Friday, December 31, 2004

Board Abort

(Unfortunately, that was the most clever pun I could come up with. It's not very good.)

Okay, I'm making a premature return to the internet. I'm not terribly happy about it, but hey, it's all good. I'll live.

So I had vacation plans for New Year's Eve. Note the past tense on that verb. Not happy. I was to leave the area on Dec. 29 and spend five nights out west at a ski resort. I was going to try my hand at snowboarding. (All those past tense verbs are killing me!) There were literally eight of us on this trip. We had booked through a travel agency that specialized in ski getaways.

There's a whole long and involved story involved in this, but I know it won't translate well to this medium, or any other, frankly. So let's just say by the end of my "will I make it out of here or won't I?" ordeal, I found myself annoyed at Elizabeth, Ann Marie, and Linda, at various points. And I had to cancel my flight plans.

My only saving grace is (1) I'll get most of my money back; and (2) I have a lead on a New Year's party that shouldn't be that difficult to get into without having purchased an advance ticket.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Generic Away Message

I was going to put something cute in here, like that stupid generic AOL message that just says, "I am away from my computer right now," but I thought that would be too boring.

Unfortunately, after sitting here for, oh, 2.5 hours, I haven't been able to come up with anything more creative.

So, Gentle Reader, let me just say that I will be away from my computer for a while. Less than the actual process of writing out my thoughts on this blog, I will miss surfing around and reading your blogs, and you know who you are.

Here's to a safe and happy new year's celebration, and the joys and challenges of the year to come.

Happy New Year!

Tutti è Bene

In reverse chronological order, these occurrences happened over the last two days:

13. I breathe a sigh of relief, which is all that keeps me from collapsing in a pile of nervous tears.
12. My mom reassures me that Aunt C. is in Los Angeles, staying with another uncle of mine, and that her house is actually fairly far removed from the high-impact areas.
11. I jump on the phone to my mom: "Where does Aunt C. live?"
10. I check my address book and, sure enough, my aunt had sent us her new address several months ago. In Sri Lanka.
9. I return home from work.
8. Nagged by my gut feelings that my aunt has moved away from Jakarta, I make a mental note to check my address book at home.
7. I open up my address book on my work computer, which lists my aunt's address as being in Jakarta. Not helpful.
6. In the back of my mind, I have a vague memory that my aunt and her family may have moved to Sri Lanka in recent memory.
5. I go about my day, somewhat numbed by sheer majesty of this natural disaster.
4. Firing up my web browser, I noted a death count of somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 from the tsunamis. I am saddened, yet still somewhat detached from the tragedy.
3. I go to work.
2. I shake the sleep out of my eyes.
1. I hear for the first time the news about the devastating tsunami hitting Sri Lanka and other parts of southern Asia on NPR, which is what my clock radio is set to.

For all my bitching about my family (regular readers of this blog have mostly been spared the worst of my horrible opinions about my kin), blood is still thicker than water, and it's experiences like this that confirm that for me. Aunt C. and I aren't really that close -- she and her family literally live a world away from the U.S., and when she does come to the U.S., it's to visit my relatives on the West Coast. Even so, the thought that family members of mine, whom I love presumptively, could actually be victims of such a terrible experience struck fear into my heart. Thankfully, my loved ones are safe. It's sad that it takes a near-death experience to jolt Aunt C., her husband, and her daughter back into my consciousness.

I really must make more of an effort to see those relatives I can more often. Because you never know if the last time you saw them was the last time you'll ever see them.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Holla at Me!

If you scroll down the right margin of this page, you'll see I've just managed to add a new feature: A "shoutbox" for those comments that don't necessarily go with a particular post. Kinda nifty, if you ask me. Feel free to drop a note in there!

Random Play

I'm blatantly stealing this idea from Terrance. It also answers one of the questions I left unanswered earlier.

The idea, for those of you who did not follow the Terrance link, is as follows:

1. Start up your iPod, or jukie, or, in my case, your computer's music jukebox. Whatever has access to your music files.

2. Put the whole collection on random play.

3. List the first 10 songs that come up.

Here are my songs:

Gloria Gaynor, "I Am What I Am"
Sarah McLachlan, "I Love You (BT Mix)"
Tina Turner, "A Fool in Love"
Dusty Springfield, "I Will Follow Him"*
Indigo Girls, "Go"
Outkast, "Behold a Lady"
Mitch & Mickey, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" (from A Mighty Wind)
Janis Ian, "The Come On"
Brad Paisley, "Me Neither"
Bob Dylan, "Mr. Tambourine Man"

( * - I am not absolutely sure it's Dusty Springfield singing this song. It's a ... um ... "questionable" download. How about "a download of dubious authenticity"?)

I told you I have strange and varied taste in music.

I plan on posting a list like this from time to time, just to capture a glimpse of my soul. But generally when I run out of things to blog about.

Friday, December 24, 2004


Which Desperate Housewife am I?.....

Congratulations! You are Susan Mayer, the divorcee
and single mom who will go to extraordinary
lengths for love.

Which Desperate Housewife are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I guess it's better than being told I'm that Eva Longoria chick.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy Holidays

So I finally sent of my Christmas holiday cards last night. Okay, so I'm delinquent. One of them actually read, "Happy holidays, even though by the time I finish writing this and sending it off the holiday season will be over!" (It's the thought that counts, after all.)

This time of year tends to lead to the whole introspection thing. Basically, though, my feelings haven't changed since my last post on my life, circa Thanksgiving. I'm still content with my life. Though less than perfect, it's pretty damn good.

So for those of you who will be taking a break from reading this blog over the solstice weekend, have a safe and happy holiday. (I still think counting the number of actual readers of this blog doesn't require one to take their shoes off, if you know what I mean.)

Merry Christmas!

Trois Choses

I've been requested to add to the "Three Things" postings by Melissa, so here goes:

Three names you go by: Dennis and, on occasion, Sparky. There are no others.

Three screen names you have: On Messenger, it's my email address.

(So far this "Three Things" trend isn't living up to its name with me, is it?)

Three things you like about yourself: My ability to laugh (mostly at myself), my compassion for (most) others, and my ambitions

Three things you dislike about yourself: I can be too hard on myself. I can hold a killer grudge. And I think I might have ADD or something, because my concentration skills suck.

Three parts of your heritage: Chinese and American. (There goes the "three" thing again.)

Three things that scare you: Overdependence or overreliance on others (see my previous post on this topic). Unexpected loud noises. And you know when you open a door at the exact time someone on the other side of it is getting ready to do the same? That always makes me jump. And then laugh.

Three of your everyday essentials: A good book at all times. My jukie. And a man-bag. (No, dammit, it's not a purse!)

Three things you are wearing right now: A dress shirt, black corduroy pants, and high top shoes.

Three of your favorite bands/artists (at the moment): Martina McBride, Olivia Newton-John (and this link too), Eminem. I know, I know, I have a wide variety of musical tastes.

Three of your favorite songs at present: I have way too many. Tell you what, I'm starting a project that I picked up from Republic of T. which should answer this question within the next few posts.

Three new things you want to try in the next 12 months: Learn another language (I'm thinking either Japanese, Korean, or German). Learn to play either the guitar or a keyboard. Rock climbing, perhaps?

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given): Chemistry, comfort with each other, that sense of contentment.

Two truths and a lie: I skipped a grade in school, I once ran a marathon (back in the day), and the muscle structure under my face is strangely fucked up.

Three physical things about the opposite sex (or same) that appeal to you: Eyes, smile, hair.

Three things you just can’t do: Throw out my two favorite childhood stuffed animals. Vote for a right-wing Republican. Flirt (properly).

Three of your favorite hobbies: Reading, writing and wasting time on the internet.

Three things you want to do really badly right now: Have some lunch, get out of here (I'm in the office on Dec. 23!), veg out.

Three careers you’re considering: I assume this means other than one I already have. Teacher, jury consultant, carefree man about the world. Okay, I know the last one isn't a career at all, but as long as we're dreaming....

Three places you want to go on vacation: Europe, Mexico and South America

Three kids’ names: Girls – Aimee (possibly the most beautiful name I can come up with for a child), Olivia (tee hee), and Lynda (as in Carter); Boys – Dylan, Trevor, and Jason.

Three things you want to do before you die: Drive across the United States. See more of the world. And yes, jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

Three people you want to take this quiz: I honestly don't think I know that many people who read this blog who haven't already done this. Hahaha.

This project was much harder than I thought it was going to be.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Obvious, or Headless?

Just under a year ago, the lease for our old office space expired and we were sent off looking desperately for new space. We now have our new digs, and we had additional space to boot, so we set out subletting two of our offices to a small firm willing to share space with us. S.W., a solo practitioner, eventually came to occupy the space with his assitant.

S.W. frequently makes comments and jokes about the fact that I'm at my computer all the time; he sometimes jokes that he doesn't actually see me move from the identical position in front of my machine. One evening, he and T. were talking outside my door, possibly probably intending for me to overhear:

S.W.: See, there he is again, staring at that screen!
T.: Yeah, he tends to do that. Don't let him fool you. He's not working as hard as he might appear to be.
S.W.: What, are you saying he's looking at naked ladies or something?
T.: .... You don't know Dennis very well, do you?

It's at this point that I burst out laughing. To his credit, S.W. picked up the hint quickly.

