Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA Bites the Dust

I am not gay, I don't have many gay friends. What I am is a firm believer in equality.

The Supreme Court has just handed down a decision where gay married couples are entitled to the same benefits as straight married couples. Seems so simple doesn't it?

The Court has not said gay marriage should be the law of the land. That is a battle which continues state by state. What it does mean, is for gay couples already married, they have the same rights as straight couples for over 1100 provisions of Federal law. They can file joint tax returns, they are now considered next-of-kin... they are really equal.

I have tears in my eyes as I write this. In particular, I am thinking at the senior gay couples, who had waited for 20, 30, even 40 years for the right to marry, and are now allowed to make all decisions for their spouses health, living conditions and burial. Now too, they can receive Social Security benefits and inherit an estate with the same taxation as a straight couple.

The fight for marriage equality is not over. Same sex marriage is still not accepted in far too much of the country. I hope before too long, many of the senior gay couples will be granted the opportunity to marry. What bothers me the most is how great the inequality becomes when sickness is involved.

Too many times other family members are able to take control of the life decisions of an incapacitated relative, even someone with whom they had no contact for most of their lives. Can you imagine living with someone for your entire adult life and being barred from their hospital room during their last days.  Slowly, state by state this scene can no longer occur.

Now the Court has ruled on Prop 8 as well. It is a good day for equality.
It is a good day for America.

Friday, June 21, 2013

This is Not How I Get Down and Dirty

So who subscribes to Amazon's daily local deals? If you don't, it's like Groupon where every day they email you the deals of the day.

Some of them are great, we actually found a new good local restaurant and ate at half price while doing it. I've shopped in a kitchen store and bought stuff I didn't need because I bought a coupon for $20 and got $40 worth of said stuff. And I have a coupon for a wine tasting that I am waiting to redeem sometime next month. Fun.

Then there's also the toe fungus offers, the spa offers, the gutter cleanings and on and on. I'm still thinking about the Cupcake tour in NYC. A two hour tour with six tastings. Now cupcakes are an almost perfect food. So many varieties from which to choose, and an ideal sized dessert... or meal. Whatever. But six tastings in two hours? Even for my sugar addicted body, that might be a bit much.

The latest offer is one which doesn't have a chance in hell of being purchased. For $29, I can register in the Out-Fit Challenge Mud Run. Are you freakin' kidding me? I need to pay to run a 5K race with military-style obstacles, which includes mud, water, ice and fire. Now this is scheduled for next weekend so the ice thing seems a little weird. Fire and mud however, are deal breakers. Ok, so is the 5K part.

Here are a few of the selling points:

  • Costumes encouraged, but expect to get those costumes dirty
  • Look out for obstacles like the "Cherry Picker" and "Hello Sailor"
  • Meet new friends and the Muddy Go-Go Boy
Did I mention it is the first national LGBT mud run? That might have something to do with the sailors and costumes, but I digress.

Now I have some tentative plans for next weekend, but even if I didn't, almost anything, including giving the dog a bath sounds better than a mud run. Especially when you need to pay an insurance fee, which they give back to you... if you don't have a reason to need it.

Guess, I'll go back and see what other coupons are being offered. Oh look, two hours of house-cleaning for $35. For an extra six bucks, I get a clean house, I don't have to run a 5K and there's no mud involved. I think we have a winner.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day One Year Later, Minus My Father

It's just over ten months ago that I lost my father. In the end he didn't suffer as much as many with the same disease do. However the four months of his illness were ones I wish none of in the family had to endure. I'll probably write about my dad when the anniversary of his death comes in August, so for Father's Day I'm re-posting last year's, when we knew he wouldn't be with us much longer.

To all of you lucky enough to have your dad, if you are a woman or a man... hug him, kiss him and tell him you love him. For you are blessed.

Reposted from June 17, 2012

I've spent a lot of Father's Days with my dad. Unless there is a miracle in the making...this one will be the last.

So today, I'm just going to relive a few memories with my dad. In no particular order...

Family Vacations: When we were real young, we would drive to Florida every year. Along the way, we stopped at various tourist attractions. His favorites... serpentariums. A zoo for snakes and other vile things like them. He loved it. For years I thought my brother did too. Apparently he did not. Funny how it took 40 years for us to figure out those little detours were my dad's way of paying us back for being pains in the ass.

We all loved to swim, a motel with a pool was a must. Finally getting to the ocean, while staying at a motel with a pool...was heaven. He never grew tired of playing chicken with us or pulling me across the pool as I held onto his swim trunks.

There were countless museums, which we all enjoyed...learning was fun. There were the games in the car, these were the ways before video games, so keeping the kids occupied was a necessity on a 1300+ mile trip. The many hours looking for the South of the Border signs. anyone who has driven down from North Carolina to South Carolina knows about this...and most likely did the same.

Halloween: Over the years, Halloween was less and less important, but as a little kid I remember my father had a really large black rubber glove...kind of a big monster's hand. When kids would come to the door trick or treating, he would stick the hand from behind the door and scare the shit out of the kids. Today, he would probably be sued for his behavior, but as a kid back was way cool.

The Twist: Remember the old Chubby Checker song, well he did enjoy it. There was one Sunday morning when Chubby was on a TV show singing it. Well dad was busy dancing in the living room, while the bacon he was cooking in the kitchen, burned to a crisp. This story is legend in our family.

The Guitar: My dad had a guitar when I was little. He didn't play it very well or very often. But there were a few songs he knew, and once in a while he would sing to me. My favorite: Jamaica Farewell, the old Harry Belafonte song. To this day, I tear up when I hear it.

