An analogy

Jul. 16th, 2017 10:24 am
I've been formulating this analogy in my mind lately. It still needs some work, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

An alcoholic regularly gets drunk and drives home. Most of the time, nothing happens. Occasionally, the drunk is involved in some kind of mishap that only affects their own property (dings to the car, dents to the mailbox, etc.) One night, the drunk hits another car, killing one adult and one child, leaving the remainder of the family alive but in emotional agony and financial ruin. After sobering up, the drunk tearfully exclaims "I didn't mean to hurt anyone" and begs for forgiveness.

This is how I feel about people who register & vote Republican or who attend churches who get involved in civil matters (such as whether same sex marriage should be recognized by the government). Sure, if you asked some of those people, they would say that they personally don't agree with the Republican party or their church on those things. But, to me, they are like the drunk who didn't plan to hurt anyone. They support (through their time, money, and presence) organizations that do harm to others.


May. 29th, 2017 08:46 am
When out walking the dog this morning, I saw a car with a bumper sticker that read "Keep Oregon Weird" on a car with Kansas license plates.

Were they saying that they wanted to keep all the weird people in Oregon to keep Kansas safe from having to think outside their narrow ideas? Were they Oreganos* forced to live in Kansas for a while, and wanted to keep their hopes alive of the Oregon they loved?

* I'm on a one person crusade to have people from Oregon called "Oreganos" rather than "Oregonians". I think "Oregonian" sounds weird, and "Oregano" is a yummy herb. Besides, people pronounce the one word "Ore-E-Go-Knee-Un", but we don't pronounce the state "Ore-E-Go-n", so actually "Oregano" is closer to how one pronounces the state name.
I often walk by this one house. There is a "Beware of dog" sign on their fence.

They have two dogs. Which one am I supposed to beware of?
Australia has some cool ads going for marriage equality under the slogan "Until We All Belong", sponsored by some major corporations, including Air BnB.

One fund raiser is an "acceptance ring" that looks like a wedding ring, but has a 2mm gap to symbolize that not everyone can get married.

There is more info, and some heart wrenching stories here.

Me, too

Apr. 7th, 2017 09:10 am
Just like many other folks, I'm outta here. Not that I ever posted anything that would be an issue, but given the issues with LJ recently, and the new user agreement that binds people around the world to Russian standards, no thanks.

FWIW, I've created a dreamwidth account, and I'll try to find people there. I've also got a G+ account under my actual name (gasp!).
I've known that I'm colorblind (as most people would say) since the age of 15 when I was doing things along with all the other 15 year olds in my high school to get a learner's permit to drive. I can still remember how embarrassed I was when the instructor said -- in what seemed like a very loud voice -- that I shouldn't worry about being colorblind, just remember that the red light is at the top and the green light is at the bottom. It had never occurred to me until that moment that my vision was so very different from others.

Don't get me wrong: I knew that I didn't see colors as well as others. That had been obvious for most of my life, when they would not understand which car I meant when I said the dark brown car. But, that just led to me using different terminology to discuss things. For example, I would never refer to something by color, but rather by location or size or whatever. But I never would have imagined that someone would think I wouldn't be able to tell a red traffic light from a green traffic light!

My color deficiency bothered me quite a bit for many years, but over time, I've come to terms with it, and even embrace it in much the same way that being gay means that I'm subjected to discrimination and hate, but it also brings with it some real joys. I'm not talking about Mark here (although that is one of the nice side-benefits of being gay). I'm talking about really understanding that folks are different. When I was a straight white middle class male, I was part of the privileged majority. I took a lot of things for granted. Coming out and being hated just for being gay taught me a small portion of what other minority folks have felt for years. I still have no idea of what it must feel like to be a woman trying to make it in a computer company where some people will discount her work simply because she's a woman, or how it really feels to be a young black man targeted by the cops. But, I do know the fear of walking down a street not knowing if the car slowing down is full of people ready to jump out and beat me up or just to ask directions, or the knowledge that some people hate me and would be happy if that carload of people did jump out and assault me. That's something my brothers or male cousins have no knowledge of. It's easier for me to empathize with minorities because of being gay and what I've gone through.