S.W.: Oh, does he play for the other team?
T.: Uh, yeah.

I have the luxury of being out at work and it doesn't matter a whit to anyone here. But it's times like this I have to laugh, if for no other reason than sometimes I feel like I'm just so freaking obviously gay that it's a wonder that people actually don't notice.

But apparently some people don't pick up on my subtle homo-vibes. Which is also cool.

Is That What They Said?

At this fun site is a list of "misheard" song lyrics. Some are truly hilarious. Some are truly retarded (how can you mishear the lyrics to a song when the lyrics are the same as the song's title?). But generally, it's pretty fun.

My personal best: On the soundtrack to Rent, there's one part (sung by a lesbian character to her girlfriend) that says "Your every wish I will obey!" I heard "You're everything and Willow Bay!" I'm not sure how I came up with that. It makes me chuckle.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Classical Literature

What classic work of literature am I?

The picture of dorian gray
Oscar Wilde: The Portrait of Dorian Gray. You are a
horror novel from the world of dandies, rich
pretty boys, art and aesthetics, and
intellectual debates between ethical people and
decadent pleasure-seekers. You value beauty and
pleasure but realize their dangers, as well.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Strange, I haven't even read this book.

Friday, December 17, 2004 Irony

I came across a personals ad on recently which made me chuckle. The headline reads: "RENASSIANCE MAN SEEKS THE SAME".

Me, I prefer my Renaissance men to be able to spell "Renaissance."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Foot(notes) in Mouth

As Melissa would say, People are stupid. I had no idea how incredibly stupid until this evening.

A client, for whom I worked pretty hard on a pretty tight deadline, had some complaints about my work. Apparently, there was some glaring errors in my document -- the final version of which was already submitted to the Powers That Be -- which she was "not pleased" with. I offered to edit the document to her satisfaction and send in a "corrected" copy to the PTB if the changes were that material and significant, but she never did talk to me about the errors. They were so horrendous, she needed an appointment with my boss.

Now keep in mind, I take great pride in my work product. I worked hard to create this document on her behalf. I put together a good, logical argument for her, delicately balancing passionate advocacy for the client with calling out her supervisor as an idiot (without explicitly doing so). It was a nine-page single-spaced document. It wasn't an easy job. But I was proud of it. Once she complained that there were problems with it, I read and re-read it, more times than I can count. If there are errors in it, I want to know, dammit! Well, for some strange reason, I could find no significant errors.

The Client was lucky enough to wrangle an appointment with my boss tonight. I sat in my office -- still annoyed with her though not knowing exactly what her damage was -- and waited.

Eventually, my boss emerged from the conference room. He beckoned to me: "Want to know what was wrong with your document?" I walked over to him as he fished the document out of the file.

He flipped open my document and turned to page three. "This," my boss explained, "is one example of where you inexplicably insert text in the middle of a section where it makes no sense whatsoever."

He read out loud the nonsensical portion of my argument: "The quick brown fox jumped one the car was a rental. Two the light was red at the time. [flips the page] over the lazy dogs."

"What?" I asked.

"That made no fuckin' sense whatsoever, did it?" my boss asked. He was starting to grin.

"I have got to believe that I did not write that," I protested.

"Of course you did." He turns the paper around to show me. And indeed, that is exactly what was on the page.

The "one" and "two" were footnotes, with their antecedents somewhere higher up on the page. Somehow, The Client -- who holds herself out to be an "educated, professional" type -- had no idea how to read footnotes. She was trying to read straight down the page, and the footnote text was running headlong into the middle of other sentences.

The entire document contained a total of twelve footnotes. Imagine how completely confused she was every single time one popped up. I can't imagine what she thought those pesky little superscript numbers were scattered throughout the text.

I didn't really like her much for a whole lot of other reasons. This just put the icing on the beeyotch cake.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Doody Duty

(I just finished typing this and realized it's an exceptionally long post. Sorry.)

I don't own a car. I live in a great neighborhood where, frankly, I don't need one. Everything I need -- including public transportation -- is within walking distance. It's a good thing. I walk a lot.

Walking around a lot means that I become somewhat aware of the sidewalk around me.

This is where I start to get disgusting. If you're drinking hot cocoa, or eating something chocolate-y, you may want to read this some other time.

A few months ago, I noticed something disturbing as I walked from my apartment to meet a friend of mine for dinner. On the sidewalk not 20 yards from the front door of my apartment was -- how to put this delicately -- several piles of shit. (Oops. That was not delicate.) They weren't terribly large piles of shit, but let's just say that they were clearly left by something larger than a toy poodle.

Now I have had very limited experience with walking dogs. The most experience I have comes from one time when my friend Jen asked me to dog-sit while she went away for the Fourth of July weekend. It was a great excuse to crash a cool pad and hang with the dogs for a while -- plus, I got to invite friends over for a Fourth party -- so I wanted to do it. While picking up dog poop is not fun, it's a necessary unpleasantry.

But the part of what I learned that's relevant to this blog entry is that when dogs feel they have to go, they go. They dig in, and it's at this point that a 20-pound dog can generate enough strength that tying its leash to a truck wouldn't get him to budge. (I learned this because Jen's dog was ready to go, and I wanted to lead him to a grassy patch rather than the sidewalk itself. He would have none of that, and I ended up just letting him go on the sidewalk.)

So, it is with that background information that I submit that whatever dog succeeded in leaving multiple piles along my sidewalk either (a) had an intestinal problem that desperately needed attention, or (b) was being rather cruelly dragged along as he tried to do his business.

Of course, it also goes without saying that someone should have been picking up this stuff too.

The first time I saw it, I was really grossed out. (Think about that sentence. "The first time I saw it." How wrong is that? There shouldn't be a "second" or "third" time. But alas, there was.) I mean, really, these piles remained for days. I think someone finally cleaned it off, rather than allow the forces of nature to slowly remove the offending mounds in its own due course.

But it resurfaced about a week later, in a different stretch of the street, in a similar pattern: several piles spaced out over about half the block. This time I kinda felt bad for the dog. I know I like to take my time when I'm in the bathroom; I can't imagine this poor dog being dragged along while he's trying to let go of some extra baggage.

But at the same time, of course, I was growing increasingly annoyed at my neighbor, who clearly had no intentions of cleaning up after his dog. Twice now, he had allowed his dog to mess in people's walkways without picking it up. There's a problem here. These things carry diseases and stuff! (At least, that's what it says on those "Please curb your dog" signs.)

So I decided I should start trying to be proactive about it. I started hatching a plan about what I would do to catch this cunning dogowner. I considered calling the police, but I think that the MPD has better things to do than monitor my neighborhood for a serial dog-poop-violator. I thought that I could set up a video camera stealth mission; I discarded that suggestion once I realized that there would be little consistency to where the dog did his thing. I even thought maybe I could take a set of toothpicks, attach nasty notes to them, then stick them into the offending mounds of poop as a signal to the asshole who was leaving them around my neighborhood. But then I decided "ew" and got rid of that idea.

I found myself without reasonable options at this point, so I figured I'd just keep my eyes peeled. Like some junior Hardy Boy, I decided I would note every time I saw a dog being walked in the neighborhood, following them if I had to, just to ensure that they were being properly cleaned up after. I even started carrying plastic bags around with me, so that I could offer one to the offending dogowner if he or she tried to give me some shit crap stupid line about having run out of bags or something.

I was not prepared for what I actually did find out about my mysterious dog-offender.

As I was on my way to do some grocery shopping one brisk evening, I saw a dog ahead of me, and it all came together. The dog ahead of me was a guide dog. His owner was blind. The mystery of the dog poop had been solved all in one sudden blinding flash of realization. I felt like a cast member of one of those CSI shows. My superior powers of observation and logic had put it all together in one bold stroke.

That and the fact that the dog confirmed that he was the doggy-doo culprit right in front of me, as I watched, horrified into speechlessness.

Yes, as I watched, right in front of me, the dog, saddled with his "DOG AT WORK" harness, attempted to go into squat mode. And yes, its owner basically kept right on walking. Poor Doggie pinched whatever loaf he could, then took a few steps -- half-squatted, mind you! -- as his owner trudged along, only to pinch off more when he could. At this point, yes, I truly felt awful for the poor dog.

(Friends to whom I have told this story raise a good point: Why is a blind man pulling his dog along when the dog stops? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of a guide dog if you're not going to stop when it stops? What if the dog is stopping because you're at an intersection and you don't have the light? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to this question.)

As awful as I felt for poor Poochie, I didn't know what to say to the blind man. There's that strange delicate line you draw between saying what you have to say, and offending someone, especially when it relates to someone with a disability. I mean, depending on how you approach it, you could come across as rude, insensitive, condescending, or ignorant. You could also cause extreme embarassment. So I said nothing. But I now knew the source of doggy doo problem in my neighborhood.

Undaunted, however, I swore that if I ever saw that again, I would speak up. But I would be prepared for that showdown. For guidance, I called a seeing-eye dog training company for assistance on how to -- politely -- approach a blind man who doesn't realize that his dog is taking a dump over the course of several yards. I also wanted some background. I learned that, indeed, dogs aren't supposed to be taking dumps when they're wearing their harness. Also, dogs must be given "free" or "off duty work" time when they can answer the call of nature freely. I'm not sure this poor pooch was being given that time. I was advised as to a polite way to tell the man, so off I went, waiting to see this man again so I could now politely tell him of his problem -- or, to the point, his dog's problem.

