Saturday, January 28, 2006

A short trip to the state park

Deidre is visiting us this weekend. We took her to lunch and then stopped at Robert Moses State Park. There were other people who had the same idea. I guess a day in January when the temperature gets well into the 50s gets a lot of people out of the house.

Apparently, the deer who live in this park by the beach, on the western end of Fire Island, also decided to come out and enjoy the weather. Some of the people had brought food (apples, carrots, etc.) for the deer (despite signs asking that people not feed them), and I guess the word had gotten around the deer community.

With the deer being friendly today, I didn't even need a telephoto lens to get a few decent shots...

The real reason the deer came close to us (no, we didn't feed them)

My lovely companions

By the way, both of the people in that last photo are wonderful singers. I knew Marc could sing, but I didn't realize that Deidre had such great pipes! Wow!

Friday, January 27, 2006

From the "I wish I'd said that" files

A letter and a column in yesterday's New York Times struck me as particularly noteworthy. First, the letter:

To the Editor:

Re "Three Decades After Roe, a War We Can All Support," by William Saletan (Op-Ed, Jan. 22):
It is vital that the endless debate over abortion end quickly. The damage done to the United States in the last 33 years is far worse than people seem to realize.
In the United States, this one question dominates elections and Supreme Court nominations.
You elect people with the power to start wars, interpret the Constitution, use nuclear weapons and change Social Security based on their views on abortion.
Corrupt is O.K., not very bright is O.K., willing to destroy the environment is O.K., but no way will you vote for someone who disagrees with you on abortion!
Which brings two problems:
First, by putting so much focus on this one issue, you let politicians get away with murder on everything else.
Second, you necessarily elect people whose intellectual capacity enables them to look at a very complex issue like abortion and see it in simplistic black-and-white terms. The results are there for all to see.
Denis O'Sullivan
Brussels, Jan. 23, 2006

Well put, Mr. O'Sullivan! Next, a few choice excerpts from this column by Bob Herbert, titled "A President Who Can Do No Right":

Reality has been dealt a stunning blow by Mr. Bush. The administration's high-handedness with the Katrina investigators comes at the same time as disclosures showing that the White House was warned in the hours just before the hurricane hit New Orleans that it might well cause catastrophic flooding and the breaching of the city's levees.

That was early on the morning of last Aug. 29. On Sept. 1, with the city all but completely underwater, the president went on television and blithely declared, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

This guy is something . . . His breathtaking arrogance is exceeded only by his incompetence. And that's the real problem. That's where you'll find the mind-boggling destructiveness of this regime, in its incompetence. . . .

He seems to truly believe that he can do no wrong.

The fiasco in Iraq and the president's response to the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe were Mr. Bush's two most spectacular foul-ups. There have been many others. The president's new Medicare prescription drug program has been a monumental embarrassment, leaving some of the most vulnerable members of our society without essential medication. Prominent members of the president's own party are balking at the heavy hand of his No Child Left Behind law, which was supposed to radically upgrade the quality of public education.

The Constitution? Civil liberties? Don't ask.

Just keep in mind, whatever your political beliefs, that incompetence in high places can have devastating consequences.

I feel no need to add to that. It's too good for me to try to add anything!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Every time I think there's hope...

I've heard all of the arguments about the Palestinians. How they're oppressed, living under occupation and so on. Well, the ownership of the land has been in dispute for ages. The people there, in some cases, have been pawns for others--certainly, their Arab neighbors have a history of making use of the Palestinians for their own ends. So I'm not going to say that this is a group of people that has it easy.

One thing that cannot be condoned, however, is murder. The group Hamas has a long history of carrying out terrorist attacks and murdering innocent civilians. These are horrible examples of humanity who deserve no respect and no authority. So what has the democratic process brought from the Palestinian people? What have the Palestinians said when exercising the right to choose their own leadership? They chose Hamas.

What a sad day. Maybe the Israeli hard-liners have been right all along.

I know one thing that's right. It's an old saying, but it's true. If the Palestinians (and the Arabs and the Persians, but that's another story) laid down their weapons today, there'd be no more violence. If the Israelis laid down their weapons today, there'd be no more Israel.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ooh, that smell!

Would you believe that the City of New York (at least, according to their 311 representatives) has no rule against cabbies smelling like homeless people? I got into a cab yesterday, and (if I had thought fast enough) I should have jumped right back out.

Instead, I was treated to body odor so strong that keeping both back windows open and freezing my nuts off was the only way not to puke. When traffic slowed or we hit a red light, it was horrendous.

You know it's bad when you pray to be overcome by a massive attack of noxious flatulence, just so that the air will smell better!

In all my years--and I'm a lifelong New Yorker--I've never filed a complaint against a cabbie, but it was that bad! Well, actually, I still haven't filed a complaint. I tried, but they told me dirty cabs are against the rules, but they couldn't find anything for dirty drivers.

So, instead, I wrote to the head of the Taxi & Limousine Commission and said it should be against the rules. I'll let you know if I get a response.