Similarly, I've known most of my life that I see things differently in a real physical sense. This has made me more aware that others also probably see the world differently from each other. And knowing that people see things differently in a purely physical sense makes it easier to really believe that people "see" the world differently because of different perceptions or expectations or background. I think that it is all too easy for those who are "normal" to believe that others perceive/see/think the way that they do.

All this has come up recently because I just learned about a company that makes expensive sunglasses that purportedly help "colorblind" people better distinguish colors. And now I find myself very torn about whether or not I should spend that money. I wonder if this is how deaf people feel when thinking about cochlear implants: is missing out on colors really so important that I should spend money on it? Is this just a way to make money by making people feel like they are missing out? I've lived my life seeing things the way that I do, and basically doing just fine. Would my life be substantially enhanced by seeing more colors when outside (they are talking about also doing indoor glasses, but for now, it's mostly just for outdoors)? Is being closer to normal really something that I want to strive for?

I do think that if I were much younger, then I would get the sunglasses; I would probably enjoy seeing colors for many years (and yes, I do see the irony of saying that it was good to really understand that everyone sees things differently when wearing such glasses as a child might have kept me from learning that). But, at my age? Will my life really be enhanced by seeing a red flag waving 100 yards away, when now it only jumps out at me when I get closer?

In case you aren't sure, I'll answer the subject question for you: No, you don't see what I see. And you probably don't see what anyone else sees, either.

I know I'm in the minority as I actually listen to song lyrics (really, Mom? You think Tennessee Waltz is a sweet song??), but I did find some of the songs played during a recent wedding reception I attended as a bit inappropriate.

Here are a couple that I remember being played:

"I knew the bride when she used to rock & roll", which is comes across as a sad story about how a fun woman has chosen a boring life giving up on fun and contains lines like:

Well, take a look at the bridegroom smilin' pleased as pie
Shakin' hands all around with a glassy look in his eye
He got a real good job and his shirt and tie is nice
But I remember a time when she never would have looked at him twice

And "Need you now" which is basically a drunk dialing song:

Another shot of whiskey, can't stop looking at the door.
Wishing you'd come sweeping in the way you did before.

And I wonder if I ever cross your mind?
For me it happens all the time.

Don't get me wrong. I actually like those songs, I just don't think that they're appropriate during a wedding reception.

After much thought & deliberation, we decided to get married in our home state. We drove to Yreka and had a delightful experience. Everyone at the County Clerk's office was very friendly and helpful, and went out of their way to make it a good experience for us. Due to a bit of confusion at the last minute, not everything was signed after the ceremony, and we didn't find out until we got back home & heard the message on the answering machine. So, we had to go back to Yreka to finish off the minor details. When we did, however, we discovered that the nice people at the County Clerk's office had tried to catch us at the County Recorder's office (in case we went there to order a copy of the marriage certificate). The woman who actually performed the ceremony also gave us a copy of what she read so that we would have it to take with us.

When we did finally get to the County Recorder's office, practically the first words from the nice people there were "Did you get everything signed?". And the next words were "Congratulations".

These people could have all stuck to the letter of the law and to their strict job descriptions, but they actually put effort into trying to help us and wish us well. It's the small things they did that really helped make this a great experience for us, and I'm grateful to the kind folks of Yreka.

So far, the only real difference I've noticed is that I used to refer to Mark's parents as my "mother-out-law" and my "father-out-law", but now I have to remember to say "in-law". That may take a while to get used to. They've been my out-laws for a long time!
I'm too lazy to search for it, but there should be a scientific study of when people stop making rational decisions. I'm not talking about when people go senile or get to a certain stage of Alzheimer's. I'm talking about people who should be able to make decisions making completely bad decisions.

Example 1: at what age does someone decide that wearing sweat pants out in public (to a restaurant!) is OK? Older people do this all the time. These are the same folks who wouldn't wear jeans and who would wear a tie (or other nice clothes) to work all the time. But at some age, they decide that it's OK to wear sweat pants to a public place.

Example 2: at what age does someone decide that it's more important to them to be seen walking than to use a wheelchair in an airport, when it takes said person more time than a typical lay-over to get from arrival gate to departure gate? One person in particular has used glasses all his life, and using that "tool" is fine. But somehow using a wheelchair isn't?

