Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kim Jung Un on Ski Lift

I know there's a story that goes along with this picture HERE, but I find the picture amusing. Knowing how much North Korean leaders have to posture and photoshop their way to seeking respect, then to release a ridiculous photo of being VERY SERIOUS while riding a ski lift - a ski lift which none of the population has probably ever used.

Let Them In, But Go Easy on the Tour

An unexpected wrinkle has appeared in my plans to open up my romantic thoughts and dreams to other people. Over the past few years, I've told more and more people about the various ups and downs in my love life. It's still a small company, and it's still not a whole lot of information, but the fact that I actively seek out situations is astounding. I mean, do you believe that I once responded positively to someone who sent me a message that said, "Do you want to vent?"

I can still barely believe it myself.

It's deepened friendships and brought me a lot of pleasure that I have friends who are interested enough in me to listen to me blather on, and who are supportive enough to give me words of encouragement when things aren't going well.

And let's be honest: things don't ever really go well. That sort of leads me to that wrinkle I mentioned at the start.

The problem with sharing details about my life is that I then have the unfortunate task of keeping other people in the loop.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What the duck?

The only dynasty of ducks I know anything about.
Oh, for the love of marzipan: this beard-guy fuss is NOT a free speech issue. It would be if he had been arrested for saying these things. Or if Congress had passed a law saying that he couldn't say those things.

If I am the CEO of a left-handed scissor company and I say, "Left-handed people are the scum of God's shoes and should be run out of town on a rail and forced to clean aquariums for all time," the government has no right (under the 1st Amendment) to abridge my speech. The government cannot make me stop talking or punish me with imprisonment or threaten financial hardship if they don't like what I'm saying.

However! The *company* has every right to can my ass for damaging the product, if my remarks are perceived to harm the bottom line - even if a bunch of people then stand up to support me and say, "Damn right! Those lefties are the devil's asparagus and not fit for humanity! Our religion allows us to hate them, even as we stress that our God loves them!"

I can also seek employment at the competing local right-handed scissor factory and continue to rant against the sinister heathens, selling millions more if the glorious right-handed master race decides to support me and my new company.

These are all of the things I can do.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"And I am not afraid of snakes."

You make a good point, Insanity Wolf.
--from "Adam and Eve," written and performed by Ani Difranco on Dilate (1996)

Life is not fair. Parents and grandparents repeat this old saw whenever we stub a toe or complain about taking out the garbage. Every third commercial reminds us of this, while selling us insurance. Every viewing of "The Princess Bride" hammers the quotation home.

I've been told this my entire life. I get it, at a cellular level. Despite filling young people's heads with stories about retribution and ends justifying means (also known as fairy tales), the world observes no such narrative conventions. That shallow woman who treats everyone poorly and doesn't seem to have any common sense? She's got a cosmetics contract and her own TV show. The priest who never abused children and runs a soup kitchen on his own time? There's a reporter combing through his back records looking for scandal and paying people if he can't find anything. Even Jesus of Nazareth, who was big on providing loaves and Omega-3 fatty acids to the multitudes and tried really hard to make people nice to each other, has people debating whether or not he was "white." [As an aside, Jesus was a Mediterranean Jew. He wasn't from Norway.]

My point is that I have been raised in a time and culture that teaches me to temper my expectations. The good guy does not always win. A white hat does not signify what it did for kids two generations ago. I have learned to be cynical and wary.

And yet...

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

"...for the rest of your life."

I'm writing this on my phone, from the waiting room of my local Walgreens pharmacy. Any irregularities can therefore be attributed to this.

I just left my physical follow-up appointment at my doctor. Last week before I left town, I had blood specimens taken. Today I went back in to hear the analysis and professional opinions of my doctor.

He said the things I'm used to. I've lost some weight, but I should lose more and exercise. I'm making my progress on that, considering how much my belts complain that I'm using tighter notches.

Once again, I have a multi-page summary of what my blood and urine betray about my general health. Once again, almost everything is within the normal limits. My HDL cholesterol is very close to being in the normal range, so my sporadic use of fish oil tablets ("now with less fishy burp!") is fine.

The big concern is my levels of vitamin D. It was low last year, and it's lower this year, even after a mid-year course of supplements that raised the level. And as my doctor prescribed the tablets again, he said words that shocked me into nervousness. 