Alas, I never saw the man again, so I was unable to use my newfound information.

But thankfully, I also have not seen the distinctive Trail of Shit in my neighborhood either. I can only presume that someone with more presence of mind than I finally told this guy about his dog's problem.

Either that or the guy's taking different routes, so I don't see the tracks as often.


EPILOGUE: I believe I saw this man and his dog the other day. I saw them coming out of the church around the corner from my apartment. Thankfully, Poochie did not have to take a dump. However, he did frequently try to divert the man from the straight path along the sidewalk, veering toward various planters placed on the street. He stopped for no reason on many occasions, even though there were no people around us nor was there any imminent danger to either of them. I'm not sure if Poochie was just curious about the local flora, which would make him an exceptionally poorly trained guide dog, or if he wanted to mark his territory, which would also make him an exceptionally poorly trained guide dog. Of maybe he just needed to empty his bladder, in which case we return to the original problem with the owner, not the dog.

At least now I know where I can find the guy, or at least talk to someone who might know him.

Monday, December 13, 2004

They Laugh at Age

For a time now, I've been keeping a small list of celebrities whom I can only describe as "Sexy Old Men." That is to say, celebrities I find hot who aren't the 20-something "it" boys of the moment -- men who are easily over 40, but still, well, hot.

So far, my list consists of:

1. Sting: Sexy voice, smooth or raspy as mandated by the work, with the body to match.
2. Anderson Cooper: Love his silver hair, gorgeous eyes, intelligence, and sense of humor. Loved him in The Mole. I wish that were on regular tv. The last season was only on the Game Show network. WTF?
3. Pierce Brosnan: The eyes. Oh, and the accent. Great chest, hairy or shaved.
4. Mark Harmon: Again, the eyes. And the roles he's played over the years....
5. Dennis Quaid: Just plain sexy. Okay, so the man has very little by way of actual acting talent. Still, he's fun to look at.
6. George Clooney: I rented the most godawful movie just to see his butt. It was only somewhat worth it.
7. David James Elliott: JAG doesn't feature nearly enough shirtless scenes. I'm insanely jealous of the woman he's married to.
8. Jeff Probst: Just for fun.
9. Chris Potter: I'm a sucker for the eyes and the self-deprecating smile and sense of humor. I sense a trend here.
10. Kevin Costner: Yeah.

Sean Connery has never been on my list. Frankly, I never found him that sexy when he was young. When People magazine voted him "Sexist Man Alive" back in... well, whenever they did, I totally couldn't agree.

And lest anyone accuses me of being sexist even though I'm gay, I do have a (smaller) list of no-spring-chicken women who are gorgeous:

1. Olivia Newton-John (of course!)
2. Sela Ward: I fell in love with her in Sisters, which is woefully late in her career. Once and Again was also a fantastic show. Her co-star in that show, Billy Campbell, just barely missed my list, though I suppose I could kick out Jeff Probst in favor of him.
3. Susan Sarandon: Sexy mama, and I love her politics and her refusal to stand idly by.
4 & 5. Heather Locklear and Kim Catrall: Hot damn these women defy age. Those bodies do not quit!
6. Michelle Yeoh: In some shots of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon her age was more clearly visible on her face, but the fact that she still kicked ass! makes her soooo sexy. And in that Bond flick too.
7. Isabella Rossellini: Just the face and the accent. Fantastic. Italian chicks. Yeah.

Okay, I'll admit it, I just made this list (the women) up on the spur of the moment, but these are definitely some fine women-over-40. Heck, I think they're all over 50. But I haven't given it anywhere near as much thought as I have to the men. Hahaha.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

My Pet Peeves (Installment I)

I have a huge set of pet peeves. Frankly, the fact that I have these peeves annoys me too, because I wish I weren't so easily peeved. But I am.

Today's peeves:

1. People on the Metro escalators who disobey the "stand the right; walk on the left" rule.

2. For that matter, people on the Metro who laze across more than one seat, or put their feet up on the seat in front of them, even though others could want the seat. I'm generally not opposed to this if there are other seats the standing passengers could take. Once, on a shuttle bus from the airport back to the city, some kid's luggage took the seat next to him while the rest of us were crowded into the aisles. I spent the entire 20-minute ride into town annoyed by him.

3. People on the bus who insist on ringing the "stop requested" bell immediately after the bus pulls away from the stop before, so much so that their hand is already hovering by the cord even when the passengers are getting on at the aforementioned previous stop.

4. People who hit elevator buttons that are already lit. In the opening elevator sequence of Speed, someone comments: "Glad you hit that button there. It was already lit, but you never know; it may be broken." Amen!

5. By the same token, people who hit the "close door" button reflexively when the enter an elevator. As if they can't wait the, what, two seconds between their arrival and the closing of the doors.

6. People who ride the elevator less than two flights. Of course, this only applies if they're able-bodied and the stairs aren't, for some retarded reason, locked or otherwise inaccessible.

7. Drivers who don't do a courtesy wave if you allow them ahead of you in traffic.

8. Drivers who honk incessantly in stuck traffic. You know what? Your honking doesn't do squat to get traffic moving. Let it go. Wait.

9. Cab drivers who refuse to take single fares.

10. Cab drivers who have insufficient change for a $20, at any point in their shift.

11. That stupid scene in any movie involving a hostage situation where the bad guy points a gun to someone's head and says, "Tell me what I want to know," and when the hostage professes not to know what the bad guy means, the bad guy just clicks the gun. First, it's cliched. Second, it's stupid. If the guy really doesn't know anything, further threats won't help. Moreover, killing a guy who's not going to give up information just solidifies that he will never give you that information. Same peeve applies to when a bad guy points the gun at a loved one's head to pressure the good guy to do something the good guy is uniquely capable of doing.

12. Telemarketers.

13. Anyone who gets my name wrong. Is it so hard to distinguish between "Dennis" and "Denise," especially when the context makes my sex infuriatingly obvious?

14. People with caller ID who, for whatever reason, pick up the phone and say "Hi Dennis." I don't actually know why this bothers me to the extent it does, but it does. Actually I disagree with Miss Manners on this point; I believe she doesn't find this to be rude.

15. People who still are unable to get down certain grammar/punctuation rules: its/it's; your/you're; to/too. Also people who use "apostrophe-s" to denote the plural of regular words, like "the dog's are back." I also am not a fan of the rampant deliberate misspellings so popular on the internet nowadays. Also, the improper use of "I" where "me" is correct, like "Thank you for talking to Jon and I this week" or "Between you and I, he's an idiot." (Though I'll forgive "He's taller than me" because even though it technically should be "He's taller than I," that just sounds goofy.)

My list is much longer than this. I'm sure there will be further installments to come.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Sushi, Wings, Catty Comments and Ruminations on Youth

I had a fun time last night with my friend Jessica. We have a ritual of getting together for dinner once in a while just to catch up and chat about things. She's fun to talk to and listen to -- basically, because she tolerates my neuroses well. I think that happens when you're a psychologist's daughter.

So we met for sushi. Not at our usual sushi place -- we decided we'd try a different place, the subject of rave reviews. I was excited to try it out despite the fact that it was probably going to be a little pricier than our usual. I'm all for good sushi.

We walked through the door and were greeted and seated. I gotta say, there's something a little strange about being greeted at the door of a sushi restaurant by a white guy. I hope that doesn't sound racist. But it's a sushi place! With a white guy as the host! Not that this was enough to make us run, of course. We noted that the sushi chefs were Japanese, then looked over the menu.

The sushi was decent, but not great. Nothing terribly exotic, or overwhelmingly tasty. What's up with labelling something a "crunchy salmon roll" when really what you're doing is taking regular salmon and rolling it up with a piece of radish? I was expecting some exotic preparation of the salmon to make it crunchy; I wasn't expecting the crunch to come from some external vegetable source. By the time we finished our sushi (a reasonably priced $40 or so for the both of us), Jessica and I realized we were still hungry. And yet we were unwilling to order more sushi.

So we wandered off to a neighborhood bar in search of buffalo wings.

Okay, there is definitely something wrong with following a delightful (though not filling) meal of sushi with buffalo wings, but Jessica loves wings, and I could easily have eaten more, so off we went. We made the mistake of hitting a bar on M Street which -- how to put this delicately -- skews a little younger than Jessica and I are.

We took a table and ordered our wings (and some sliders to boot, which the waitress unfortunately took to mean potato skins, although she didn't think to ask me to define "sliders") and some beer. Very near us was a table populated by about ten people who clearly were in their early twenties. And by "clearly in their early twenties," I mean clearly in their early twenties. It was amusing talking about them outside of their earshot. Well, almost everything Jessica and I said was outside their earshot, because, well, they were just so loud.

The table consisted of about seven women and three men. The one male facing out (toward Jessica and me), it soon became obvious, was gay gay gay. Funny gay. I'm so fabulous gay. But then at the same time, not terribly fabulous. "If you're gonna be a gay guy who surrounds himself with women -- that is, the kind of gay guy I'm rapidly becoming -- you owe it to yourself to surround yourself with attractive women at the very least!" I said to Jessica. We busted out laughing.

