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."

Home At Last

I returned from my brief vacation to Fire Island last night. Collapsing on my Laz-E-Bo (as my exbf calls my recliner), I immediately fell asleep and awoke this morning at 7am. Yeah, my back is still a bit sore from sleeping all night on my recliner, but I was also next to the air conditioner, so at least I was cool.

Fire Island was a blast. I met some new friends, who were my housemates in the cottage I stayed at. I ate well, and got to do something I don't do as often as I'd like, I played pool! There was a new full-sized pool table at one of the watering holes along the boardwalk. After High Tea (this is an evening party of dancing that occurs after Low Tea). In the afternoons, I laid out on the beach where my body got its needed Vitamin D from the amazingly beautiful clear skies. On one day, I even found the courage to go swimming (the water is sooooooooooooo cold!).

I had a great and wonderful time away. Now, I am back and feel rested. Tomorrow morning I am going bike riding with a friend (and churchmember) who assures me that getting up at 7:30am on a Saturday is good for the soul and good for bike-riding. We're going to be riding around the island beginning in my neighborhood and also across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's bound to be fun. I only hope that I don't wuss out and take the subway train home half way through the ride. I'll let you know how it goes.

Some fun links

I receive weekly emails from WXPnews, which is an email that gives great inside tips for making our Windows XP work smoothly. In the particular email, there are always some fun links that you can go to. This week has some exceptionally cool ones.

Is it real or a hoax? You get to see some interesting pictures and you're asked to pick the real one from the fake.

Are you a child of the 70s? Or of the 80s? This has some "memory lane" one liners that'll make you chuckle as well as remind you how old you are. heh heh

Where does that saying come from? Have you heard an idiom that you can't remember what it means but don't want to ask someone what they meant because you'll feel silly? Check out this indexed site for interesting idioms.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I Finally Made It!

I can't type long, the bugs out here are everywhere. But, I finally made it to Fire Island. And what a great day I've had out here. I am staying in a house close to the harbor with no one in it, save for one person. I guess no one wants to be on the Island during the weekday. Good for me. :)

Anyways, I spent the afternoon lounging at the beach, having learned a new way to lounge there. My housemate taught me how to dig a hole to sit in, and pile sand up high enough to act as a backrest. Then, laying a towel down, I was almost reclinging as I tanned and grabbed my unfinished copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

And then while laying out, my housemate told me that the island is now wired for WiFi. Yee-haw I inwardly explained and came back to the house and got online. Sitting outside on the roofdeck I have had a revelation. I am such a web geek. Here I am on Fire Island surrounded by many. many, sexy gay men and what am I doing? I am online typing an entry into my blog. Go figure.

I'll write more later, I am sure. Right now the bugs are preparing an assult and I'd better get offline and in the house.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Detroit Terminal

You know, I feel at home here. I have internet access, the seats are nice, the food is decent enough. And, with my cell phone, I have complete access to the office and my friends. Kinda nice, eh?

Last night after 3 hours of waiting, Northwest canceled the flight and put me up in the Double Tree Hotel. And what a nice hotel it was! I couldn't believe how comfortable the bed was. And the morning breakfast (which was free) was tastey.

It's 12:45pm right now. I took the airport shuttle here a bit early to make sure if there were any changes, I'd be sure to get the best flight back to New York. As of now, the plane is supposed to be on-time and I should be back in New York by 3pm.

So, that's about it. I just wanted to write a brief post and let you know how crazy my travel experience continues to be.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Northwest Airline is a Stinker

I am presently writing this post from the Detroit terminal where I am waiting for my return flight to New York City. The plane for the return flight is having engine trouble and with the mechanics of Northwest Air on strike, they are having a dickens of a time getting it fixed. I'll either wait for the aircraft to be fixed, catch another flight into New York, or spend the night in Detroit. Unfortunately for me, I am supposed to leave tomorrow for a 4 day vacation out on Fire Island. It looks like I'll be late getting there regardless of what happens (its almost 10pm now).