Eating: The man once lived for it. It is now such a struggle to get him to eat, someone in the family makes it their business to be at two of his three meals at the nursing home, to encourage him. But not too long ago, especially at family dinners, he would sit, at the head of the table, and just eat...never join in the conversation.  If he was talking, he couldn't be eating. Hell, he could talk to us anytime...but food was only served at specific times. He savored every bite, especially desserts. Even now, he will eat dessert...I think he feels it is his duty. So we let him have as many as he wants. Any extra calories are welcomed at this point.

His Eyes: So blue, so clear and so full of pride as he looked as his family. From my brother and I, to my dear sister-in-law who has always treated my parents as she did her own, to his beloved granddaughter- the one person to make his eyes smile, to my other half and to his extended grandson, to my mother...his reason for living, those eyes looked at all of us with more love and pride than one would think possible. Those are also the eyes that now show fear and lack of focus.

Later today I will go to the nursing home for a visit. What his condition will be when I get there is anyone's guess. But I will take the moment for what it is...another memory to hold onto.

If you still have your dad, don't hold back from telling him you love him. I make sure it's the last thing I say to him when I leave each night, because in my case, it might be the last chance I get to say it.

Happy Father's Day.

Love you Pops.


Friday, June 7, 2013

An Ode to a Donut (or Doughnut if you prefer)

Today is National Donut Day. I will use that spelling just because it's easier to type. We all know how annoying it is to type GH's.

Anyway, today we pay homage to possibly one of the greatest pastry concoctions of all time. Just think of them for a minute. The varieties are endless. You start with your basic Old-Fashioned and go from there. Glazed, Bavarian Cream, Cinnamon, Powdered Sugar, Chocolate Covered... (CHOCOLATE COVERED!!!), Chocolate Iced, Vanilla Iced with sprinkles. And that doesn't even scratch the surface.

But for me, one donut stands above all others. Within this one type of donut there are also many possible varieties. For me, nothing can compare to a Jelly donut. Raspberry jelly preferably, although I'd never throw a strawberry out the window. Now with a Jelly donut you can go with powdered sugar, granulated sugar or dare I say it... glazed. Yes, the best possible donut in the whole world combines two pretty-much-perfect-on-their-own varieties: Jelly and Glazed. It's a freakin' no-brainer.

As a kid, every Saturday morning we were allowed donuts for breakfast. In that, we have combined a perfect food with a perfect morning. To this day, on many Saturdays you can find remnants of powdered sugar around my mouth and a smile on my face.

So on this day where the entire country honors a scrumptious ball of fried dough and sugar, I say grab yourself a cold glass of milk, the donut of your choice, and savor every bite of it.

Then have another.


Monday, June 3, 2013

And Then She Asked: Did You Hear What Michael Douglas Said?

Today I needed to take my mother to run a quick errand, no big deal. Very uneventful, very mundane... until.

Photo by David Azia
Until she decided to talk to me about Michael Douglas getting throat cancer from oral sex. OK, let's back up. My mother is 83 years old. My mother never talked to me about sex when I was a kid, today she's all chatty about not just any kind of sex, but yes, a little cunnilingus. Awkward, ya think much?

Just for the record, my mother does not care whether or not Mr. Douglas was dining at the Y. Her problem was with whether he got it from his wife, and if he did... why would he tell the world about it. And if he didn't get it from his wife... well that's another story isn't it?

I did my best to keep the conversation as close to the basics as I could, and used the advice of my bestie who always says "less is best." I figured she had her mind made up as to what she was gonna say, and all I could think of was the line from Animal House when John Belushi is ranting about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor

Yep, forget it, she was rolling.

The quarter mile ride home was like being in the Indy 500, without the speed. It took forever and we went around in circles.

So I just wanted to send a quick thank you to Michael Douglas for the opportunity to spend a few minutes having an in-depth talk with my mother on a topic which rarely makes it into an everyday conversation with friends.

But as usual, Mom was right. Mr Douglas, why would you discuss this in public? Something about this just smells a little ...fishy.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Oklahoma, Where the Wind Comes Whipping Down the Plain

We got up to the lake without battling too much Friday traffic. After having something to eat, I settled down to catch up on all the online stuff, and to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game. Now after losing four straight games to the nearly last place Mets, I was hoping for a little redemption by kicking some Boston ass.

Not much later I began to see the tweets coming out of the Midwest. Tornado warnings, flash flood warnings, and much of it was centered over Oklahoma, more specifically, not too far from Moore, site of the mass devastation less than two weeks ago. More and more, the tweets took on an ominous feel. I turned off the game and put on The Weather Channel. Word was coming across that one of their vans, with the crew inside, was picked up by one of the three tornadoes currently on the ground, and was thrown 200 yards into a field. The distance was later revised to 200 feet, but does it really make a difference? When they showed the van, I thought it had been a car... that's how flattened the roof had become.

The crew all survived, battered and bruised, but alive. A mother and child trapped in their car, were not as fortunate. As of this morning, there are five dead, and after watching the footage of the tornado clouds forming, and hearing the reports from the stormchasers, I can't believe the count is not higher Some areas received 11 inches of rain creating flash flooding.

Why Oklahoma has been chosen as the official poster child of this year's tornado season, is not something to which any of us have an answer. And while the rest of us will go through this first day of June enjoying a weekend full of enjoyment, so many people in the Midwest will be trying to pick up their lives.

As many of you know, I write a couple of columns a week over at sprocketink,com. It's a site where we take the news of the day and give it a sarcastic, snarky spin. After the Moore tornado, one of the founders of the site wrote about it. However it wasn't sarcastic, it wasn't snarky. What it was, was a first-hand account of someone living 25 miles away from Moore. It's very worth your time to take a read.

It's called Crutches and read it here:

Now spend a minute or two of your day holding some good thoughts for a lot of good people who seem to be caught on nature's Merry-Go-Round, and be thankful you're not riding on it too..