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Archive for March, 2009

A Visit From Home

Posted by Seth on March 27, 2009

I have been away from home for nearly two years now. In those two years, I have made three trips home. The third trip, Daniel made the trip to West Virginia last April right before we moved here to Fresno. While living in Kansas City, I only had one visitor. My brother. The only reason why he came out was because he was on a business trip. So, that doesn’t really count. It was merely out of coincidence. Anyway, it has been nearly a year since I have seen anyone from home. (Yeah…it’s been a YEAR here in Fresno!) That record was broke last week. My two best friends came in for a weeks visit! I was so happy!

I’ve known Nicki for about 11 years, and Mary for roughly 14 or 15 years. So, I’ve pretty much grown up with them. They’re a couple gals that I am proud to show off. Mainly because they have no shame and I love them for that.

Nicki is more or less the female version of Chris Farley. She’s hilarious, boisterous, crazy, and makes great faces and voices! But she’s also level headed, smart, and would make a best friend to anyone. Oh, and she hates ghetto kids, which is a HUGE plus!

Mary is…..well…..I guess you could describe her as an anomaly. Picture Meg Griffin from Family Guy. That’s her! Very tragic! But I love her dearly. She has a weird sense of humor that mirrors mine. She’s the type of girl that would cut her throat on a cereal box, have a scar on her arm from a pretzel, and agree to being kidnapped by a stranger who happens to be an old woman. These are actual occurrences I might add. She’s a certified genius, but lacks common sense. She’s a gem!

They were only here for about 5 days. Not NEARLY enough time to do everything there is to do in this state. At least I got to see them though. I was happy with just that.

They arrived last Monday evening. We didn’t do anything but go out to eat and come home to rest. The next day was more fun. It was St. Patrick’s Day as well as our friend Cole’s birthday. We did the usual bar hopping. Finally, after hours of running around, we settled on one bar. Being a special holiday, we felt left out because we didn’t have any S.P.D. bling. So, Daniel proceeded to “borrow” some from other patrons. Which was great! We ended up with 4 necklaces, hideous glasses, a pretty tiara, and a green bottle of beer. He was going to get us a cool goblet type glass, but you couldn’t pry it out of the fat whore’s cold, drunk grip. We did reach our goal though. We got the girls drunk! Well, at least Nicki.
Me, Nicki, Daniel, Mary
Nicki and Mary drunk

After hours of drinking, we made a trip to Jack in the Box, ate, and went to bed.

The next day, I couldn’t figure out what the hell to do and they couldn’t decide on anything. So, I just took them around town and showed them the sights. Well, since it’s Fresno…I showed them the sight. Which is just the Tower District. There are a few cool little shops and restaurants. They bought a few things and that was about it. Later that evening we went to the casino, where we usually just break even. It was a lot of fun, considering Mary had never been to one and Nicki had only been to a dog track. They were impressed by all the machines and how pretty it was.

Seth and Nicki
Mary and Daniel

The next day, we felt like doing something real. We went for a trip up to Sequoia National Park. We were all excited about it. It’s only about an hour away from here. My only concern was snow. I didn’t know if it was closed off, if we were going to be able to do anything, if we should dress warm, if I should take a pill because I get vertigo and the road up there makes me twitch…luckily everything was fine.

On our way up there, Nicki and Mary were taking picture after picture. It is a very scenic drive. There are certain areas that look like Ireland, Tuscany, California, etc. Since the drive there is every vertigo patients worst nightmare, I “drove slow so they could get pictures.”  I’m talking about thousand foot cliffs, being on roads where you can see miles over the mountains, hair-pin turns…yeah…they can take as many pictures as they like! After white-knuckling the steering wheel all the way up to the park, we reach the gate to the park.

YAY! We’re finally here! Big trees, big pine cones, and potential death by a mountain lion! Exciting! Unfortunately, none of it looked familiar. There was a small parking area, a gated off road due to snow, and a road that lead further into the park. I knew that wasn’t the way to go, because Daniel didn’t go that route when we visited before. After about 30 minutes of circling in this parking lot that held about 20 cars, I realized that the closed off part was a road that we had to drive on to get to the good shit. Finally, we found a parking spot and started walking. We didn’t realize though, that it’s two miles to the recreation area. So, we got some walking stick from some fellow park patrons and started tracking two miles in about 1 1/2 feet of snow. Luckily it was about 60 degrees. So the snow was only keeping us cooled down. Mary even got a sun burn!

About an hour into the hike, we finally made it! BIG TREES! YAY! Unfortunately, due to Nicki and my long strides, Mary’s legs just couldn’t handle it anymore. Right as soon as we got to the park, Mary screamed at us, because we were about 200 feet in front of her, “I’M DONE!!!” So, she had it. She sat down on a fence and rested while Nicki and I left to retrieve cones. After an hour of tracking through two feet of snow,  fighting off bugs, and falling down multiple times, we found big cones and left. The trip back down the hill was much easier and faster. Unfortunately for Mary, she has no balancing skills. So, she was entertaining to watch.