"Would I be considered part of your group then?" she asked.

"Of course," I told her. I have a lot of female friends. Many times when we go out, I'm the only male in the bunch. And other men get jealous of me, because I'm surrounded by attractive, smart women. I once got a high-five from a waiter in Vegas because I was in the company of 7 hot women -- even though we were all pretty sure the waiter in question was gay, and, truth be told, he was cute enough that I should have hit on him myself.

The only running thought through my head, watching these kids who were either juniors or seniors in college, or fresh out of college in their first semester of graduate study (I would have guessed law school), was "I was never that young." I told Jessica so repeatedly through the night. Every time the kids did something loud, or obnoxious, or embarassing, I would tell Jessica how I had never, ever been that young. Yes, that's right folks, I was born 30 years old. Maybe that's why my mom resents me so much.

The kids did shots, the kids talked obnoxiously, the kids talked loudly. At some point, one Drunk Girl (and by calling her Drunk Girl I do not mean to imply that anyone else in that group was in any way sober) announces, "Yeah, that's right! I'm hot, I'm loaded, I have a killer apartment, and my husband's a fuckin' awesome lover! I got it made!" Jessica couldn't help wondering out loud how this woman -- could not have been older than 23 -- could possibly have ever found herself a man to settle down with. Later, Drunk Girl was observed sitting on a man's lap in the bar. We presumed it was her husband, and I was sorely tempted to tell him that I understood that he was fantastic in the sack. I didn't say anything to him, which is good, because we later found out that the man was in fact not her husband, but just a random friend on whose lap Drunk Girl decided to sit.

As they were getting ready to settle up, someone (I think a woman) suggested they hit the "gentlemen's club" next door. (Aside -- I don't get this. Do women actually enjoy going to clubs featuring naked women? Why? I thought only guys indulged such silly prurient interests.) Fabulous Gay Boy (who actually looked a lot cuter, if a lot shorter than I would have imagined, once he stood up) was trying to talk the group into going to a gay bar in the gay ghetto instead. (That's what every gay boy wants: his gay bar invaded by a slew of straight girls. Okay, I admit, I did this once too, but at least it was my birthday.)

Jessica and I settled up and took off. As I walked Jessica to the metro stop, we crossed paths with The Drunken Posse again. All was not pretty. One girl managed to dart into moving traffic at Dupont Circle right in front of us and her friends. It was so sudden her friends could only manage a scream, not a grab. Thankfully, the car was going slow enough that it could stop. "Are you HIGH?" Fabulous Gay Boy shrieked at her, though he was still laughing as if the contemplation of the near-death experience hadn't quite taken hold yet. The other girlfriends were busy alternating between hysterical giggles and "Oh my god"s. It was quite the spectacle. As for Drunk Girl Who Launched Herself In Front of the Car (yes, the married, loaded, sexually satisfied one), she was definitely doing nothing but laughing, and announcing something or another far too loudly, and doing a strange-looking "dance," now having made it to the other side of the street.

"No, really, Jessica -- I was NEVER that young."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Conservative Community Service?

I'm a life member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-educational service fraternity. (I know, I know, if it's "co-ed" why is it a "fraternity"? It's a long and involved discussion that's irrelevant here.) What drew me to it in college was its huge focus on community service, an emphasis the traditional Greek fraternities didn't seem to have. I'm big on the whole community service thing. I try to do volunteer work when I can, even though I'm usually pretty busy with work and other general "life" stuff. When I have free time, I like to give of my time.

Recently, a fellow APO alumnus has taken it upon himself to create an alumni group here in the area, for purposes of organizing APO alums for community service events from time to time. Frankly, I think it's a great idea, seeing as at my age I feel like it would be strange to be hanging out with 18- to 21-year olds doing volunteer work. I'd really feel like an outsider. So a group of adult alums might be perfect for me to get back into the swing of being involved, and through my fraternity, no less.

There's a slight hitch.

The guy who's forming the club took it upon himself one day to post a message to the yahoogroup he formed complaining about the fact that Target stores have decided not to permit the Salvation Army from soliciting donations in front of its stores this year. You know what I'm talking about: those people in Santa suits ringing a bell all day long in front of a can where they ask for money. Those people will no longer be in front of Target stores anymore.

APO guy thinks this is a terrible idea. He thinks that it's horrible to deny the Salvation Army, which provides such a great public service, the opportunity to solicit money outside Targets, for no good reason. He even provided a link to his blog entry about this travesty.

And from this link I was able to read the rest of his blog, from which I am able to discern that the man is a conservative Republican.

Not that there's anything per se wrong with that.

But in my mindset, it's so difficult for me to embrace the thought that a person who could be committed to community service, to helping others less fortunate, to chipping in with global efforts, could be Republican. I mean, let's face it, George W. Bush hasn't met a billionaire he hasn't wanted to help to become richer, while welfare mothers don't get a very welcome reception from the administration.

So I posted a comment on this guy's blog entry. (Anonymously, becuase I'm a chicken that way.) I told him that I was upset with the Salvation Army's active attempts to subvert anti-discrimination laws by trying to negotiate with the Bush (II) White House for a special exception to any local anti-discrimination laws the protect gays and lesbians. I told him that any veneer that they had of being a "charitable" institution evaporated in my eyes when they decided that they could not associate with gays or lesbians and wanted assistance from above to allow them to fire people just on that basis. I told him I wouldn't miss the bigots if I walked into a Target.

The guy not only deleted my comment, he eliminated any trace that the comment ever existed.

I'm torn now. I do want to do some service work, through this organization, but if I did show up to any particular function, I know I'd spend much of my time seething at him, hating him before I had even met him.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"Outing" Update

This post is a follow up to my previous post about the "outing" of my friend Mark to another of my high school friends, Kathy.

Okay, so I just talked to my friend Bert who was also at the happy hour where the unfortunate reveal took place. Turns out things aren't quite as bad as my conversation with Debra would have led me to believe. According to Bert, someone (for reasons still unknown) mentioned that Mark lives with his boyfriend in Seattle. Eventually, Bert turned to look at Kathy, and the look on her face made clear that she was confused. After clarifying that they were talking about Mark with whom both she and I went to high school, she put the pieces together, and Mark was officially outed...

... and at this point, Bert and Debra each said words to the effect of, "Yeah... uh... I guess you weren't supposed to know that."

So I guess things are just as well now. Kathy's decent at keeping a secret if she knows it's supposed to be a secret.

But I'm still annoyed that Debra was as flippant as she was....

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Our God-Like Opposing Counsel

Still more funny from my office-mates.

Some background information:

1. This office is very small. Frankly, most of the non-lawyer staff doesn't have great professional qualifications. They can do stuff, but have never been trained. Also, although we all have at least college degrees... let's just say not all college degrees are created equal.

2. My boss, who is fairly computer-non-functional, can't really type up work product on his own. Most of his work product makes it to paper the old-fashioned way: He dictates onto a tape, and the tape is then transcribed by a secretarial-type person.

3. My boss often dictates tiny little memos regarding the progress of cases so that there's a paper trail regarding the last contact he makes with opposing counsel, and the substance of those conversations.

4. The secretarial-type person who transcribes my boss's tapes -- T., oh she of the infamous endless-telephone-loop incident -- can make some really silly mistakes when transcribing.

Today, as I was reviewing a file, I noticed the following comment in a memo by my boss:

I explained to counsel that we have a window of opportunity that the client was prepared to resolve her claims if it can be done by August 31. [Counsel] wanted reciprocal terms in the settlement agreement relating to liquidated damages and deification.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, opposing counsel wanted both our client and theirs to be elevated to the ranks of the gods in order to settle this case.

Friday, December 03, 2004

"Outing," Personal Politics, and My Rather Clueless Friends

This story is just so bizarre I had to share it. Please share any insights because I'm not sure my reactions are justified.


Mark: My best friend from high school. Currently lives in Seattle. Came out to me after we left college. Is very guarded about his sexuality. One of the friends I visited for Thanksgiving. I talk about him from time to time, just because he's my friend.

Kathy: Another friend I knew in high school who happens to live in DC now. We don't keep in touch much anymore. She hasn't kept in touch with Mark for probably seven years now. Mark never came out to Kathy. Kathy somehow got a job at a small firm which shared space with my firm, so she wound up getting somewhat pulled into a group of people I hang out with.

Debra: A friend of mine here in DC, who worked in the same space as Kathy and me, and one of the "group of people I hang out with" as mentioned above. Hereainafter, the "group of people I hang out with" will be identified as "Debra et al."

Me: Me.


So I went to visit Mark (among others) over the Thanksgiving holiday in Seattle. A fine time was had by all.

Debra et al. decide to get together for a happy hour last night. I decline to attend, for various reasons. I did not know Kathy was going to attend.

At some point in the evening, someone mentions me and my trip to Seattle over the Thanksgiving holiday. It is, after all, no secret. Somewhere, though, someone manages to mention Mark's sexuality. Out loud. In front of Kathy.

"Oh, now it all makes sense," she says. Mark has now been "outed" to Kathy.

Keep in mind, Mark is very sensitive about the whole "coming out" thing. He's been keeping the whole issue on a "need to know" basis.

And Kathy still keeps in touch with people from high school who know him.

See the dilemma here?

