This player I bought was $60 at Best Buy. And I'm sure that a comparable player will be half that price within a year. They're so cheap now compared to when I shopped for them before that my mind was blown. (Like a couple of years ago a 512mb player cost over $100!!!)

The reason why I bought the mp3 player was to play audio books on. I was tired of keeping up with all those cds and using the bulky portable cd player at night in bed. I figured I'd just rip the audio book cds and move them onto the player. This plan has totally worked out. I listened to the whole new Harry Potter book using the mp3 player. (Yes. I'm that big of a dork.) It was so much more convenient than having to keep up with and constantly switch out seventeen cds.

The coolest discovery I've made since I got the mp3 player has been podcasts. I know I'm a few years behind the times with this but I've never had a way of capturing the files and carrying them around with me conveniently before. And I am just not going to sit in front of my computer and listen to a show. Since I got a player I can now finally trip on this phenomenon that had almost passed me by. I know there are thousands of podcasts out there, so I haven't really figured out which ones I'm super-duper into. Right off the bat I've been listening to these two ultra-gay shows though: Feast Of Fools and this "sober" drag queen called Wanda Wisdom. There's also another one that seems like it is potentially fun called Tranny Wreck but it doesn't seem to be updated very often and I've only listened the one most recent show. Update: Since I originally posted this a couple of days ago I stumbled across another show - Foul Monkeys. It's these two gay guys and their revolving door of straight friends just hanging out and usually talking about nerdy stuff, like video games. A lot of the time I'm not into what they're talking about but I like the energy and silliness of the show and mainly I like that the gay guys aren't stereotypical queens. I can definitely relate to that...girl. (Insert satire.)

I'm back on a work-out routine. I slowed down on the smoking over a two-week period until I finally quit all-together (again) on Wednesday (or Thursday?). The mp3 player is perfect for working out. I walked the treadmill last night listening to Wanda Wisdom do her thang. I'm not planning to go overboard but I do feel so much better that I think this is going to stick finally. Last time we "got healthy" we really adopted the full lifestyle but then we started fostering kids and it all went out the window. I think we're at a place again where we can focus on regular exercise and good eating habits. (It's too damn easy to eat like shit in this country!)

Anyway, speaking of fostering kids, I had said in a way earlier post that I wanted to put something up about our experience with so-called gay adoption, specifically in Texas. I did start writing something and have come back to work on it several times but it's grown enormous and I'm still not finished! I swear by the time I do wrap up all of what I want to say it'll be a goddamn book. So if you've come across my blog while doing a key word search trying to find something about same-sex partners adopting (particularly in Texas) just send me an email with any questions you may have. I'm generally pretty good at staying on top of my mail, so I'll probably write you back relatively quick.

Alright. I'm gonna go. Y'all take care.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is...That Is, When It's Not Wrapped Around A Cock.

I saw an item today about how UPS has denied benefits to the civil union-ed partner of one of its employees in New Jersey. UPS claims that the couple's civil union is not a marriage and, therefore, they cannot provide the benefits that they provide to the family of their opposite-sex "married" employees. It's unclear as to whether UPS is simply being shitty and discriminatory or if they're purposefully trying to push the issue in an effort to tear down the (not) separate-but-equal status of same-sex civil unions. Personally, I'm leaning towards their being good guys in this situation.

I've looked UPS up on HRC's Equality Index, which is basically a ratings system for how gay-friendly corporations are, and they have a fairly respectable score of 80 (out of a possible 100). That's not phenomenal but it kicks the crap out of FedEx's shameful score of 55!! Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that UPS provides it's gay married Massachusetts' employees with same-sex benefits but FedEx has refused, citing that the federal government doesn't recognize same-sex marriage. (Thanks, DOMA.) FedEx is evil and you should not use them for your mailing needs. They're like the Exxon of shipping.

So then that reminded me of something that I wanted to write about. Please, please, please whenever possible spend your money responsibly in regards to the gay community. I use the aforementioned HRC's Equality Index a lot. If I'm looking to buy something I compare the scores of competing businesses and always try to give my money to the company with the best rating. For example, always choose Target (a score of 80) over Wal-mart (65). And if possible go to Costco (93) over Target!

