Thursday, February 23, 2006

Goblins on the Loose

Goblins. No, not right wing conservatives. Shrimp. Goblin Shrimp. These little guys are found in incredibly deep water (below 700 ft) and use their brightly colored spines to avoid becoming a chicken tender for passing hungry fish. Now, just how these little babies came to be collected is a bit of a mystery to me just as how Orange Roughy gets from spawning on deep ocean sea mounts to my table top also baffles me. So far anyhow, only the Roughy shows up in the seafood case. Lucky for the shrimp.

About now, I'm really wondering if anyone reads my late night ravings and rantings. If you are lurking out there and enjoy reading my postings, please send a note. Who are you? Any particular topics you would like covered? Otherwise, the Goblins rule.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another Picture Perfect Day

It was air conditioning weather today. Clear blue sky. No wind. Toasty. If people only worked on cloudy days, nothing would get done in this town. Still, it would have been nice to have been outside....

But the real news is the brand spanking new digital camera, interchangeable lens and all. I've been surviving on little hand held units which take amazingly good pictures. However, I truly missed the old telephoto, zoom and macro. There is only so much you can do with a little handheld with a small lens. The small aperture typically makes for blurry pictures in low light and there just is no concept of zoom in most of those handhelds. However, I did not miss developing film and certainly did not miss discovering that there was only one good picture in the roll. The new digital SLRs solve combine the best of both worlds, giving good solid pictures, good lens and instant digital feedback on your pictures. Now, if I could only figure out how to not look like a total geek running around with a huge camera. Ah, but that is a challenge for another day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Gone Skiing

I'm heading off to Colorado for a short ski weekend. Think generally cold and snowy. No warm beaches, no California sunshine... Sigh. Actually, having lived in Colorado, it will be fun to see some of the old friends that I hung out with.

Meanwhile, here in sunny California, I've finally gone to see Brokeback Mountain. Admittedly, I was worried that it would bring back a lot of bad memories. It brought back a few but mostly, it reminded me of the amazing back country, the high mountains, the fluffy crystalline snow, the eagles and the elk. It reminded me of the good, hardworking people I knew in Colorado and of the summer days spent hiking high up in the Rockies. It reminded me of wild flower covered hill sides in every shade of yellow, purple and red with not a soul in sight. It reminded me of streams filled with icey snow melt with trout fingerlings darting in the shade. I finally stopped calling Colorado home and yet, it was home in a way that California has never been able to fill. Yes, California with it's car clogged, smoggy interstates and hectic, frenetic pace. Perhaps Brokeback brought something more back to me than a sad tale of ignorance and bigotry, it also brought back warm memories of good friends and a slower, quieter time.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Sun is Back

It was a bright, sunny 50-ish to day. All in all, it was good to get outside. The rain stopped too. A good thing since the roof decided to leak in the last rainstorm (two days ago). It rains so seldom in San Diego that it's been a good month since the roofer "patched" the flashing around the stove vent. As it leaked like a seive, he obviously did a rather poor job. In fact, it leaked more after he "patched" it than it did prior to the roofer mussing with my handiwork. I had gotten up there with a little roofing tar and sealed it up for a few years worth of drizzle. However, I thought I'd do it right this time and hire a roofer. It just goes to show, a contractor's license doesn't necessarily mean they will do a good job. To make it worse, they didn't answer the phone all weekend so I've had a big plastic tub under the vent fan and flourescent light to catch all the water. I may have to find a new roofer...

The surfers in the picture above are from what appears to be a regular surf class at the beach. There's normally about 20 of them all bundled up in wet suits trying to keep from getting washed into each other. I'm tempted to get out there with them but the cold water thing is just not my cup of kona coffee (Hawaii's not a tea type of place, really). So, until I find a way to get back home to Hawaii, it looks like I'll have to settle for skiing and snowboarding (talk about cold...).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Going for Broke