Oh, and if you happen to read this, Mandeep Singh, License number 5190960, expires 3/11/07, Medallion number 4M27, you're disgusting! If the fact that you're nauseating the people who pay you isn't enough to make you shower and wash your clothes, then how about the fact that your presence on the streets is reinforcing stereotypes regarding turban-wearing cab drivers? Do you at least care about that? Disgusting man.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Following up on the last post

In a comment to my last post, I got a slap for "New York elitism." I suppose I wouldn’t be happy with someone taking a shot at my state, as I did to Kansas in that post. I respect Dave’s feelings, and I read his blog. It’s nothing against him personally. Obviously, I don’t think all Kansans are bad. I married one! Plus, we have many friends there.

However, I do think there are things that New York does much better than many other states. For one, education is a priority here. One very regular demonstration of the value of the tax dollars we pour into our school system comes on an annual basis. Every year, the Intel (formerly Westinghouse) science awards are announced. This year, yet again, New York students walked away with way more than their share of the awards.

As you can see, of 300 semi-finalists nationwide, 140 were from New York. We’re only one of 50 states, but our students took home nearly half of the semi-finalist wins. This is something the President and his cronies are seeking to undermine (for example, the recent effort to take away our tax deduction for school taxes). We also could discuss things like religion in public schools (Intelligent Design, anyone?) and which states put George W. Bush in the White House.

On the other hand, perhaps the point of the comment wasn’t that the objective evidence doesn’t support my feelings. It may simply have been that it was undiplomatic to voice the opinion. Maybe so. However, when it comes to my editorial opinion, as expressed here (and to those who speak to me directly), I'm far too angry about the destruction of our liberties to take anything this President does lightly. That, perhaps unfortunately, extends to any Americans who enable this trampling of our freedom. Maybe I shouldn’t vent so freely, but that’s one of the reasons I have this blog—to vent.

With all of that said, Dave, if I offended you, for that I am truly sorry. I don't mean to offend you. I'll go off on anti-red state rants every so often. It's hard to read the newspaper and not have that happen.

Wrong Manhattan, dumbass

Not that I particularly miss Bush visiting us here in New York, but sometimes I really have to wonder just what that rocket scientist is thinking.

This morning, I saw that W is going to be giving a speech regarding the war on terror in Manhattan, KANSAS! Yoo-hoo! Mr. President! Wrong Manhattan! We're over here!

Actually, I'm sure he knows the difference. He'd much rather be in Kansas. People in New York do way too much independent thinking for his taste.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Gotta watch your seat around here

This is what can happen in this house when you get up to go put a dish in the sink...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A few Atlanta photos

Every Sunday, Marc's family goes to this building where they say prayers and stuff. Since they insist upon using a perfectly good day that way, I decided to explore Atlanta and take a few shots of some of their interesting architecture. The building that actually inspired this outing was a brand-new one (not even open for tenants yet). I couldn't get a terribly good shot of it, but this is enough for you to see the way the outside walls of the building extend beyond the roofline...

This building is in Buckhead...

Then there's something a little more "old school" from within the city proper...

These two are in Dunwoody, north of Atlanta. Their nicknames, due to the tops of the buildings are the "king and queen"...

Last but not least, we have the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in downtown Atlanta...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Shana, they bought their tickets, they knew what could happen...

Okay, so we didn't crash. Despite its mini-runways, we landed safely at lovely LaGuardia Airport. We're home now, and it's about time to go to bed. More on the trip soon!

Monday, January 16, 2006

A fun evening

Tonight, we had dinner with Pat and Sheila (a/k/a CoffeeDog & Mrs. Coffeedog). They're terrific. Can't wait to see them again. Maybe they'll even pay us a visit in New York.

In other news, someone has a mess to clean up in Houston. Well, at least this is a quick way to go.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Every time we come here (or so it seems)

It doesn't help that Marc's mom's birthday is in January, so we frequently visit at this time of year. Actually, I've been down here for plenty of warm days. Still, it seems like it's been years since I've been to Atlanta and not needed a coat.

When we landed this morning, it was 39 degrees. By this afternoon, with the help of the sun's warmth, it had gotten to a toasty 35. Yes, 35. The temperature dropped! By late this afternoon, it was 37 degrees.

This is ridiculous. Head south and freeze anyhow? Lovely!

I hope everyone's having a nice weekend (and staying warm)!

Friday, January 13, 2006

New Jersey slogan

New Jersey just announced its new slogan, "New Jersey: Come See For Yourself."

Unfortunately, that beat out my entry...

"New Jersey: Hey, who cut one?"

(Okay, maybe that's just funny to those of us around here who are schooled in the noxious odors often emanating from parts of the Garden State. Anyhow, I like it!)


Thursday, January 12, 2006

I'm being harassed!

I'm sitting here, trying to think of something about which to blog, and a certain partner of mine is pushing me to go pack. *sigh*

We're going to Atlanta early Saturday and staying for a long weekend. We're visiting Marc's family (although I hope to get out and have some other relaxing moments). The main reason for the trip is to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday (which actually falls on the day after we leave--but that's okay, since we're also taking her to Europe in May as part of the extended celebration). The other reason for the trip is so his family has the chance to drive both of us to the brink of insanity. Regular doses of that help keep Marc from feeling bad about living so far from them. ;)

Well, I suppose I should go pack. It does need to get done, and I'll want to get to bed early tomorrow, since we have an early flight.