Taking pictures of a babbling brook while I get a shot of Mary's babbling butt crack Guards of Hell's Gate
Nicki tracking through the snow Mary at her best

On our way home, we stopped at a couple stores looking for souvenirs and trinkets, but was unsuccessful. We just found crap. At least we got some big ass pine cones! We got back that evening tired, warn out, and exhausted.

The next day was quite a battle. The girls really wanted to go to Hollywood. I did too. I’ve never been there. The only problem was Daniel’s schedule. This entire time they were here, Daniel didn’t really get to spend any time with them. They thought it sucked, I thought it sucked, and Daniel was especially upset about it. It was no fault of his. His boss is a complete PRICK! He is a disgusting piece of shit old man with no reasoning or logic skills, who finds it necessary to fuck things up and lay the blame on everyone around him. He treats Daniel like shit and I’ve had it! His boss knew we had friends in, and made his work days harder just so he couldn’t spend any time with us. This is the type of man he is. He’s completely crazy! Of course Daniel has to play nice guy and take the bull shit that gets thrown at him, because we’re in a precarious situation. I don’t blame Daniel one bit. He’s playing it as smart as he can.

Anyway, after a little tiff between Daniel and me, and a little phone call to his boss about a “doctors appointment” Friday morning, we were well on our way to L.A. It is a 4 hour drive to L.A. from here, and in that time Daniel received a few forwarded calls from new tenants and his boss. He handled them very well, and even rented a couple of apartments while driving! Now how good of a fucking employee is that?!

We finally made it to Hollywood and started doing the touristy stuff. We visited Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Capitol Records, and the Hollywood sign. I know there are a ton more things to do, but we got a late start. Everything is right there together, so that made it easy. Except the Hollywood sign itself. Since we had no clue where we were going, we had to take a picture of a tourist route map to find out way. It turns out it showed a road that led to an observatory in a park overlooking the city. Blah blah blah. After we figured out that we were lost, we turned around and came back into civilization. We asked a cop where we could find the best road to the sign and he was nice about it. He gave us directions and sent us on our way. We found the road, which was actually just about 10 minutes away from where we originally turned, and found it! So, we drove through a cute neighborhood to get as close to the sign as we could. Lucky for us, it was damn close! It made the girls happy, so we were happy.

Mary and Harry Potter at Grauman's Nicki and Harry Potter at Grauman's

Daniel and the sign Seth and the sign

Me, Mary, and Nicki enjoying the viewNicki got a little sleepy on the way there

Their last day in Fresno was sad. I didn’t want them to go home. I was trying my hardest to convince Nicki to quit her job and stay with us, and Mary to leave her husband (or bring him back here) and stay here. I miss my friends so much. It was so good to see them. I just hate it that they’re 3000 miles away. Hopefully we can look forward to more visits from friends or to friends this year. It did me a world of good to see them. They needed it and so did I.

Nicki saying goodbye to her new friend, Kitty! Mary "broke" the bed when she was packing

Saddness....just before their flight

Posted in Because You Count, Family, Friends, Holiday Fun, Just For Fun, Life, Our Writings, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Intelligent Design Creates OxyMorons

Posted by Daniel on March 26, 2009

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Here we go again.  In the never-ending battle of “Which Came First…The Chicken or the Easter Egg?”, states like Kansas and Texas are back to preaching and teaching the THEORY of so-called “Intelligent Design”.

The Texas Board of Education this week will vote on science standards that critics say seek to cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

“This specific attack on well-established science ignores mountains of evidence and years of research done by experts in a variety of fields,” said Steven Newton, project director at the Oakland California-based National Center for Science Education, a proponent of evolution.

One amendment, critics say, undermines the idea that life on Earth derives from a common ancestry, a major principle in the theory of evolution. It calls for the analysis and evaluation of “the sufficiency or insufficiency” of the common ancestry idea to explain the fossil record.

Newton said the board is considering other amendments casting doubt on well-established ideas in the earth and space sciences — plate tectonics, radioactive decay and how the solar system developed.

I find this troubling.  they teach their kids to believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Immaculate Conception, all based on stories.  But when offered actual physical/material proof about this planet and space, they scoff and call it heresy and makes them poop in their pews.

School board chairman Don McLeroy has wanted to tackle questions that highlight supposed weaknesses in the theory of evolution.

For example, skeptics of evolution point to what they contend are fossil record gaps casting doubt on the scientific evidence of common ancestry.

“I’m a skeptic. I’m an evolution skeptic. I don’t think it’s true,” he said. “You need to present other ideas to the kids.”

So, because you have this table full of bones that have been PROVEN to be dated over 60+ million years old, and you see a gap between two of them, that means the rest of what you see doesn’t exist.  Meanwhile, you can lay NO PHYSICAL OR MATERIAL PROOF on any table in the magic that you believe in…and we are the idiots??

The issue reflects the strong feelings among representatives on the 15-member board, some of whom accept evolutionary theory and some of whom don’t. The size of the textbook market in Texas gives it influence nationwide, as publishers adapt their material to its standards.

