Thursday, November 29, 2007

More Catalina photos

Time to share more trip photos...

The Avalon waterfront

A tribute to bald eagles and reminder of the effort to rebuild their population, once wiped out on Catalina by DDT thinning eggs to the point that they couldn't mature enough to hatch. The shells were too thin and would break. Now there are some signs of success in rebuilding a sustainable bald eagle population on the island, but there's still a long way to go.

In the background, we see the island's true leading bird.

This plaque on the front of a replica of a bald eagle nest offers some explanation of what has been happening with bald eagles on Catalina. I know I always tell you to click on these photos for larger versions, but clicking on this one will let you read the text, since I linked it to the full-res version of the shot.

The replica eagle's nest (with seagull on guard duty)

Three replica eagles with the replica nest

The Catalina post office, located in a sort of shopping court

The view from the post office

Everyone uses a golf cart to get around!

Driving back up to the Inn

Better view of the Inn

View from the bedroom

The view while standing at the door to our balcony

Avalon Harbor from our balcony

Looking back toward the California coast from our balcony

Better view of the casino from our balcony

I think that will do it for Catalina, at least until we next manage a visit to the island. Next up, some photos from La Jolla!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rudeness begets rudeness

Last year, I mentioned my usual approach to cold callers. I also mentioned that I consider it rude for people to make unsolicited calls strangers' homes.

The rudeness continues. In fact, it seems to be worse than ever. The "Do Not Call Registry" has worked for most commercial callers, but the charities, pollsters and, worst of all, the politicians seem to be calling more often.

I hate it! Yes, even the charities. As I recently mentioned, we do all we can to support good charitable causes, but I will not give by phone. I won't even fall for the, "if you can't give now, we can send you an envelope" crap. Anything gathered through the efforts of those people will go largely in their pockets, rather than going to the charity.

Tonight, I got a call from the fucking Democrats. While they're better than the damned bigot-laden fucking Republicans, they're still a bunch of whores. And, with that, let me apologize to prostitutes everywhere for what surely was an insult. Clearly, prostitutes are hard-working people trying to provide an honest service, as opposed to the politicians.

So tonight they got me in just the right mood. I answered the phone to hear the brief pause that usually means it's a call from a call center. Then a woman asked if I was Jess. Jess? You're a complete stranger, calling my house at dinnertime and you're addressing me by my first name? Bad move. Very bad move.

Me: "Speaking."

Rude woman who can't get an honest job: "Hello, Jess. I'm calling on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. This call will be brief."

Me (and I'm proud to say that I was so pissed that I didn't miss a beat): "This call will be very brief. DON'T. EVER. CALL. HERE. AGAIN."

With that, I hung up on her.

One last thing. Yes, we have caller ID. The problem is that I'm such a worrier that I'm afraid to let any call go unanswered. What if that strange number I don't recognize (or "Unknown Caller") is a friend or loved one in need who is calling from some strange place? So I can't avoid the cold callers completely, but the gloves are off.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I'm not going to write about the possibility of Trent Lott being caught in a gay sex scandal. I'm too happy about the possibility to be truly objective just yet. So I'll stick to other happy stuff: vacation photos!

Here are some snapshots from Catalina (as always, you can click on them for larger versions):

Each day saw the arrival of a cruise ship that would send some passengers ashore long enough to look in the made-for-tourists waterfront shops.

Here's a shot from down in the town of Avalon. You can see the Inn we stayed at, way up on the hill.

A shot along the aforementioned tourist-centric shops.

Up one of the side streets. Note the ubiquitous golf carts parked here. They're the main mode of travel on the island.

Looking out from a covered shopping area.

Marc in one of the shops.

The Casino

That's not a casino in the gambling sense. Rather, it's from the Italian for "gathering place." You can see more here.

Here's a shot of the guy I was sleeping with. :)

On that note, I think I'll stop for tonight. You've probably had enough, so I'll save some shots for next time!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I think that should count! Right?

As I mentioned once before, I'm trying to live up to the old-school charitable giving standard of "tithing." That is, giving 10% of one's gross income to charity.

As it happens, I don't think my tax return will quite reflect that, because not all of what I see as "charitable" giving counts in the eyes of the IRS. Traditionally, as I understand it, charity is supposed to follow out from your life in concentric circles, starting with family, then friends and then community. That doesn't mean that regular gifts count as charity. They don't. Rather, you should help those in need in order of those circles of life around you.