The flight from NYC to Tennessee was a disaster. So, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised about this recent development. On that flight, I was late leaving NYC and when I got to Detroit, the door was stuck shut and I had to wait in the aircraft for an hour while mechanics pryed the door open.

When I got to Nashville, my luggage didn't. It was lost in the Detroit airport; fortunately I got my luggage on Saturday. But still... I was a bit irritated from my flight experience when I met with the folks I came to meet in Nashville.

However, everything went well in Nashville. I had a great time and met some great people. For those of you who don't know why I was in Nashville, I was interviewing for a pastor position in a liberal UCC church. The search committee was great and I am confident that the interview accurately represented both them and me. Now, I just have to wait until I hear from them whether or not they are interested in recommending me to the congregation as their choice as their new pastor.

However great the interview went, I still think Northwest Air is a stinker.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Facinating Link

Are you a poetry buff? The Academy of American Poets has its own website where you can read, listen, purchase, and peruse just about all the poetry you could imagine. Point your browser to and see for yourself a wonderful website.

To Kill A Mockingbird

A friend gave me an old tattered copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. It's fun rereading the old classics and this book is no exception. Told in a storyteller fashion, one is so easily drawn into the story and the life in the sleepy town of Maycomb, Alabama. If you'd like to find a great read for a lazy Saturday afternoon, then I'd recommend this masterpiece of American literature.

Congrats A.J.!

A friend of mine was just offered a role in the Broadway musical production of Hairspray! And it couldn't've happened to a nicer guy. You da' man!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Funny Joke

Q. Why do men's hearts beat quicker, go weak in the knees, get dry throats, and think irrationally when a woman wears leather clothing?

A. Because she smell's like a new truck!

*Joke submitted by my mother's humorous boyfriend Sieg. Thanks Sieg!

You know it's time to defrost your icebox when...

there is so much ice that your ice cube trays won't even fit.

I have one of those tiny compartments in a refrigerator that will only hold 2 ice cube trays, some meat, 1 bag of white seedless grapes, and a small pouch-like thingy that you can put in a bag to keep it cold. And that's it. Well, that's it if no ice has formed inside the compartment. I had so much ice that I couldn't put anything in the compartment.

As a result, I decided to defrost my ice compartment on Saturday. Turning off my icebox, I began putting boiling water, first in a cup, and then in a cassarole dish as the ice began to melt. It took all day but I got it done. Today I went shopping for the aforementioned grapes; they taste great frozen!

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Progressive Christian

You'll notice on the right side of this blog, I have some new links posted under the Blogroll. One of those new links is call A Progressive Christian. It is a blog that says it is, "A Path, not a regime. A Relationship, not a rulebook. Inclusion, not exclusion. Justice and Opportunity for all, not a few.
Stewardship, not dominion."

Let me encourage you to drop over there and have a peak. It has some great articles filled with faith, humor, outrage, and political opinion.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Living Without Sugar

After reading a few health journals and speaking with some friends who have forgone processed sugar for health reasons, I have tried to see if I too, can banish the white granulars from my diet of cakes and sweetened coffee.

In order for this pursuit to be successful, I reasoned, I needed to find 'sugar substitutes'. Living without sugar seems an impossibility (mainly because I am such a sweet guy myself). But sugar substitutes can be toxic to some bodies (for me, Nutrasweet gives me a headache like no other). So, heading off to my local health food market, I found two all natural sugar substitutes: Agave Nectar and Stevia.

Agave Nectar is a vegan sweetner that is meant to replace sugar, honey, and syrup. Stevia comes from the Stevia leaf and is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Both are great (use the latter with great care, too much of it and you'll have to climb down from your ceiling).

From my experience, I have found the Agave Nectar to be the best sweetner for my coffee. The Stevia leaves a slight bitter aftertaste. You can find these products and other healthy ones by visiting The site is pretty fabulous and if you live in a town without a healthy store alternative, then this site is for you. Unfortunately eating more healthy is expensive, but still, replacing one's processed sugar consumption is recommended by most health conscience folks.

