Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Oreo Truffles

I got this recipe from my mother's boyfriend tonight. Although I haven't made them (yet), they sure look easy to make. Here's how:

1 package oreo cookies
1 package cream cheese
1 package chocolate flavored almond bark/candy coating (he used 2 large Hershey bars & 3/4 of a bar of parafin but that made enough to dip these and peanut butter balls)

Set out your cream cheese to soften (one to two hours). Place the entire package of oreos in the food processor and grind them up (about the consistency of sand). Add the softened cream cheese and mix. Refridgerate until hard. Melt your almond bark. Roll oreo mixture into balls and dip in coating. Let cool. Store in fridge.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Catching Up

You just have to love New York City! Even when everything is whizzing by at break-neck speed, there is still so much to experience here; especially those unexpected moments when you find something ordinary and yet, not so ordinary: like these Santas on the subway.

Anyways, I've been experiencing my own busy-ness lately, hopefully I can give a general what's going on with me summary and bring you up to speed with what is going on, both personally and things I am thinking. I realize I haven't posted anything of significance in a long time, mostly tip-bits of happenings. Most of that has been out of a unique fear that more church folks would stumble upon my blog during my interview process and thereby getting me into more trouble. ;) However, upon further conversations with the new church, they said, "Sure, you've written some very odd things; just do us a favor and don't link your personal blog to the new church website." Laughing to myself thinking, "You can be sure of that!", I'll continue having my thoughts and odd interpretations of those thoughts on here (with just less juvenile humor).

Anyways, let me bring you up to 'snuff, so to speak. For starters, almost everyone I know now knows that I have been called as the new pastor at church in New Jersey. I preached my candidating sermon last Sunday morning and was voted in unanimously as their new pastor. I will begin my duties next month on January 15th. Last Sunday, I told the church where I am now serving and this week I have composed a letter to the church's members and friends informing them of my new job. Also, since I am leaving, I have been transitioning my duties to the Interim Pastor (and church secretary on occasion). Mostly this means I have been telling them what I do, transferring files to the Interim Pastor's computer, teaching them how to update the website, and preparing a manuel of operations to leave behind. I've been getting home late just about every night last week and this week. I've been busy for sure.

But that doesn't mean I haven't taken some time to play. On Tuesday, I went to see an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre production at CityCenter. The Alvin Ailey folks are a modern dance ballet company founded in the 1970s. They put on incredible dance shows that affect a person very different from traditional ballet. Powerful, yet graceful- fun, yet intense. I'd recommend seeing them; they travel often and if you're reading this in a major metropolitan city other than New York City, chances are good they'll be coming to your town soon.

In other news, New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority, the folks who run the subways and buses are negotiating for a better contract. There was a huge threat that they would strike last night at midnight; I woke up expecting to either take a cab into work or work from home today. Fortunately, there is no strike just yet- but negotiations are no where near completion. The thought of a mass transit strike has gripped the city in fear- it'll practically shut down the city. Everyday 7 million people take mass transit in and throughout the city. That's 7 MILLION people. Can you imagine what'll happen if the buses and trains stop running...and during the Christmas season no less. Everyone here realizes the scare and we're just waiting and waiting..

The weather here has been a bit nippy (to say the least). These are thermal underwear days for sure. However, it's been raining a warm rain all night- from the look of things, the snow has all melted away (from the snow storm last week). It's supposed to be a fairly nice weekend coming up- hopefully if there is no transit strike, I'll get my Christmas shopping completed. I have quite a bit left to do.

I am going home to Oklahoma December 26th through January 4th. It'll be a longer Christmas vacation than I've had in quite sometime. I am looking forward to spending time with my family. When I return, I'll have to hit the ground running. As I'll be moving to New Jersey the week of January 9th, I'll need to finish packing and organizing my stuff as well as prepare a sermon for January 15th, my first Sunday at my new parish.

Okay, this is basically what I've been up to this week. I'll write more later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I sure to love a great quote when I see it

Here is a quote that accompanied a friend's email to me just now:

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's
character, give him power.
– Abraham Lincoln


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Guess What?

I got the church job in Cresskill! Woo-hoo! It was a unanimous vote and all of today's and my yesterday's activities went great. I am excited AND tired AND elated AND sleepy AND thrilled beyond words AND spent. What a great mix of feelings and emotions.

I think I'll take a nap now. ;)

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Latte Factor

By Linda Stern
Wed Dec 7,12:31 PM ET

If you've read it once, you've read it a dozen times: Cut out those daily lattes if you want to save enough for retirement.

The so-called "latte factor" is so widely used in this context that it's now in dictionaries, defined as "seemingly insignificant daily purchases that add up to a significant amount of money over time."

That is certainly true. But it's a little preachy, too, isn't it? Aren't you grown up enough to figure out how much you can and should spend on your morning cuppa?

You probably already know it's smart to brew your own and bank the savings. But sometimes (here comes the heresy) that caramel macchiato, enjoyed with friends, is worth more than $5 in the bank, isn't it?

What would really help are some big money savings: Tips for trimming your expenses in ways that you might not know about and that would save you far more than the price of a cup of coffee.

Go here to read a list of cost-saving opportunities.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It was the kiss of death

New York Daily News
by Derek Rose

A 15-year-old Canadian girl with a peanut allergy died last week after smooching with her boyfriend, who had just eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Christina Desforges died in a Quebec hospital on Wednesday after doctors were unable to revive her, hospital officials said yesterday.

She went into anaphylactic shock last weekend, after the kiss, and was almost immediately given a shot of adrenaline, but it was too late.

"It's a very sad event," Chicoutimi school official Michel Cloutier told the Edmonton Journal. Her classmates "are feeling emotional and we had them meet with a psychologist."

Peanut allergies account for 50 to 100 deaths annually in the United States, said Dr. Jonathan Field, director of the pediatric allergy and asthma clinic at NYU and Bellevue medical centers.

"I wish I could say it's shocking, but we do hear cases of it," he said. "We've had it from mouth-to-mouth contact, or even eating off a surface with peanut residue. It can be minute, minute quantities."

As many as 1 in 200 Americans have a peanut or tree nut allergy, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Severe allergic reactions can develop quickly and without warning.

A White House Blog?

I read this description this morning as I was reading my weekly WXPNews e-newsletter:

If you like to keep up with what's going on with the current administration, now you can subscribe to RSS feeds directly from the White House to get instant access to press briefings, presidential news and speeches. You can even get audio files of the president's weekly radio address. With RSS (Real Simple Syndication), you're notified immediately when new content is available. Just go to:

Friday, November 25, 2005

When an asterisk needs to follow a statement

This week the United Methodists issued three unique rulings that pretty much proclaim their intolerance for anything gay related. In one ruling, they defrocked an openly lesbian minister because she "revealed" that she's been in a long term relationship with another woman.

In another ruling two pro-gay churches who issues pro-gay resolutions were officially admonished by the methodist church for the positions.

Lastly, a church pastor was acquitted of charges when he refused membership to an openly gay parishioner. The pastor's bishop had him suspended but the church court reinstated him.

I mention these points because of the commercial from the United Methodist Church that invites people to its churches with this tagline:

Open hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors. The United Methodist Church welcomes everyone.

I think they need to place an asterisk after everyone*. And then say, * unless you're gay and then you're not welcome here. At least they'd be more honest.

You can read one version of the whole story here.

What a Parsonage!

Today I spent the afternoon checking out the church where I am in the process of candidating. As most folks who know me already know, I am candidating at a church in New Jersey, just outside of New York City. A couple of weeks ago, the church's search committee voted unanimously to recommend me to the congregation as their pastoral selection. I will be preaching my candidating sermon on Sunday, December 11th.

Anyways, there are a lot of logistical things that need to be done between now and then. One of those things is checking out the parsonage, another is finding a car, and yet another is working on my final call contract. In some ways it seems like there is so much to do; in other ways it seems to be all flying along very quickly (although I think that latter feeling has more to do with my age). ;)

Anyways, today I went out to the church to check out the parsonage. Wow! It is beautiful and big. Moving from my small 1 bedroom apartment into a 2-story farmhouse will take quite some getting used to. The house has new siding and a new roof. Inside, there is a finished basement, a lovely first floor with a new kitchen and fireplace, and the second floor has three bedrooms laid out in this very conveniently accessible way that almost links all three together, and yet doesn't. I am sure that makes absolutely no sense.