This past weekend I was looking to buy an mp3 player. I did some research online and found the cheapest sale prices at Radio Shack and Circuit City. However, when I looked them up on the Equality Index I was very disappointed to find Radio Shack's abysmal score (40), so I knew right off I wouldn't buy anything from them. Circuit City didn't fare much better (55). However, I remembered Best Buy and was thrilled to see their perfect score (100)!! So that's where I went for my mp3 player and that's where I'll go for all my electronic needs from now on until one of their competitor's matches their score.

It's not quite enough to just spend your money responsibly though. You have to let the businesses know why you're making your choice to spend or not spend money with them. Take one or two minutes to Google a company's web site and locate their "contact" link or page. Then send them a brief message telling them that until their policies regarding queers improves you'll be taking your business to competitor "X" who has a much better track record. And if a company is gay-friendly drop them a line too, so that they know it does make a difference and you appreciate their progressive policies.

It's not a lot but this type of "armchair activism" will be more effective than any sort of picketing or other confrontational tactic. This is America, baby. The great bastion of capitalism. People can go on and on about how great our democracy is but the bottom line is the bottom dollar. Money talks louder than any verbal screams of protest. You want progress? Then stop funneling money into the hands those that hate us. For real, bitches.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Roomba - The World's First Retarded Robot

Yesterday at a garage sale we bought a Roomba vacuum, which I've always wanted. That's one of those little disk-shaped robotic vacuums that supposedly roam around your house and vacuum automatically. It was only like $10 and we talked them down to $5 at this garage sale. It's a good thing too because it's fucking stupid. I put the recharging base in the corner of the dining room and whenever I turn it on it always instantly heads out, then turns around, goes back and then promptly turns and goes and wedges itself underneath the table. It does the same exact thing every time and never learns from its mistakes. If I move it out into the middle of a room it only takes maybe thirty-seconds before it jams itself either up underneath a piece of furniture or tries to start climbing up something until it's stuck. Before it becomes completely stuck it'll back up a little but instead of turning around it just keeps trying to go forward until it become irreversibly fucked.

Oh. It's also really loud too.

I looked it up on Wikipedia and the one we wound up with is not a first generation model with bugs. It's like a more advanced third generation unit. (Model 4220 from 2004.) I also don't think it was just used till it got fucked up either, as it looked really new and the people had it in a bag with all the parts and even all the little books that come with it. I think they probably got it from like their adult kids one Christmas and quickly discovered that it didn't work and it went in a closet for two or three years.

So I just wanted to put this out there to warn people about my experience. If you think this is a good product or have any suggestions as to how to improve ours or why it acts so ignunt please let me know.

Geez. I'm glad I didn't plop down like $150 on one of these things new.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I'm Too Sexy For My Hate Crime Scare Tactics

You know who Fred Phelps is, right? He's the guy behind that whole "God Hates Fags" campaign. He runs an alleged church based out of Kansas and he and his congregation, which is made up primarily of his family members, picket funerals of not only AIDS and gay hate crime victims but the funerals of fallen soldiers as well! (Their reasoning is that God is punishing our country and its people for our extensive support of homosexuals.) I'd provide a link to his web site(s) but I don't want to help increase their site traffic. He and his ilk, like his hideous daughter Shirley, are truly toxic and should be avoided at all costs.

With that said though, I have had an idea for a while now that I'll never get off my ass to do, so I'll put it out there for the people in case anyone wants to rip off this concept. I think that some guerrilla artist needs to mix an album of hardcore techno songs featuring the most insane Fred Phelps anti-gay sound bites. These tracks could then be ironically played at underground clubs where lots of gay sex and/or drug abuse was going on and eventually drag queens could start mocking the songs in their lipsynch numbers. Just to make sure everyone gets the joke the songs should have really outrageous subtitles such as "God Hates Fags (Let Jesus Fuck You Mix)" or "Suffer The Sodomites (Tasty A-Hole Mix)" just as examples. The real kicker would be that these tracks would be released under the moniker Right Said Fred Phelps.

Well, I'm off to pray for salvation now. Ta.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Beth Ditto, The Gossip and GLBT vs. Queer

I kept reading about the antics of Beth Ditto on various so-called glbt blogs. She's the lead singer of a band called The Gossip, that formed in Arkansas, found initial success in the northwest (like Oregon and Washington) but have apparently really made it big in Britain now. Ditto is a plus-sized gal and not hesitant about showing it off. She's also very vocal about her views and proclaims herself to be a lesbian. However, she is in a relationship with a transgendered f2m. Now this last thing about her being with a transman brings me to another point but before I get sidetracked...