I'm really curious about this stuff, because it really seems that people in their 70s start making really bad decisions that they wouldn't have made when they were in their 50s. How many more years do I have left before I start making these bad decisions?
In the song "They say it's wonderful", Frank Butler sings:

And to hold a man in your arms
Is wonderful, wonderful
In every way

Just how would he know???


Nov. 13th, 2012 11:14 am
Sometimes Dan Savage's ideas just blow me away. Here is a tumblr with folks showing the straight allies who helped in the recent elections. It makes me feel so good to see all these entries!
I gave up on FaceBook a while back, but here's something for anyone who's still on there to consider: On Leaving Facebook.
This column needs a lot more visibility. This shows what technology can do and how it can help people.
I just found out about "Ask a Mortician". Check out the videos here.
Recently, I've received several phishing/spam emails about a problem with a direct deposit check. While the subject somewhat hints at the whole issue, the body of the email just contains a bunch of letters/numbers and a hypertext link, nothing else.

In my day, people generally put some effort into their work, at least trying to do a good job, attempting to make the body of the email look like it was from some official bank -- with words and a fake .sig and stuff like that to encourage the receiver to believe that there was some problem and therefore really should click on the link to resolve the problem. Apparently some people have just given up and are OK with just doing a crap job. That just makes me sad.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how the way we identify ourselves changes over time. When you're a little kid, you self-identify like this: My name is Timmy, I'm 4 years old. Later on in life, it becomes "Hi, I'm Tim. I'm a computer science major", or "I'm Mark's partner".

As time goes on, some of the things I use to describe myself are still true, but they aren't the things that I want to emphasize anymore. Some of them, though, just aren't true anymore because I've left that part of my life behind (really, I'm not still 4, and if I were, I wouldn't admit it because you have to be older than that to have an account on most social sites).

I've been thinking a lot about whether a few of the ways that I identify myself are part of the things that I'm just not emphasizing right now, and which are things that belong in my past. Working with emergency responders via CERT has been a focus of mine for a while, but for several reasons, I'm just not as involved with it as I used to be. Square dancing was an important part of my life for many years, but it's nearly impossible to keep at it with my current situation. Should I relegate those identities to the past? Are they "things that are true that I no longer emphasize", or are they "things that were once true, but not anymore"?
You know what would make a Mac laptop even better?

If the glowy Apple logo were visible to the person using the laptop. They did the forward/backwards facing cameras in the new iPad, why not forwards/backwards glowy Apple logos on the new laptops?
It's amazing to me, but there's actually a sitcom on TV that I'm enjoying (so far). It's Happy Endings, dealing with a group of friends. I've only watched 3 shows, but they were actually funny, and somewhat clever. There were some great current cultural references (in one show, they're at a gallery opening, one of the guys is embarrassed by something and says "I'm going to exit through the gift shop" (see here).

I think this is the first non-PBS show that I'm making an effort to watch since I gave up CSI about 5 years ago.
My brother is getting married soon, and he's been posting stuff about the wedding. Recently they picked up the marriage license.

All this has left me with the opposite of schadenfreude -- I'm feeling a bit of sadness at the good fortune that he has right now. I'm not jealous and certainly don't want him to be unhappy or to refrain from broadcasting his joy to the world (the world needs more joy). I'm just feeling a bit sad that I can't easily get a marriage license, and that even if I went through the efforts to get a marriage license, I'd have to deal with a large number of complications (some of which I have to deal with anyway) because some organizations would recognize my marriage and others wouldn't.

I keep reminding myself that I've been lucky enough to be with someone I love who loves and supports me, and that has been going on for 25 years. This is his third marriage. I wouldn't dream of trading places with him.
I read the following in "The Bards of Bone Plain" by Patricia McKillip, and it perfectly describes how I feel when I have to write some kind of document:

He gazed intensely at a sheet of paper, breath suspended, a word on the quivering point of his pen poised and ready to fall. [...] He forced the pen in his tight grip a hairsbreadth closer to the paper so that the word stubbornly clinging to it might yield finally, flow onto the vast emptiness. Point and paper met. Kissed. Froze.