Also, a funny thing happened today when I went to test drive a vehicle with one of the search committee members. As it happened, I took a used Jeep Cherokee for a drive. Unfortunately, I needed to fill it up with gas before going on the test drive. Giving the attendant the refill coupon from the dealer, I preceeded to turn on the ignition when nothing happened. The car wouldn't start. We had to leave the vehicle at the gas station and walk back to the dealer down the street. Crazy, right?

Anyways, the day went very well and I am very excited about my new future, assuming I get the job of course. Woo-hoo! (I've taken to saying "Woo-hoo!" alot lately, both in writing and in person).

Great Quote

A friend sent me an email just now and has one of those email programs that attaches nifty quote tags on the bottom of his email. Here is the quote that was attached to his email:

Literature encourages tolerance - bigots and fanatics seldom have any use for the arts, because they're so preoccupied with their beliefs and actions that they can't see them also as possibilities.
- Northrop Frye, writer (1912-1991)

Friday, November 18, 2005

When juvenille humor gets a fella in trouble

If you read this blog regularly you'll know first hand that sometime my humor leans towards a humor that some of us employed when we were much younger. I blame that on my years and as a youth minister. Once my humor gets set, its tough to move it beyond anything else.

Anyway, some folks who were looking at me as a prospective pastor in their congregation found my blog and started going back further and further in its past to learn more about me. As they read, some found stories that, ahem.. were a bit juvenille in their presentation. As a result, some were a bit concerned with my giving "too much information" about whatever I was talking about.

So, you'll notice that this blog does not let you go back to past information older than the last 13 posts. Which, I think is a good idea and might save any future discussion about a past bad or icky post.

As for the church that saw it, they still offerred me the job so it mustn't've been TOO consterning but still.. I reread some of my older posts and I was shocked to the point that even I said, "Dang son, what on EARTH where you thinking?!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Healthy Living

Yesterday I received lots of interesting information regarding my life in the United Church of Christ; more specifically I received my 3rd Quarter investment schedule as well as a statement on what my last physical will cost me (what my insurance won't pay). While I'd love to go into a rant about the benefits of my insurance paying 100% of preventive care (e.g., yearly physicals) and why the heck they do NOT pay 100%, what impressed me was that our new denominational insurance carrier (Blue Cross, Blue Shield) so far pays so much MORE than our old carrier.

My last physical cost me about $500 out of pocket for the various tests and doctor's fees. I was so angry that I shot off letter after letter about the benefits for long-term care (read: insurance companies paying less in future costly medical bills associated with cancer and heart disease). I guess a lot of ministers complained or, it was just more feasible financially but the denomination switched carriers and I am paying a whole lot LESS! Woo-hoo!

I also received in the mail a brochure advertising the denominations new website dedicated towards advocating the creation of personal healthy lifestyle changes (I love it when the word 'lifestyle' isn't always associated with sex). They set up a website called, UCC Healthy Stewards, from the premise that we are responsible for being good stewards with our bodies. The site seems to be a great resource for maintaining healthy living choices, meal choices, and recommendations towards overall health. And, if you're a member of the Pension Boards (a minister, family member of a minister, or other such person) they provide health assessments and a host of valuable information aimed at providing ways to benefit with preventive healthcare. I think this is the best way to deal with issues of health and certainly the least costly in the longrun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


There are a few of you in internet space who were praying and sending good thoughts my way last night. Last night I had my final interview to become the new pastor at Cresskill Congregational UCC in Cresskill, New Jersey. And, they voted to recommend me to the congregation as their choice. Woo-hoo!

As happy and thrilled as I am, the process is still not over. However, I've cleared a major hurdle. Next, I go to a 'meet and greet' time with the congregation and then I preach for them. Following my sermon, the congregation will vote and if all goes well then, I'll become their new pastor.

So if you were praying, thank you!! Woo-hoo!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Chocolate Festival

Oh mah gawd I got sooooooooooooooo queazy last night! I must've eaten the equivelant of a traincar full of chocolate. Chocolate bars, drinks, prezels, pieces, parts, wholes, and everything in the middle. Dark chocolate, light chocolate. Heck, I even had chocolate covered french fries!

I am too nervous to step on my weight scale; but not so nervous that I feel guilty. One of the great things about being a liberal is that I feel guilt a lot less often. Ha! Okay, so don't take that statement too far... or use it against me. It's just chocolate! :)

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Night on the Town

I realize I haven't posted anything in almost a week! I've been busy at work getting things lined up for next week and pretty much staying out late at night. This week, I've had the fortune of going out twice and I'll go out again tomorrow night too.

On Tuesday night, a church member invited me out to see a Broadway show that I've been relunctant to see because I've seen various movies about it on television over the years. However, this church member was persistent and finally, we went to see The Phantom of the Opera. Let me tell you, it was amazing! The music, the set design, and the story was worth the ticket price and I now have a show I can take my out-of-town friends to see, the ones who would not enjoy seeing Rent (my favorite all-time Broadway show).

Tonight a church member was performing for her CD release. She is an accomplished singer, has won numerous awards for her songwriting (including a Dove Award, a Christian version of the Grammys). A bunch of us from church (about 10 of us) went to hear Tina deVaron sing. She is very talented indeed! And, her collection of songs with this cd centers around her eldest son's departure for college and him "leaving the nest" and what that feels like to her and her husband.

Tomorrow night, the church musician, his partner, and I are going to New York City's Chocolate Festival in Chelsea. I had wanted to go to this months ago when I heard about it but had forgotten about it until today, when I just happened to be walking down the street where the festival is happening. Suddenly I remembered about it and asked Doug (the church musician) if he'd like to go to it tomorrow night.

I am becoming a real "going out on the town" kind of guy, eh?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Only in New York.. or maybe Arkansas..

A title in today's New York Daily News has this to say: "Woody Allen may be Soon-Yi Previn's husband, but he's still her daddy." As you may know, Mia Farrow, Woody's ex-wife discovered Woody fooling around with Soon-Yi, when Soon-Yi was his step-daughter. Woody's reaction was simply to divorce Mia and marry Soon-Yi.

I can see why my mom wants me to leave New York City and go back home to Oklahoma.

You can read about Woody's comments and the whole story here.

Standing up to Spiritual Violence

I preached a well-received sermon on Sunday entitled, The Way of Reformation: Standing Up to Spiritual Violence. From the opening skit about Martin Luther to the retelling of modern reformers (Rosa Parks, Caser Chavez, and Cindy Sheehan), everything seemed to tie in nicely with the sermon. I love a good Sunday when everything "works".

Here is an excerpt from the sermon:

We don’t have to confront our bullies like I did in my youth. There are other options if we’re willing to utilize them. Let us end the pattern of using violence to end violence. As Walter Wink has explained, “Violence can never stop violence because its very success leads others to imitate it.” (Wink, Engaging the Powers, 216). Sure, it may work in the short term, but in the end, violence will be reemployed again and again, whenever we think we’re being oppressed and hurt. To end violence in the long-term, we need to employ a greater plan—the plan of Jesus. In his teachings and in his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus transcended the notion of revenge and power-over by showing us that by love we can truly bring redemption.

You can read the entire sermon by going here.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Birth Order Quiz

Now this is really strange and I don't know how to understand the results. So, I will just put this out here and let you figure out what it means.

The quiz asks you particular questions and then, determines your birth order and gives some insight into your personality. Follow the link and see what it says about you.

And yes, it "guessed" my birth order.

You Are Likely a Third Born

At your darkest moments, you feel vulnerable.
At work and school, you do best when you're comparing things.
When you love someone, you tend to like to please them.

In friendship, you are loyal to one person.
Your ideal careers are: sales, police officer, newspaper reporter, inventor, poet, and animal trainer.
You will leave your mark on the world with inventions, poetry, and inspiration.