I kept intending to download some stuff by The Gossip to check 'em out and see what they were like. After reading another blurb about Ditto on Queerty last week I finally remembered and downloaded a handful of their tunes. I didn't really know what to expect but my suspicion was that The Gossip were getting by on the shock value of their lead singer more than any semblance of talent. Well, color me corrected. I absolutely loved what I heard. They have a stripped-down sound that somehow simultaneously manages to be really big. There are only three people in the band and Ditto just sings and doesn't play an instrument as far as I know. The Gossip also incorporate several different musical genres into their sound. At their core they are a rock band but they certainly show heavy influences of both punk and funk. Their biggest song, from what I understand, is a tune called Standing In The Way Control. I downloaded it and liked it a lot. However, I also downloaded three or four other tracks and they were all excellent too. One song, which I guess is just an album cut and wasn't a single or anything, is called Fire With Fire. If you held a gun to my head I'd say it was the favorite of the few songs I downloaded but really everything was good. I highly recommend The Gossip. (I'm sure my endorsement will send their sales skyrocketing.)

Now onto my other point. Queerty had another item about Beth Ditto today and one of the comments a reader made is bitching about how she calls herself a lesbian but she's dating a f2m transman. I can see the person's point and Ditto's choice of labels bothers me too. I'm not going to argue whether or not she's a lesbian. If that's how she identifies herself then rock on sista. The thing that aggravates me is the need for all the fucking labels to begin with. It's always bugged me that gay women have the added distinction of being "lesbians" whereas I guess us guys were just "faggots" until recently when it suddenly became politically incorrect to use that word. Then the poor trans-folk are all off to the side sort of by themselves and fragmented from post-op transsexuals to fetish transvestites and everything in-between.

So I say lets drop all the labels which only divide us and unite under the common label of "queer"! We're here, we're queer...uh, we're all sort of in the same boat, don't cha think? I mean, Bush and his cronies hate us all.

This is not an original thought. I know I've heard it expressed elsewhere. I'm pretty sure that I've heard Michael Stipe of REM say pretty much the same thing in an interview and I think he may have been criticized at the time for not declaring himself "gay" but hiding behind the more obscure identification of "queer" instead.

I think this is the way to go though. Black people don't make a distinction between each other for political and civil rights purposes. Neither do Jews. Neither do Native Americans. If you're not strictly heterosexual and rigidly adhering to the gender stereotype our culture imposes on your assigned male/female role then you are queer goddamn it.

Fuck gay or lesbian or transgendered rights. It's about human rights first and foremost. For political purposes, if we all band together we've got a much better chance of getting some shit accomplished than if we sit around wasting time bickering amongst ourselves or complaining about our own personal injustices we each endure. Let's secure the rights of all our people and then we'll work out the individual details.

All this leads me to another point regarding the label "bisexual" and how I've never met anyone that I felt was truly one-hundred percent "bisexual" by definition of the term...but I'll save that rant for another post.

PS: Yeah. I know I have the labels glbt, gay, lesbian, etc. in my blog header but that's because I assumed they would work as key words for people searching for particular blog subject matter. Also, I don't necessarily dislike these labels. I just think that's it's beneficial for everyone to join under the single title of queer. Strength in numbers people.

Geez, Louise! Where have you been!?!

OK. I did exactly what I didn't want to do, which is to let this blog slip into oblivion. It's been how many months since I posted anything!?!

The purpose of this blog is supposed to be a sort of vanity piece where I can express whatever strikes my fancy at any given time and bitch into the vacuous void of cyberspace. However, when I last signed off I was going to post an entry about my experiences with Texas' foster system and adopting my daughter. Once I started writing this it soon turned out to be gi-normous. I took a break from it and then was too emotionally exhausted to tackle it again.

What I should have done was to just work on it here and there or post in increments but noooo - that's not how I roll. (I need to change my habits.) Every time I thought about my blog I thought, "I have to sit down and finish that one entry but it's going to take so much time."

Well, I'm off work on vacation this week and just staying home to get some things done around the home and rest, so I finally came back to it. Guess what? I still can't finish it all at once. It's simply turning out to be too damn long. I really want to post it as a single entry so that anyone that's interested doesn't have to search for multiple posts to get the whole tale.

I'm going to try to work on it in spurts and begin to post other stuff that strikes my fancy more regularly in the meantime. Like anybody cares, right?