Frankly, I don't know what I could possibly do. I mean, I suppose I could call Kathy and ask her to keep this information to herself. I think that's really the best I could do. (Actually, I just tried it, and I don't think I even have an accurate number for Kathy anymore.) So I could just say "That's just too bad," and let the world go about its course, even if it includes Kathy leaking to all our high school friends that Mark is gay.


Okay, the real reason for this post: What bugs me more is Debra's reaction to the whole thing. She's the one who related the "oops we outed your friend Mark" story to me, and I just about lost it. My recollection of the conversation:

Me: Oh my god, that is sooo uncool.
Debra: Whatever. It's not like it's a big deal. It was so funny.
Me: It's not funny!
Debra: Oh, but it is.
Me: No, it's really not.
Debra: Oh, but it really is.
Me: Uh, NO, it's REALLY NOT.
Debra: No, really, it is.
Me: Mark's not the most "out and proud" homosexual. Kathy still keeps in touch with people! You don't think the first thing she's going to do is call Lance, or Tim, or Loren -- none of whom Mark has come out to -- and say, "Hey, remember Mark? Did you know he's gay?"
Debra: You know, we just never gave it a second thought. It's just not a big deal.
Me: Uh, it is a big deal! Did you at least ask her not to tell anyone else?
Debra: Again, we just didn't think we needed to. It's just not that important.
Me: Aaaagh!
Debra: Look, I just don't think sexuality is something to be ashamed of, so it's just not a big deal.
Me: Easy for you to say when you're heterosexual and your sexuality is correctly assumed by most of the world. You don't get to choose whether someone else should or shouldn't be outed. And when you out someone, you need to realize that the outed person may not appreciate it, and work from there.
Debra: Whatever. It's just not a big deal. I don't see why you're making such a big issue out of it.

So I'm taking some issue with the flippancy with which Debra is taking this. She doesn't think it's a big deal, and she's the master arbiter of whether someone else's sexuality should be the topic of discussion or not? Does this mean that she can go about broadcasting the names of all the people she knows who have had abortions, because she doesn't find anything particularly shameful about exercising one's right to choose?

Sure, it was an honest (if idiotic) slip to talk about Mark in front of Kathy when I wasn't even there. (Frankly, I don't even know how Mark's sexuality could possibly have come up in their conversation. They could have discussed me and my trip to Seattle. They could even have talked about the fact that I was visiting my friend Mark. But why did his sexuality even enter into the discussion? My sexuality, fine, fair game. But Mark's?) But then to brush the whole event off as "funny" and "not a big deal" when, for some people, it is a big deal... well, that just kinda burns me.

Am I wrong?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Home for the Holidays?

I haven't been home for the holidays in literally years now. Heck, I haven't been home for years now. Last time I was back in Hawai'i was for a friend's wedding, back in Labor Day weekend of 2002. But the fact of the matter is, it hasn't been home since well before 2002.

There was a time in my life when I would get homesick over the holidays. When I first got to college I obviously couldn't afford to trek between Honolulu and Philadelphia over Thanksgiving (and expect to get back in time to study for finals). I remember being jealous of my friends who lived close enough to their families that they could drive home for Thanksgiving, stay a day or two, and return in time to cram for finals. Being with my family for Thanksgiving was never a realistic option.

But at some point during college I came to realize that, while I miss my childhood and the memories of frolicking around Hawai'i -- including the trials and tribuluations of high school -- I don't really miss my family all that much. I sound evil when I say that, and I certainly feel awful for thinking it, but it's true.

The fact is, my parents haven't been the happiest, most loving people to be around for quite a while now. It was, in fact one of the reasons I started deciding not to go home for Christmas -- then even for the summer -- was because home stopped being home. When you go from college back to the family that raised you, you kind of look for a return to the nest, surrounded by the comforts that you were used to as a kid. Lately my parents can't stop sniping at each other. At times, the silence in this house is deafening; it sits heavy in the air and stifles the room. You know that uncomfortable silence. Well, it's worse when it's created by your parents.

Somehow I still enjoy Christmas carols extolling the virtues of the loving family and the happy holiday spirit. Songs like No Place Like Home for the Holidays and I'll Be Home For Christmas still make me happy, even if I know that I don't really want to be "home."

Because I've done a pretty good job of establishing my current life -- my current city, my current condo, and, most importantly, my current friends -- as my "home."

Of course, most of my friends here have better families -- "homes" -- to return to during the holidays if they so choose, and many of them do. Which oftentimes can leave me alone with my thoughts at the most magical time of the year.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Weekend Update

So I got back from Thanksgiving today. Caught the redeye back -- it's very tiring.

The weekend was terribly relaxing. It was just so nice to be away from the city and hanging out somewhere, unapologetically vegging for days on end. We arrived late (like 9-ish) on Thanksgiving night so Chad and I picked through the leftovers (of which there were lots) and just hung out with friends. The hanging out continued all weekend. We did nothing but just sit around doing nothing. I saw so many movies (on DVD) this weekend it was insane: Elf; The Chronicles of Riddick; Species III (ugh); Galaxy Quest. But it was okay. In a previous incarnation of my life, I would have been bugging to go out, to do something: when visiting friends in another city, make the most of it by actually doing stuff. We didn't. We walked around a few nights, but most nights were early and a few extended dinners were all we had. And I loved it.

Some interesting stupid discussions took place. I'll get to those later. My friends can be... well, wildly tactless.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Brain Fart

I am so in need of a brain transplant. I'm too young to be suffering from Alzheimer's. This is confusing and annoying at the same time.

This afternoon I suffered from the most amazing and incredible brain fart I've ever experienced. Ever. And to compound the mental hiccup, I made my gaffe incredibly public.

So I'd been following this court case for a while now, because it relates to my practice. The Third Circuit decision was promising, and I had cited to it before in briefs I had written, but the future viability of the decision was put in limbo when the Supreme Court decided it would accept the matter for resolution. Of course, it also meant that the Court may hand down some very favorable law. In either event, the Court was prepared to announce a rule of law on an issue that was pretty contentious in my field.

Meanwhile, back in the office, my colleague subscribed to an email alert system whereby a national legal research racket provider sent her monthly email summaries of developments in the field. We amended our contract back in June to provide those emails; she suddenly realized she had not been receiving them. So today, she got the matter straightened out, and the research company sent her emails from way back when she first should have been receiving them. She, in turn, forwarded them to me.

So I, like a diligent little person, decide to take a look at these updates to figure out the emerging trends in our field, and whether any recent developments will help my clients. First one I open, lo and behold, mentions the Supreme Court's decision in this case I'd been following. Great!, I thought. The decision was pretty favorable to the position I wanted, so I was happy. So happy, in fact, that I cut and pasted the little blurb into a new email and forwarded it to a listserv for lawyers in this area who practice in the same field as I do.

Only a few minutes later did I come to realize -- through my boss, no less -- that the case which I had just emailed hundreds of lawyers about was decided by the Supreme Court six months ago. In fact, we had already discussed the holding of the case on the listserv. For some reason, I had completely forgotten about this. I looked at the blurb as if it were the first time I had heard about it.

And now hundreds of attorneys who practice in the same field as I do are wondering where the hell I've been for six months.

I've already got a plan: Should anyone ask me what the hell I was thinking, I'm going to say that I sent that email out months ago, and somehow it must have gotten stuck in some internet limbo until just now.

But my office knows the truth, and we're all getting a pretty good laugh out of it. Well, frankly, I think they're enjoying it more than I am. At least I have the gift of laughing at myself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm heading out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend (visiting some friends out west) so I thought I'd just take a quick moment.

Despite my bitching (and I do bitch a lot -- see my tagline), I am confident that I have a great life, surrounded by great people. I could be happier, but not by much. I have a great job that treats me with equal mixtures professional and personal interaction; my friends remain the key to my sanity; my health is decent. What more could a guy ask for?

Special shout-out to my financial planner, who took me on as a client even though I tried -- hard! -- to tell him that I had no money and huge debt load. He restructured my life, gave a new approach on how to think about my financial situation, set goals for me, and most importantly, got me to put away enough money to start investing. He's truly changed my outlook on the financial portions of my life, and for that, I thank him, even though he probably doesn't even know that I keep this blog.

To my friends who have made my life special, fun, challenging, and real, I love you all and thank you for putting up with my shit.

If you're reading this blog, thanks for reading. :)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Telephone trouble

Okay, sometimes some people in my office can be, well, pretty stupid. Just sometimes.

Today T. was asking me how to do conference calling. (For some reason, the secretarial staff doesn't know how to do some of the more basic secretarial functions -- like create a conference call -- and I do. Go fig.) So I told her the process, which involves: (1) placing Call #1; (2) hitting the "Conf." button; (3) placing Call #2 on a different line; and (4) pressing the "Conf." button again. Not terribly difficult, right?

T. decides she wants to try out the function before actually using it. (I don't know why she felt the need to do this. It's not like we're doing a conference call out of this office this afternoon.) Instead of executing the test run on, say, some cell phones or something, though, she decides to conference two phone lines from the office together. That is, she picked up line 3, called line 2, then patched the two lines together. Effectively, she has created an endless loop of nobody connected to nobody. No phone in the office now is permitted to break into the "conversation" because the lines are "in use," and we can't seem to figure out how to cancel the ill-conceived "conference call."

