jeudi, décembre 28, 2006

Greetings of the Season; or: The Vacation Notice I Should have Posted a Week Ago

Dear Readers,

Hello from vactionland (a.k.a. St. Paul, Minnesota)!

Santa was good to us.

My favorite Christmas gift received was Philip Roth's "American Pastoral" - I've had a surprisingly hard time finding it. A close second was homemade shortbread cookies from my brother-in-law.

My favorite gift given was a future in a rare Peruvian orchid that I got for my wife. If it continues to grow, in April she will have a nice orchid. If not, then she'll have a nice gift certificate to a wonderful orchid nursery.

Tell me in comments: what was your favorite gift (given and/or received)?

We're resting up for our return to work and school in early January.

We're reading the paper and gathering lots of blog fodder (Gerald Ford (R.I.P.), undocumented workers at Swift, Edwards tossing his hat in, Dreamgirls (I didn't like it)).

We're running errands and doing all the things we find it so hard to do while working and raising one little girl.

We're hoping your holidays are wonderful...

...and looking forward to returning in January.

"See" you then.

Happy New Year,


vendredi, décembre 15, 2006

Mama Mexico's on 49th, Between 2nd and 3rd - Highly Recommended

Tuesday night, on the island of Manhattan, a small group of us spent $39 on guacamole (it was good) and $72 on shots of Petron Silver (we were full of holiday cheer, I assure you).

As the night ended, and we rode the train along the Northeast Corridor back to Metropark (Woodbridge, New Jersey, y’all), LJ, the loudest among us said this about her husband of 6 years:

“I’m often surprised by how much I continue to love him.”

Anyway, I thought that was an interesting thought from a marriage. I can approach it as a cynic would, but I choose to come at it with an optimistic heart, more appropriate to the sentiment. From that place, it calls to mind how love reveals itself to us in layers: layers of understanding, layers of shared experiences, and layers of emotion.

And that’s not the tequila talking either.

vendredi, décembre 08, 2006

Yaaaaaay Jews!

This is how change happens.

One by one, faith communities will stand up and recognize same sex unions and GLBT leadership.

Eventually, a few faith communities will remain (probably the same folks who argue that the world is eight to 10 thousand years old), but they will be the exception and not the rule.

Religion will move closer to recognizing all of God’s children.

Either society will follow in religion’s footsteps or the other way around. But somehow we will be led to enlightenment.

I’ve always felt that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender) would decrease significantly as, to put it frankly, Baby Boomer age and Tweeners and Gen Xers replace them in corporate, civic, governmental and religious leadership positions. See this supporting data from Pew (scroll down to see chart connecting age to view on same sex marriage).

Younger people, people who go to school with “out” GLBT students (often in Jr. High, but definitely in High School and College), people who work with “out” colleagues. Looking at the cubicle farm from a wide angle lens, it’s hard to say that Sally gets partner benefits because she’s heterosexual and married, but Todd does not get them because he’s gay.

I applaud the conservative Jews today. Yes, it was a 1 to 3 decision, but it will allow temples to reach their own conclusions, and that’s more than can be said for a lot of Christian faith traditions.

Post Script: I found this story interesting. I giggle when afflicted conservatives jump on the bandwagon supporting stem cell research; soon, conservative parents of gay children will be compelled to abandon their hateful and ignorant policies - even if only out of love for their children.

mercredi, décembre 06, 2006

With Sugar on Top? - A Half-hearted Indictment of Christmas

Christmas is ridiculous and crass*. Every year I try to beat it by meditating on its violent demise, but every year it gets bigger and crasser and worser. Oh, if only we could cancel the whole thing! Or at least take every other year off. Yes, the economy would collapse, but maybe we’d find a deeper celebration divorced from commerce and greed.

Yeah, right.

But if I can’t be ‘em…

I suppose I could ask for this ride for Christmas.

And this ride would do well with my green side.

Dear Santa, can you upgrade the city crib one time?

Oh, and give our little family a nice little getaway?

I’ll tell Mrs. Duf that I need a way to tell time away from home.

But all of that is a prelude for the one thing I really want for Christmas. There’s no chance you’ll take me seriously, but I’m totally, totally serious. I collect these (in my own depressingly middle class way), and I’ve been obsessed with them (and their portable progeny) since I was eight years old. When I get bored, I search for these on the web. In all my searching, I’ve never found an example that engaged my scheming more than this one.

I could sell stock.

I could get a night job.

I could steal it.

In 2006 I bought an oil painting and a car, so I’m tapped out for luxury items, and it’s a shame too, because:

What I really want for Christmas is this one simple and elegant way to tell time at home.

I love it; I love it; I love it.


It’s only $26,000.

But it’s sure to retain its value…

Do I have any readers who are fabulously wealthy who will grant me this amazing clock for the full term of my natural life with the remainder going to her or him or his or her heirs or assigns?

Pretty please.

Hello? Is this on?

*I'm in New Jersey today. In the lobby of the building I visited, they've erected four holiday celebrations. One celebrating Christmas, one celebrating Chanukah, once celebrating Kwanzaa, and one celebrating Three Kings Day. The lobby of my office building back in Minnesota only celebrates one of these four holidays. I leave you to guess which one (hint, it stands in stark contrast to Bill O'Reilly's daft protestations).

Help Me Understand This...Please

Can someone explain this to me? Anyone?

Also, while I'm at it, I don't get this guy either. Never have, never will*.

*He was okay in Platoon.

lundi, décembre 04, 2006

With the Benefit of Perspective

This morning when I left my home at 5:25, it was snowing. Everything was beautiful, but - if I do say so myself - it was a bit too cold.

As I write this, I'm in Tempe, Arizona. It is December, and it's about 70 degrees outside. The perfect temperature.

Now, normally, I would tell you that the Phoenix metropolitan area is the third worst major market metro area in the United States behind Orlando, Florida (easily the worst major metro area in the country) and Southern California (awful, just awful). If I get time tonight, I'll give Orlando and Southern California the same send-up I gave St. Paul a bit ago.

I'm being 100% serious when I tell you that I would live in Birmingham, Alabama*, three times before I would even think about Phoenix.

But today...

Well, today...

Phoenix is a little bit more charming. Today, Phoenix is your bipolar lover riding high on a beautiful, placid and seemingly never-ending manic wave.

*I'm convinced that Birmingham is the most underrated city in the U.S. But then I've only been there as a visitor (and only for a total of like 30 days - over several trips).

vendredi, décembre 01, 2006

On Charitable Giving

A friend sent this article to me.

Interesting findings:

The rich and the working poor give more than the middle class (in terms of percentage of income).

The working poor give more than the rich in terms of percentage of income.

Conservatives give more than liberals do.

If a person is religious or spiritual, they are more likely to give to charity.

The article, which is a teaser for a show on 20/20 tonight also makes note of a study done by 20/20 on Salvation Army donations in San Francisco v. Sioux Falls.

Now, I’d love to give the article a critical read, but study methodology is not included. What counts as a charitable donation? How are cash donations linked to political philosophies? Are donations of time (like pro bono services) included? What about stock donations, trusts, and estate gifts? Do donations to quasi-political organizations (like right to life groups or the NRA) count?

But I can say this: the Salvation Army test is flawed. I don’t give a cent to the Salvation Army on philosophical and moral grounds. They are a religious organization (which is fine), and they require prayer before administering benefits (which is not fine, IMHO). As well, they have policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (which is despicable and unchristian).

But, having said all that, it would not surprise me that conservatives give more than liberals do. I do, however, dispute that philosophies on the role of government drive those decisions.