So I've given to some people in need who are just individuals, not "charities" in the legal sense. Even so, a good person whose life has gone in the tank through no fault of their own is as deserving as any big charity, if not more so. So I've given to some individuals (of course, I'd never share their identities--that would be crass), and I'm counting that toward my personal tithing goal.

I know it's my own goal, so it's not like I'm being graded on this, but I have a fair level of spontaneous guilt, so I don't want to feel like I'm cheating. That's not cheating, is it? I think I should be able to count any gift to someone who really can use the help in their life. Right?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Last week, as I drove around California, I noticed that I almost never felt the urge to use the car's horn, despite my normally being very horny. (Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.) ;) Seriously, I may have used the horn once or twice all week.

The drivers out there tended to drive very fast, with the locals apparently seeing 65mph freeways as appropriate zones to drive 80mph or more, but there didn't seem to be the aggressiveness of our local drivers here. While New Jersey drivers tend to bring things to an especially bad level, our regular New York drivers certainly are bad enough. It raises my stress level every day during my commute.

I tell myself to just let the idiots go, but it still makes me angry. Seeing people turn from the wrong lane, run red lights, weave in and out of traffic, and commit other reckless stupidities gets my blood boiling. Don't these morons even care about the danger they're creating?

The police commissioner is an old friend of mine, but I don't even bother mentioning such things to him. It just seems hopeless. There are too many aggressive and/or senseless drivers and too few cops to really put an end to all of it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You know you want it!

Yes, more rugby photos! Since I don't have more trip photos ready yet (and didn't shoot a lot anyhow) and since I never got done with the rugby photos, I'll share more now...

Did I share this one yet? Sorry if I did. Anyhow, aren't they a cute couple?

And speaking of cute

I guess that will do for this post. If you want to see the full set from the semi-finals, they're here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The beauty of Catalina

I know I already told you how much we enjoyed Catalina. We didn't take a lot of photos there. For that matter, we didn't take a lot of photos at any point during this trip. It just wasn't that kind of trip.

One photo I did take was a night shot from our balcony at the Inn on Mount Ada. How could we not love this? This was the view from our room's balcony (click on it for a better view):

Avalon Harbor (Santa Catalina Island) at night, shot from Mount Ada

I like this view so much, that I may use the full-res version to make a large print.

I'll have a few more photos to share, but this is a definite favorite of mine.


The trip was fabulous. It would have been tough to make it better! Time with family, our visit to Catalina, time in La Jolla, as well as plenty of the kind of fun we can't discuss if kids are around. ;) It all was great.

So now we're home, and that's great, too! The dogs were excited to see us, and being back home is just comfy. So now it's back to the regular day-to-day of life, and it's a good life.

Plus, we're hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday, so there will be plenty of fun (as well as work) this week.

Even so, I'm ready to start thinking about our next big trip!

Friday, November 16, 2007

I don't think that's the way to do that

We're staying at the Grande Colonial, a lovely hotel in downtown La Jolla. The Grande Colonial is made up of a few different buildings, including the "suite building" in which we're staying. Between the suite building and the main hotel is a pool and, at the back of the hotel, a deck with tables where people can eat meals.

This afternoon, after running around with Marc, I took a book and sat down in a lounge chair by the pool. At one of the aforementioned tables (probably 40-50 yards from my seat) was a group of four women. They had been loud at certain points before, but I was doing my best to ignore them. Then the tone of their discussions took a sharp turn. Marc heard it, too, even though he wasn't with me by the pool. Our room has a view of the ocean, as well as overlooking the pool. I saw Marc come to the windows, and we began exchanging text messages.

At one point, I messaged Marc, saying that I thought they might be doing an intervention. In a public place? At one level, I really couldn't believe it, but it did have that sound. The discussions got incredibly loud, as well as profane at certain points, and, eventually, my suspicions were confirmed. The loudest of the women, directed this to another of the women: "Say 'I'm an alcoholic, and I'm ready to admit it!'" This was repeated loudly, more times than I can count. Again and again and again.

It was amazing how long this went on. I wasn't sufficiently troubled to say anything, particularly since the people doing the intervention didn't seem too stable themselves, but other folks eventually did. One guest came out of his room and made his way over to them to say they needed to pipe down. And I understand that the management intervened, so to speak, as well.