We're finally going to see Brokeback Mountain. Frankly, even if it was an awful movie, it's worth going to just to show support for the film industry for having the guts to support a gay movie in the mainstream distribution channel. With all the negative messaging going on about gay marriage and the conservative tone of the current Republican administration, Brokeback Mountain's success as well as a other award nominees such as Capote renews hope that this country has not totally slipped back into the dark ages. We can only hope that tolerance will grow, one viewer at a time. Furthermore, as someone that used to live in Northern Colorado, just an hour south of the Wyoming border, I'd say that a little tolerance is overdue.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

80 F Weather is Gone for the Moment

Yes, it's true. The 80F weather is gone for the moment. We're having to make do with high 60's; however, with a little sun and a little imagination, it's easy enough to pull off the shirts and take out the horse shoes and paddle balls. After looking at some of that truly nasty North Eastweather on the news, I have to admit that San Diego, as crowded and congested as it is, doesn't seem all that bad after all.

Frankly, it's hard to publish something profound when the weather is this nice. Maybe something along the lines of, "do you think I'll still have abs like this when I'm 50?" Or, perhaps the edicate of mutual sun tan lotion application?

Still, you have to wonder, with beach houses going for $2-5M, how anyone manages to afford the rent, little less owning one of those swank houses along the boardwalk. I chock it up to rich parents and a lot of people piled into a house. Either way, if you can afford it, what a way to live!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Just Fish Doing Fish Things...

I love this picture. The way the bigger fish is looking back at the little guy. It's like, "Yo, dude, whatcha doing back there? Now don't be, hey, hey, now I'm not.. well you're not..." Heheh... It's pretty funny.

Of course, they're just fish doing fish things. The little guy is a Hawaiian cleaner wrasse looking for a fish to clean. The bigger guy is a Hawaiian Saddleback Wrasse, also called "Hinalea" in Hawaiian [pronounced He na lay ah..., chuckle]. As it turns out, the Hinalea wasn't so sure he wanted to be cleaned by a hungry cleaner wrasse and left shortly thereafter. I suspect that some of the "less refined" cleaner wrasses bite. Hmmm... Not so different from people, eh?

Oh, if you're wondering, this was taken with one of those cheap underwater cameras you buy at Walmart. I was floating in the Kapoho tide pools in about 3 ft of water. The tide pools are on the East side of the Big Island of Hawaii (about 5 or 10 minutes from Mele Kohola -- see the link!!) and are chock full of incredibly brilliantly colored fish in yellows, reds, blues and greens and huge stands of coral. It is an experience you do not want to miss. I may post more fish pictures if there is any interest.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

In Memory of Matt

Hate Kills. No doubt about it. Matt Shephard is non-living proof of it. Remember Matt? Young Wyoming college kid, pistol whipped and strung up on a fence in the snow to freeze to death because he was gay. The guys that did it went to jail. Matt is dead. Hate kills.

I lived in Northern Colorado for almost 10 years. Matt's death affected me a lot. It brought back memories of the guys that used to drive down, no matter how bad the weather, from Laramie to Colorado so they could hang out with other gay guys in relative safety (and I say relative) in Fort Collins, the closest thing to a big city at the time. It also reminded me that Matt could have been me. Hate Kills.

Back then Fort Collins had perhaps 100,000 people. There were neat, manicured lawns, flowers and little bunny rabbits in the Spring. It is also home to Colorado State University, the Aggies. There were bucks with full racks and golden eagles munching ground squirrel on the road. The people were, for the most part, really nice and nothing particularly exciting ever seemed to happen.

In addition, for Northern Colorado, Fort Collins was relatively liberal back then, likely due to the influence of a University in their back yard. There was even a gay bar in town (read it, ONE). I ironically discovered the gay bar when it burned down. I had no clue there was a gay bar in town until it showed up in the newspaper. Guess that's just the low key nature of gay bars in a small town.

Now, about that fire... One of the gals put a lighter to the Christmas tree that year to see if they really burned as fast as everyone said. It did. The bar burnt down. Two people were in the bathroom and did not know about the fire. One of the patrons, Buck (perhaps another story, another day), risked his life to pull them out of the fire. Buck will always be a hero to me. Top notch in my book. A man that cared about the community who carried a heart of gold on his sleeve. The problem was that Buck didn't know CPR. The Firemen putting out the fire suddenly didn't either. Go figure. Something about having to resuscitate gay people and all of a sudden the Firemen get shy. The two gay patrons both died of smoke inhalation. Nobody even tried to resuscitate them. There were people along the street above chanting, "burn faggots burn". Some kind of religious thing I suspect. Hate kills.