"You'll have to take vitamin D for the rest of your life."

Granted, the part that concerned me was the "rest of your life part." The circumstances that have him talking about vitamin D sort of... mitigate a lot of that anxiety. But a doctor saying that anything needs to be done forever (or as good as forever, from my perspective) is always a bit alarming. Probably because it reminds me that there will be an end to my life at some point. And that the end may very will be hastened if I don't take the little green pills.

So I pick up my super D pills. I take one every week, and it's good for 50,000 units of D-ness. Symptoms of low vitamin D include susceptibility to viral attacks and weakened bone structure, so it's not like I'm going to grow an inch or change color. The positive benefits of this will be that I continue on feeling like I do right now. That's always a bit of a hard sell for any kind of prescriptive drug, but I just need to let the logic and the numbers wash over me.

But it is the first one of a parade of things that I'll do until the day I die.

(Unless I forget. Because vitamin D isn't so dire that I need to take it every week. Yay!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Surprise Affection

I was out to dinner tonight and the topic turned to love and affection. I mentioned that with relationships that where I am the instigating party, it usually happens that the notion of a relationship initially takes me by surprise.

To this, my dinner companion displayed a very skeptical face (rather like the image above) and asked me to explain. I gathered my thoughts and took a breath... and realized I probably couldn't. Trying to describe the inner workings of a person's mind to another is an exercise in futility or ridicule, not unlike trying to explain why a nightmare was scary. Something is lost in the translation.

But I tried my best. I told her that the moment I realize is usually when I make a decision differently than I would have if I wasn't attracted. That my feelings catch me off guard, because I do something in a completely foreign way. It is enough to cause my brain to jolt and try to figure out why the response is different.

And then the thunderbolt hits. And I realize I've been there for no small amount of time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Bonus Holiday

I was in St. Louis this last weekend, visiting my parents. Shortly after I arrived, my mom let me know that we'd be having Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday, because we're taking a family road trip to visit grandparents on Actual Thanksgiving. Most likely, the dinner on the Actual day will be in a restaurant. And because my entire family is slightly old-fashioned, we like the work and preparation that goes into a holiday feast. So we did one early.

And I kind of like it.

This last three or four months of the year is my favorite. The addition of a fake-real holiday at the beginning of November has helped restore some balance throughout. Since Halloween has lost much of its charm, having an early November fancy dinner helps balance out the late-November dinner, and the late December dinner.

Plus, it gives a fancy family-oriented meal that doesn't immediately need to be followed by Christmas decorations and a complete change of music in the household. Not that I don't love Christmas music! But it has its season.

So this weekend, we had a family dinner with my parents, my two brothers, and my sister-in-law. We laughed and misjudged assembly times, we tried new foods and old favorites, and generally had a blast. That's all I really want from a holiday, even if the day isn't an Actual holiday.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Comments about Comments

You may or may not notice, but I have switched over the comments for this blog to the system that is integrated with Google+. This change has several benefits for me (and possibly you who comment), but at least two drawbacks.

A Milestone - 800 posts

I think that's Ohio?
Looking at the stats for my blog this morning, I noticed that yesterday's entry was the eight-hundredth individual piece I've published on this blog. This comes a bit ahead of the eighth anniversary of my first entry this coming February. (Technically, that means this post, covered in 800s, is the 801st post.)

I've impressed myself, but I also feel an urge to quash that feeling. Being impressed is for things like climbing mountains or earning awards. The only thing I do a lot of is tap keys and click the mouse. Even I don't consider wrestling with word choices or struggling with similes to be impressive.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Arithmetic of Life

Three weeks ago, I received this card in the mail. In case I'd forgotten that whole ordeal from the first of October, Blue Cross wanted to remind me that they were still thinking about me. And while they were thinking, they were weighing their options. And... what does it say? "ensuring that I receive the benefits to which I am entitled." One of those vaguely unsettling pieces of corporate horror which so often factor into our daily lives.

Seeing this card made me panic: did I still have one of those terrible insurance plans where you're supposed to get "pre-approved" for emergency room visits? I didn't even think about that on the day (relive details from my mid-October entry). Was that my big GOTCHA?