The board in January voted to remove language that called on science teachers to focus on the “strengths and weaknesses” in all scientific theories.

It was replaced by language urging students to use “empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing” to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations.”

More amendments are expected to be brought up in the three-day hearing.

A little history:

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution proposes that humans evolved over millions of years from animal species — including, most famously, early primates that also are the ancestors of modern-day apes. Such thinking, which challenged religious accounts of a deity creating humans, was considered radical, even blasphemous, when Darwin published it in 1859.

Central to Darwin’s thesis was his scientific explanation of life’s diversity: that natural selection is enough to explain the evolution of all species.

The scientific community has overwhelmingly scorned creationism – mostly for it’s lack of tangible proof  – and its latest incarnation, intelligent design, as a pretext for biblical explanations of how the world came to be, and asserts that there is no weakness or doubt in the scientific community about evolution.

Last year, the National Academy of Sciences called for the public to be better informed about the importance of understanding and teaching evolution. The academy released a booklet titled “Science, Evolution, and Creationism” — the third explanation of evolution put out since 1984 by one of the nation’s leading scientific organizations.

However, those who take issue with evolution believe it should be treated with healthy skepticism.

The San Antonio Express-news quotes Casey Luskin, a policy analyst with the Discovery Institute, a group that questions the theory of evolution:

“This debate will impact whether students are taught to think critically and scientifically when you learn about evolution. It’s important for students to learn how to think like scientists and not be forced to treat these controversial topics like a dogma,” he is quoted as saying.

“Dogma”?  You believe in virgin birth and angels and a mythical man sitting on a puffy cloud yanking our strings like a marionette master.  So who’s “Dogma” is more or less believable?

Proponents of evolution say the dogma is on the other side, with the Discovery Institute and others purposely distorting and ignoring scientific evidence to reach their desired conclusion.

For decades, the teaching of evolution in public schools has been a flashpoint in some states, with proponents of ideas such as creationism and intelligent design trying to gain a place in science classes.

The issue has been before school officials, legislators and courts in Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia.

The controversy over the teaching of intelligent design came to a head in Pennsylvania, where the Dover School Board voted that ninth-grade students must be read a statement encouraging them to read about intelligent design. A federal judge said the board violated the Constitution in doing so because intelligent design is religious creationism in disguise and injecting it into the curriculum violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

“Academic freedom” bills have emerged but failed in various state legislatures, the National Center for Science Education said.

An “academic freedom” act has been adopted as law in Louisiana, and there is legislation in Florida calling for an “academic freedom” bill that would mandate a “thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.”

The center says such bills are strategies by creationists to appeal to the American sense of balance, and give the false sense that there are different sides to scientific issues such as evolution.

Of course, these are the same people who watch the Flintstones cartoon as if it were a documentary.

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Posted in Common Sense, Life, Media Matters, Religion, Today's Rant | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s All In Our Genes

Posted by Daniel on March 25, 2009

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As the accuracy and resolution of brain imaging improve, we can expect virtually all behavior to be shown to be associated with demonstrable brain changes. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that imaging studies of sexual orientation are increasingly revealing anatomic and functional differences between “straight” and “gay” brains. But demonstrating such changes doesn’t answer the age-old question of how much our sexual preferences are innate and how much they are fueled by environmental exposure, cultural norms and conscious personal choices.

One way to distinguish the effects of nature from nurture would be to look at brain regions believed by neuro-anatomists to be fully formed at birth and impervious to subsequent environmental effects, both physical and psychological. Focusing on such brain regions, a research team at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, headed by neuroscientist Ivanka Savic, obtained MRIs for 90 adult volunteers — 25 straight men, 25 straight women, 20 gay men and 20 lesbians. Using the latest quantitative techniques for assessing cerebral symmetry and functional connections between various areas of brain, Savic was able to demonstrate highly statistically significant differences between straight and gay brains. Gay and lesbian brains more closely resembled the brains of straight volunteers of the opposite sex than the brains of heterosexual members of the same sex.

In their study, reported in the June 16, 2008, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Savic said, “This is the most robust measure so far of cerebral differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects.” Although Savic admits that her study cannot distinguish between genetic or prenatal intrauterine environmental changes, such as relative differences in sex hormone levels, her studies do suggest that our sexual preferences are, at least in large part, determined by the time of birth.

Not long after reading the study, I got a call from neurologist Jerome Goldstein, M.D., 67, once a fellow resident in the UCSF neurology training program. Last fall, Goldstein, an internationally respected headache researcher and sometimes controversial gay activist, gave a series of lectures on the innate biology of gayness. He was phoning to ask if I had seen the study and if I might write about the latest scientific evidence supporting the biology of gayness. I decided to write it out as an interview instead. Goldstein is compact, rapid-talking and constantly on the verge of impatience, a trait we have in common. Yet during our conversations he was subdued, confessional in tone, with frequent pauses to gather his thoughts; the seriousness of his concerns was palpable.