Fort Collins did have its good side too. They rebuilt the bar. Yes, we had a real gay bar. We had the cutest guys that would drive down from Laramie, Wyoming. Of course, the Fort Collins guys would go down to Denver most nights. The mayor, bless her heart, even pushed through a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation, a gutsy thing back then. Of course, she woke up the next morning to find buck shot in her car. In all fairness, she was not in it, but it was very rude reward nonetheless. Hate kills.

We always put a float in the gay pride parade in Denver. It was the social event of the year. The sun glasses went on. The shirts came off. Everyone was festive and cheery. We even ended up on the front page one year. Not a good thing in a small town. We had sun glasses... They never quite figured it out for certain. Good thing that. Hate kills.

At least it was fun until one of our friends was whacked in the head with a two by four. The cowards snuck up at night while he was sleeping in his truck, guarding the pride float. They drug him out of the truck, still groggy and hit him in the head with a two by four from the float. That year, we marched for Mark. He was a PhD chemist. He was never quite the same after that. He suffered brain damage that made it really hard to visualize chemical structures. Hate kills.

Reverend Phelps was always there at the parade as well with big signs that spoke of Hell and Damnation. Nasty signs that spoke of hatred and disdain. Hate Kills.

The problem with all this hate is that you internalize it after a while. You start to believe the papers and right wing conservative politicians with their crafty messages. You start to believe that you cannot ever be a good person unless you stop being gay. We all know how well changing your orientation works. It doesn't. If you're gay, you're gay. Get used to it.

The anti-gay propaganda is particularly tough on the good kids. These are the over achievers, the valedictorians, the captains of sports teams, presidents of honor societies, class presidents and eagle scouts. They work hard to please their parents, their coaches and their teachers. When one of these kids turns out gay, it's like hitting a brick wall. How can something you cannot change, something you are likely born with, be so horrible to people that don't even know who you are.

Futhermore, if you are living to please everyone and finally grasp that you cannot change being gay, everything shatters. You are faced with a choice, abandon the basic tenets your life is built upon, that you are here to fit conventional ideas of good and pure or end it once and for all. I was one of those teens: well liked by students and teachers, valedictorian, eagle scout, president of the honor society, yaddah, yaddah. That wall hurt, a lot... I thought about how much easier it would be to end it all. The pain was constant and never ending. Lucky there wasn't a gun around. Hate kills.

I'm even luckier that there are good people in this world that care about the people around them. I'm lucky that I had friends that cared enough to matter when it really came down to the wire. I'm lucky I had friends that walked me through the tough times and helped me to learn how to care about myself again, gay or not. Friends that showed me that being gay is not such a horrible thing. Friends that showed me that gays are normal people who can love and be loved. Friends who consoled me late at night when it seemed that there could be no hope. Friends that kept me out of trouble when trouble was in the offering and friends that ever so gently helped me out of the closet. I am still alive and kicking and all the sassier for it. Nevertheless, hate kills.

I still think about those nights sometimes. Lying on the carpet alone hoping everything would just end. The bad times. When I hear stories about good kids that commit suicide, I wonder if they were gay too. I wonder if they hit that same rock wall. It is those times that I get so furious over the sheer irresponsibility of politicians that would use anti-gay hatred as a platform to get elected and religious leaders that would use anti-gay gospel to drive donations and attendance at their churches. How ignorant can they be? Don't they understand that the next gay kid may be their own? That child might well be theirs. Surely they must know that hate kills.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What's the Fuss About Gay Marriage?

