Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mosquito Ringtones

Have you heard about those mosquito ringtones for your cellphone? This is an interesting story that makes older folks feel just a tad bit older.

NPR ran a story about the mosquito ringtone. The radio story featured an interview with the teen repellent inventor and his daughter. This article has additional background information too.

As we age, we lose the ability to hear high frequencies. So if you don't want teenagers loitering around your establishment, blast them with high pitched sounds and they'll go away. Meanwhile your adult customers can't hear the sound and aren't bothered by it. Students figured out that you can use a high frequency sound as your ringtone and teachers in school won't be able to hear it. So much for banning cell phones in class.

Adults can't hear this high frequency ringtone but kids can. Students use the high pitch mosquito ringtone to receive text messages in school so their teachers can't hear their cell phones ring. Clever, huh?

Go here to read the whole story and download your own super secret ringtone (assuming you can even hear it). After the jump, you'll be able to hear the ringtone for yourself. I couldn't hear a thing.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Making Moolah

I must apologize for not posting anything much lately, I've been too preoccupied with other stuff to come up with a post or two for this thing. I almost posted something yesterday but thought I'd give it some more time, to mull over what I was thinking. Today I am still mulling it over but wanted to at least share what I was thinking.

The New York magazine online had a very interesting article this week about blogs and blogging. In it, it explains not only the phenomena of it, but also how there are folks who actually make money on their blogs through advertising. Being a pastor, there are times I daydream about finding a hobby that can also bring in a few extra bucks every now and then. I know pastors who have extra hobbies, some make things, a couple go to garage sales (to fulfill that inner need to shop) and then fix up what they buy and resell them.

As I have been thinking about how to use a blog to make extra advertising dollars, I have been looking at ways to increase traffic to my blog. One way is to submit articles to and These are peer sites where you submit any article you want (and many come from personal blogs) and see if it is interesting enough to people to come to your blog. If they like what they see, they might bookmark you and come back.

Another way is to blog about a top 10 search for the day. That can be hit or miss, but if you blog about say, Anna Nicole Smith, then when someone searches on Google or Yahoo for her, they might find your article, go to it, and check it out.

There are downsides to successful blogging. One of them is when a whole lot of whackos leave unsightly, odd, or just down-right mean comments on your blog. Some folks can say the darnedest things without batting an eye, other folks will be talking to themselves as they are typing their angry outbursts at what you say. If you're easily offended or get concerned that your mom will read your posts and comments and be offended herself, you'll need to figure out a way to manage those comments.

Another downside is this: You have to keep doing it. You can't post a few every now and then. You can't do what I've done this week and miss a week's worth of posting because you've been preoccupied with other things. Successful blogging is blogging 4-5 times a day or more. The most successful bloggers begin at 6am in the morning and stop at 7 or 8pm at night (or later!). These are the folks whose only job is blogging. And they are the ones to make the 5-7 figure incomes from advertising on their blogs.

Anyways, what if there is a way to make extra bucks and not work your tail off. Or, maybe there is a happy medium in it. Go to that article at the New York magazine, maybe it'll help spark a creative idea. And, if that happens, come back here and let me know what you've come up with. Remember, karma is good for us.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Sanctity of Marriage

Beginning on Monday, New Jersey's new law affirming gay and lesbian relationships through civil unions will begin. While gay and lesbian couples will not be allowed to call themselves married, said couples will enjoy the benefits of marriage and the legal protections afforded said union.

While most gay and lesbian folks are applauding this ruling, not everyone is entirely happy about it. While the new law gives gay and lesbian folks access to the benefits and rewards of marriage, there are some who are frustrated that not calling the unions 'marriage' is unfair. These folks contend that the law has set up a separate but equal situation that harkens back to the day when our grandparents and their lawmakers affirmed the laws of segregation and said, "What are black folks so mad about? We let them have their own drinking fountains, their own bathrooms, and their own parts of town. They should be happy we let them co-exist with us--just as long as they remember that it is us who's letting them enjoy these privileges."

