Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Cautious Optimism on Gay Marriage

I am cautiously optimistic. The government, both Senate and the House as well as the President, have endorsed a bill to legalize Gay and Interracial marriage. You may think, since both of these are already in place, we needn't do that. You would be wrong.

Like Abortion, marriage rights were defined by the Supreme Court. And the court is traditional bound by precedent. But in the Dobbs decision (overturning abortion rights) the country discovered the new Supreme Court judges are not restrained by precedent, but only the laws that were in place at the acceptance of the Constitution in the 1780s. And neither gay nor interracial marriage were permitted then.

So a bi-partisan group defined a method to codify these rights that is both ingenious and will hold up to scrutiny. 

The new law overturns the "Defense of Marriage" laws which outlawed gay marriage, but were made obsolete by later court decisions. So, step 1, don't outlaw gay marriage. 

Step 2 was to require any state to recognize the marriage from any other state. So, Kentucky may outlaw gay marriage in their state. But a quick trip over the border and marriage in Illinois means that they are also married in Kentucky for all purposes. And there are over 300 laws which define rights due only to married couples.

The assumptions are that these marriages will always be legal in some states and then the country must recognize them. What the Supremes did with abortion is NOT to require it, but to turn the power back to the states. If they do that with gay or interracial marriage, it will hopefully stay legal.

So I am happy-ish. I will be thrilled if the bill finishes up getting passed, signed into law and upheld by the courts. It is pretty far along the way with both the Senate and House approving versions of the law.

My Review of "Camp Siegfried"

 Here is my review from

Young, Stupid and Political at Camp Siegfried

Johnny Berchtold and Lily McInerny star in Bess Wohl's Camp Siegfried, directed by David Cromer, at Second Stage Theater.
(© Emilio Madrid)

Camp Siegfried starts with an unknown and uncomfortable part of history. From 1936 to 1941 there was a movement among some German Americans to convince the United States to adopt Third Reich answers to the problems of the world, and to ally with Hitler. Camp Siegfried takes place in a summer youth camp directed by the American Bund - or German American National Socialists - before Hitler’s regime started the wars and the country’s aggressive hatred was clear. The movement crashed after America’s entry into World War II.

So, a minefield.

At the start of the play the analogies to present day America seem blatantly obvious. Telegraphed like Steven Spielberg milking our emotions. But the analogy becomes more tortured until it is muddled with the experiences of these two teenagers. Johnny Berchtold and Lily McInerny play the unnamed young people.

These two actors navigate a situation that becomes less overtly political and more personal as the story progresses. It is not just a political history lesson, it is also an emotional journey of young people. These two navigate a summer camp of adolescence as infatuation convinces them they are in love.

The Bund, like the Nazi Youth, promotes the idea of pure germans reproducing. That is the purpose for women. Sex and pregnancy are encouraged by the members of the right ages - she is 16 and he is 17.

Johnny Berchtold and Lily McInerny star in Bess Wohl's Camp Siegfried, directed by David Cromer, at Second Stage Theater.
(© Emilio Madrid)

But camp draws to a close. The couple’s relationship disintegrates as the summer comes to an end. Their “plans” for the future, like ours at that age, are brought to an end. That end can be bittersweet for some, but for these two the end is fierce. The confront the future and finally themselves. They have been changed by the experience and respond differently, as well do. This is the least engaging part of the play and the most distant from the characters we have seen. They act as if removed from the time period and reality of rest of the piece.

Camp Siegfried’s Senior Production Manager is Michael Catalan and the designs add greatly to the experience. They create a space that is both expansive and claustrophobic. It serves the emotions of youth excellently. Written by the wonderful Bess Wohl (writer of Grand Horizons), it walks the delicate line between young desire and family expectations. Director David Cromer brings the show to life with a light touch that lets the story develop naturally.

Daily Stoic November 30

This is the last Daily Stoic of November. I don't know if you remember (or if I even said) the month of November was all about Amor Fati or "Acceptance of Fate". I think this last meditation is a summation of the month.

The person who follows reason in all things will have both the leisure and a readiness to act - they are at once cheerful and self-composed.

Marcus Aureliu

Cheerful? That sounds a stretch. 

But, I can say since I have tried to be more stoic and less reading into things I have been happier. And when Ed reads shit into what I say - a habit as a relationship ages - I stop and try to explain that my comment isn't a judgement. My comments are, or try to be, just a comment on where an issue is at. Which, I totally get is unlike me. And unlike his entire life, passive aggressive people have simple reinforced this impulse in him. Removing the anger of the moment has helped me and our relationship.