Sometimes it's amazing any work actually gets done around here.

Links Up.

So I finally found a way to put links up on this blog. It's not the most elegant, and I'm still trying to logically decipher the blogspot code to figure out how to create those little symbols in front of each entry (though I think I may need some assistance from blogroll for that), but hey, I've put some links up.

Is it weird to link to other people's pages if they don't really know you read their blog? Like one day they'll be checking their traffic, and they'll notice me as a referring site, and think, Who the hell is that and why is he linking to my blog?

Monday, November 22, 2004

I Honestly Love Her

I am so in love it hurts. I never thought I'd ever say it, but it's true. I am totally, completely, absolutely head over heels in love.

Olivia Newton-John has been one of my favorite performers since I was a kid. My uncle Randy had given my brother and me a hand-me down stereo system, consisting of an AM/FM radio and an 8-track tape player which could play "regular" tapes too. (Yes, I'm that old. But for the record, I never owned a turntable.) Because he no longer had an 8-track player (he was upgrading to, I presume, a system with a better tape player), he gave us all of his 8-track tapes as well. Not many, and not many that I really cared about, but....

One of the cassettes he provided was If You Love Me Let Me Know by the aforementioned goddess of the recorded voice. It instantly became one of my favorite 8-tracks. One of Olivia's earlier works, there was a great sampling of country music in there, as well her now-classic "I Honestly Love You." I do wish I could somehow find this album on CD -- or perhaps get hold of an 8-track player to play the tape again -- because I still have the words memorized.

Another of the 8-tracks we were bequeathed was the soundtrack to Grease. I don't remember now if I had seen the movie before or after getting addicted to the soundtrack. I certainly know now that for the first few hundred times I saw Grease, I was clearly too young to pick up on the plethora of subtle sex comments interspersed through the movie. To this day, every time I watch the movie again I pick up innuendo I hadn't picked up on before.

But the point of all this is that I had fallen "hopelessly devoted" to Olivia Newton-John early on in my tender childhood. Her voice was captivating and mesmerizing, her beauty timeless. Having also seen her in interviews, or on random celebrity profiles (before they became de rigeur on cable "music" channels), I came to realize that Olivia is also a truly wonderful person outside her music: she's battled breast cancer, she's served a United Nations goodwill ambassador, and she's simply a delightful woman, sweet and personable.

This weekend she performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Baltimore being under an hour away from D.C., I could not pass up this opportunity. (Special kudos to my buddy Andy for noting her arrival and ordering the tickets!) Could not pass up the chance to see my idol live.

Andy scored some kick-ass seats. We were literally five rows from the front of the stage, albeit on the left side rather than dead center. But it was close enough. We got to see Olivia in all her beauty strutting her stuff in front of a packed concert hall. At 56, the woman is still as gorgeous as ever -- and I am not exaggerating. I don't believe she's ever had surgery, but she is as youthful and energetic as ever.

Keep in mind, again, I have worshipped this woman for literally decades now. Andy and I both agree that she is phenomenally talented. Further superlatives fail me, I love her so much. Andy and I had met over the Internet several years ago, and one of the things that made us as close as we've become is our mutual love for Olivia, among other pop stars whom others are view as too embarassing to acknowledge.

So there I was, watching my goddess incarnate spin her magic on stage in front of me. And I started to choke back the tears. I had to hold them back if for no other reason than I knew if I started crying I wouldn't be able see my woman clearly, and by golly I was going to keep my eye trained on her. (Well, except that her guitarist was actually quite hot, so my eye wandered from time to time. Yummy.)

Before I started to going to concerts put on by some of my favorite performers of all time, I had not been able to understand why those stupid little teenage girls would sob and go crazy in front of, say, the Backstreet Boys. I truly understand now what a moving experience it is to be performed to by your idol. (Although, to my credit, my idol worship has encompassed several decades of cultivation, unlike any moments inspired by flash-in-the-pan boy bands.)

By the end of the night, I couldn't hold back, and I was in fact, crying. And I couldn't stop. And I found that I didn't want to. It was the happiest I had been in a long time. Andy laughed at me, 'cause here's me, great big smile on my face, tears staining my cheeks, and still more on their way.

Andy and I seriously contemplated returning to Baltimore the next day for her last performance in the city, but eventually decided we weren't able to make it. Besides, I think I would have been emotionally drained had we attempted it.

Had I had a chance to speak with her, I possibly would have asked her to marry me. I Love Her. I Honestly Love Her.

Friday, November 19, 2004

A Long, Long Time Ago....

I randomly googled a friend of mine from elementary school the other day. I don't know why I did it; I just felt like it. Actually, I think it had to do with my college homecoming leading to nostalgia about my more "innocent" days, which led to the halcyon days of youth, with led to ... oh, never mind. The end result is, yes, I googled a childhood friend of mine.

I attended a public elementary school which was literally right across the street from my house. My neighborhood was pretty much lower middle class; my peers were a random assortment of kids of varying backgrounds, talents, and support structures. Yet even when I was under 10 years old, I remember most of my friends were the types who would end up in some sort of G&T program, whom the school singled out for some sort of academic strength. I was not destined to hang out with the classmate who still thought that the opposite of "boy" was spelled "gril." I know I sound like total insensitive snob for saying it, but academic achievement was such a big deal for me and my parents, even in grade school.

So only a few names popped into my mind when I got to thinking about kids I used to hang out with. One girl, R.O. (I'm actually going to try to maintain her privacy), came to mind, if only because she definitely had a distinctive name. And I liked her well enough. I remember learning, and playing, cribbage with her in the 5th grade. (Did I not tell you I was a big dork?)

It's surprising the stuff you find on the internet. I found out that R.O. was married by viewing pictures from her wedding. Surprisingly, I still recognized her younger sister, as well as her mother. And it's a little disturbing to see her mother, and other women her age, playing around with condoms at the bachelor party.

I also found her email address by looking at a list of her classmates in a doctoral program, from which she graduated last year.

(As an aside, I can tell you what you get if you google my not-too-common name: My work home page is buried in the middle of a slew of links to pages which talk about a guy who wrote some recognized scholarly treatise on the history of Asian-American civil rights. That's not me.)

I wondered if she would respond if I sent her an email. Heck, I wondered if she would even still remember me. But I figured I had to give it a shot. Because nothing sobers you to how life can change like talking to a girl you haven't seen for over 20 years.

R.O. did, in fact, respond to my email. She recognized my name, which quite surprised me. She's no longer living in Hawai'i, and she and her husband have at least one baby. We've been exhanging emails back and forth intermittently for a few weeks. I've told her that if she makes her way back east to she must tell me and we can get together. But I fear that travel with a baby may be tricky for her. (I hope her husband doesn't think I'm hitting on her or anything.)

Speaking of, seeing as we were prepubescent when we last exchanged any words whatsoever, she has no idea that I'm gay. She in fact asked about my personal life, including whether I was married and whether I had kids. I simply managed to avoid answering that question. It's strange, comfortable though I am with my sexuality, having to come out to all kinds of new people -- either if you've just met them or if you're re-establishing contact -- is still a somewhat tricky task. There's a balance to be struck -- it's something intimate enough that you just don't tell everyone if you're not positive they'll respond favorably, and yet by not saying anything, you lend some credibility to the notion that it's shameful (it's not).

If I were seeing someone, I wouldn't hesitate to tell R.O. that I was dating a wonderful guy. It's much more tricky to properly work it into conversation when you're trying to say, "I'm single, Bush won't let me get married, and even if I could I currently have no prospects anyway."

But after these past elections, I feel like I have to tell her. Being "out" is a political statement now, and there is substantial benefit to being as out as possible in this post-election "moral values" bullcrap society.

Handshake etiquette

Here's a little-known bit of etiquette which I picked up from Miss Manners last year: A man should not, in social settings, extend his hand in an offer of a handshake to a woman. It is the prerogative of the woman to make this overture first.

I try to stick to this rule whenever I'm introduced to a woman I don't know, but sometimes I forget and just involuntarily stick my hand out. I've never been called on it, nor have I ever met a woman who balked at me for offering a handshake (or not offering one), but I like to try to stick to these seemingly random etiquette rules.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

West Wing rerun

Okay, the last source for great politics should be a fictional television show, I'll admit that. But from time to time the show does come up with pretty damn good quotes which I wish real politicians -- and the American public -- would heed. I was watching a rerun of the show on Bravo last night, and found myself going, "That's what I'm talking about!"

It was just before President Bartlet was announcing his intention to run for President again. He had just disclosed his M.S. recently, and the West Wing was engaged in a slew of hand-wringing about what he should say in his next address to the nation, etc. etc., when Toby reads out loud a draft sentence that contains the word "torpor." (The following dialog is paraphrased from memory; I didn't have the time to transcribe.)

Consultant: You can't use that sentence. No one will know what the word "torpor" means.
Josh: "Torpor"? It means "apathy."
Toby: And dullness.
Consultant: I know what the word means, but most of the American public won't!
[C.J. walks into the room.]
C.J.: What word?
Josh: "Torpor."
C.J.: It means "apathy."
Toby: And dullness.
Consultant: I know what it means! What I'm saying is most of the American people....
[The President's voice interrupts.]
The President: ... can look it up. We shouldn't have to talk down to be understood by the American people, we should be raising the level of dialog. If you're going to be the "education President" you can't very well be hiding the fact that you have one.