NPR had a reasonably balanced short on Gay Marriage and it got me thinking about why people are just so excited about the whole ado. Now, I can understand why the extremist Christians are against something that is so contrary to their dogma. I can understand why the Republicans used the controversy to get votes and, IMHO, to trick the honest people of this country into focusing on Gay Marriage as an issue instead of focusing on the the sad state of the economy, joblessness among the poor, failing social programs and abysmal world image of America. What I didn't fathom is how some erstwhile educated people could get sucked into the whole fiasco. So I did what any curious person would do, I asked around to see what other people thought.

Best I could tell, the logic went kind of like this. Marriage was a big thing to them, maybe one of the biggest points in their life. They claim they weren't biggoted about Gays. However, there was something about Gays marrying that made them "feel" like it lessened the "feeling of specialness" about marriage to them. The closest analogies I could find had to do with racial equality. There were people that felt that women shouldn't vote because it would lessen the institution. There were people that felt that blacks shouldn't marry because it would lessen the institution. There are people that still think that immigrants shouldn't attend our schools because it "lessens" the institution. It all boils down to deep rooted bigotry folks. It's the same thing that Moms do all the time. Son, you can marry anyone you want but do you REALLY have to marry a person of color.... Augh, really now. At least have the courage to admit you're a biggot if you are walking the walk and talking the talk.

The question is does Gay marriage really lessen the institution of marriage for others? For that, I think you really have to ask what marriage means to the questioner. If marriage is about everlasting vows of life together and unfailing love then I would say no, nothing anyone else does should lessen love that deep. If marriage means feeling like you are better than everyone else because you're married and they're not (nicer car, nicer house, cuter kids, more money, yaddah yaddah yaddah), get over it. There's always someone out there that you'll compare shabbily to. If marriage is about the religious ritual, that is still there no matter what happens to the civil institution so again, get over it. If marriage is about the civil institution and about putting structure around long term committed relationships then Gay marriage fits right in. The civil institution (including commonlaw marriage) is there to protect both partners of long term relationships. It's about hospital visitation rights when a partner is ill, inheritance of property shared over a lifetime, custody rights to children raised together, tax status and capital gains deductions (yes, married couples get twice the property tax exemption on a shared house) and about other practical issues of long term co-habitation. Those are practical concerns that long term partners, gay or straight share. Ironically, that Gays and Lesbians even want to get married should be affirmation to the institution and practicality of marriage, not desecration. When a child follows in his/her parents footsteps, it is an act of love and acceptance, not defiance. So why then is it any different when Gay and Lesbian couples follow in the footsteps of their parents? Is it wrong for society to encourage long term stable, productive relationships among all of its citizens? I think not.

I guess when you really get down to it, there is nothing logical about the anti-Gay Marriage commotion. It seems to me, anyhow, it boils down to emotionally driven people who do not stop to think that they might be hurting their own children, friends and relatives. It is people who are afraid of anyone different, afraid of change and afraid that sharing something even so intangible as a "concept" might somehow lessen themselves and their lives. Unfortunately, it is that fear that drives elections.

Of course, you can help. For those of you in the closet, come out to the people that care about you so they can see that Gays are good honest people that are a part of their lives, not just fictitious people in San Francisco that they see on the news. For those who can vote, vote or leave the fate of this country to petty fear and bigotry and reap the rewards of your innaction. For those of you who are not active in politics, get active. Put your money and your time where it counts.

A Fine Meal Indeed

Truly there is just no accounting for taste. Or, perhaps it's all about what tastes good. In either case, the three major food groups, salt, sugar and fat, go a long way towards a happy meal (or a happy McNugget as it may be).

That being said, I for one had all of the above tonight as I and the other half bedded down to albeit petite filet (but filet none the less), stir fried yellow peppers/mushrooms/zuchinni and wild rice pilaf. Not bad for 30 minutes of frenetic chopping, marinating, microwaving and stirring, if I may say so myself. A little bear claw coffee cake for dessert and and old episode of "Survivor" on the tube and voila, you have all the makings of a another comfy Valentine's Day dinner.

Post Survivor, we settled into the wonderful wireless Internet world where we can all be as beautiful or as studly as we want (aka via massive multiplayer online games), email and web surfing. Admittedly nerdy but low stress. I rediscovered web rings and managed to register my different web pages into several rings. It all seems like a big Easter egg hunt with something new around each click.