I still can't believe these pinheads did this in an outdoor, public restaurant area, but they did. Nothing like confronting the person and publicly humiliating her all at the same time. And, of course, it did wonders for the peace and tranquility of this lovely setting.

So much fun

I don't know what to share, since most of it would be lost in translation. What I will say is that we continue to have loads of fun. Everything from good, clean wholesome stuff, like taking out the San Diego branch of my family to a fabulous dinner at a fancy restaurant tonight, to the not-so-wholesome-but-oh-what-fun stuff.

As for the latter, why can't our regular, everyday sex life be like sex on vacation? It's so wonderful!

On that note, it's almost midnight here. Time to go grab my other half and see what kind of fun awaits!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

If I were a rich man...

Okay, so now I'll have that song running through my head all day. Anyhow, if I were a rich man, we'd spend a lot of time here. We're on Catalina Island, having spent two days of our trip here. I'm sitting on the bed in the Bethany Glen room of the Inn on Mt. Ada, typing this as I look out across our balcony.

I'm enjoying a view of the sea, as I look back towards the California coast. From the balcony, in this mansion on the highest hill on Catalina, we can sit and enjoy that view, as well as a beautiful view of the town of Avalon, watching the boats come and go from the little harbor.

There's a light, cool breeze this morning, and the fireplace is going, adding just the right amount of heat to keep the room comfortable with the chill morning breeze blowing in. This is a wonderful place, and we will be back.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What a great attitude!

We've been in San Diego since Friday night. We'll be in the area (SD, Catalina Island, then La Jolla) for the week, but the highlight of the trip (and impetus for the trip) was my cousin Zachary's Bar Mitzvah.

Zach is 13 (of course... the age for a Bar Mitzvah), but he is one of the coolest, most positive people I know. I wish I'd been that cool at his age! Oh, who am I kidding? I wish I were half as cool now!

It's hard to convey what he's like. He and his older brother are well-mannered, well-raised, bright boys, but it's hard to give clear examples. Lots of people say how wonderful kids in their family are, but Zach's really amazing.

And his positive attitude is marvelous. We saw a fabulous example yesterday. A couple of hours into the reception, as the band was playing and everyone was having a ball, the lights went out. After about 30 seconds (which, believe me, is a very long time when the whole room is dark and people are worried), emergency lighting kicked in.

The band had amps and such that needed power, so they were out of business. Everyone was milling about, and the party ground to a halt.

But Zach would have none of this. He was moving about, determined to have fun. After a few minutes, the opening beat of Queen's "We Will Rock You" started coming from the stage. I turned around to see Zach and several friends on the stage. They were stomping out the beat with their feet and then began singing the song... and the party went on.

I wish more of us could face adversity so well. Things fell apart, so this young man immediately started devising a way to overcome the obstacle presented by a complete power failure. The power remained off for a few hours, but the party went on, and we had a great time!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I'm famous!

Okay, maybe not quite famous. Hmmm. Perhaps we can say I'm playing a role in gay history? Oh, never mind.

Here's the point. Using this photo (a crop of one of my originals) on their main page...

...Outsports has taken info I supplied on the Gotham Knights' great season, paired that info with some of my photos and made it their lead article. You can go to Outsports or right to the article by clicking here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The mature gay couple

Yesterday, I was chatting with a young (26) friend who is in the early days of a relationship. His new guy sounds very special, and my friend is head over heels in love.

He was telling me about all of the fun things they've been doing, including the one time they made love. The excitement, the spontaneity, the sheer joy.

I couldn't help but contrasting that with my sex life. Sex with Marc is still great (and joyous), but spontaneous? We more often "find time" for sex. It's usually something on the schedule for the day.

Today is an example. We had a number of things to do. Yes, Marc tells me, we're going to have sex. But first we needed to use the power washer to clean up the mess from crabapples that rotted on the tree out back and then fell to the ground, making a terrible mess. We had to plan our meals for the day. A run to Home Depot was needed. Various other things need to get done. Then we'll have sex.

I suppose that's the way it goes. It's hard for things to have the newness and excitement of those early days when so much time has passed. Don't get me wrong. I love Marc, and I'm very lucky to have such a special person as my partner. But I also counseled my friend to savor every moment of his new relationship. Those are special days. I remember our early days well, but that special excitement only comes once. Such is life.