Jerry, you’ve been an outspoken gay activist for 40-plus years. Why the sudden interest in the biology of sexual orientation?

“I was aware that I was attracted to men by age 8, even though I did not have any gay sexual experiences until I was 12. Meanwhile, despite having no sex or even a clear understanding of what homosexuality meant, virtually everyone that I encountered, including my dear parents, made a point of telling me that homosexuality was dirty, sinful and a phase that would pass.”

“Beginning my senior year in college, long before my first gay experience, I began the endless rounds of psychiatrists and counselors. I even tried to modify my behavior to make it acceptable. Sadly, even though I now know better, and am fully aware of the overwhelming evidence as to the underlying neurobiologic predisposition to gayness, I have never been able to entirely shake this feeling of guilt and wrongdoing. Future generations should be spared. Right now, I’m interested in seeing that good science prevails over outdated, misguided psychology and false-headed thinking that homosexuality is a conscious choice.”

Do you think people accept that homosexuality arises out of biological predispositions?

“Only on the surface. Down deep, there’s a lingering suspicion that, even if the cause is biological, there is something intrinsically wrong with being gay. It has been 35 years since homosexuality was removed from a psychiatric diagnostic category and we [still] don’t see the changes in the way people think. Sadly, even our major neurological societies haven’t taken a serious look at the biology of sexual orientation. For example, when was the last time that you saw the American Academy of Neurology even address the subject? And the general public? Just listen to right-wing talk show hosts offering to pray for my sins. Or look at the damage caused by the religious right and its “conversion therapy,” which attempts to alter an inborn characteristic of human behavior. I don’t want pity and sympathy, I want scientific understanding based on logic and reason.”

Quantcast

Could you give me a brief rundown of what you think is the most compelling evidence supporting the biology of gayness?

“Keep in mind that sexual orientation is exceedingly complex and not reducible to a single gene or hormonal aberration, or explained by demonstrable anatomic brain differences. But by examining multiple lines of evidence, you can begin to connect the dots as to how biology influences sexual preferences. With these caveats in mind, let’s look at the history leading up to the present functional imaging studies.

In 1991, Simon LeVay, formerly a professor of neuroscience at Harvard and the Salk Biological Institute, claimed to have discovered specific anatomic differences between gay and straight brains, primarily in a region of the hypothalamus believed to have a major influence on sexual behavior. By the way, this region’s fetal development is greatly influenced by the levels of intrauterine testosterone, a major reason why intrauterine shifts of sex hormone levels are thought by some researchers to contribute to sexual preference.”

But LeVay’s work was considered controversial, nonreproducible, and part of a gay political agenda. The real take-away was the promise that neuroscience might one day offer better insights into the origins of homosexuality.

At the same time, there were a variety of quasi-scientific studies claiming to uncover markers for “gay tendencies.” One suggested that you could tell whether or not you’re gay by whether your hair whorl — that patch of hair on the crown of your head — curled clockwise or counterclockwise. Another suggested that you could tell by the relative symmetry of your second and fourth digits. Those studies weren’t exactly good science and certainly didn’t make the biology of sexual orientation an attractive area for basic research funding.

Early genetic studies also ran into major criticisms. In the early ’90s, Dean Hamer of the National Cancer Institute raised the possibility of “a gay gene.” His studies met the same criticisms asserting that that single genes don’t cause complex behavior. On a YouTube video, Hamer denies the idea of a single gene for gayness.

But what has emerged from the genetic approach is incontrovertible evidence that sexual preference runs in families. Several independent large-scale studies show that a man with a gay identical twin brother will have between a 33 and 52 percent chance of being gay — a rate far higher than is seen in the general population. But even here, one could argue that half to two-thirds of genetically similar twins will not have the same sexual orientation. Naysayers have used this fact as evidence that, even in the face of similar genetics, each of us retains the ability to consciously choose and control our sexual preferences.
Of course, this is a ridiculous argument. Genes can be variably expressed, depending upon environmental factors. And no one is saying that genes are the sole cause of sexual behavior; nongenetic factors are likely to also play a major role. It’s entirely conceivable that identical twins with a similar genetic predisposition for homosexuality but exposed to different intrauterine testosterone levels will end up with different sexual orientations.
Let’s talk about your take on the new brain-imaging studies.
“Begin with Dr. Savic’s work on pheromones. It’s fairly common knowledge that, throughout the animal kingdom, sniffing chemicals secreted by other members of the same species — pheromones — can invoke innate behaviors such as a flight response in aphids, aggression in bees, trail marking in ants. We forgive our pet cat for marking our favorite couch as “her territory.” All of these are basic survival techniques with clear evolutionary benefits. Ditto for chemicals involved in “being in heat.”
What’s fascinating about Savic and her colleagues’ study was their ability to test the role of pheromones in identifying human sexual orientation.
Functional imaging studies or PET scans of heterosexual controls were compared with a group of gay and lesbian volunteers. All subjects were asked to sniff gender-specific sex-hormone-like compounds: AND for the androgen-like pheromones secreted by males and EST for the estrogen-like pheromones secreted by females.
To enhance normal reproduction, you’d expect that males would be attracted to EST and females to AND. But Savic found that these self-declared gays and lesbians process these pheromones differently than their heterosexual counterparts.
When exposed to the male pheromone AND, homosexual men tended to respond similarly to heterosexual women, both in brain location and degree of activation. On the other hand, gay women responded to EST similarly to straight men.
In short, it looks as though straight men and gay women processed similarly while the converse is true for straight women and gay men.
But her pheromone study still doesn’t answer the nature-nurture question. These PET scan differences could reflect the consequences of a behavior rather than necessarily being indicative of the cause of the behavior.But that’s what makes her study so important, and allows her to draw the most important conclusion — that sexual orientation is determined prior to exposure to life’s environmental influences. Savic has assured me that these findings aren’t “learned” but rather reflect either genetic or intrauterine developmental differences. And, unlike some of the early researchers, Savic can’t be accused of having a gay political agenda or bias. Her field was originally epilepsy research. She inadvertently stumbled onto the pheromone sex differences while studying how smells might trigger temporal lobe epilepsy.