Monday, October 24, 2005

An Amen Corner

A friend sent me this article from the NY Times about a new sitcom that was recently purchased and will be set in the neighborhood where I went to seminary.


In a Town of 'Friends,' an Amen Corner

WHEN David Light was a student at Columbia University in the early 1990's, dating a future rabbi who would later become his wife, the couple watched in fascination as the biggest party animal they knew - a beer-guzzling, skirt-chasing frat king - recreated himself as a rabbinical student.

Out of this conflict between the pursuit of spiritual knowledge and the pursuit of a good seat at the bar at the legendary West End, Mr. Light eventually created "Morningside Heights," a script for a television sitcom that NBC recently bought. Mr. Light is now developing the script with two executive producers in the hope that NBC will finance the filming of a pilot.

The sitcom is set on Seminary Row, the block of West 122nd Street where the Jewish Theological Seminary sits diagonally across Broadway from Union Theological Seminary. The show is a piously irreverent comedy about good-looking would-be ministers, rabbis and imams who share a dorm and try not to sleep with one another.

It could scarcely be set anywhere else.

"The neighborhood is a huge character in the show," said Mr. Light, 31, who attended Columbia as an undergraduate and a graduate student in the film division of the School of the Arts, and whose wife studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Along with its grand Gothic churches, Riverside Church and the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the neighborhood's sheer density of institutions of higher learning - Columbia, Barnard and Seminary Row itself - makes Morningside Heights an area that Mr. Light calls "a hotbed of seeking."

"Whether it's knowledge, or what your place is in the world, it's a place to ask these huge questions," Mr. Light said. "Whether in Riverside Park or St. John the Divine or the Hungarian Pastry Shop, it's a truly contemplative and vibrant place that I love."

The area also provides the soaring visual backdrop for a new, perhaps more spiritually highbrow representation of New York than America is accustomed to seeing in television comedies.

Over the past decade, the dominant comedic images of New York beamed around the planet have been the sophisticatedly shallow self-absorption of "Seinfeld," the chirpy chumminess of "Friends," the winking urbanity of "Will & Grace" and the cosmo-swilling, Manolo-obsessed man hunters of "Sex and the City." Regardless of how unrealistically those shows may have portrayed New York, they shared a certain upscale levity. If "Morningside Heights" makes it into the NBC lineup, it will most likely present a different face of the city.

"It's definitely a step back from 24/7, and it's a step back from the glamour, too," said Ron Simon, who is curator of television at the Museum of Television and Radio and who studied film at the Columbia School of the Arts. "You're not downtown, you're uptown, where there's a little possibility of solitude, where you can have discussions that deal with self-examination instead of materialistic striving."

Faith and spirituality, he added, "were certainly words that we didn't hear much pre-9/11."

If there's a link between "Morningside Heights" and the more upscale New York comedies of recent years, it is Eric McCormack, one of the show's executive producers and the actor who plays Will in "Will & Grace," in its final season on NBC.

"The New York of 'Will & Grace' is almost a kind of a dream New York," Mr. McCormack said. "It's Riverside, it's Upper West Side, it's people with money and time to spend it. It's a little bit fantasy almost in the way Noel Coward's New York was in the 30's, as opposed to what we're going to attempt to do with 'Morningside Heights.' I keep thinking of that opening shot of 'Welcome Back, Kotter,' just that sense of more where real things happen."

In addition to their tone of youthful joie de vivre, the major New York-based sitcoms of the last decade all had at their heart a group of supportive friends that served as an ersatz family. In this sense, "Morningside Heights" is not such a radical departure. While the show's cheerfully intolerant evangelist character may tell his cohorts of different faiths that they're destined to burn in hell, by the end of the pilot episode, even he is sharing dinner and camaraderie with the rabbi, the imam and the others. In this reimagining of the New York ideal of perfect integration, the melting pot has become a large pizza at the West End, with everything on it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

$500 Million?!

Howard Stern is leaving the regular airwaves to go to the new satillite radio, Sirius, for a reported 5-year, $500 million contract. You can read the entire story here.

I am just shocked by the shock-jock's salary! That is more than Tiger Wood's Nike endorsements (which I think is crazy in and of itself, and I LOVE Tiger Woods). $100 million a year?! To be a disk jockey? Well, I must admit, I don't really like Howard Stern, he's too vulgar for me.. but I have a lot of friends who just love him. Still, like him or not, he's going to be richer than Bill Gates someday. Imagine a celebrity making more money than a corporate executive.

Now that is truly the humorous part of the American dream, right?

Woo-hoo! My email works!

Wowsers, what a mess I've been through this week; fortunately, Yahoo!'s security team was able to verify me and I gained access to my email last night. I've learned so many lessons through this experience, most notably: change my password often, and the most important one, don't have your work email tied into your personal email. If you can't get access to one, you can't get to the other either. Unfortunately, I can't fix that problem now, but if I ever have a new email set up, it'll be separate from my personal one.

Whew! I was so relieved last night that I went to the gym and worked off some of my stress in the swimming pool. And then, I went to a friend's birthday party at my favorite gay dive bar. I had a nice night and slept like a baby last night.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I Still Don't Have Email Access!!

..but at least now I know why.

Get this. Someone hacked into my email account, changed my password, and personal data. Changing the data, I cannot confirm with my email host that I am who I say I am. As a result, my personal and business email remains inaccessible.

I am in contact with the security department as we speak. I am going to fax them certain information hoping that any of it, matches what they are looking for. If I cannot match what they say I must, my email account will be in the hands of my perpetrator... forever!

I wish I could express the fear, shock, anger, and stress I have been feeling since Tuesday at 5pm, when I got locked out of my own email account. I have had my personal email since I lived in Texas, some 12 years ago. I feel like a part of me has been taken away.

Let me encourage you, dear reader, to go into your email personal data. Write it down, change your password often, and take the necessary steps to make your email service as secure as possible. Otherwise, you're in for a heap of frustration. Like what I am feeling now.

Numa numa Dance!

This guy is hilarious and a good lipsyncer although he starts to get out of sync there towards the end. Still, it's a lot of fun. Have a looksee and tap your foot to the beat while you're at it. Oh, and be sure to turn your speakers WAY up. :)

Having a broadband connection will be most helpful.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Problems with Yahoo!

I am having email problems with my Yahoo account. Unfortunately, I cannot access my account at all, which has me in a fright. It has taken me too long to find a customer service phone number for them, so long in fact, that their customer service is now closed for the evening (you'd think they'd run 24 hours a day given how big they are).

If you have problems with you Yahoo! account, here is their customer service number: 408-349-1572. Keep in mind that they are only available Monday through Sunday from 6am-6pm (Pacific Standard Time).

If you have sent me an email, I don't have access to it and probably won't until I get this issue resolved.

"You Can't Be All You Can Be--If You're Dead"

Now here is an interesting story. A highschool student paid for an advertisement in her highschool newspaper. As a member of a pacifist religious order, she felt that there were alternatives to paying for college than enlisting in the U.S. Army and found an interesting way to communicate that.

Follow this link to and see that ad for yourself.

Dang, you know THAT took guts!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Getting Out those Tough Stains

I found an article in this week's issue of HX, the local gay men's magazine for what's happening in NYC. Included in the issue, is how to care for your "tighty whitey-ies". Here are a few tips:

1. Our own salivary glands produce an amazing stain remover; the enzymatic action of saliva can remove quite a few unsightly stains in a pinch, most notably, blood. We produce an anzyme in our saliva that can break down our own blood. Unfortunately, only our own saliva will remove our own blood. This works equally well on whites and colors.

2. Unsightly underarm stains are caused by aluminum in most drugstore deodorant products. To avoid the stain, switch to a brand that doesn't contain aluminum. They're more expensive, but your undershirts will tahnk you. You can sometimes remove the ugly blotch by soaking in crushed un-buffered asprin mixed with water.

3. Both lemon juice and the combination of baking soda and water will gently bleach out stains in whites. Try applying one to the stain and letting the garment sit in the sun, providing you'renot averse to airing your dirty laundry in public. ;)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wanna be a Geek?