Now that's what I'm talking about. John Kerry was trashed early in his campaign this election cycle because -- scandal! -- he can speak fluent French. That quality of his quickly dropped from any public image he portrayed of himself, as if being ignorant of the world were an asset. "I don't want no hoity-toity French-speaking Massachusetts senator as President!", proclaimed the so-called "heartland" voter from the Red States.

Instead, they preferred a president who can barely string together a sentence in English without a teleprompter.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What's in a Name?

Through another blog, I was pointed to a name dictionary which describes me thusly:

The name of Dennis has given you a very imaginative, creative mind. You always have new ideas, but too often they are for an easy way out of a difficulty, or an easy way of making money. You are not inclined to apply yourself consistently to a job and to reach the fulfilment of your goals through perseverance and hard work. The influence of this name has caused you to feel unsettled emotionally and mentally. You are never satisfied with conditions, because your feelings and desires are so changeable. Hence you seek change in order to have the opportunity for travel, new experiences, and new friends and associates. There are people in your association who could influence you unfavourably and thereby mislead you; disillusionment, embarrassment, and bitter experiences then become your lot. You have a very talkative nature and because of it, you could do well in saleswork or in a position where you handle the public. However, you would find any position requiring self-confidence and aggressiveness very trying. You are subject to moods of depression and self-pity, arising in part from a lack of confidence. Nervous tension often affects your solar plexus and stomach area. Also, the kidneys and fluid functions of the body could be affected.

If you are about to have a child, why would you ever inflict this kind of burden on your child? (I'm referring to parents-to-be; I have no doubt that the people who gave me this name have no idea about this assessment of my name.) The scariest thing is, it's frighteningly close to accurate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

... but He Didn't Kiss My Ass!

Okay, this article kinda steams me. Wait, it really steams me.

Two quotes bug me:

- The headline: "Women Say Kerry Should Have Wooed Them"
- "Kerry never drew a very strong contrast with Bush" on women's issues until the end of the campaign, said Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations.

What the hell? Pledging to fight any attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade isn't enough of a distinction between Bush and Kerry to vote for the actual pro-choice guy?

I recognize that the headline may just be someone's idea of catchy, but it irks me. The candidates' positions on women's issues couldn't have been clearer. W. is against abortion and would love more than anything to make it illegal. And yet women say Kerry should have kissed their asses more? What, just being on the right side isn't enough?

What did you want, an engraved invitation? Or perhaps he should have been standing there handing you toilet paper while you took a crap. Please. If you're a woman involved with the Feminist Majority and/or that National Council of Women's Organizations -- the two groups mentioned in this article -- ass-kissing should not be required for you to vote for the right guy.

Kiss My Ashcroft!


I remember in 1996, just after Bill Clinton won his second term in the White House,* the Washington Times -- independent and unbiased source that it is -- printed a huge headline that read something to the effect of "Clinton Cabinet Runs For the Doors" or something like that. Point being, the headline implied that certain members of the Clinton cabinet fled the administration as if from a burning building. I even got the visual image of teems of people, dressed in their business suits, running out the door, like a scene from The Birds or something.

Because serving in high-power positions is pretty damn challenging for four years, I'm told presidential cabinets change all the time after re-election. I just wonder if the Washington Times will have a headline similar to Clinton's now that the Bush cabinet is readjusting. Somehow I doubt it.

* I note that Pres. Clinton won re-election in 1996 by a much larger margin than did Mr. Bush this past week. And yet I recall no media coverage whatsoever of Pres. Clinton declaring his "mandate" from the American people.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Moral Values and the South

This is was just forwarded to me, and by golly, it's awesome. (Did I just say "by golly"? I think it's to offset the profanity-laced yet pretty good arguments made in the link I'm about to provide.) I haven't been able to fact-check all the links, but it's a great read.

Fuck the South.

Apologies as necessary


Cute site.

Monday, November 08, 2004


No, this isn't a map that has anything to do with the electoral college. It's a map of all the states I've visited in my lifetime. Pathetically few, I know, but my funds have usually been quite limited.

create your own personalized map of the USA

And here's a map of the European countries I've visited (same caveat as above applies):

create your personalized map of europe

I've also been to a few countries in Asia -- Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam -- but they didn't offer specialized Asia maps without including the rest of the world, and that just didn't seem worth it to see where in Asia I've been. Besides, I've also been to Hong Kong, which was still British at the time I went. It's not on the list anymore, so to have it highlighted I'd have to select China, and well, that's just misleading.

*** Woah, graphic overload. Anyone wanna give me a pointer or two about how to force the graphic to fit into the template properly?....

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Manhunt, revisited

In a previous post I mentioned my disdain for the Bravo show Manhunt, at least to the extent that it featured almost no people of color. As an aside, I mentioned that there were no "out" gay men on the show either.

Well, I was wrong. Apparently, at least one guy, Rob, is in fact gay. Okay, it's mentioned in his biography on the web site, but I didn't take the time to read through the bios, I was just kinda watching the show. In a recent episode, he finally "came out" to his fellow contestants and expressed some surprise that no one even realized he was gay.

Of course, the obliviousness could come from the fact that while all these prettyboys revel in their metrosexuality, it just blurs the line between gay and trendy.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What "mandate"?

So some of the news accounts I've read -- and some of the commentators have opined -- that this election gave Mr. Bush a "mandate" to carry forward his agenda. What?

I can't help wondering what the hell these people are talking about. Since when does a slim 3.9 million vote popular majority represent a "mandate"? Compared to the 2000 elections, sure this election is a blowout. But it's seriously NOT the Reaganseque landslide of 1980. This country is sharply divided. When the country is sharply divided, you should not be looking exclusively at the votes you did garner and say "I heard you loud and clear." It is imperative that you acknowledge that a very sizeable minority disagrees with you. You must listen to them too and work to strike the balance between the two.

Unless, of course, you're an autocrat, in which case you were likely to govern as you wanted to whether you received 50.01% or 100% of the vote anyway.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

We Are Fucked

When Bush was appointed (by the Supreme Court) in 2000, there was a cute picture circulating around the internet, depicting a copy of Time magazine with Bush on the cover, and the statement below it: "WE'RE FUCKED". It has come to pass again.

Half the people in this country have told us that it's perfectly acceptable to send our young men and women to a foreign country to start a war when you don't know whether any real threat to our national security is at stake. A man who isn't prepared to debate the issues without falsely mocking his opponent is worthy of leading the country. A man who will not meet with the press or otherwise hold his administration up to public scrutiny is a good man. A man who uses federal Secret Service resources to expel, detain, and arrest persons who dare exercise First Amendment freedoms at campaign rallies is someone you can trust your civil liberties to. A "conservative" who turns this country from a few billion in the black to tens of billions in the red is smart. A "federalist" who presides over the largest federal government ever in our history is perfectly consistent. A worldwide leader who scoffs at and alienates foreign governments is worthy of heading ours. It's perfectly acceptable to propose writing discrimination into our Constitution rather than ensuring actual equality of rights.

We are so fucked. And I am so angry that half of this country that I love so much is so completely brainless that they can't see what a dangerous man Bush is.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Two Ringy-Dingy...

Went back to Kerry/Edwards tonight for last-minute calling of still more voters to remind them to get out and vote. Unfortunately, found out I had a few Bush supporters on my list. They are not friendly people.

Fun phone call of the night:

Me: Hi, is ____ there?
Man: Who's calling?
Me: My name is Dennis!, I'm a volunteer with the Kerry/Edwards campaign.
Man: Yeah, she ain't votin' for no Kerry/Edwards.
Me: Sorry to hear that. Just please don't try to kill her if you find out you're wrong.

Okay, okay, I didn't actually say that last part, but I wanted to.

Go vote.

Redskins lose!

Okay, so apparently there's some strange little piece of political folklore that says that the last Washington Redskins game before any presidential election says something about the election results. For the past umpteen presidential elections -- "umpteen" being a technical term for "pretty decent number which I don't know precisely" -- the incumbent has won the White House when the Redskins win the last game before the election. Obviously, the challenger has won whenever the Redskins lose this game.

The Redskins to Green Bay tonight after a flag was tossed, recalling a Redskins touchdown late in the fourth quarter, a loss compounded by the fact that Green Bay thereafter intercepted a Redskins pass for another touchdown and two-point conversion, leaving the final score of 28-14.

The penalty call against the Redskins has been called "controversial." Wow, the mirror between this game and the elections is more accurate than I originally gave it credit for.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

One Ringy-Dingy...

(Bonus points if you get the reference, but I'm guessing most readers of this blog -- like all three of them! -- are too young to get it.)

Okay, so I spent the better part of 5 hours tonight at Kerry/Edwards volunteering to phone bank for them. I have to admit I did it at least partly out of guilt because I didn't take the whole day yesterday to join the caravan up to Pennsylvania to knock on doors in swing states.

First, the place was absolute chaos. I suppose that's only natural, since we are on the verge of a pretty damn important election and there's a lot to be done in the last few hours before election day. But it was chaotic with a clear sense of purpose, kinda like ants running around the ant farm. They all have their purpose, and from a distance it appears like everyone's just going from place to place randomly, but they actually know what they're doing and there's some sort of method to the madness.