You’ve seen the studies. How impressive are the differences?

There are obvious-to-the-naked-eye differences in cerebral symmetry and in the functional connections in various portions of the limbic system, including the differing degrees of connectivity between amygdala and other brain regions critical for emotional responsiveness. It’s as though you can actually see the brain changes that most gays have always suspected; and, believe me, it’s a great relief to realize that these findings are clearly present at birth and aren’t anyone’s “fault.” They simply are [present] in the same way that one has blue eyes or red hair.
No more and no less.
In thinking about sexual orientation as a choice, isn’t there also the problem of how unconscious biological traits affect conscious decisions?
Of course. In a way, choosing a sex partner is like choosing what you eat; it might feel like a choice, but biology plays a major, though unconscious, role.
I presume that you are alluding to the recent studies of the genetics of taste?
Yes. Take our ability to taste bitterness. A single gene, isolated in 2003, determines whether or not foods such as Brussels sprouts are experienced as bitter. Remember how our parents insisted that we could learn to like Brussels sprouts; if we didn’t, we were accused of being finicky eaters, or worse. Now, we would be sent for genetic testing.
Are you equating homosexuality with a taste for Brussels sprouts?
Very interesting and funny. But sex is much more complex and emotionally charged as a point of discussion than taste. But yes, in a larger sense, genetics helps determine the shape of desire.

Are you suggesting that outside influences — parental, peer group and general cultural — aren’t important in determining our sexual preferences?

Not entirely. I’m saying that these influences are far less potent than the biological. Certainly there are a variety of strictly environmental circumstances, such as long-term prison incarceration, that might trigger homosexual behavior. But then you run into the reverse argument. Given that lots of men are confined to prison, only some end up with homosexual behavior. Perhaps these circumstances still reflect a combination of biology and environment. Right now, all bets are off.
There is the additional problem that you discussed at length in your recent book, “On Being Certain,” namely, how conscious decisions can be affected by unconscious biological mechanisms. The same biology that affects our sexual desires may also affect how we consciously think about these desires.
In a separate study (PDF), Savic has shown that differential responses to pheromones even affect how we determine the relative masculinity or femininity of facial images. Savic presented male volunteers with a series of facial images and asked them to rate the faces on a scale of masculine to feminine. When inhaling a masculine pheromone, the volunteers perceived the faces to be more masculine than when they were exposed to estrogen-like pheromones.
What’s so intriguing about this study is that it shows how simple chemicals can actually affect our visual perception of gender. It’s not a great leap of imagination to see how these same chemicals might influence whether an adolescent male chooses to read a muscle magazine or Playboy.
Do you think these studies can help counter fundamentalist arguments that homosexuality is evil?
Accepting sexual preference as an innate characteristic is an essential first step. But this sidesteps the more deep-seated gut sense that homosexuality isn’t natural and goes against the laws of nature. This argument can be partially defused by recognizing how ubiquitous homosexual behavior is in the animal kingdom — starting with the lowliest fruit fly. I’m sure you’re aware that there is a single gene, which, in the fruit fly, can turn on and off homosexual behavior.
But in the end, I suspect that real acceptance will only come about when we have a much more comprehensive view of how the mind works, including how we make conscious choices versus how much of our apparent willfulness arises out of involuntary biological mechanisms.
Let’s all pay homage to the fruit fly by grabbing your snuggle buddy and giving him “Mega hugs”. And forget the mind games, after all, we are what we are.
So remember to eat your brussel sprouts. And throw in some spinach for good measure.

Posted in Common Sense, GLBT, Media Matters, Our Writings | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

I’m A Chameleon

Posted by Daniel on March 24, 2009

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So I’ve made some changes in my personality of late that, under normal circumstances, would act on me in a way similar to acid being poured over my skin.

Mostly out of necessity brought on by an ever-teetering economy.