I found this today while doing some internet research on a 1gig USB flash drive. It is a watch that also has a built in flash drive. The drive only holds 128mb of memory but wearing your flash drive would sure prevent you from losing it.

Check it out here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cool Free Program

Have you ever heard of Microsoft's One Note? It is a program that allows you to keep the notes you take, the links you link, and the webpages you..well, you know.. all organized in one place. This is a handy program when you're doing research for papers or for sermons. I had used the program myself with it's 60-day trial free feature. After the 60-day period, I was remiss to actually pay $100.

Instead, I read in this month's issue of PC Magazine about a freeware program called Evernote. This program does the same thing as One Note. How cool is that? To get your free download, go to*.

*This is not a paid endorsement of the product, I am just passing along something really cool.

Miers Opinion Piece

Here is a good link to why Harriet Miers' nomination should be reconsidered. It's very thoughtful and best explains my consternation.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My New Art Project

I have begun a new art project for my apartment. In the vein of my odd eye for art, I have decided to draw/sketch my favorite places in New York City. After I have sketched 6-8 different places, I will then frame them and create a collage on my wall.

Here is my first sketch, it is the Bethesda Fountain in Central park. It is one of my favorite places to sit and think and realize how amazing this city really is. You may notice that although the statue is supposed to be a woman, she looks awfully butch.

Now this is funny, sort of..

I found a blog this morning that purports to be that of Harriet Miers, the new Supreme Court Justice nominee from Dubya. Going to the blog however, one sees that it's not hers. It is someone else having a good time at her expense.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think she should even be considered for the position, not having served as a judge in any respect. But I am not surprised at Bush, heck didn't he appoint that FEMA director who had no experience whatsoever? And look what happened in New Orleans. I cannot even believe people are taking his nomination seriously- but they are and, it's just scary what the implications could be.

I wonder if we should reconceptualize all appointments. Instead of having experience be a qualifier for various positions, we should consider other factors like hairstyle, likeability, and good understanding of our Founding Father's intent on developing a Christian nation. For instance, I wonder if James Dobson might be a good Education Secretary, Richard Land could be the Secretary of State, and Miss Ellie May Hornsbeak, the President's dog groomer and Style columist in the local Crawford, Texas newspaper could become Bush's new Press Secretary. And this might happen, with the Bush's new 37 percent approval rating and his supposedly return to drinking, he just might have Ms. Hornsbeak before the cameras.

Okay, so Ms. Hornsbeak isn't really real but it highlights my point, you can't have unqualified people in really, really important positions. No matter how nice they are, no matter how sweet they are; people in really, really important positions need to be the best in their field making decisions that'll affect this country for a hundred years or more. To me, this is just common sense. But then, I am implying our President has common sense and quite honestly, I am not convinced he does.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Superball Spirituality

I have become a new convert... well, not really new but definitely a convert. Several months ago, I discovered a blog that I enjoy reading each and every time. The writer is a pastor from a church in Texas (I've linked him before on here and you can find his link on the right side of this blog). But today, unexpectedly, I read something he wrote a while back and found myself connecting with him- in this spiritual, artsy-fartsy yet redneck "Yeah man, Preach it!" kind of way.

Have a looksee and you'll see what I mean. The blog is Real Live Preacher and his article on Superball Spirituality is here. Any man that can cus like he does and enjoy a brewski (even though he's a Baptist), has got to be both 'his own man' and yet, have that special kind of courage that either means, "I really don't care what you think," or, "It's not about the cussin' or the beer drinkin', you snotty nose silly Texans, it's about something so much more." (For the record, while I do enjoy a good cussin' at just the right moment, beer makes me fat.)

Beware of Bloody Sunday!

New York City is in a state of panic/fright today. Maybe you've heard about it wherever you are but tomorrow, Sunday, is the day when a terrorist strike is planned to hit the New York subways. You can read the whole story here.

It's wild and scary and yet, not so wild and scary that the fear is crippling. For those of us who have to take the subways to get to work (I have to be at church tomorrow), the thought of traveling in the subway has mixed feelings. Part of me thinks this warning was concocted. Another part of me thinks that its for real. And yet, there really isn't anything I can do about it.

I could, of course, take a taxi to work (church) tomorrow. It'll cost about $40 one way. That could be money well spent or I could be giving in to the panic and fear. Such decisions.

Not going to Nashville

Well, for those of you following my life on here, I received a call recently that I am no longer a candidate for the pastoral opening in Nashville, TN. The pastoral search committee had narrowed their search to two candidates. After a time of discernment and discussion, the church decided to go with the other candidate. The chairperson of the search committee called me to inform me of their decision.

Honestly, I am glad the search committee found the candidate they were looking for. The church was a nice one and I think I would have enjoyed my time there; and yet, I am also relieved because moving to Nashville would have taken me away from my extended family, the friends and former lovers who make up my family here in New York City. For that reason, I am very glad that I will be around here longer.

Interestly, there is a church in nearby New Jersey who is considering me to be their pastor. I have been interviewing there and am excited about the possibilities. All in all, I am confident that God is in the entire search process, I just need to be willing to be a part of that process and trust that whatever happens, is what God desires to happen.

But boy o' boy, its the waiting and hoping that sure makes a fella nervous (even when God is at work).


Something happened underground in my neighborhood this afternoon. Some say it was a fire, others say it was an explosion that caused the fire. In any event, firetrucks and the electric and gas company (ConEdison) are swarmed outside my building.

As it turns out, half of my apartment building is without electricity, the other half is without water. I am in the "without water" part of the building. I think its almost ironic that I go 5 months with a leak in my bathroom ceiling that caused half of the ceiling to collapse. Finally, two weeks ago the leak and my ceiling get fixed, only to now have no water in my building.

If you are ever thinking of moving to Inwood, the northernmost neighborhood in Manhattan, do everything in your power to NOT move into 4996 Broadway. That is the address to my building and I've had nothing but problems here.

Hopefully I won't get sued for putting my address on here and for disparaging my apartment building. I'll let you know if anything of a legal nature develops.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wanna have fun with George?

Click here to have fun with George. This is especially good if you have no other way to deal with your frustration with him.

To move him, hold down your left mouse button and drag, throw, and otherwise watch him do his thing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Now Here's a Brilliant Idea

Someone is working on developing a $100 computer for kids. Using older technology, the inventer hopes to create a laptop for school children. The computer even has a handcrank to charge the battery cells for use. His idea sprang up when he worked for an overseas company giving laptop computers to children in poor villages.

You can read the entire article here.

What a great idea!

I found this sad posting this morning

The writer of this email was lamenting his church's refusal to accept him.

"I have been abandoned at many times in my life. By friends who didn't want to associate with a "fag." By family members who couldn't deal with having a gay relative. By coworkers and associates who wondered every time I had a cold or took a sick day, if I finally had that "gay disease." Through it all I've always had faith in my church and the old saying that everything happens for a reason. I would often lie in my parents' backyard at night, looking up at the stars knowing there was a higher power and someday the answers would all be revealed to us. But now, the abandonment I feel from my church is almost too much to handle. What do I have left? The stars didn't look real to me last night. My church has told me the stars are not for me, they are for straight people only."

No, Georgie, No!

I found this silly children's book over on The summary of the books says,

This is a book about a President named George who has a dream. In this dream, George becomes a little boy, and he meets a Truth Fairy who is trying to teach him lessons about How to not manipulate the Media, How to treat Veterans, How to be honest, How to be respectful with families who have lost soldiers in war, How to go to War only when necessary, How not to label people as Boogeymen, How not to invade countries, How to control greed, How to hold fair elections, and How to behave as a leader. Though there are political lessons and footnotes for people to learn more, the ultimate lesson in the 32 paged hard cover children's style 81/2" x 11" book is that we are all connected; we are all one. On his journey while playing the game of "Let's Imagine" with the Truth Fairy, the young boy George learns many other lessons, including the fact that it is up to each of us to create the person we are becoming.

Monday, September 26, 2005

March for Peace, Washington DC

On Saturday, several members of the church and I went by bus to Washington, DC for the March for Peace. It was an incredible opportunity to see how many people are truly against our president's imperialism and flagrant misuse of power and authority--and most of everyone's angst was directed to the War in Iraq.