After my diagnosis of nothing-wrong-that-wasn't-already-wrong, I threw up my hands and pleaded with the medicine gods to be merciful. I'll pay what charges I need to, since I've been given a largely clean bill of health. The charges that result from that... well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Today, I collected a letter from my mailbox from Blue Cross. And I realized that not only could I hear rushing water, I was standing on the planks already.

Sleeping in a King-Size Bed

I suppose the title sounds like a euphemism ("he sleeps in a king-size bed, if you know what I mean"), but it's not: over the weekend, I stayed in a hotel room with a king-size bed. I don't think this is the first time for me, but it's certainly the one of the very few times (and the only one I can remember). At home, I sleep in a full bed, so a king mattress is both taller and wider than my own.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Nothing more or less than a cat video

Three minutes of me finally making friends with my house guest. This was well before I had to chase her out from under my bed with a stick when it was time for her to leave.

A homesick visitor

I have a guest in my house for the next few hours. She's a cat.

Last night, I was contacted by a friend who needed to temporarily evict one of her two cats. Her landlord was coming over today to do some work, and as far as he is concerned, she only has one cat. Her second cat would have doubled her pet allowance from 300 to 600, which she didn't care to do.

So I have a visitor. It's one of the two cats I had a few weeks ago when my friend left on vacation, but this time there's only one of them. She (the cat) is not thrilled. When I first got her out of her carrier last night, she was very chummy and eager to be on the bed with me, which I enjoy as one of the perks of cat-owning.

But by 3:30 this morning, she was calling out into the darkness of my apartment, hoping there was some other cat nearby who could come out to play. This continued for hours, while I felt like a massive heel. I could call the cat's name, she'd raise her tail and jump up onto the bed, purring contentedly as I rubbed her head. But soon enough, she'd remember and hop down and start yelling again.

By the time I had awoken fully and gone into the bathroom to shower, she and I weren't on speaking terms. The sound of the bathroom fan and water running made her alter her pitch and frequency to even-more-pathetic levels. I thought about evicting her from the bathroom, but I know that closing a door between you and a cat only makes that door the biggest imposition in life: a task that the cat will set all of its brainpower against, if given the opportunity.

But since I returned from the grocery store at lunch time, I have seen and heard nothing from the cat. I don't know where she is, but I assume she'll just stay there quietly until I return from teaching lessons tonight. There's food and fresh water out, so she just needs to hang on a bit longer, before tonight's joyful reunion with her cat friend, beloved owner, and familiar sights and smells.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A Brusque No-Busking

This weekend was the 11th annual U.S. Open brass band competition in St. Charles, Illinois. As the Fountain City brass band, we competed and took first place for the third year in a row and the sixth year out of the last seven.

What was not expected - especially for me - was that my brass quintet decided to compete in the Busker's competition that runs as a companion to the main stage competition. In between performances by the full bands, the time as people are shuffled and chairs are moved is filled by small ensembles playing in one corner of the stage. A hat is passed through the audience for a free-will donation. An anonymous judge is somewhere in the hall, and whichever group is picked as the winner is awarded the contents of the hat.

When the other members originally approached me to ask if I wanted to compete, I gave a quick denial. The Open is not my favorite playing opportunity in our concert year - not because of anything about the contest site or organizers, but because I don't care for the "entertainment" aspect of the show. I have been informed over the years that this is a perfectly normal contest type in Britain, but that hasn't ever made me more inclined to view it favorably. I enjoy going, but I maintain a certain distance from the proceedings. Getting more involved by competing in something that is EVEN MORE focused on being entertaining isn't my idea of a good time.

But by the time all of the other members were now going to be playing members of Fountain City, I acquiesced to the second request. Still not particularly thrilled, but not wanting to be a complete party-pooper, I agreed to compete. After all, what else am I doing that day?

And we won.

Blogging for November

I saw on some site that there was a challenge to write blog entries each day in November, as a sort of low-impact version of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I thought it was a good idea, but I just started off this month with a brass band competition and no laptop. So I'll try to catch back up and get on track, just for the giggles.

Some of the directives may be taken from some sites that have daily writing starters to get the ideas flowing. I tend to write on and on about even trivial or super-detailed matters, so this month will probably be a combination of usual entries and some things that may have a shorter average length. Of course, it all depends on how I find the subject for the day.