Example: Ed, Jane and I were sitting around her table and the talk moved to our retirement plans. It is a discussion that is fraught for us. I am ready to retire, get out of the country and live like a gypsy for a bit (in the derogatory way). Ed is now about 18 months away from retiring or at least taking a sabbatical. His idea of retire is different than mine.

To me, his plan is (was) kind of bullshit. In my mind I have been quite clear about what I want, and if he didn't agree he should have said so earlier. Jane helped to lower the temperature on our debate, and Ed and I both decided to listen.

Now it isn't the first time someone has tried to mediate this particular issue. But it is the first time I have been in the head space to listen. Then... I accepted that this moment is a new beginning. My grasping to the past is a product of history and learned reaction from my father. So, I let my predisposition and hurt go. Ed is not trying to trap or ignore me. And by doing so, Ed seemed to be happy to both be heard and then listen.

I have changed my outlook a bit and Ed has clarified his. I had to let go of my obsession and listen to his point from this moment. Without anger and judgement of the past. It has helped my attitude and my happiness immensely. It has, I think, helped clarify our wants and desires for the future. And a way for us to collaborate for the future.

It is freeing.

I can't help it.
All the illustrations for things like this are very "new agey"

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The new and improved Battersea Power Station

Battersea in images: l-r: Pink Floyd Album Cover, interior pre-restoration, film set in Richard III

We all have seen the iconic Battersea Power Station. Long derelict and near collapse, it has been the focus of many renewal schemes.

Well, it is finally been renovated and is soo soo cool. Lane, Ed and I went last week and took a tour.

Jane and I. BUT look at the Closest Exhaust Tower.
That little bump is where a glass elevator pops out.

Interior has been rebuilt as destination entertainment site.

When it was built, beauty in function was an esthetic. The Art Deco columns and layout were important

Those deco features are highligthed in the new interior

Looking over the top of the redone facility.
Those might be super high end condos on the roof area.

Views from the elevator

They also have weird nick names for buildings. Starting at the one next to the sun reflection and moving to the right they are: The Cheese Grater, The Gerkin (pickle) and the Walkie Talkie

Daily Stoic: Nov 29

Today's meditation is another tough one for me in our current political climate(s).

Don't lament this and don't get agitated.

Marcus Aurelius

As much as I try to see the humor in things, I am very much in the habit of this negative thought process. Here is what the Daily Stoic has to say. I will quote for a moment.

There is a feeing one gets when something happens: It's all over now. All is lost. What follows are complaints - and pity - and misery: the impotent struggle against what has already occurred. 

Instead stoicism pushes us towards how response to that same situation going forward. Examples of positive reaction:

My current view that we must adapt to the new climate. Posit solutions that work for people now, rather than simply aim for the unachievable. Clamoring to stop greenhouse gases now will not role back climate threats. We must face where we are at and both mitigate the impact of people AND try to reduce emissions in the future.

In politics, Lynn will accept where we are and then work to change it going forward. She worked the phones in 2020 for the upcoming vote.

Lynn also did not dwell on the horrible effects of the hurricane after it hit Ft. Meyers. Once she knew she was okay, she immediately volunteered to help others and emergency food banks.

C. S. Lewis was the writer of the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

He was also a religious Christian philosopher who married
religious instruction with real world help.

Monday, November 28, 2022

My Quick Reactions Nov 28

 I often have very quick reactions to stories. Like these.

And that theme is "grandma"

 Damn Liberals will do anything to keep my ass from eating a cheeseburger

But Texas. So it is actually "freedom" from safe water

The name Mpox sounds too much like Mmmbop to me. Long live the Hanson brothers.

Thanksgiving in England

 England, for all its supposed intellectual superiority, doesn't even have Thanksgiving. Go figure - they can't help being backwards sometimes. I mean, even Canada has Thanksgiving (albeit at the wrong dates).

Ed and I decided to bring the tradition to our friends in England. It was kind of perfect. It was too much drink, too much food and too much fun. We saw a lot of friends, met a few new ones and generally had a ton of people over. (14 for dinner, 3 more drop-ins to say hello and have a post dinner cocktail.