There was so much energy and inspiration at the rally. Men and women, young and old, turned out to protest. A few of the protesters were veteran protesters, looking all hippied up and probably still smoking pot and living in their vans (which is cool in a whole different kind of way). Many of the young protesters were part of much larger crowds, some may have know exactly why they were there, others seemed to be glad to just be there.

One interesting and noticable element that was missed were people of color. I did notice a much larger contingent of Hispanic Americans that was represented by other minorities. However, the ratio of caucasions to persons of color was unmistakingly noticeable. I do not know why this was so- and I can only speculate, which I'll do in another post.

Still, the Saturday event was wonderful. I had hoped to blog by phone while I was there but a glitch in the mechanics prevented that from happening. I will further explore that glitch, because I still don't know how it happened.

You can read more about what happened by people a lot more vehemently opposed (and more articulate) than I am by pointing your browser here over to

Friday, September 23, 2005

It's fixed! Woo-hoo!

My bathroom ceiling has been fixed and the whole thing repainted. And, I have a new bathroom light fixture (which looks really nice).

Of course, there is paint everywhere (on the tiles, mirrors, and floors), the super wasn't as careful as I'd've liked; but hey, it's fixed!! Woo-hoo!

Calling for Free

I found this interesting website that lets you make free online phone calls. All you gotta do is download the software, load it, and then talk with other users using the same program. Simple enough, right? I haven't done it yet but if you do, then I'll have someone to call.

When Panic Sets In

Wow, what a crazy morning I have had. Lat night, my email client, Mozilla Thunderbird, began to act like a schizophrenic doing many things all at once and yet getting nothing accomplished. I tried to fix it last night; thinking it was just some internal glitch. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I went to bed hoping everything would be right in the morning. Well, it wasn't and I've been working on it since 7am (it's not just past noon).

Relieved that I have finally fixed the problem as well as losing the last 6 months worth of email has me thinking how dependant I've become on email and the inherent stress involved with such dependancy. I won't go into a diatribe about how good the good old days were without email because that would simply be silly and, it'd be something that I truly wouldn't believe. Email and the internet has changed what I do for the better and there is no argument that can convince me otherwise.

So my concern isn't over email, its really just about what happens to the body and mind when dependancy is involved. Take this morning for instance, when I couldn't access my email. Sure, I could go online to access it but I have many emails I needed to respond to this morning from this past week. And the horror associated with losing all those emails really took about a year off my life (turning 40 has me concerned about turning 80).

Stress and anxiety seem to rob my comfortablility; and when things don't go just the way they are supposed to go, I become unraveled. I unraveled this morning and am just now beginning to restring my sense of self back together again. As I pull the strings tight, I am wondering how I might restring myself so I don't freak when such unraveling occurs.

The Bible reminds me to, "Trust in the Lord with all your might and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge God and God will make your pathway sure." I think of this verse and wonder exactly how to carry out such a mindset. Do I adopt a willy-nilly "It's all in the Lord's hands" attitude when confronted by stress? Or, do I treat it as a reminder to just calm down and realize when things seem out of control, to simply turn to God and say, "HHhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeellllllllppppp!!!"? Perhaps I could use lower-case letters in my plea for divine intervention.

I know a lot of people who take expensive psychotic drugs to help them control their anxiety. Sure, they have out of control anxiety about everything, not just a once-in-a-while email problem. They need their medication; I wonder what I can do to help myself not freak out with those once-in-a-while problems. I guess I need to do more thinking about this- do you have any ideas?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I thought this was kind of pretty, in a ghetto kind of way

It's here!

It's finally out: the movie trailer for the upcoming movie release of the hit Broadway musical Rent. I have seen the Broadway show about 7 times and seeing it (for the first time) is one of those few life experiences that I consider as something that changed my life. It really is a powerful experience. Part of me worries that the movie might lose some of the magic- however, the movie version is using most of the original case members, so hopefully the magical spark will remain.

The story line is a take off from the opera Le Boheme. The movie, like the Broadway show, is set in the East Village of New York City in the early 1990s. The story features a group of friends battling AIDS (some are gay, but most are not) and others whose lives are affected by their friend's struggle.

I hope you'll get a chance to see the movie; honestly not everyone I know was affected by it like I was. I have friends who saw the Broadway show and hated it. But I sure loved it, maybe you will too. If you want a more detailed analysis and some nifty downloads, go to

Now THIS is interesting...

I found a way to drive a brand new free car. Now, I doubt I'll actually do this but it is interesting. You pay for insurance and gas, and they give you a free car to drive. And the car is brand new. What's the catch? There is one, you know.

Go here to find out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Now wouldn't THIS be the coolest thing ever to own?!

It's a school bus converted into a camper, complete with roof deck and funky fish painted on it. It makes me want to grow long hair and a beard, wear peace crosses and tye dye shirts. Check it out by going here. (Scroll down to see pictures of the bus.) And, it's only $5000. It sounds like a steal especially if you're even a wee bit nerdy.

Another Funny Joke

A man, his wife, and his mother-in-law went on vacation to the Holy Land. While they were there, the mother-in-law passed away.

The undertaker told them, "You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here in the Holy Land for $150.00."

The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.

The undertaker asked, "Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your mother-in-law home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and spend only $150.00?"

The man replied, "A man died here 2000 years ago, was buried here,and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."

Dylan's Lectionary Blog

There is this lady who puts her sermons online. Like many of us in the mainstream Protestant tradition, we follow the lectionary. Her sermons are always based on them and the way she looks at the readings is always refreshing and thoughtful.

Here is this week's sermon. I hope you enjoy it.

Recommend Books Update

I finished reading the wonderful book, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. It was such a wonderful read! The story is set in South Africa and it is about a woman who opens up a detective agency in the town of Botswana. Mma Ramotswe is a detective in a way that blends Agatha Christie with Aunt Bea from Mayberry. It is charming, wholesome, and funny.

To Kill a Mockingbird is just a wonderful classic of American literature. The style in which it is written, both folksy and yet 'bright eyed' as retold through the voice of a young woman, is simply the best storytelling ever put on paper. Has it been awhile since you read it? Do you think of the movie more than the words in the book? (Honestly, I had to fight off those images as I read the story again.) If you're looking for a book to read on a stormy Saturday afternoon, then this book might just be what you're looking for.

I now have two new books to read. One, that I started on yesterday is Splintered Icon. It tells the story of a bookseller who has to appraise a valued manuscript only to discover that hidden in its pages is a terrible secret conspiracy that is still unraveling after centuries, and "processing the unimaginable power to literally change history and splinter it forever." I love a good book like this (in the Dan Brown vein) but unfortunately the writing isn't that good. Hopefully it'll pick up here soon.

My other book that I bought on Monday is called The Boys in the Brownstone. According to the book jacket, it is the story of "a hilarious comedy of manners about a group of gay men who don't fit in anywhere except a bar they call home." Also, the book's author is a friend of a friend of mine, and I was told that the book was really good. So, I bought it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

When Some People Require a Push

Okay, so it's almost 11am in the morning. I've been up since about 6:30am but I haven't been coherant since about 9am when the super knocked on the door and said, "I am here to fix your ceiling." You see, the ceiling in my bathroom has partially caved in. And, its been leaking water for the past 4 months. So, today, unannounced, he shows up to say, "I am here to fix your ceiling."

I called my boss and he said that it was okay that I stay home today. I will need to call him back though, the super found another leak (and showed it to me) and he thinks it'll take another day to repair everything (today to fix the leak, tomorrow to fix my ceiling).

I had asked my super to fix my leaky ceiling 4 months ago. And, I've asked him to fix it over a dozen times since then. Each time, he says, "I'll get to it on Monday." When Monday rolls around, he is no where to be found. I see him on Tuesday and ask, "Where were you and when are you going to fix my leaky ceiling?" Each time he says, "Monday, I'll fix it next Monday." But he never shows up!

So, I've called the management company who manages the apartment building, they never return my call. I've written letters to them and the company that handles my rent payments. I've heard nothing. So, I gave deadlines and partial irritated threats like, "If you don't fix my ceiling, I am going to call the City's Housing Department." And still that didn't work either.