As for me, I can say with complete honesty, replacing my white processed sugar has been rewarding. I have found I have more energy and am less hungry. However, I am also eating less unhealthy foods, so my more energy could also be the result of that too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The New Phone is Here

I got my new fancy cell phone yesterday. It sure is nice! It has more buttons and can do so many nifty and bizarre things that I have yet to figure out how to use most of the features it has. But the really cool thing is has is a great ring tune (some kind of dancey salsa thing to it). Whenever it has rang today, I start moving my hips and dancing all the way to wherever it is I laid down my phone. Of course, if I don't start actually carrying my phone on me, I'll lose it again. So maybe I oughta change the ring tune. ;)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Another Reason to Floss

Today I went to a new dentist. Fearing an abscess tooth, I was relieved to learn that it was just a mild infection. Infection, as it turns out, brought on by stress. Or so, the dentist explained. He said that when our bodies overstress, one of the first signs is visible in a person's gums (especially one who doesn't floss all that much). Who knew?

So he asked me, "What's going on in your life right now?" So I told him about my work and responsibilities, what's going on in my personal life, and anything else I could think of. Afterward he said, "Yeah, looks like you have lots of stress." Needless to say, I was stunned. Holistic care from a dentist?

He explained that when a person stresses out, the membranes in their mouth don't fight infection well. And, since I obviously haven't flossed in awhile, that only exacerbates the problem. He then gave me a speech about proper dental hygiene and went about cleaning my teeth. He explained that as long as I have stress, my gums will be in danger of infection but proper dental hygiene will ensure nothing bad happens. He then wrote a prescription for antibiotics (after all, I do have an infection), recommended I purchase a Sonicare toothbrush, which he said is the best invention ever for dental care (I guess the commerical is right about dentists recommending it) and then scheduled me for a more intense dental cleaning.

I left the office amazed (and thankful). It's amazing what one learns from a dentist!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A New Phone's a Comin'

Okay, so I just ordered a new phone. It should arrive next Monday. Unfortunately, all my old phone numbers were lost that resided in the old phone and the phone service cannot retrieve my old numbers. It kinda sucks that I have lost all those old numbers and it'll be a pain knowing I cannot call anyone who's numbers I should have elsewhere but didn't see fit to write down. If you're reading this and know I should be calling you, be sure to call me after next Monday. Okay? Thanks.

I spoke with a friend this week who says she doesn't keep any numbers in her cell phone for just this reason; instead she carries a small phone directory with her. That seems like a hassle for me though and definitely something I'd keep leaving behind, or at work, or lost somewhere in my apartment.

Technology, on the one hand, has simplified my life (I am much more efficient now) but in another respect, it's complicated it because so much depends on each little bit of technology I have. My laptop, my desktop, my palm pilot, and my cell phone: all essential tools that I've made essential in my pursuit of a simpler and more efficient life. And yet, I could manage without them (I think) but then, I'd have my old Dayrunner to lug around, have to depend on telephone booths that never work, and be able to only do work at work.

Dang technology! And yet, thank God for it. I such a confused person.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Fire Island Here I Come!

I spoke with a friend who has gotten me a free week on Fire Island in August. I'll have to pay for food and expenses of course, but I won't have to pay for lodging (which is usually about $50-100 a night). Usually every summer I go over to the Island for a week or two of rest and relaxation. This summer my regular way got nixed. So, I had tentative plans to go to Amsterdam instead. However, that didn't materialize either. And I was all bummed out. So I called a friend of mine to see what he could do and after some finagling, he emailed me last night with the details.

Since this may be my last summer in New York, I sure wanted to get back out to the Island and now I can go. I am soooooooo excited!

As Herman Munster would say,

"Darn, darn, darn, darn, darn, darn, darn." I lost my cell phone.

If you are a friend or a family member reading this and wondering either why my cell phone has been de-activated or I haven't returned your call, now you know. Call me at home.

Fortunately this time, I put insurance on my cell phone. But, get this. I can either get a replacement for my old phone (which is what the insurance is for) or I can get a brand new phone because AT&T Wireless (my service) has merged with Cingular and I can get a free new phone with all the discounts. I am mulling over my choices and will decide which I'll do today.