My job (which I shared with a huge slew of other volunteers): Pick up a list of registered democratic voters and call them all to remind them to make it the polling place on Tuesday. There were so many volunteers there that some of us had to whip out our cell phones and use them because there weren't enough land lines lying around. The funny thing about using your cell phone, of course, is that your number shows up on the recipient's caller ID. So at random times over the afternoon, I would actually get return calls from people -- usually people I had called but got no answering machine.

All in all, I had a pretty good time. Most of my job was leaving the same stock message over and over and over on people's answering machines, but I hope it makes a difference and gets people out to vote who otherwise would have been too lazy or otherwise unmotivated to make their way out. By far the best call I made went something like this:

Me: Hi, is ___ there?
Man: Sure, who's calling please?
Me: This is Dennis!, I'm calling from the Kerry/Edwards campaign.
Man: Okay, cool. [off the phone] Honey, it's for you! Some guy from Kerry's campaign. Tell him how much you hate Bush!
Me [when woman gets on the phone]: So, how much do you hate Bush?
Woman: I really really hate him.
Me: Excellent. Just what I wanted to hear!
Woman: Yeah.
Man [in background]: Woooo! Yeah! Go Kerrrrrrry!
Me: Woo hoo! So yeah, I was just calling to remind you to get to your polling place on Tuesday!
Woman: Oh yeah, we're planning on it.
Man: We're voting on Tuesday! Awright Kerry!
Me: Woo hoo! I'm glad you're excited and thank you so much for your support!
Woman: Yeah! No more Bush!
Man: Vote Kerrrrrry!
Me: Yay!

Everyone sharing the phone banking room was turning and staring at me by the time this conversation was done. When I finally hung up, I got a mild round of applause from those people who weren't already on new calls.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Le Raison d'être du blog

Aside from Randy -- hi Randy! -- and his friends who may stumble on to this blog from a link on his blog, I don't think that any of my personal friends read this blog.

Which is by design, to an extent, because I haven't really advertised its existence to many people. Randy knows about mine just because he's the one who turned me on to blogging on this site to begin with. But most of my other friends don't know that I do this.

Of the friends that do know, most of them have responded well, asking me to share with them the URL of this site. Of course, they usually do so in a setting where it's not easy for me to tell them without them forgetting, so they usually just say that I should email them the link later. And I usually don't, and they usually don't follow up.

In a previous post, the aforementioned Randy (wow, twice in one post!) mentioned the strange and unique interplay between the intimate and the distant that results from a public blog. You share whatever personal insights you want with a slew of strangers potentially entering your mind. And he's right -- I've done my fair share of invading blogs of random strangers and they, in turn, have graced my blog with their comments -- but I'm left to wonder what purpose this blog should be serving.

The more I think about it, the more I find it difficult to find reasons I'd want to share this blog with more friends. To wit:

1: If only random strangers are reading your blog, you don't have to censor yourself when you want to say bad things about someone you know. I've blogged about many of my friends on this blog: Josh, Ben, Debra, Lora, Mark, Chad, Rob, John, Joe, Jen, Chris, Liz, Linda, Sue, Christine, just to name a few. But what if I feel like complaining about something one or the other of them did or said? Of course, my style is not so much to bitch just for bitching's sake, but still, after I reach the generalized point, the fact remains that if the person I'm bitching about reads my blog at all, there could be some uncomfortable moments.

2: The friends you're able to talk to whenever you want to should not have to find out what you're thinking and how your mind works by reading your blog. Those people should be finding out more about you by hanging out with you, talking to you, and engaging in conversation with you. I've never met Peter or Matthew (who are the most frequent commenters on this blog), and they live half way across the country from me. We have not exchanged phone numbers or email addresses. The only way these people are going to get to know me is by reading my blog, and I by reading theirs. There's no such excuse for Debra to have to read my blog to know what I'm thinking.

3: None of the two above have anything to do with you, Randy. Because you're just a fluke, and you're cool, and I have never once had to censor myself with respect to anything I might want to say about you.

If anyone reading this has any comments which may explain why it's a great idea to let your friends read your blog, feel free to comment below.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Eminem video

Wow. This is powerful stuff. I gotta give him snaps, Eminem is a really talented man... and this video is freakin' fantastic.

Commander in Chief

From Moby's online journal (yes, that Moby):

"a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief." -Gw bush regarding the 380 tons of missing explosives

so how about jumping into war without knowing the facts about iraq's non-existent weapons program?
how about jumping into war without knowing the facts about al-qaeda not being in iraq?
how about jumping into war without knowing the facts about how much the war would cost?
how about jumping into war without knowing the facts about how long the war might take?
how about jumping into war without the facts to support a realistic plan on how to win?

I always thought he was sexy before, but his passion for the issues makes him sooooo much sexier.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Cute chimneys

Josh and Ben -- about whom I have blogged before -- and I work in the same building. Sheer coincidence. Their office is on the 14th floor; I'm on the 7th. We actually rarely ever see each other during the course of a work day, but when we manage to get together to talk, it's one of the things we can chat about.

It's kind of nice having someone who doesn't work in the same office as you working in the same building. We can talk about commonalities about the building while avoiding the details about the actual work.

At any given point in the day, there are people outside the building taking a smoke break. Normally this would not be a big deal at all, except -- and just thinking this makes me sound so pathetic -- the guys out there smoking are unusually attractive. And if I ever find myself in an elevator with them, I find out that they usually work on the 14th floor.

I mentioned to Josh last night: "I gotta say there are some cuuuuute boys in your office!" (I was kinda queening out just because it was the night of the high-heeled race, after all.) He agreed that there are a lot of good looking guys in his office, some of whom are gay and some of whom are not (and some who profess to be straight even though no one believes them). Two things keep me from telling him to hook me up with one of them: My immense lack of confidence, and the fact that kissing a smoker is like licking an ash tray.*

* I mentioned this ash tray thing to Josh too, and he responded, "So that's why you haven't kissed me all this time!" What a flirt. (Ben's his boyfriend. I know them both). He really has to just let those sleeping dogs lie.

Debating with Inanimates

Remember Sports Night? I rented all the DVDs a while back and love that show. The writing is sharp, the dialog snappy and witty, the actors excellent. One of my favorite lines was delivered deadpan by Joshua Malina in the following exchange:

Isaac: Let me add, Dana, that things I say in my office stay in my office.
Dana: Natalie's my, my second in command. She's the only one I told.
Natalie: Jeremy's my boyfriend. He's the only one I told.
Jeremy: I told many, many people.

Anyway, this is totally beside my point today. My point today is the reason I like this kind of fast-paced dialog is because I find it funny. The same kind of dialog takes place in The West Wing, which, coincidentally, is also created by Aaron Sorkin (and has declined in quality since he left).

The other morning, I felt like I was having one of those conversations. Someone was talking about something or another -- I think it was politics of some sort -- and I was answering back with a question of some sort. The person I was talking to, however, either didn't hear me or simply ignored me, and continued with her talking points. As she finished her second talking point, I again asked her a question, and again she ignored me and moved on to a third talking point. I started getting annoyed, until I realized....

It was all a dream, I wasn't really talking to anyone, and the woman with whom I was having my little discussion was actually a manifestation of the NPR voice coming from my clock radio. I was dreaming about arguing with someone's interview.

It was then I decided I should probably wake up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I Bet You Think This Post Is About You, or Musical Hiccups

So my RealPlayer at work sometimes tends to hiccup. I'm not sure why. It's particularly prominent when I'm running a lot of applications (consuming memory) and I try to live stream NPR through my computer. (I've blogged about this before.)

Recently the issue has proven to extend beyond internet streaming, but also to music recorded on my hard drive. Sometimes my music gets "stuck." This is particularly annoying when it happens to do so in a song that has a repetitive refrain, thus masking the problem.

I bet you think this song is about you
I bet you think this song is about you
I bet you think this song is about you
I bet you think this song is about you
I bet you think this song is about you
I bet you think this song is about you

Sometimes it could take a while before you realize that the song doesn't actually repeat that phrase that many times. Of course, it's worse when you're listening to a remixed track, in which sometimes they do repeat that same refrain that many times.

Ironic that in this advanced digital age, my computer sometimes mimics a broken record.

Monday, October 25, 2004

I'm Getting Mean

This election is doing bad things to me. It's literally making me into a person who thinks things I don't like thinking. It's making me mean. Cases in point:

1: When I first heard this morning the Chief Justice William Rehnquist was hospitalized after undergoing a tracheotomy for throat cancer this past weekend, I was kind of excited. Then I was disappointed to hear that he'll probably be released soon, and will resume the bench by Monday.

2: When I heard that Attorney General John Ashcroft was hospitalized for pancreatitis or some other impairment of the gastric system (I forget when this happened), I was elated. I honestly entertained the idea of how wonderful it would be if he didn't survive that scenario. Again, I found myself let down when he survived and resumed his rampage against civil liberties. (Even then, though, I found myself thinking that I did just wish that it hurt like hell.)

3: I was actually rooting for the pretzel when Mr. Bush choked that time.

I hate the thought that I've been happy at the suffering and near-death of others. This is what this administration has done to me. I'm not blaming the Bush administration per se, but they sure haven't helped.