So finally, I called the City's Housing Department. They came and inspected the ceiling and were aghast that it hasn't been fixed yet. So, a week later, my super shows up and says, "I am here to fix your ceiling."

It's amazing how some people operate and what it takes to get them to do their job. I mean, I am sympathetic to my super (he is always busy running this way and that; working on apartment leaks all day). But still, he could give me a day he's going to fix it and then fix it. Rather than having to go through the whole mess of writing and calling and finally having the city come out.

I guess some people just operate that way. I know several people, like my super, who you have to push them to do something rather than expect them to be more professional, take the initiative, and do what is required. I don't know if its a lack of resolve, laziness, or unorganization? It might be a combination of all three, but who knows.

Still, my bathroom ceiling is getting fixed. Yayyy!! At least, I hope it's getting fixed. :/

Monday, September 19, 2005

Monday, September 19

Woo-hoo!! I am celebrating my birthday today!

Uhmm... and I am 40 today.


My mom sent me a birthday present and a card that pretty much sums up turning 40. In it she said that when you turn 40, you no longer get electronic or stereo equipment presents, you get toothbrushes and dishtowels and potholders (which I is what I got, although the toothbrush I got happened to be a Sonicare toothbrush, and let me tell you it is SOOOOOOOOOO cool).

I think the fact that I am all excited about that toothbrush illustrates my mother's point exactly. And, I sure did need those potholders (I was using a washcloth).

Moving from Entitlement to Compassion

I preached this sermon on this past Sunday. It was based on the lectionary readings of Jonah 3:10-4:11, Philippians 1:27-2:4, and Matthew 20:1-16. The last Scripture reading is the parable of the generous landowner.

Here is a portion of what I said:

Living in the reign of God means that we live in harmony with one another: not just with those who make us feel comfortable, but even with those who make us feel uncomfortable. In this way, we learn to be empathetic towards the needs and concerns of others—realizing that the needs of others are often tied to our own.

In other words, when we can find the way to look past our own needs towards the needs of others, we’ll discover that in fulfilling our neighbor’s needs, we will be fulfilling our own. And this realization can sum up much of Jesus’ consternation with his disciples as it can be applied to Jonah as he sat lamenting over the death of the leafy bush. Simply put: The nature of entitlement is contrary to the life we have in Christ. When we can move past such thinking, we will discover that when compassion and empathy towards others fills our heart, we will find the fulfillment that we’ve been searching for all along.

You can read the entire sermon by pointing your brower to:

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Martin Luther, Diet Coke, and Canned Soup

There is a blog called Real Live Preacher and its written by a pastor of a church in Texas. The blog is wildly cool and amazingly insightful. I encourage you to read it often, most of the time, you'll be glad you did. ;)

He wrote a new blog entry about a daydream he's had (or maybe that's just 'creative license', who knows) and it's a good story. At the end, it's more of a commentary of his interpretation of modernity (and he's probably not off by very much). I encourage you to have a 'look see.' Also, his daughter wrote a blog entry summarizing Martin Luther, it is funny too.

Bill Maher's Open Letter to the President

September 9, 2005

All right, it is time for New Rules, everybody. New Rules.

Okay, New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking up the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the white people version of looting.

New Rule: Don't drag kids into adult fights. Everybody knows you don't exploit children as pawns during a strike. You exploit children as pawns during a divorce! Let's limit kids to their one true airline responsibility: kicking the back of my seat.

New Rule, and this one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your webcam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.

And finally, New Rule: America must recall the president. That's what this country needs. A good, old-fashioned, California-style recall election! Complete with Gary Coleman, porno actresses and action film stars. And just like Schwarzenegger's predecessor here in California, George Bush is now so unpopular, he must defend his jog against...Russell Crowe. Because at this point, I want a leader who will throw a phone at somebody. In fact, let's have only phone throwers. Naomi Campbell can be the vice-president!

Now, I kid, but seriously, Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.

Yeah, listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?!

Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in...Please don't. I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.

Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans...Maybe you're just not lucky!

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, "Take a hint."

-- Bill Maher

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Conversation with God

I received this today from someone who felt he had to send it along to others, if he really loved the Lord. Usually I immediately delete such emails because I either don’t like to be threatened or find such superstition corrupting my concept of God.

However, all that billowing aside, the contents looked good and I wanted to share it with you. And, this is the good thing, you don’t have to forward this on to anyone.


I asked God to take away my habit.
God said, No.
It is not for me to take away,
but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, No.
His spirit is whole,
his body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, No.
Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;
it isn't granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No.
I give you blessings;
Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares
and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, No.
You must grow on your own!,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No.
I will give you life,
so that you may enjoy all things.

I ask God to help me love others,
as much as He loves me.
God said...Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.

"Woo-hoo, lookee what I caught!"

Monday, September 12, 2005

When the City Stops By

I had an interesting thing happen on Sunday. Around 11am, a man from the city's housing authority stopped by to inspect my bathroom ceiling. I had called the City on Thursday to let them know that my landlord has yet to fix my ceiling (part of which collapsed over 3 months ago).

You can probably imagine my surprise, when I opened the door. "You all work on Sundays?" I asked. "Yup, sure do. With a city this large, we work every day of the week," he responded.

As he walked through the door, I apologized for the mess in my apartment. I hadn't washed the dishes from my morning breakfast, my rug needed vacuuming and I haven't washed the stain off my bathroom shower curtain, the stain that is caused by the leaking water from the hole in my ceiling. He laughed. "Why are you laughing," I asked. He said, "This is the cleanest apartment I think I have ever seen," he said.

He went on to say that he inspects a lot of housing complaints. He said that often he finds trash scattered throughout the apartment, boxes of junk all over the place, and usually there is a stench that makes him nautious. He told me that not only did he find my apartment very clean and orderly but that he liked what I had done with the place.

The man was in his late 50s to early 60s, probably not born in the US because of his thick accent (I couldn't place it).

Needless to say, I was flattered. And, after he left, I began to worry that perhaps I stress too much over the little things. Still, I need to vacuum my rugs. I can't have that go undone.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Another Viewpoint on Perspective

Lately, I've been wanting to redecorate my apartment. I've been thinking about purchasing a new chair to replace my recliner (that I sleep in far too often) and a new dining room table. But, I really cannot afford to purchase something brand new so I've taken to browsing Craigslist's For Sale furniture listings. Craigslist is sort of like Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaraunt. "You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaraunt, 'cepting Alice..." Craigslist sells furniture, homes, has apartments for rent, personals (hang on to your knickers there, it gets mighty specific sometimes), and a host of other items and services.

My point though is not in the variety of what Craigslist has to offer but the pictures of the particular items that posters put online to sell. In those pictures, and this is so amazing and unbelievable to me, some of those pictures show to all who view them, completely messy and horrific apartments themselves. I am not kidding. Say you're looking for a new table or headboard for your bed, in the picture there are clothes scattered all over the place, crap piled up in the corners and in the middle of the room, and the interior design is so appalling (read: messy and disorganized) that I often hear myself either laughing or shrieking!

And then, I look at my apartment and go, "You know, what you have is pretty nice; my apartment is clean and tidy; and almost everything has it's own place." And once I start thinking that way, I am less inclined to want to buy a new chair or a new table. And then I am satisfied until once again I get the desire to redecorate. Crazy, right?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

"Football Season is Over"

Yes, I know, football season is just beginning. But the note below are the final words Hunter S. Thompson wrote just days before committing suicide. Rolling Stone magazine is set to print these last words in its next issue. You can read more about this story by pointing your browser to

Here is the note:

"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt."


Hunter S. Thompson was one of my favorite authors. My eldest brother Joe, turned me on to Thompson with the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And my highschool lit teacher recommended I read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail of '72. Both books are fun reads and the latter really tells about politics in a way that a bewildered highschool student can understand. Thompson also wrote Hell's Angels about his time traveling with the famous renegade motorcycle gang. I also recommend The Great Shark Hunt arguably his finest work and The Curse of Lono, although that latter recommendation wasn't as good as the others.