Sadly, the weather man has announced that our unseasonal 80 degree weather will be gone tomorrow so we will have to live vicariously off of last weekends beach photos. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine's Day: Capitalist Extravaganda or an Expression of Affection?

Have you ever wondered who St. Valentine was and why he has a day named after him? Do you suppose it is just a convenient excuse for Hallmark to sell a lot of cards? Alternately, is it a day that has true meaning for the masses above the bunches of flowers and boxes of chocolate?

Personally, I like to look at Valentine's day as an excuse to be nice to the people you care about. I made the cards by hand (well, by photo editor anyhow) and left little trails of paper hearts and chains of paper teddy bears. I sent family pictures, framed desk pictures and even stooped to a bit of chocolate and an orchid or two.

Over doing it? Perhaps so; but it was fun, fun, fun. I haven't felt so creative since kindegarten and it can't hurt to let that significant someone in your life feel loved every now and then. Valentine's day is as good an excuse as any and a better excuse than most.

Now, that being said, my significant other thinks Valentine's Day is just a cheap commercial excuse for card sales. In spite of the cards, flowers and chocolate, I have not managed to coax out the least bit of romance whatsoever (mostly just complaints about getting fat actually). So, I'll have to ask your opinion. Is the other half:

(a) Showing principled discipline against capitalist propaganda;
(b) Too lazy to show any affection; or
(c) an insensitive lout?

The alternative is that I'm just a hopeless romantic and ridiculously out of touch. Of course, I've always figured that any excuse is a good excuse for a hug or some gratuitous gift giving. Life is just too short to wait for the right occasion to pop up and I've been around long enough to know that those who wait too long sometimes lose the chance.

In any case, my Mom and my Sister enjoyed the cards and the attention and I suspect that deep down, in spite of any lack of admission, the other half does too.

So, for you romantics out there, Happy Valentine's Day! Tell someone you care about that you love them today and every day, just because you can.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Blading at the Beach

With all the news headlines about nasty snowstorms hitting the East Coast I felt it was my duty to go to the beach in protest. Of course, I had ulterior motives. After breaking my roller blades yesterday, I headed out to the local sports superstore to pick up a new pair. The new, sleek, black K2 blades were in back seat of the car just screaming to be tried out. Needless to say, compared to my very old (and now broken) pair of blades, the new ones were AWESOME! Nothing hurt, the bearings didn't stick and wonder of all wonders, the brake worked too! Not a bad thing when you're crusing down a narrow, sandy cement walkway with all sorts of boards, bikes and sweaty pedestrians going every which way.

Not to gloat of course but there was not a cloud in the sky. There was a stiff cool breeze that was being used to some advantage by a kite surfer. Try as I might, my little pocket camera failed to catch the amazing airborne 360s this guy was doing. I sat on the cement sea wall with awe and the surfer out raced these huge waves and did flying jumps over the whitewash. Looks like a hoot. Add it to the list of wayward things to try (evil grin).

The weather had people out in droves. The seagulls were out as well, hovering overhead in the breeze as only seagulls know how to do. They were keeping a keen eye on the college parties for scraps of food and unwatched plates. Admittedly, as annoying as they can be, given the occasional seagull bomb that terrorizes the pedestrians, they are graceful and inspiring to watch.

Given that Valentine's day is on Tuesday, I eventually pulled myself away from the beach to do a little shopping. The neighborhood store has an ongoing grand re-opening celebration to celebrate their remodel so I figured I would pop in and check out the new digs. There were sampleseverywhere. Awk. The willpower was low and there was the juiciest peppered steak, warm roasted turkey, melted cheese sandwiches, salad and a variety of other wonderful, fattening and horribly tasty tidbits. You could have skipped dinner after a tour or two of the store.

I dare say the samples did their dirty deed and I left with more than I had intended including two steaks, a really juicy looking roasted turkey breast and a fragrant, yellow pineapple. Those samples are evil. Tasty...but evil. Guess the fish and veggies will have to wait.