Barbara bought the Turkey before we got there. Gary made a special Thanksgiving cocktail. Gareth got a Thanksgiving playlist together. And I did all the cooking. Okay not ALL the cooking, but I did do the yams, stuffing and deviled eggs. Ed did the green bean casserole and the pecan pie!. Barbara pretty much took primary care of everything, because she is stupendous.

There were only 2 things we could not find. Regular stuffing - they use a freeze dried kind of thing. And a can of cranberry sauce. Their's is much more real and good looking, but lacks the true "pl....op" of our cans.

Some images below.

A few of us. I accidentally did miss more than a few people in this picture. Whoops.
And yes, we brought the Pilgram hats.

Rebecca giving us all blue steel.

Look at that spread!

31 years after we all met!

I candied the yams myself.

Stoic Result #1

Stoicism has taught me to try to temper my response and ignore the implied judgement of the comment. Because I read way too much into things. Yesterday a real world example occurred that helped me. But first, some background.

I tend to ascribe deeper meaning to everything that is said to me. This is a defense mechanism that I learned when I was young, and never could stop.

As we know, my father was a charming narcissistic sociopath. He dealings with people changed moment to moment and day to day. And he was king of the con. So I learned to understand his unspoken rules. When he talked to others - rental owners, women, police, his parents, etc., I was expected to understand the underlying dynamics immediately.

So if he told the owners of an "adult" apartment complex I was a young looking, but adult thinking 16 year old (at 12), I knew to act like an adult and talk about graduating high school. When I woman hesitated that she couldn't go out with him, I knew to say, "It's okay, I'm am my grandmother's tonight anyway". When he lied and told Deanna that I paid him for the car, not the bank account, I suggested that while I was working all day, it was easier for me to give him money than write a check (yes I know how stupid it sounds).

And so, yesterday, over a mix up with a knock at the door with Ed, I assumed he thought I was stupid until I heard my own response - which was both defensive and angry over a perceived slight.

And so, I stopped, apologized for the stupid snap at him and a possible spat was averted. Not because I gave in to anyone, but because it was my response, not the action, that escalated a comment into a criticism.

And we had a great night.

I am learning.

People say something questioning to me and
THIS is what I hear.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Does Anyone Remember that old Joan Rivers joke about Elizabeth Taylor

So there was an old, and mean, joke Joan Rivers used to tell about Elizabeth Taylor when she was fat. Now, this was another time (pre both Liz' and Joan's work on AIDs) and Liz stated she didn't mind, but still..

Anywho it went, "Elizabeth Taylor is the only person who can watch her food in the microwave and scream FASTER."

I was reminded of this when I read about THIS lawsuit. A woman is suing Velvetta because it takes longer than 3 1/2 minutes to make. Now she does not argue that it takes more than 3 1/2 minutes to microwave, but that time does not include the time to pull the lid off the cup and pour in the cheese mixture.

Yes, really...


She wants $5 million dollars.

HIALEAH, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida woman is suing the Kraft Heinz Food Company for $5 million, claiming they misled the public about the time it takes to prepare Velveeta microwavable mac and cheese cups.

Court records show that a West Palm Beach-based law firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of a Hialeah woman in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on November 18.

Amanda Ramirez is listed as the main plaintiff for the class-action suit, which alleges Kraft Heinz violated federal law by saying Velveeta Shells & Cheese cups take 3½ minutes to prepare.

“Ready in 3½ minutes” is printed on the box, which is the amount of time the product takes to cook in a microwave. However, the suit says it takes more time to complete the other required steps.

This is how the lawsuit describes the cooking process:

  • “First, consumers must ‘REMOVE lid and Cheese Sauce Pouch.’
  • Next, they must ‘ADD water to fill line in cup. STIR.’
  • Third, ‘MICROWAVE, uncovered, on HIGH 3-1/2 min. DO NOT DRAIN.’
  • Finally, they should ‘STIR IN contents of cheese sauce pouch.’
  • Defendant then notes that ‘CHEESE SAUCE WILL THICKEN UPON STANDING’.”

“Consumers seeing ‘ready in 3½ minutes’ will believe it represents the total amount of time it takes to prepare the Product,” the suit states. “Meaning from the moment it is unopened to the moment it is ready for consumption.”

The lawsuit claims Ramirez bought the product for a “premium price” of $10.99 “between October and November 2022, among other times.” However, it did not say how long it actually took Ramirez to prepare the mac and cheese.

The suit described Ramirez as someone who “looks to bold statements of value when quickly selecting groceries”, and “like many consumers who seek to stretch their money as far as possible when buying groceries.”