The idea of separate but equal might sound good at first, like "they can have what we have" but it's actually more than that. It also implies, "They should be happy with what we've given them as well as what we allow them to have". Of course, the successes of what the gay and lesbian folks have won has only been won in the courts of law--after much fighting. And the idea is even more challenging because it admits that gay folks and our relationships are inferior to the relationships of heterosexual folks. In reality, both gay and straight folks have challenges in their relationships--and neither one is better than the other. For a humorous and interesting logic-based Top 10 list about this, go here to read it.

But I think it's a step in the right direction--although it's not the destination. The destination will be when gay and lesbian folks have equal protections under the law, in every state, in every way. There is a long road ahead of us--still, we can enjoy the benefits of this victory before taking the issue further.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ummm... okay, it can stop snowing now... I've had enough

Does God read blog posts? I have no idea but I do know that it started snowing and sleeting last night and it's still happening. There must be at least 3 inches of snow (or more) on the ground, but that's not bad. What I don't like is the sleet and cold wind a-blowin'. Brrr...!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where's the Snow?

I love snow. I love it so much that, in winter, I expect it. Having been raised in Oklahoma where winter has more ice than snow, I have grown to appreciate the beauty of the cold, white stuff.

I love snow so much that you can imagine my thrill last year, when having just began my pastorate in New Jersey, that we had the worst (or best) blizzard in history. It snowed almost 15 inches in one evening. I woke up and thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Of course, shoveling the snow is not such a treat- and driving in it is certainly hazardous. Still- when it comes to experiencing beauty and winter, I love seeing a knock down white blanket of snow.

It is supposed to snow like mad today. Actually it was supposed to have already started but it hasn't yet. I have quite a few plans for my evening: a poetry night at church followed by an evening of bowling with NJ's best and most fabulous of bowlers. Driving around will be tough- but it'll be worth it.

I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, who awakens at 3am in the morning and wonders if Santa has been here yet.

Report: Russian Soldiers Sold As Gay Sex Slaves

This post sems so unbelievable and it's being reported as true. It might BE true, and if it is, all I can think of is, "Holy Shit!"

But honestly, I wonder. Just this week, a new Russian bill is being submitted to their assembly criminalizing homosexuality. If convicted, a person can get up to 5 years in prison.

And just a few months ago, Putin blamed homosexuals (as if there are that many of us to affect a national average) for the decrease in birth rates among Russian peoples.

Given these recent incidents, a report such as this makes me wonder if tactics of fear and shock are being deployed to prep the peoples for the passing of legislation criminalizing homosexuality. It wouldn't be the first time that Russian news is being used for the benefit of its government, to not report the news but to promulgate propaganda.

Either that or my trusted lgbt news at 365 gay news is turning into a gay National Enquirer.


(Moscow) Young Russian conscripts reportedly are being routinely forced by senior officers to work as male prostitutes and turn over the cash to their superiors.

The Gazeta newspaper, quoting some of the soldiers and the human rights group Union of the Committees of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, reports that the soldiers were from the army base in St. Petersburg.

One client, the paper said, was a former general in the FSB, Russia's intelligence agency.

The rights group tells the paper that clients would arrive at base late at night and the soldiers would be forced by officers to get into the cars. They often would not return until morning.

One of the soldiers told the Gazeta said the officers would use violence and torture to force the men into prostitution.

"The officers would beat us on the arms and legs. We were sent out to the park to earn money ... I was tortured with electric shocks," said one.

The paper said that officers at base passed a client list on to successors and that the practice had been going on for some time.

The soldiers were allegedly paid about $50 for each "trick" with most of the money going back to the officers.

Russia's military has been faced with a crash crunch since the fall of Communism, and soldiers regularly complain they have not been paid. Many in the military have moonlighted to make ends meet.

Last year a 19 year old conscript was so badly beaten and tortured by his superiors that his genitals and legs had to be amputated and in another case a deputy commander in Siberia rented out his troops to local businesses for a commission.

Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Ivanov, considered a potential successor to president Vladimir Putin has promised an investigation.

Here is the link from

Monday, February 12, 2007

Clear Water

A single boat seemingly floats in midair in the beautiful crystal clear beaches in the Republic of Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Three Weeks?!

It is now reported that the Rev. Ted Haggard is completely heterosexual after going through a period of intensive counseling for three weeks. Three weeks?

Haggard, who carried on a lengthy 3-year sexual relationship on the DL (that's Down Low, for you non-hipsters) with a Colorado Springs male prostitute while also taking Crystal Meth (a seriously addictive narcotic), now says that after counseling he has the realization that he is heterosexual after all.

The Rev. Tim Ralph reported said that of Haggard, "He is completely heterosexual. That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place."

In some ways, you may mistake what Ralph is saying by thinking what he said means: "He is a virgin. It is only the acting-out situations when he had sex, where things took place. He is still a virgin." Sure, that doesn't make any sense, right? It's even laughable too. But you have to understand the context of the situation to understand what Ralph (and Haggard) are saying. In effect, they are convinced that reparative therapy is legit and say that, in reality, there is no such thing as a sexual orientation, you are only homosexual when you are engaging in an act of homosexuality (except in this instance, but more on that in a minute). So, if you don't have sex with someone (even if you do), when you're not having sex with that person, you're not a homosexual.

Interestingly enough, this is how many evangelical Christians who are also gay and lesbian are able to handle their dual and contradictory lifestyles. When they are not doing the gay thing, they aren't gay. So each situation and sexual activity can be one that is forgiven after each instance thereby allowing for said person to "no longer be gay once s/he's convinced that confession of said sin has occurred.

So Haggard has gone three weeks through a counseling program to end up saying that he is heterosexual and has discovered, that he's always been heterosexual.

There is, of course, something they're not telling us. With similar ex-gay reparative therapy, it is admitted that homosexuality is such a strong pull on those it affects, that to reject it will take a lifetime of realizing that they could slip. It is akin to Alcoholics Anonymous when a former alcoholic says each week at meeting, "Hello, my name is John and I am an alcoholic." Even if John hasn't had a drink in 15 years.

But Haggard isn't saying what the alcoholic John is saying. Instead, in his mind, he's not a homosexual because he isn't having sex with a man.

And, Haggard is saying something else. Even when he was having sex with another man, he wasn't a homosexual then either. "He was only acting out." Hmmm. That is almost as funny as when President Clinton said, "I smoked pot but never inhaled." Or, it's like a teenager who gets drunk, causes mayhem, but instead of taking responsibility, a parent or community leader might say in the teenager's defense, "Cut him some slack, he was only acting out." In Haggard's case, he isn't a teenager, he is responsible for his decisions and actions. Instead of owning up to his mistakes, he is simply in denial and has found a counseling center to say something that supports his ludicrous claim.

I wonder why the media reports say nothing of his 3-year crystal meth addiction? I have friends whose crystal meth addiction have left them incapacitated and financially and emotionally bankrupt. Surely there is something else there too.

In my opinion (and yeah, this will sound harsh), it's all a "story" for our ears with nothing to substantiate his claims. This way, he can go about his life and the various evangelical reparative therapies can go about their lives- as soon as Haggard just moves away and begins a new life.

And yet, it is also kind of sad too. For such a community whose leader has fallen, they have recommended that he exile himself rather than bring him back into the fold to nurture him back to health. It wouldn't bother me so much if Haggard had recommended his own exile; but that's not what they're telling us. They are saying, in effect,"We think it's best for Haggard to leave." And to say something like that almost seems hypocritical to me. Afterall, one's community is tied with one's faith, right? And so, he lost his job and has been asked to leave and begin a new career, and to do it somewhere else than in Colorado Springs without the help and support of the 14,000 member church he founded and nurtured to life. And that is what doesn't sound very Christian to me, even if it's probably the break he needs to get on with his life.