See, I took a job recently that has proven to be, at best, the most stressful nightmare imaginable.  I repeat…at best.  And because of an uncertain economy causing other job opportunities to be on the “slim-to-none” side, I have to continue to endure this nightmare.  At least for the immediate future.

Let me explain…

The job I currently have is as a Property Manager/Supervisor for a total of 192 units.  (104 here where I live, and a total of 88 on three other properties)  My job requires me to live on-site (apartment is included), as well as to oversee the other properties’ on-site managers.

Having never actually done this type of work before (I was hired originally for my accounting experience), I’ve had to learn a lot about the rental property business, as well as Section 8 (we have a bout 50% Section 8 tenants), and all the stuff that goes along with this type of work.

From rent collection, serving notices/evictions, maintenance issues, tenant relations, etc.  It was a lot to learn in a very short time.  But I’ve gotten rather good at it and even garnered the respect of the tenants and other managers…all the while being stern and forceful when it comes down to necessity.

Now here’s the rub…

The man I work for is probably the most haenous person on the planet as far as employers go.

Or more to the point, he SO doesn’t have the mentality for this type of business!!!

And I know my story will sound very similar to many others as far as mean bosses go…but this is my site and my story, so save it.  🙂

My boss is a screamer.  By that I do not mean he yells a lot, or gets/stays cranky.  No, this guy actually screams at the top of his lungs at me…and it’s NEVER about anything that even remotely has anything to do with me or my job.  It’s usually about something he screwed up on or forgot to do.  And when he screws up, he immediately comes into my office and starts ripping me a new one…mostly about why I (underline that) need to remind him about his personal obligations!!!  (most of the time, he has too many personal “ventures” going on – none of which I am even remotely involved in or obligated to keep up with – at any given time, and when he screws someone over, and then he’s caught, and he get’s into trouble, I get the shit that hits the fan)

But it’s not just a scream-out I get from him…no…he insults me and/or my intelligence, he shows utter disrespect for me, he cusses me out, calls me names, etc.

Oh, and before I give you the wrong impression, it isn’t just me he does this to.  He also does this to all of his other employees.  Everyone here seems to do a great job, with little-to-no mistakes.  But he still loves to lord over people and his form of “logic” tells him that constantly belittling people shows them that he is their “boss and owner” (his words).

And here’s the worst of it…he also does this to his tenants.  No shit.  Even though they pay their rent on time, follow all the rules and are good people, this man has no problem going up to them and cussing them out for no reason other than he might not like their kid.  He cusses them out if they have a friend or family member stay overnight (he’s done this to me as well when our friends Mary & Nicki recently visited from West Virginia).  He even yells at me to evict them for having company, calling it “TOO MUCH TRAFFIC”.  He doesn’t allow the kids to play ANYWHERE in this large complex…even though there is a playground here (which he keeps fenced in and locked up and only has for the sake of “advertisement”).  The same goes for the pool here…it’s here, he pays to keep it sparkling and nice looking…but no one is allowed to swim in it.

Oh, lol, and here’s one you’ll REALLY love…he’s evicting a family here because they have a dog…a seeing eye dog…for their blind daughter…and they have the papers/documents for it.  Ordinarily he’d do this anyway, but he’s actually retaliating against them because they turned him in for tapping into their PG&E to power his outside flood lights, which are supposed to be on their on breaker, paid for BY HIM.

So waddaya think?  He’s an absolute angel, right?

Now for the question I know you’re all asking me…”Why work for someone like that if it’s all that terrible?”

I’ll tell you why…because finding other work right now is next to – if not completely – impossible.  It took me 5 1/2 months just to land THIS job…and I don’t see a flood of alternatives out there.

And so, despite the toll it’s been taking on my health due to the mounting stress, I have to take this shit.  For now.

Besides, I’m sure there are others out there who have (or have had) experiences similar to mine, and that you might have some advice on how to handle a person like this…legally (after all, I do have certain morals I try to live by).

For now though, I’ll just kill him with kindness…

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Posted in Common Sense, Our Writings, Today's Rant, Work | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

D.A.D.T. Revisited

Posted by Daniel on March 18, 2009

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The latest word out about “Don’t Ask…Don’t Tell” is that many currently serving in the military are still of the mindset that gays serving in the military are too busy playing “pecker checker” and plotting their next “Crisco Party” to actually do their jobs.  Despite logical arguments to the contrary, they are still being taught that gays would spend all their time making passes at their fellow soldiers.

Again, the evidence proves otherwise.

But I found this little tidbit and thought it worthy of note:

(keep in mind, these statistics refer to the STRAIGHT persons serving in  the military!!!)

Reports of sexual assault in the entire military rose 9 percent over the previous year’s reporting, according to an annual Pentagon study on sexual assault reporting, released Tuesday.

The study also showed a 17 percent increase from the previous year in sexual assault reporting among U.S. troops in current combat zones.

The study, “Report on Sexual Assault in the Military,” examined trends in the 12-month period of fiscal year 2008 and said there were 2,908 reports of sexual assaults among U.S. troops.