I will miss Thompson's writing- he was truly a literary genius albeit a rather crazy one.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

An Angry Mother's Letter

The Valley News
P.O. Box 877
White River Junction VT 05001

Sharon Underwood of Hartford, Vermont

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I've taken enough from you good people. I'm tired of your foolish rhetoric about the "homosexual agenda" and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs fromyour moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called "fag" incessantly, starting when he was 6.

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn't bear to continue living any longer, that he didn't want to be gay and that he couldn't face a
life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don't know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn't put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it's about time you started doing that.

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won't get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don't know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

If you want to tout your own morality, you'd best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part.

It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I'm puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that's not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I'll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for "true Vermonters."

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn't give their lives so that the "homosexual agenda" could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn't the measure of the man.

You religious folk just can't bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.

How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage. You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.

The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about "those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing" asks: "What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?"

Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?

A Survivor's Story

I found this today and it is a story of how one man survived the ordeal in New Orleans. He's a college professor and what he writes is both shocking as well as sad. Fortunately he has a happy ending. Here is his story.

Monday, September 05, 2005

When our Influence is Bigger than We Know

I was reading a post from a blogger-friend (he's a friend from all the way back in highschool too) who was using initials of friends he had just met over the weekend. Explaining that he hadn't seen these friends in awhile and implying that two of the three friends were women, I was thinking I knew who they were and so opened up my old highschool yearbook to see if my hunch was right. While I couldn't confirm my hunch, I did run into something else.

As I opened the back of my yearbook, I found an inscription from an old friend. It startled me because I hadn't actually opened my yearbook in ages. And, the friend who wrote what he did has since passed away. Here is a piece of what he wrote:

To a special friend and person, I am glad we met are are friends. Remember me in your preaching, who knows maybe one day you may be talking to someone who is into drugs and you can tell them about me....Remember me always, for I am sure I will always remember you. Your friend forever. [I want to withhold his name to honor his memory and his secrets].

P.S., May God watch over you and protect you. Thanks for making life bearable when times were rough.

My friend died about 5 to 6 years after graduation. While I actually haven't looked at his inscription in a long time, I have thought about him from time to time. He was a really great guy who's life was full of heartache and abuse. And still, he managed to keep his head above the water as best he could.

Interestingly, while he and I friends, we weren't really that close. I knew him because we went to church together and lived about 2 blocks from each other. We had spoken from time to time, especially when he had experienced one particular abuse or another. We'd talk and pray about it. But then, I wouldn't see him for a few months until a time would happen when he'd want to talk about "stuff" and we'd find ourselves talking and praying together again.

I had little idea then that what I had said really meant anything until, when we were graduating seniors, he wrote his inscription in my yearbook. It was kind of odd but I remember when he wrote it, he made me promise I wouldn't look at it until I got home. I guess he was embarrassed for me to read what he wrote in front of him.

After highschool, we lost touch. I moved to Texas and then later, joined the Air Force and didn't come back to Oklahoma for about 5 years. When I did finally make it back home, my brother had told me that my friend had died of a mysterious illness [later I learned it was AIDS]. My heart ached at that moment. It was so sad and remains so because of my memories of all the sadness and pain he endured.

Upon rereading my friend's inscription, I find myself thinking about him again. Part of me remains bewildered by how much influence and hope I was able to be a part of with him- and part of me remains sad because I don't know how he eventually coped or dealt with his tragedies. It is hard to imagine that its been almost 20 years since he passed away.

I do realize that life is full of heartache and disappointment and lots of sadness. I wonder if I had known how much influence and help I had provided beforehand, if that could have encouraged me to stay in better touch with him and if that would have made his life more bearable after highschool. I wonder if I had paid more attention and not lost touch, how we might have become better friends. I wonder if, in his life, he was able to find reconciliation for all his woes. So many questions now... questions that have no answers, only a reminder that we all touch lives as we live and how important it is for us to be there for those who surround us and who look to us in their times of need.

If he could only hear me now, I would say, "I wish life wasn't so short or so unpredictable. However in the short time we spent, thanks for touching my life in the way you did- and thanks for allowing me to touch yours. We are indeed friends forever."

Marathon Law & Order

Labor Day, what a great day to relax and putter around the apartment! Today has been surprisingly productive: I cleaned the apartment, ran the sweeper, cleaned the stove, swept, dusted, and generally have my place cleaner than it was. I still need to do some serious mopping, scrubbing in the bathroom, and make my bed. I'll do that latter thing in just a few minutes.

All I really need to do is go grocery shopping, which I'll do later.

Interestingly, I probably would have been done with all my cleaning had Law & Order not done a marathon thing on TNT. Beginning at 9am this morning, the station ran back-to-back episodes of the show until, well.. heck, it still might be on but I finally turned off the tv at 3pm. Sure, I watched the show while I was cleaning but every once in awhile, I just had to stop what I was doing and watch whatever climatic moment was happening.

Ever since I got basic cable about 2 months ago, I've found myself watching that darn television without even realizing I've watched 4 hours of it and it's time for bed. It's a good thing I only have basic cable (which I knew would be a problem to begin with) or I'd just sit and watch whatever the heck was on.

Have you really watched Law & Order before? What an incredible show! Now I know my brain is melting and yet... it could melt on far worse programming. ;)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Comment Spam

I guess it was bound to happen eventually; I received my first comment spam advertising a product. I have a couple of friends who have activated word verification that prevents computer programs from automatically putting comment spam on my blog. You will notice that the next time you want to leave a comment, you'll be asked to verify a word before your comments will be posted. It's a simple step that prevents other knuckheads from using my blog to post their wares and merchandise without my permission (not that I'd give it, right?).

Anyways, I just thought I'd let you know.

Celtic Blessings

These blessings are from John O'Donohue's book, Eternal Echoes. I found these blessings posted on a blog called Pomomusings. They are some wonderful blessings for sure, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter
the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gifts and find the
courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may
anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles
that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret sympathy of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.

Blessed be the longing that brought you here and that
quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to befriend your eternal longing.
May you enjoy the critical and creative companionship of
the question "Who am I?" and may it brighten your longing.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and shelter your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the same sureness
with which your body belongs to the world.
May the sense of something absent enlarge your life.
May your soul be as free as the ever-new waves of the sea.
May you succumb to the danger of growth.
May you live in the neighbourhood of wonder.
May you belong to love with the wildness of Dance.
May you know that you are ever embraced in the kind circle of God.


May you listen to your longing to be free.
May the frames of your belonging be large enough
for the dreams of your soul.
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing
whispering in your heart that something good is going
to happen to you.
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.
May the mansion of your soul never become a haunted place.
May you know the eternal longing which lives at the heart of time.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.
May you never place walls between the light and yourself.
May your angel free you from the prisons of guilt,
fear, disappointment, and despair.
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to
gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging...


May you be blessed in the Holy Names of those who carry
our pain up the mountain of transfiguration.
May you know tender shelther and healing blessing when
you are called to stand in the place of pain.
May the places of darkness within you be turned towards the light.
May you be granted the wisdom to avoid false resistance
and when suffering knocks on the door of your life,
may you be able to glimpse its hidden gift.
May you be able to see the fruits of suffering.
May memory bless and shelter you with the hard-earned
light of past travail, may this give you confidence and trust.
May a window of light always surprise you.
May the grace of transfiguration heal your wounds.
May you know that even though the storm might rage yet
not a hair of your head will be harmed.


May you know that absence is full of tender presence and
that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.
May the absences in your life be full of eternal echo.
May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere which
holds the presence that have left your life.
May you be generous in your embrace of loss.
May the sore well of grief turn into a well of seamless presence.
May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear
from and may you have the courage to speak out for the excluded ones.
May you become the gracious and passionate
subject of your own life.
May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words
or false belonging.
May you be embraced by God in whom dawn and twilight
are one, and may your belonging inhabit its deepest
dreams within the shelter of the Great Belonging.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Falwell Supports Basic Rights for LGBT folk

A friend emailed me this link about a conversation in which Falwell articulates that gay and lesbian folk who seek basic legal protections are indeed seeking basic rights and not "special rights". This distinction may not sound like much but its definately a start. And its nice to see his thinking change in this regard.