All in all, I think this whole situation has come about and been handled badly by everyone. Instead of supporting him, his church and friends have exiled him. Instead of Haggard admitting to anything, he denied everything until what could be proven, was proven. Three weeks of therapy and no mention of his drug addiction leads me to conclude that if we were to read in the papers tomorrow that he jumped off a bridge and killed himself, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

In my opinion, he needs serious emotional, psychological and spiritual help. And he hasn't gotten any of it. It has all been one show after another, it seems. Instead of exiting the situation so that evangelical Christianity isn't scarred, he should be getting the addiction help he needs by the very people who love and support him. And that'll take longer than a stay in a 3-week ex-gay rehab center will do.

And he also needs to come out and be honest with everyone, including himself.

Go here to read the news report.

Zoom, Zooooooooooooooooom

This is truly inspirational. It's a 10-minute video and in my opinion, worth every second of it. The video is a demonstration of a Bugatti Veyro, the fastest production car ever made, going over 250 mph at the Volkswagon testing track in Germany.

Yet Another New Diet

As anyone who knows me knows- the thought of gaining weight scares me. Being as tall as I am and understanding the reality that tall men don't have the longest of life spans and knowing that adding to the longevity of one's life bears in mind the need to watch one's weight, I am always concerned about being larger than is healthy.

Living in NYC, it was easier to maintain a healthy weight because you had to walk everywhere. And going up and down subway stairs and getting to and from anywhere, required long walks. Add going to the gym, and a person could easily maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Moving to NJ, however, has had a dramatic effect on my active lifestyle. I purchased a truck, because you have to have a car in NJ. With public transportation no where near what it is in NYC, a vehicle is essential to getting around. And, with all the good cookin' from church members, well, let's just say that I have moved from a healthy weight to not as healthy a weight. I am 2 points into the BMI that screams, "You're overweight!" Go here to measure your Body Mass Index.

During the past year that I've lived in NJ, I have gained 15 lbs. Can you imagine that?! I am both shocked and scared. "When will it stop?," I ask myself. So, to help make it stop, I've been attempting a few weight-loss methods.

Here is a good picture to help explain my dilemma.

After taking some crazy weight-loss pills that both scared me and did me no good, I have decided to join Weight Watchers. Yes, me and a room full of older (and larger) women are journeying together towards thinness. A member of my church said she lost 20 lbs. with WW and that has given me encouragement that I too, might have a measure of success and thereby halt my dastardly weight gain.

I'll let you know how it goes- from time to time.

Tit for Tat

A proposed ballot measure in Washington (State) by the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance would require that marriages that don't produce children within 3 years be annulled. The writers of the measure argue that marriage is for procreation only, right? Well, if that is so, then let's make a law about that.

Actually, the measure is written by supporters of LGBT folks who are tired of hearing the rhetoric that marriage should only be between a man and a woman because only a man and woman can (and should) procreate. They are attempting to gather signatures to be placed on a ballot for voting. They admit that this will never go anywhere and that in attempting to do so, they will have an opportunity to discuss the merits of marriage, regardless of the sexual orientation of the persons getting married. Here is the story from this link.

Proponents of same-sex marriage have introduced a ballot measure that would require heterosexual couples to have a child within three years or have their marriages annulled.

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance acknowledged on its Web site that the initiative was "absurd" but hoped the idea prompts "discussion about the many misguided assumptions" underlying a state Supreme Court ruling that upheld a ban on same-sex marriage.

The measure would require couples to prove they can have children to get a marriage license. Couples who do not have children within three years could have their marriages annulled.

All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized," making those couples ineligible for marriage benefits.

The paperwork for the measure was submitted last month. Supporters must gather at least 224,800 signatures by July 6 to put it on the November ballot.

The group said the proposal was aimed at "social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation."