The plaintiffs are seeking at least $5 million in damages, “including statutory and punitive exclusive of interest and costs.”

News Channel 8 has reached out to the Kraft Heinz Food Company for comment about the lawsuit.

And We're Back

I was going to stop my Daily Stoic posts because it might bore some. But then today, I looked at my meditation and decided if I stopped writing, I may stop reading my meditations and it helps me. So, onward.

How satisfying it is to dismiss and block an upsetting or foreign impression, and immediately have peace in all things.

Marcus Aurelius

Does this mean there is no bad news. Of course not. But it does mean that we don't have to harp on things that are simply people's opinions and not fact.

I love stupid TV. Does that make me stupid, or insipid, or less than someone that watches documentaries? No, it is simply how I respond to stress. Do many people disapprove or judge me? Totally.

But if I can dismiss their opinions as unimportant to my well being, than I shall have peace.

Known by its current iteration. Fuck It.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

My First Gay Crush(es)

 So "My First Gay Crush" is popular right now on gay twitter. How long twitter lasts is anyone's guess, but I did like this topic, so I will post my gay crushes. They move from generally funny in my tummy feelings, to my first real drop dead famous crush.

Although there were two grade school crushes I had, Devon Martin and Bruce Chauncey. And two high school crushes that consumed me for a while. I can't remember there names

Here I couldn't find a great example. But I remember the earliest shaving commercials and there was always a shirtless man in a towel shaving. I tried to tie my towel like that forever.

The Blond Russian in The Man From Uncle was a favorite of mine in elementary school. I thought he was dreamy and Devon and I played Man From Uncle all the time.

My first "Oh my god. I am really gay" moment came with Fredrick Honeychurch - one young Mr. Rupert Graves whom I still am in love with. And we are nearly the same age. I've seen him in movies, theater and in person. He has stayed my favorite.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fine Young Cannibals

 Not just a music video star any longer.. (posted early for your Monday enjoyment)

Nice headline. And funny.

You see Armie Hammer was accused of being a cannibal by an ex-girlfriend. He wasn't. He just had fuckin' weird ass sexual fantasies, but they were published. Seriously, I don't want my fantasies published. And neither does Holger Rune. Or Brad Pitt. Or Rupert Graves. But I digress.

And young Timothee Chalamet just starred in a Gen-Z straight rom-com cannibal road trip movie. (Bones and All)

The Fine Young Cannibals were better:

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Yeah, WE'RE the problem

Presented in order as seen today... (read to the bottom) 

(uploaded Saturday for the official Holy Day publish)


Saturday, November 19, 2022

Welcome to Crazy Town

So, the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives. The People's House, the People's body.

Now, these Republican House members campaigned on:

  1. Gas costs too much
  2. Inflation is too high
  3. Cities are hellscapes of crime
  4. Crime is coming for the rural areas
  5. Biden opened the southern border to Mexicans

So clearly, that will be their focus, right?

Not so much....

Per the Washington Post

Wednesday evening, Republicans formally won control of the House.

Thursday morning, in the first public act of the new majority, senior House Republicans revealed their most urgent priority: They would investigate Hunter Biden.

The incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the incoming chairman of the Oversight Committee, James Comer (R-Ky.), and about 10 other members of the brand-new majority walked into the House TV studio first thing Thursday to announce multiple probes into the president’s son.

“Hunter Biden was conducting business with suspected human traffickers,” they asserted, and “Hunter Biden and Joe Biden were involved in a scheme to try to get China to buy liquefied natural gas,” and “credit cards and bank accounts of Hunter and Joe Biden were commingled,” and “Hunter wanted keys made for Joe Biden” to his office. They mentioned Hunter two dozen times in their opening statements alone.

Is Hunter Biden a douch and possibly a criminal? Yes. Worse than Don Jr., Invanka, or Eric Trump? God no. Did the Democrats run endless investigations into the Trump children, who were actually employed in the White House? No. (Corollary: Did Hunter Biden ever work in the White House? No.)

But their focus on Hunter Biden is a ruse designed to distract that they have no plans. The Republicans did not, actually, express any other action on their political promises.

Trump successfully "Runs out the Clock" ... again

 I am not sure that the phrase Running out the Clock, means anything to non-Americans.