Did I mention that we're leaving early?

And the worst part is that I can't bitch at anyone, since I bought the tickets!


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I think I saw this movie

So there's a spacecraft heading back this way with space dust from the deepest reaches of our solar system? Um, okay.

So, if this were a movie, the dust would turn us all into zombies or orange dust or spread a horrible plague. That's if this were a movie.

Am I the only one who doesn't quite trust NASA not to get us all killed? ;)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Lazy Sunday

I slept until about 10 o'clock this morning. Around 10:30, I went downstairs and had some coffee Aaron had made. Grabbing the Sunday Times, I began a relaxing morning of catching up with what's happening in the world.

Then I decided to play with the camera a little. I'm still in love with my new SLR. Marc couldn't have gotten me a better Chanukah gift.

Some of these shots--the still-lifes--could have come out better if I'd taken my time and used a tripod. However, as I said in the title of this post, this is a lazy Sunday, and using the tripod would have required more work. I just couldn't have that! ;)

So here are a few shots I took, just using the SLR, my Micro-Nikkor 60mm lens and my two little hands. In the first, you can see that Bernice was keeping an eye on me, so I didn't get into too much trouble...

Since I'm sure you were wondering what was playing on the Bose system while I was shooting the dog pictures, let's have a look at the sunroom remote...

The song was "We Don't Need Another Hero". It was scrolling as I shot the photo.

And what does Mandy think of all of this? Let's see...

Here's a better shot of the Divine Miss M...

And a closeup...

Dodger wasn't interested in modeling, so I then wandered over to another part of the house for some new subjects.

The flower buds in this photo are a tiny part of a much larger plant. In fact, the real size of this is about half the size of my thumb...

Here are some cactus bits...

This little guy has been perched on a shelf in the library/living room of the house for as long as I can remember...

This tiny shoe is a gift that came from a lovely New Mexican friend of ours...

And, last but not least, is a photo of the souvenir we brought back from our late November trip to southern California. Marc saw this perfume bottle in a store that specialized in hand-blown glass...

Okay, time to go back to being lazy. ;)

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Friday did turn out to be a long day, but it was worth it. After months of negotiations, we reached an agreement with our RN union for a new collective bargaining agreement. Without getting into details, it's an agreement that's unique in New York City, and it should serve both the hospital and the nurses well.

In other good news, while I was at work yesterday, our new shed was delivered. So we now have a home for a lot of the stuff that's been in the garage since we moved. Today, Marc, Aaron and I loaded up the shed.

In other boring news from around here, we had the chimney sweep out this morning. The fireplace chimney got swept, the furnace chimney was checked but didn't need cleaning, the two chimneys got new stainless caps on top and the cement on one got fixed. Yeah, the bill for that added up. As I told Aaron, to paraphrase an old Army ad, "we spend more money before 9am than most people spend all day."

After that, we did our duty as red-blooded homosexuals and went to see Brokeback Mountain. What a depressing story. It also seemed longer than it needed to be. Heath Ledger's acting was quite good, but I wouldn't give the film a rave review. I don't like depressing stories anyhow (real life is depressing enough), but I still can appreciate a good story even if it is depressing. It's not a movie I'd see again, but I guess I'm glad I saw it. If nothing else, I want to help show that good stories can be successful, even if it involves two men kissing on screen.

I guess that's about it from here. The three of us had a nice dinner out, and now we're watching 9 to 5. All in all, not a bad day.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I haven't even walked out the door to go to work yet, and I need a nap.

It's going to be a long day! :)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Unsafe is still unsafe

People still die from AIDS. I wish all gay men could get that through their heads.

Thankfully, this isn't always the case. Many can live long lives with HIV, medicated and without developing AIDS. I'm thankful for healthy HIV patients I don't know, and I'm personally thankful, because we have many HIV-positive friends.

Yes, one can contract HIV and live with it, but the drugs don't always work. Even when they do, some people have a very hard time with them.

So set aside all of the other diseases one can get from unsafe sex--and there are plenty of nasty ones out there--and stay focused on the one that used to scare the hell out of me back in my dating days.

It's a good thing that there's a generation of young people who don't remember the huge body count HIV racked up years ago, but it seems that many don't get it. If you're wondering what got me started on this subject today, it was the news of yet another AIDS death. No, it wasn't anyone I know. It was just a news story, but, in the words of poet John Dunne, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."

People still die from AIDS. They die at the hospital where I work. They die in AIDS hospices all over the country and all over the world.

I wish I knew how to get the message across.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year's Day recapitulation

Not much was stirring around here. As I sat in my recliner, Mandy decided to climb into my lap. This is how she got the nickname "Moose". When sixty pounds of dog decides to be a lapdog, the nickname comes naturally.

Marc snapped this shot as she draped herself over my leg...

Marc then handed the camera to me, and I had the temerity to not let the sleeping dog lie. It yielded this...

Last night also brought an end to Chanukah. With the last night, the menorah reaches its prettiest point, with all of the candles lit. I'll leave you with that image...