Cheryl Haskins, executive director of Allies for Marriage and Children, said opponents of same-sex marriage want only to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

"Some of those unions produce children and some of them don't," she said.

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's sort of like Christmas decorations...

...they are displayed earlier and earlier every year. This past year, the stores had the Christmas decorations up before Halloween!

And now the political B.S. is beginning 2 years before the Presidential elections. Here is a good example of that B.S.

Click the comic for a larger version, that'll open up in your browser.

Everyone now knows that Obama isn't a cell terrorist, wasn't educated by Muslim extremists, and has had only brief encounters, as an adult, with his natural father (he was raised by his step-dad). It has taken him, all the Democrats in the country and a host of preachers to help clear his name. And yet, people seem to believe anything they hear on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

If Fox News were the National Enquirer and Obama was Tom Cruise, Fox News would have already been sued for a bajillion dollars.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

You Can't Always Have it Both Ways

In a recent NY Times article, Mary Cheney, the daughter of VP Dick Cheney defends her position, as a lesbian, to not only have a baby but to have it in peace and quiet. Remember, Mary's dad and the Christian Right have often cited gay people and gay families as a challenge to the very foundation of America's traditional family values. Mary has supported her dad and the Republican Party while keeping silent when they went on their rants against LGBT folks.

This is Mary's defense as written in that NY Times article,

“When Heather and I decided to have a baby, I knew it wasn’t going to be the most popular decision,” Ms. Cheney said, referring to her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe. She then gestured to her middle—any bulge disguised by a boxy jacket—and asserted: “This is a baby. This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate, on either side of a political issue. It is my child.”

No one can deny that she is carrying a gift from God: a child. And surely the child is not a political statement. And that child, like any other child, needs and will probably receive, the love that comes with raising a child. And, surely Mary and Heather will be good parents, doting on their boy or girl as any good, financially well-off parents would do. Mary wants what many Americans want (and feel entitled to have). And yet, the very same people that Mary works and stumps for, don't want that to be given to everyone else. Even Mary herself, working with her dad's campaign, has condoned such a mindset: 'I might be entitled to it, but you're not' is the implication from her support of her dad and his politics.

But now Mary is going to be a proud parent and, the time has come, she feels, to be left alone to raise and begin her new family. Dan Savage has written, in response to Mary's article and to her dad's condescension on Wolf Blitzer's news show, Dan writes a scathing piece directed at Mary and her hypocrisy. For whatever reason, Dan explains, Mary doesn't seem to "get it" that she is a part of the LGBT community and the child she will birth, will be rebuked and scandalized as any other LGBT couples and families have been, by her and her dad's political party. And she wants a free ride. She wants her life to be hidden from the public (more entitlement, right?) and to live her life, as if it's not anyone else's business. Interestingly enough, that is the same argument used by other LGBT families--now she's claiming it for herself amidst and to the very party she has so dogmatically supported all these years.

I agree with Dan that Mary can't or shouldn't have it both ways. And, few are or should let her do it, without reminding her that, until she admits to her role in the Republican scapegoating of LGBT folks, she is as much to blame as they are. Because of her silence during the Presidential race, many LGBT folks maintain a kind of, 'Who the heck does she think she is' mentality.

Whether or not you are as angry as Dan is or if you're somewhere between accepting alternate families and wanting to accept them with reservations, you must admit that Mary sure has a lot of balls, right? I mean, seriously, can the daughter of one of the most powerful (or as some would contend, THE most powerful) men be allowed to do in private that which others have been fighting for in the open square?

Again, Mary can't have it both ways. Even if she wants too- few are going to let her do it. Even Jon Stewart can't stomach the hypocrisy. And he points that out in a very funny and matter-of-fact way.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Universal Discrimination

Admittedly, I haven't posted much of anything substantive of late, I've been mired down with my own sh*t (as a line in the musical Rent goes) and haven't felt the needed inspiration to be, well... inspirational. I'll write more about that later.