In fiscal year 2007, 2,688 sexual assaults were reported.

Pentagon officials attributed the increase to improved reporting methods and their belief that military personnel are less fearful of backlash from commanders and peers after reporting an assault.

The report defines sexual assault as unwanted touching, from groping to rape. The statistics are not comparable to the general U.S. population because the information gathered is different from civilian data, according to Pentagon officials.

Officials said the data are based on sexual assault reporting of military-on-military cases, civilian-on-military and military-on-civilian attacks.

Pentagon officials said that even though there have been improvements that allow military personnel to report cases, they estimate that only between 10 and 20 percent of people who were sexually assaulted report the crime.

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So with sexual assault/harassment in the military on the rise (so to speak) and involving STRAIGHT military personnel, how does this not screw up the military morals and unit cohesion?  Or is it just plain okie-dokie for straight guys & gals to rape each other?

Seems to me that the military is scared of the wrong people.

Posted in GLBT, News, Our Writings | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Stop Feeding The Monkeys

Posted by Daniel on March 17, 2009

Just when I think I don’t have any more political shit to make fun of, Laura Ingram opens her big fat mouth! I think it’s hilarious that the RNC is having such a bruised ego fest, that they have to one up each other on blasting whoever speaks out about how poorly some of it’s members carry themselves.

The fact that Megan McCain even had the balls (so to speak) to go on the Rachel Maddow show is pretty damned awesome. The fact that she also had the chutzpah to call Anne Coulter “offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time” in an article for the Daily Beast AND she’s McCain’s daughter is compelling evidence to me that there is a bright side to the Republican party.
-despite their recent foibles. Especially when the woman knows no reason at all!

-but why this?

Frankly, I would respect more of the RNC if it were less extreme. Shit! I’d think that people would be more happy if the women who represented the RNC were less f-‘ing BULLDOG and more “respectable lady”. Hell, wouldn’t that demeanor be more freakin’ Christian and CONSERVATIVE!?

I understand that Megan’s comments about the ladies of the RNC could be construed as personal attacks, but come on. Hitting the muffin top is like hitting below the belt when Laura Ingram responds by making fun of Megan McCain’s weight.

The sad thing is that it’s upsetting, but not surprising.

You can’t taunt an attack dog an expect to not get bit!

Posted in Common Sense, Media Matters, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Steady As we Go

Posted by Daniel on March 12, 2009

Yeah, it's like that.

It’s been on my mind a lot the fact that we made our move here to California ten months ago.  Almost a year has gone by and some days it feels like it’s been much longer…other times I can’t believe it’s gone by so fast.

Considering all that has transpired since our move, and all those we miss that we left behind, it’s no wonder we tend to catch ourselves saying, “I miss our cats.” or “I miss so-and-so.”

Now we are in high gear getting ready for a week-long visit from Mary & Nicki (from West Virginia).  Now that we finally got a sofa and love seat, Seth is spending his time trying to make it all pretty for them.

While we are both looking forward to this visit greatly, Seth is more on the “pins-and-needles” side of it, as these are people he grew up with who have never been to the west coast.  Hell, Mary has never even flown before!!!

I have the benefit of being at work every day except Sunday, so I have far less time to stress on the planning.  After all, he’s going to have far more time with them (while I’m at work each day), so the burden of entertainment is on him.  For my part, I’m treating them to a trip to either San Francisco or L.A. over the weekend.  I was going to be a smart ass and take them up to the cold snowy mountains, but I figure they’ve had enough of that where they are coming from.

We’ll see how all of that goes…because I’m going to MAKE Seth post on here during that week.

This whole thing also makes me look forward to June, as I believe that to be the normal month each year our friend Scott comes to CA for an annual car show.  I hope that happens again this year.  Do you hear that Scott??  And there won’t be some cheap-asses motel involved this time!!!  YEAH!!!!!!

I suppose all that’s left to do until the girls’ arrival on Monday is just keep sprucing up the pad and try not to stress out about how to keep them entertained.

Shit, you’d think we were playing host to someone important…LOL.  As it is, the entertainment part should be easy, as all we ever seem to do with them is torture and torment them.

Posted in Friends, Life | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Creature Comforts

Posted by Daniel on March 11, 2009

In preparation for the impending visit by two of our friends from West Virginia, we have been scrambling to bring the apartment into some semblance of “hominess”.

Part of this visitation angst has been out of month’s-long search for a decent sofa and/or love seat. Another part of it is because Kitty needs a new place to play/annoy/sleep/annoy/jump/annoy…

Up to now we have been using a daybed (a recent purchase for the spare room) as our interim “sofa”.  This has been a very uncomfortable place to sit and watch TV.  It’s solid and a very nice peice, but as with any object made of wrought iron, it’s creaky and awkward.  And no matter HOW many pillows we bought for it to make it a bit more usable, we finally had to give up on it.

Yesterday, Seth went out in search of – and found – the perfect sized sofa and love seat.