Here it was a sports metaphor that indicates one team is ahead, and not trying to score or even produce more offense now, just keep it at the present level (when you're winning) until time runs out. In politics, it means stretching out an investigation until the conditions change.

Trump has been and still is trying to run out the clock in nearly any investigation. This has worked for him in the following national cases:

- Congress exercising oversight to get his tax returns. It has been 4 year since the House of Representatives legally requested them. Now, four years later, that the House has returned to Republican hands, the request will die. (one for his side) BTW - why did it take more than 4 years to get a legal request?

- Results of the January 6th Committee. Again, he and his autocratic cronies stonewalled the proceedings enough that it looks drug out and politically motivated. Instead of motivated by, you know, the desire to keep our democracy alive. But with a Republican Congress, they have already indicated the end of the Committee. In fact, the Republicans have promised an "investigation" of the investigation.

- Review of his Hotel's grifting off the Military and foreign Governments. He delayed it long enough to sell the hotel.

- And now the delay of the Attorney General's Investigate into the crime of fucking insurrection!. The Attorney General had from Jan 2021 - September of 2022 to charge Trump with a crime. There is more than enough evidence. But the unofficial "rules" say the Justice Department shouldn't do anything remotely political with 60 days of an election. The on - then off charging and then clearing of Hillary Clinton in the last 21 days of the election cycle in 2016 just reinforced this "rule" because it totally fucked her campaign. 

And so the entire investigation starts over. I mean, you can't charge an ex-President unless you doubled check everything.

By slow walking the investigation of crimes, but hard-core Trump defenders and a (too) methodical Attorney General pushed the investigation into that 60 day period. AND then, you can't have a declared candidate investigated by the current administration. Of course, he announced a run for President. It was the only way to push the investigation out, whether or not he decides to run.

Her's smart and Merit Garland is an idiot (okay - if it all changes in less than a year I take it all back).

Stoic For the Week: My Mother's Words and later Actions

I am leaving for a week in England. With Ed. I mean I am not bugging out on my own. This is no North Macedonia excursion.

But that means no "Daily Stoic" for me. I looked for a general purpose great meditation for the week, and I came across a few, but instead I have chosen a real world example by my mother. Let me share a story...

When I went crazy during my year at USC, I spent time with my Mom and Danny (one might say I ran away to Hawaii - but that is a wee bit too blunt). 

Highlights of the tour: Kailua (where they lived), The North Shore (there are only those massive waves a few times a year), Diamond Head, Pali lookout, Pineapple farms

Anway, my mom picked me up from the airport and took me on a tour... we saw the entire island, she drove me around the place on day 1. it was gorgeous.

And then she said, in a slightly hysterical voice as we descended back towards the airport, "That's it. That's the whole fucking island!"

This is not appreciating the moment. She was a little stir-crazy.

But she settled down, got a job with the Census and generally liked exploring the nooks and crannies of the island. Her biggest complaint - island fever - resolved itself once she accept that she had to enjoy her life in a tropical paradise. 

The Stoic would say there was nothing inherently good or bad about the island. Only how one acts on that information. When railing against the universe, it was a bad experience. When accepted and acted on accordingly, it was a good experience.

PS - yes, we all know she was nuts - it is fucking paradise. She admits this fully.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Quechee Gorge : "The Grand Canyon of Vermont"

 Okay, I will say this about the Grand Canyon of Vermont. It is very cute, but I don't know if I would say "Grand Canyon". Quechee Gorge is lovely and deep. And I think it has hiking trails down to the bottom.

However, anywhere where the "viewpoint" is off a fenced in bridge feels a little less than grand. Anywho, it is below:

Looking East

Looking West (with the bridge shadow in view)

The Vanderbilt House

When Ed, Lynn and I went up to Hudson a while back, we stopped on the way back at the old Vanderbilt Mansion. As it turns out, it was very interesting.

One of the interesting things is that this house, a summer and week-end residence, was primarily placed here in order to support an assortment of trees and plants. the owner actually bought up extra land so that he could save more of the place.

After the deaths of a few of the Vanderbilts and other owners, it was given to the the National Park Service. Roosevelt, who lived next door, did not want to take it, but he wanted to ensure the land was protected, so they finally agreed. And now it is the only "stately" home in the National Park Service.

Anyway, I took some pictures.

Service Stairs (for the help only)

Okay I LOVE this office / library

You know, just a sitting room with fireplace statues touching themselves.

Entrance, kind of screams "Don't screw with me", right?

About sums it up