I found an article that I want to share with you now. As anyone who is gay or lesbian can attest, one of the loudest counter-arguments we hear is the disdain and frustration some white and some black folk have when anyone in the LGBT community dares to associate their discrimination with that of the experience of the African-American/African community.

You may have heard or read where I have equated the two communities. And I have. I have done it to remind us that discrimination has been experienced by many people in many generations. Just when you think we've "moved beyond that", a simple example or correlation demonstrating that it's happening again is, often times, very appropriate.

To give you an example, several years ago I was manning a LGBT information table at a UCC State Conference in New York. That was the year the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns, NY Metro Chapter (in which I was the founding president, ..ahem..) had proposed to the Metro Association to declare itself Open and Affirming, a statement that would let everyone know that in the Metro Association, no one would be condemned for their sexual orientation, whether in politics, in the ordination process, or other arrangements. As you might imagine, such a resolution was a big deal and their was much discussion. The proposed resolution eventually passed. But before the resolution passed, there was some mighty tense moments in conversation.

Anyways, back to the table I was manning. I was approached by an African American pastor who verbally confronted me and dared to ask, who the (heck) did I think I was!? and, "Can you dare to even slightly suggest that the plight of the African American can even be slightly compared to you gays?!" And I said, "Well, yeah, actually it can and does." I should have thought of more witty things to say... but those witty things didn't come to my mind until 15 minutes after the man walked away. Grrr...!! I hate it when that happens.

The thing is, in many States, you can be fired from your job, based solely on the realization or information that you're gay. You can be kicked out of your apartment, if the landlord finds out. In the state I am from (Oklahoma), those laws weren't even challenged until the one is Texas was struck down when the police broke into an apartment of two lovers to discover them sleeping together (and they were subsequently arrested for it). Fortunately, those two particular gay men had balls and, with the ACLU, challenged Texas' sodomy laws and won! (If you are unfamiliar with that story, go here.)

But here's my point: We really can compare the two--even if slavery was (and is) a more hideous crime. Stealing people from their lands and making them slaves for two hundred years is immoral, sinful, and evil. And the continued racism that exists today (because of that old slavery) is immoral, sinful, and evil. And discrimination that exists today, whether based on gender, disability, economic situation, or sexual orientation is immoral, sinful, and evil. No one person has the sole monopoly on discrimination and no one people are entitled to confront the systems of injustice. In fact, as Christians we are all entitled and empowered to do so, regardless of ones race, gender, religion, economic situation, or sexual orientation. As Jesus went about dismantling the systems of discrimination (remember the non-Jewish women he associated with?) and calling to the minds of everyone that in God's eyes, we're all equal. The Apostle Paul even reminded his readers that neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, we're all equal in God's eyes. Sure, Paul didn't get the whole gay thing- but he did lay the foundation that in God's eyes, we don't judge each other by the color of one's skin but by the content of one's character. Whether such a view is expressed by Paul or Dr. King, there are some truths that are eternal and thereby God-centered. Emancipation and anti-discrimination are other such eternal and universal truths.

And I am not the only one to think so. So did Coretta Scott King, the late wife of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And according to her, both she and Dr. King were just as adamant in the 1960s (and later after Dr. King was assassinated) that LGBT persons not be disparaged as African-Americans were and are. Standing with such icons of human equality, we can all learn the lessons that discrimination isn't just a color issue, it's a universal one.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

And the Date Is: July 21

JK Rowling has announced the publishing date of the final installment of the Harry Potter series titled, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Sales of the final book will range from $19 - $65.00, depending on whether you want the plain hardback or the fancy-smancy deluxe addition.

And, here is the fun part. The book will be released at midnight on July 21. I actually stood in line for the last installment when I lived in NYC. It was soooooooo insane. There must've been thousands and thousands of people in line, in the store and outside, wrapped around the building that was over a block long. Actually it was also kind of fun. Kids and adults were in costume, the media was there interviewing folks making the evening very festive.

You can read the news article about this by going here.