Would you believe it the first time we have relaxed on a sofa in almost a year?

Sure, we’ve sat on a few at friends’ houses, but not where we could actually lounge like sloths watching TV.

You would have thought we’d never seen furniture before.

Anyway, take a look at what we got…

Mooooving Day With Seth

Okay, so that wasn’t it (but it was cute…in a trashy way, no?

Here is our sofa…

Marshmellow Ass

AS IF!!!

Like we’d ever have a sofa that looked like ass-pimples!!!

Ok, here is our REAL one…

and a matching loveseat

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Is Your Man Gay?

Posted by Daniel on March 6, 2009

I have a few girlfriends here online who (still) ask me questions, trying to glean out info on whether their husband/boyfriend might be gay.

Nobody wants to think their significant other is playing for the other team, but anything is possible. Some men are in a committed relationship and living on the down low. Is there a chance your man might prefer the company of men?

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So, for those of you gals who are questioning whether or not you sweetie is “questioning”, I give you the following test to help you find out if you’re at risk for losing your man to the handsome guy next door..

1.  How often do you have sex with your man?
More than once a day
At least once a day
A few times a week
Once a week
A few times a month
Every few months
Once a year

2.  Has your man ever dressed up in women’s clothes?
I’ve caught him in my closet several times
My man has a fetish for dressing up in women’s clothes
Only for costume parties
My man wouldn’t be caught dead in women’s clothes,
regardless of the occasion

3.  If you pointed out a nice-looking guy to your man, he would…
Nonchalantly agree with you
Express sheer adulation for the hottie
Ignore you
Say he doesn’t judge what men look like
Stare far too long at said hunk

4.  Which of the following compliments is your man most likely to give you?
You smell good
You look beautiful
I’m lucky if he notices me
Those shoes really set your whole outfit off
Nice shirt
Is that shirt from Prada’s spring line?
I would look so great in your blouse

5.  How many gay friends does your man have?
None, he’s not that open-minded
A couple
Most of his friends are gay
We hang out with a lot of gay men, but they’re mainly my friends

6.  Which of the following is your man most likely to listen to?
ABBA
Barbara Streisand
The Smiths
Erasure
Jay Z
Neil Diamond
Linkin Park
Godsmack
Celine Dion
The Bee Gees
I’m laughing so hard I can’t even answer that

7.  Which best describes your man’s attitude toward homosexuality?
He’s a member of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
He’s over the top about how much it offends him
He tolerates it
He doesn’t agree with it, but keeps his feelings to himself
He doesn’t feel one way or the other about it

8. Which movie would your man most enjoy?
Die Harder
The Birdcage
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Brokeback Mountain
Evita
Platoon

9. Has your man ever kissed another man?
If he has, I don’t know about it
Only when he was really drunk
One time in college
Absolutely not
I have my suspicions
No, but he’s kissed a whole lot of women

10. How into porn is your man?
I’m married to an aficionado
He has it for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Every now and then, he’s up for some good porn
He has one porn video that a friend gave to him
My man is disgusted by porn
He likes porn featuring two men

11. Which hobby would your man most likely participate in?
Bowling
Cooking classes
Cross-stitching
Paintball
Softball
Ballroom dancing

12. Which of the following would your man most enjoy?
A Broadway Show
A Wrestling Match
A Poetry Reading
Gay Days at Disney
A Drag Show
A Car Show
A Night At The Opera

13. Which best describes your man’s Internet habits?
He gets online late at night after I’ve gone to bed.
He only gets online at work and for work-related projects.
He rushes home and gets online to check his personal e-mail after work.
I’ve seen some questionable sites in his browsing history.
He surfs straight porn but leaves the gay stuff alone.

14. Where does your man shop for his clothes?
He doesn’t – I buy all of them.
JCPenney or Sears
K-Mart or Wal-Mart
Department stores like Macy’s
Men’s stores like Men’s Wearhouse or Brooks Brothers
He only shops in designer boutiques.

15. How does your man feel about lesbians or bisexual women?
He likes to watch.
He likes to participate.
He encourages them to live their life how they want to.
He has many female friends who are gay.
He thinks they’re disgusting.

16. How many male strangers does your man have on his social networking sites?
Too many to count
A couple randoms who “friended” him
None
My man doesn’t spend time on Facebook, MySpace or any other social networking sites that I know of.

17. What best describes your husband’s bathroom routine when he’s preparing to go somewhere?
He primps and preens for hours
He spends an average amount of time in the bathroom, but spends hundreds on products
He’s in and out
When it comes to getting ready, he’s like a woman

18. Which actor would your man say is his favorite?
Angelina Jolie
Ian McKellen
Matthew Broderick
John Travolta
Judy Garland
Chuck Norris

19. Which TV show is your man most likely to watch?
American Idol
House
Whatever’s on ESPN
A beauty pageant
America’s Next Top Model
Whatever we agree on watching together

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Posted in Bad Advice Meant Well, Common Sense, Friends, GLBT, Life, Our Writings | Tagged: | 2 Comments »