30 November 2008

In the News

I sure wish I owned stock in The New York Times because then I would get some credit for referring you to three interesting and completely unrelated items that have recently appeared in their pages -- both paper and virtual.

First up, a black man offers insight into why so many blacks voted for California's proposition 8 (writing discrimination into the state's constitution). I admit I don't know a whole lot about the finer points of black culture, and this op-ed piece was fascinating. You may read it here.

Next, an intriguing article about a newspaper in Pasadena written entirely by people living and working in India. I thought my career field was on life support. Apparently, it is already dead and no one has told it. You may read the column here.

Lastly, an article about how artists are no longer accepting of "starving" as the only descriptive word to appear before their names. Now such descriptors include "web-store owner" and "entrepreneur." You may read the article here.

29 November 2008

Hawkin' Nature

We live in a historic district near downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Even though Phoenix extends for miles in every direction from us, we often see the most interesting animals. Several years ago, we saw a giant eagle near an abandoned school, and today we saw a hawk (pictured). I don't know what kind of hawk it is, but it is huge and gorgeous!

This time of year we get a shitload of starlings in our neighborhood (migrating, I think) so the hawks (yes, there were three of them) must be hanging around for that.

We were able to make a little film showing the main hawk and two other hawks. In the background you can see a flock of starlings far away, and then later a flock of pigeons nearby.
These hawks seem to visit our neighborhood every year, and we hear tales of cats disappearing around the same time....

You may view our little film here (that's me talking, and you can hear Matt in the background):

27 November 2008


Thirty years ago today, a Monday, I was driving home from work listening to the news. I think it was a special bulletin that came on with Dianne Feinstein announcing that San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Harvey Milk had been shot and killed. I distinctly remember a shivver running through me when I heard the gasps of people in the background. I did not know who any of these people were, but I did know one thing: they were talking about the city where I was planning to move in four short months.

A couple months after I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, the verdict came out against the killer of Milk and Moscone: manslaughter, rather than murder. That night in May, the City by the Bay saw the White Night Riots, named after the man who murdered the men and basically got away with it. I sat in my little apartment watching the riots on television. I was so new to the city that I did not know what was going on beyond the obvious. It amazed me to see so many people so upset about the verdict.

Later, after I finally realized I was gay, I walked up and down Castro Street past the store front that used to be Milk's camera store, I started getting politically active -- all the while never really understanding who was Milk and what he had achieved through just being himself.

I wish I had had a chance to meet him, to interview him, to be able to say I knew him when. I cannot; but I can be proud of the legacy left by such a man who stood tall when he told people that he was gay.

Next week, the new movie about Milk will open across the country. I hope the irony is lost on no one that it should come scarcely a month after the passage of California's Proposition 8 writing discrimination into that state's constitution.

22 November 2008

Number 168

Despite all the turmoil in this country (and, apparently, ONLY in THIS country) over the idea of same-sex marriage, Matt and I are today celebrating 14 years together -- marriage or not. Odd, how it seems like only 13 years ago that I sat next to the pretty youth at the theater (the legitimate theater, not the cinema, thank you) who would end up being part of my life for the following 14 years (and, I hope, the next 50 years).

We went out to a nice dinner Thursday (prime rib and ginormous pork chops), exchanged presents Friday (a couple Wii games for him; for me, the really cute plastic animals you see pictured), and are today just spending time together. We're low-key kind of people and are celebrating in a low-key kind of way.

Happy 168th monthiversay, HBSP!

Oh, and did you see the comic strip my sweetie (the fabulous artist) did for our anniversary? If not, you can see it
here. (It is so handy having an artist in the house.)

[The Animal House line of kitchen tools are made by Boston Warehouse and can be purchased through Amazon.com. They are (from top) the Punk-U-Pine Scrubber, the Mouse Cheese Grater and the Woodpecker Scissors.]

19 November 2008

Lost and Found

Not seen since 1921, and long thought extinct, the pygmy tarsier (pictured) has been located on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi -- far enough away from humans, one hopes, to avoid another brush with extinction.

This tiny primate provides proof that nature will find a way, even when faced with the onslaught of "progress." Go, litte tarsier!

More information about the discovery is available here.

15 November 2008


Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

The origin of this research (it is apparently not Cambridge) and more examples can be found here.

09 November 2008

An Embarrassment of Riches

There's this study that's been going on since 2000 called the Census of Marine Life that will come out in 2010. Over the past few years bits and pieces of information have been released including a pretty dramatic article posted today about more findings.

You can read the article here, but if you just want to cut to the chase and see the cool animals that have been found (like the one pictured) you can click here and here.

05 November 2008

A Look Back

The internet and blogs are today filled with all kinds of stories about Barack Obama -- America's president elect. I thought I would add my own recollection of another Obama, of another time, and the eeriness of coincidence.

On 27 July 2004 (my birthday, eerie coincidence number one) my spouse was watching the Democratic National Convention. I don't watch conventions.

Okay, so I am walking through the house just after Barack Obama started his now-famous "Out of Many, One" speech (eerie coincidence number two). Listening to this man speak so intelligently, so eloquently made me stop: you never hear any intelligent or eloquent politicians these days, so I had to.

"Who is that?" I asked Matt.

If I remember correctly he said "Some senator."

I stood and listened some more, then said something along the lines of "Too bad HE'S not running for president. I'd vote for him."

Now, four years later, I had that chance (eerie coincidence number three) and I took it, helping Obama become our country's 44th president.

But wait, the eerie coincidences don't stop there.

Back in September I read the book Remembering America by Richard Goodwin. I got it because it contained a chapter about the quiz show scandals of the late 1950s. I found out about the book only because it was the basis of the 1994 movie "Quiz Show" which we (coincidence number four) rented in August.

The rest of that book (coincidence number five) happened to be about the campaign of John F. Kennedy (on which Goodwin worked as a speech writer). The whole time I was reading this I kept marveling at how similar was Kennedy's campaign and Obama's (number six).

Like Obama today, Kennedy greatly influenced the youth of his era (eerie coincidence number seven), won a stunning upset over his Republican rival (number eight) and was seen as a bright and shining beacon of hope not only to our own country, but to the world at large (number nine).

I hope Obama is able to bring to his administration even a tiny bit of the qualities that so marked the Kennedy administration. He has the intelligence to do it, I just hope he has the fortitude to do it in a place like Washington.

And if he does, it will be eerie coincidence number ten.

You can see Obama's 2004 speech here or read the text of the speech here.