You can read the entire story by going to the New York Blade Online.

Are you listening, Pat?

Church Telemarketers

Working in a church, I get to do a lot of ministry. I also get to dive into all sorts of church business, which is where a good part of my heart resides. I love church meetings, budgets, planning, heck, I even enjoy working on the monthly newsletter and updating the church website.

One thing however, that I don't enjoy is all the telemarketers that call the church throughout the day. I've taught the church secretary how to screen calls from telemarketers, by asking all sorts of annoying questions- sometimes they just leave a message, a few times they make it through and I actually have to talk with them.

If you're like me and these telemarketers really set your teeth to edge, read this story from Real Live Preacher, who gives a pretty good rant about just such an experience.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Prayer after Katrina

John Thomas, UCC General Minister and President, offers a prayer for use in UCC congregations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:

Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

- Be present, O God, with those who are discovering that loved ones have died, that homes and jobs are gone. Embrace them in your everlasting arms.

- Be present, O God, with those who suffer today in shelters, hot and weary from too little sleep and too much fear. Let them know they are not alone.

- Be present, O God, with those who wonder what they will find when they return to homes battered by wind and engulfed by flood. Teach them to hope.

- Be present, O God, with those who have not been able to reach loved ones, who are frantic with worry. Offer them consolation.

- Be present, O God, with those who have hardly recovered from last year’s storms, who are unsure how much they can bear, who yearn only for quiet. Grant them peace.

- Be present, O God, with all who respond - mayors, police, firefighters, FEMA employees, Red Cross workers, pastors, church disaster response coordinators. Their work is just beginning, and will not end for many months. Strengthen them for service.

- Be present, O God, with the people of the United Church of Christ in storm damaged areas, and especially with the staff and clients of the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi where we fear so much has been damaged. Inspire us by their determination to care for others amid their own trials.

- Be present, O God, to each of us as we pray, that distance may not deter us from generous giving and enduring companionship. Help us remember tomorrow, and next week, and next month.

- Be present, O God, with all affected by Hurricane Katrina. May Immanuel, God with us, our precious Jesus, take every hand and lead us home. Amen.

The Christian Paradox

I was handed a copy of an article yesterday by a church member. The church member had copied the article, "The Christian Paradox: How a faithful nation gets Jesus wrong", by Bill McKibben, from the pages of the current issue of Harper's magazine. Getting online, I typed out the words 'The Christian Paradox' into my Google search engine and found 23,400 results. It seems Mr. McKibben has struck a nerve; both for those who are listening and to those who are offended.

The article explains, in a very well written manner, how the author believes that many American Christians have misappropriated Jesus- making him be all about what they are all about. Here is a sample of what he has said. After the article, you can read the whole story by following the link.

The power of the Christian right rests largely in the fact that they boldly claim religious authority, and by their very boldness convince the rest of us that they must know what they're talking about. They're like the guy who gives you directions with such loud confidence that you drive on even though the road appears to be turning into a faint, rutted track. But their theology is appealing for another reason too: it coincides with what we want to believe. How nice it would be if Jesus had declared that our income was ours to keep, instead of insisting that we had to share. How satisfying it would be if we were supposed to hate our enemies. Religious conservatives will always have a comparatively easy sell. But straight is the path and narrow is the way. The gospel is too radical for any culture larger than the Amish to ever come close to realizing; in demanding a departure from selfishness it conflicts with all our current desires.

Even the first time around, judging by the reaction, the Gospels were pretty unwelcome news to an awful lot of people. There is not going to be a modern-day return to the church of the early believers, holding all things in common - that's not what I'm talking about. Taking seriously the actual message of Jesus, though, should serve at least to moderate the greed and violence that mark this culture. It's hard to imagine a con much more audacious than making Christ the front man for a program of tax cuts for the rich or war in Iraq.

Read the entire story here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Isn't this a funny pic or what?

Can you think of a clever balloon for this picture?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Project Rebirth

A filmmaker in New York has positioned time-elapse cameras around Ground Zero that takes a still picture every 5 minutes. He's been doing this since 4 months following 9/11/2001. You can take a peak at a short film of what pictures have been taken so far.

For those of us in and around New York, just watching something like this brings back a lot of the sadness we first experienced following the tragedy. Four years later, the emotions are still there, at least for me. It's even hard to type this and I haven't even given you the link yet.

Here it is:

Watch the film, I am guessing it'll be updated every once in awhile. To see all the site offers, check out the main site

This is a Test

I installed the newest blogging gadget that lets me publish my blog entries from within Microsoft Word. This is supposed to be easier but I always thought going to was pretty easy too. So, being the good web geek that I think I might be, I am giving it a whirl.

O Mah Gawd!

The Big Cup is closing!!

That was my first reaction- sheer shock. Today, reading an article in the NY Times, I found myself sad and watery-eyed. The Big Cup was here when I arrived in NYC, and it was a great place to meet up with friends for coffee before a fun night on the town, or a great place to just hang out, eat pastries and drink your coffee in a fun and electric atmosphere. I am so going to miss this place.

Here is the article from the Times.

For Jeffrey Adamski, Big Cup, a boisterous Chelsea coffeehouse with a Day-Glo interior, was comfortable for reasons beyond its big couches and stay-all-day atmosphere.

"I was a Jewish kid from Long Island going to temple, and I could come in here and be as flighty as I wanted to be," said Mr. Adamski, 31, who stopped by on a recent afternoon. "It was liberating."

Mr. Adamski was among the patrons who learned this week that the coffeehouse, which employees nicknamed Gay Grand Central, a place where many men found a welcome introduction to gay life, was closing, the victim of rising rents. Modeled after the coffee shops of the West Coast, the shop, on Eighth Avenue just south of 22nd Street, offered a casual place for gay men to socialize. Women and straight men were welcome too, but as a review once put it, "They just seem sort of irrelevant." Employees seemed to be half barista, half party host.

On weeknights, music and crowds would fill the airy room and spill onto the sidewalk. Teenagers too young for the bars could find kindred spirits, and Big Cup gained a reputation as a place to cruise gay men. After it was featured in guidebooks, tourists and new arrivals to the city went there in search of Chelsea's lively gay scene.

This week, the chalkboard sign out front that usually advertises cappuccinos and iced mochas had a different announcement. "Attention," it read, "Big Cup is closing." Sunday will be the last day of business.

The news came as a surprise to many. As is so often the case in Manhattan, the culprit is the hot real estate market. "The rent is over three times what it once was," said Scott Siler, an owner of the business since it opened in 1994. "You can only charge so much for a cup of coffee."

He added that with the recent addition of condos, and mainstream chains like Starbucks, the neighborhood is becoming less of a gay enclave and more family-oriented. Mr. Siler, who also ran the nightspot called Hell, in the meatpacking district, for nine years and recently opened a bar called Secret on West 29th Street, said closing was the right thing to do from a business perspective, "but I'm disappointed for the neighborhood."

"I know people will miss it," he said.

This week, the normally spirited atmosphere was replaced with a kind of eulogistic pensiveness. A downcast Tracy Chapman song wafted over the speakers. The employees, informed of the closing earlier this week, seemed to be still in shock.

Joe Hutchinson, 20, a regular customer, said the coffeehouse encouraged a democratic and relaxed atmosphere often absent from gay bars and clubs.

"I always viewed it as a stress-free environment," he said. "The bar scene is like a meat rack. Of course, it's Chelsea, so you're going to have some of that anyway, but everyone was welcome at the Big Cup." Mr. Hutchinson said he could think of no other spot to take its place.

All this week, regulars have been making pleas, written hastily on scraps of paper bags, to save the coffeehouse. Max Park, a manager, said several employees had banded together to try to reopen under new ownership.

Mr. Siler said he was open to new owners' carrying on the Big Cup name, but doubted whether a business of the same size and style could exist in today's frenzied market.

Whatever the outcome, the written memorials of the customers testify to the legacy of the coffeehouse. One note read: "Every community needs its focus place - this has been that for Chelsea." Another read: "This was one of the first places I discovered upon coming out and it was this place that helped that process."