I've been wanting to write more, but I've been traveling a lot lately, and that tends to put things on the back burner. I have the ability to use mobile devices to publish entries, but typing for long periods of time on tiny keyboards gives me anger issues.

This year, I've almost written more entries than in the previous two years (2011 and 2012) combined. I didn't realize my output had fallen so far, especially from the glorious banner year that was 2006, where I somehow put out 190 entries.

Hopefully, this month will even the scores a very tiny bit.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Everyone and everything imaginable

Here's a YouTube video that contains a radio ad against same sex marriage in Hawaii. It's paid for by the Hawaii Republican Assembly SuperPAC.

A partial transcription:

"Some people think homosexual marriage in Hawaii will not affect them. If you are one of those people, please think again. The current push for homosexual marriage is not about marriage at all. That's right: the lie of so-called marriage equality is merely a stepping stone to have government forcibly legitimize and normalize all sorts of deviant behavior. Terrible consequences will affect everyone and everything imaginable, forever. Do you want schools to teach your five-year-old all about the gay/lesbian lifestyle, or have your child going to a school with gender-neutral bathrooms. Do you want your church forced to marry homosexuals? Do you want to see local business people repeatedly forced to violate their faith?"

Apocalyptic, right? I made it without laughing for at least three sentences, but one particular sentence just had me guffawing.

"Terrible consequences will affect everyone and everything imaginable, forever."

Now that is some serious business. Everything and everyone will be affected? FOREVER? Cats in Borneo? Bacteria in space? The works of Proust, when translated into Swedish? The mathematical implications of the quadratic equation? The color cyan? The rakish angle of Humphrey Bogart's homburg in "Casablanca?" My cell phone reception backstage at the Kauffman center? The pronunciation of the schwa sound in English?


My stars and garters! This really is dire.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Property of Water is to be Wet

During the lunch break for a rehearsal yesterday, I ate outside with the company of other musicians. It was a blustery day, but the temperature was right and the sun was full. I enjoyed basking for a bit, though the redness of my forehead and arms indicate I may have developed an October sunburn. I think the last one of those I had was a trip to Florida a year or two ago. Needless to say, I don't regret it.

The conversation turned to eating cute animals (veal, pigs, lamb) and one person mentioned koala, theorizing it must taste delightful. When koala was mentioned in an informal social context, a mechanism clicked in my brain. It caused me to say that a high percentage of koalas have gonorrhea as an STD. This fact had the desired effect, which was equal measures of disgust and interest, depending on the person.

I should correct that koala fact, because the koalas actually have chlamydia, not gonorrhea. The facts obviously got slightly jiggled in my brain.

Possessed of a Bitter Bile

Do all men kill the things they do not love? 
Hates any man the thing he would not kill? 
Every offence is not a hate at first. 
What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?
--"The Merchant of Venice," Act IV, scene 1

Being an easy-going sort of fellow, I tend to group the people I encounter into a couple of groups: at the top, the various people I love, followed by the much larger group of people I wish well. That's basically everyone, which sounds like a terrible platitude. But the truth is that I generally don't worry too much about most people - they're doing fine on their own, so all that is required of me is to give them space to do it.

But there is a group of people at the bottom of the pile. The people I hate and avoid. It is a list which is quite small. How small? I have twenty fingers and toes, but I can count the people in this category using only one appendage.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"I had no idea you were this tall when you were lying down."

NOTE: This entry has descriptions of an emergency room, blood extraction, and other bodily functions. If that displeases you, please skip this entry.

Tuesday the first of October was an interesting day.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

"Rich she shall be, that's certain..."

"...wise, or I'll none;
virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her; 
fair, or I'll never look on her;
mild, or come not near me;
noble, or not I for an angel;
of good discourse, an excellent musician,
and her hair shall be of what colour it please God."

 -Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene iii

I took the above shot in the parking lot of the library, while I was picking up my next book ("Jefferson Davis, American"). I was leaving the library and saw the moon, hanging in crescent shape just above the lights and horizon. And below it (between the tree and the tallest lamp) was a bright unwavering dot. A planet? Perhaps. Venus, shining in glory, it turns out. I don't think it's very visible in my photograph - cell phone cameras are not awesome.