Until next time, stay warm and don't let the snow get you down.

Awake again

I couldn't sleep again. I could sit in bed and stare at the ceiling but then it's much more fun to sit here and post. Have you ever wondered what the human brain does when you sleep? Why you so seldom remember? Is it because you would confuse your real waking memories with your dreams if you actually remembered your dreams? Do you suppose that is where deja vu moments come from? Awk, but I am rambling.

I drove to the beach today. San Diego has a long board walk that goes miles up and down mission beach. It's a great place to walk, bike or roller blade. They even have stripes painted so the bikes, blades, skates and boards don't run into each other. Works more or less although there is almost always someone in the wrong lane. Either way, the extra exercise of dodging them has got to be worth at least a few extra calories. Oh where did that six pack go anyhow...?

This time, however, my crafty little camera made it into my pocket in hopes of snapping a seagull or some nice ocean panoramas. The weather was oddly hazy, possibly from the ocean mist. The wind was a little cold too but otherwise, it was sunny and half-way warm. Half the people seemed to be all bundled up and the other half where showing skin. I managed to snap a picture or two of the beach. There was a whole herd of surfers going into the water (perhaps 20+ of them). Made kind of a neat picture. We'll see if it really comes out as I was buzzing buy on the blades at the time.

Do you believe in photo Karma? Half the pictures didn't come out. Apparently the dial setting on top was rotated out of place in my pocket. Annoying thing that. Makes you wonder if someone just didn't want their picture taken. Wooo haaa haaa...

A little while later my skate latch sheared off of the boot. Now that is taking photo Karma a little too far. Leave the boots alone, dude. Nobody touches the boots! In Hawaiian, they would say, eh brah, no make like dat.

Oh course, that just depened the adventure (as I skated with unbuckled boots). A little wobbly but over all functional. No jumps or hops, just keeping the feet on the ground (and definitely no railings).

That got me motivated so it was off to the store. Well it just happens that the sporting goods store is right next to the grocery store so I hit two myna birds with one stone (real trick cuz mynas are real fast, tough, loud birds).

The guy in the store is really helpful. Looks about 20. I call him over to ask about the skates and in the process notice that he's missing an arm. Now, I'm thinking to myself, I wonder what happened to this dude. Looks healthy enough. Maybe a car accident? But then it seemed so rude and inappropriate to ask so I bagged it. The cheap skate apparently had more/better bearings so we try that first. The boot hurt.

I am a fan of comfortable feet. I will not put on a boot, skate or ski, that hurts. Been there, done that. So, we try the mid-grade boot. This one is 1/3 off, sale priced at $99. It also fits very nicely on my somewhat wide Hawaiian feet (from many years of running bare footed). I skate up and down the aisle a few times and manage to not take out any racks or people. It's a sale.

It's off to the grocery store. Valentine's day is coming. I ended up with some orange roughy and some filet mignon. You ever wonder what mignon means in French? Could it be a really feisty cow (as in "mean one") ar ar ar? The king crab legs looked real good too but it all adds up fast. Figured I had found enough for at least a little festivity.

I've been making a festival out of it. First I bought this silly singing plush bear that sings about how much I love you. Then, it was paper cutout hearts. The following day, a beautiful, phalaenopsis with prisine white butterfly-like flowers on a gracefully arching stem. The petals are so thin, they flutter in the breeze like real butterfly wings. The next day, chocolate covered nuts. What indeed can it be tomorrow? They're all stashed in the closet. He'll probalby peek. Rotten rotten rotten.

I sent a valentine to my Mom too. Didn't know any florists back home anymore so I settled for sending money with a custom, home-made card exclaiming that she is undoubtedly the best Mom I could have ever had. She can get her own flowers or, as I'm hoping, take herself and her wonderful boyfriend out to dinner. That would be nice.

I've been playing video games since finishing up with the Valentine's day mischief. City of Villains, a massively multipler online game. Easy to get all caught up in it, but that's for another story. Getting sleepy so I'll catcha next time.

Hana hou,
-The Wayward Hawaiian