Crossing to my parking spot, I opened the door and stood, practically transfixed. I sat down inside and closed the door, then started my camera. I opened the door again and stood outside, taking the quick shot you see above me. It doesn't really capture the majesty of the scene, but I wanted at least an inferior rendering for this entry.

Because while I was looking at that scene, I had a personal realization. It is an answer to a question that has dogged my steps my entire dating life: what do you want in a woman?

Monday, October 07, 2013

When life gives you lemonade, you... uhh... hmm.

For the last few years in Kansas City, I've been buying a local brand of lemonade. It's made by Anderson-Erickson Dairy. But wait a minute, I hear you cry. Cows don't produce lemons! That is very true. The dairy also makes orange juice, so maybe they've got a citrus plant on call.

Anyway, the first time I bought lemonade, I noticed they had two kinds: regular and "reduced sugar." Oh, I get it: diet lemonade. Sure. The first time, I purchased the reduced sugar kind because it was the one on sale, and I studiously buy things on sale from my local grocery. I can't afford to shop there otherwise.

It was everything I needed from a lemonade. It was sweet, it was cool and refreshing, and it tasted like it had at least been in close proximity to lemons. But after a couple of times buying the reduced sugar kind, the knowledge of forbidden fruit drinks tempted me. Was I one of those phony "dieters" who "watched what they ate?" Hell no, I'm not one of those weirdos!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

On the behavior of the population during the shutdown

[Reprinted from a Facebook post today (10/3/13)]

SOURCE: Congressman confronts park ranger over closed WWII memorial (NBC News)

Why would anyone berate the first park ranger they could find? Does *anyone* think the ranger had even the slightest say in a government shutdown? Is it only because there were TV cameras and cell phone videos? Does this play well with anyone anywhere? Do some unfortunate people see it as "the people's man" getting in the face of "the government," when it's actually an elected lawmaker (whose job is to make the government work) accosting a park ranger (whose job is to follow someone else's directives)?

I can already hear the responses: from GOP, what do you expect? From Texas, what do you expect? From Congress. A politician, what do you expect? Bullshit, all around. None of any of those classes of people deserve a cynical "lesser standard" handwave and a shortcut to pigeonholing. There are no excuses for asinine stupidity!

I don't care if it's Bill Cosby, Kim Jung-un, or the god-damned Pope perpetrating this nonsense: no human being should be allowed to be so feeble in their basic decency and reasoning.

And please keep to yourself the comments that either cheer me on or take me to task: if I could have closed the comments on this, I would have. I don't need reinforcement or censure, I don't need sources or surveys. I wouldn't even have posted this on Facebook, except that it's where I started typing.

I need people to think about the ideal that government and social communication is not a zero-sum winner-takes-all blood sport, and to take it to heart. This whole thing makes me want to vomit from frustration and fecklessness.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Poem for October, 2013

October's secrets stalk at night.
Brood on hidden wicks alight
Keep impassioned thoughts aflame,
While one in silence keeps the name.
Finger to the lips are wed,
Placid face cloaks tempest head.
Coming fast is cold November
And 'tis futile to remember
that there’ll be no respite there.
Wishful thinking fills the air
And its acrid smoke arises
From the wrecks of compromises
Made in want of happier times -
Litanies of wounds that belie rhymes.

But ever Hope toward skyline stretches
(known in heart by burned, scarred wretches)
            So they sit on Expectation’s throne.

Not a one considers leaving:
They give o’r their cloaks of grieving,
‘Til Fate doth smile! then walk no more alone.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nobody wants to give you an iPad. Not even Southwest Air.

A few weeks back, a story crossed through my social network feeds. Ostensibly from Southwest Airlines, it seemed to be a giveaway to take five people to Disney World. All that needed to happen was clicking "like" and you'd be entered. Within a short time, several of my connections had passed the information forward or commented while giving their "like" status.

Initially skeptical, I followed the link back to the sponsoring page. It was for "Southwest Airlines." including that little suspicious period at the end. It also had only 2,000 people who liked the page - rather a small number considering it's arguably the most popular airline in the United States. The official Southwest page has almost four million likes.

Basically, everything about it said "fake." At best, maybe it was just a time-waster or a trick to get people to see advertisements. At worst, it's malicious software or sites or a compromised account. So I set about adding a comment to each person's posting, letting them know that it wasn't a real offer. I took more-than-usual care when commenting on other's posts, knowing that lots of people don't necessarily appreciate being called out.

I was right.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This Time of Year

Last night, I was able to partake in one of my favorite season-transition activities.

I went to bed with only a single sheet and an open window.
I woke up cold at some point in the night.
I stumbled out of bed and picked up the comforter from the corner, throwing it haphazardly over the bed.
I hunkered down inside, smiling all the way into the comfortable release.

Sometimes things are very simple.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Dearly beloved, divorce is an honorable estate..."

"... and is not to be taken in hand lightly, inadvisably, or wantonly to satisfy men's carnal lusts - although that's a pretty good reason."

-The Divorce Service, performed by Rowan Atkinson.

Two friends, married to each other for ten years, announced over the weekend that with the coming of a court appearance today, their divorce has become final. They had no big revelation, as the various hints had been gradually appearing over months -- when the relationship status is set to "single," it's not done because you're trying to keep things on the down-low. They seem to have put their two children first and foremost, so having taken care of that part, I wish them both well on their respective directions.

It did put me in mind of all of my other friends who have been in long (and not so long) term relationships. Some of them stay together, some of them break it off. Some of them should have broken things off years ago, some should never have gotten together, and some -- bless them -- just keep chugging along even though every circumstance tells them to break up ("they're so happy, they don't know how miserable they are!").

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Wave Will Embrace the Words Erelong

Occasionally, a face or name will come sneaking back into my mind without notice. In this particular case, it started with a friend getting praised for his yard work. He'd put pictures up on Facebook of clearing out a dense bracken in his front yard. Much sweat went into the rehabilitation of the area, and I made to compliment him on his serious work. One of the comments there before me was from a woman I didn't know. It was her face that caught my attention first.

She looked familiar. Oh, right. She sort of looked like a good friend of mine, known for her enveloping smile. It was the similarity of the smile and the smooth face and dark hair that caught my attention. But this woman wasn't known to me, so I moved on to make my comment. 

Yet the face glowed ever brighter in my thoughts. Why did I keep thinking about it? This wasn't a person I'd ever met before. Or... was it? I stared at the face, almost willing my brain to make some connection and ease the tension. It couldn't be... what was her name? Elsie? No...Elmarie? No...


The door in my mind had opened a crack, letting some of the light from beyond pour out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Shifting Sands of Sins

If you had approached me a year ago and been of enough prominence in my life for me to answer you truthfully, I would have said that my particular chief sin was that of Pride. When I started the unfinished blog series on the seven sins years ago, I saved Pride so it could be the final one, knowing that I would have much to say about it. I've struggled with it for a long time, struggling even to convince people that it was the correct choice to describe me.

People are right to be confused, as there are many things about which I have no particular pride at all. My personal appearance is one of those areas, as I regularly wear shirts with holes. My hair is thin and sparse, but I laugh at any suggestion that I try hair restoration tonics or shampoos. Even until recently, I laughed about being overweight, though my recent bought of healthy living is prompted not so much by pride as a desire to sleep well and not die early.

There are still a great many things that stiffen my spine and force me to bristle. My logic, my reasoning, my considered opinions: these are the things about which I am tremendously prideful. Should someone belittle them after I have put in effort, my reaction will be swift.

But I recently felt such envy and entitlement that it left me white-hot and short of breath.

Women and Men: Five Observations Each

It is always incredibly dangerous to generalize a group of people, more so when the group is 51% of the world population. But at the risk of misidentifying vast swaths of womenfolk and menfolk, here are some things I've observed. As with all observations, these may not match your experiences, or even match reality.

By and large, women are more likely:

1) to smell good.
2) to know where a tissue is at any given moment.
3) to have some form of pill on their person.
4) to prefer some other woman's hair to their own.
5) to have a ready answer to "what do you not like about yourself?"

By and large, men are more likely:

1) to respond with a definitive (though not necessarily correct) solution or opinion as a response to any piece of conversation that indicates a problem. See also "mainsplaining."
2) to have a ready opinion about food.
3) to be suspicious if a woman says she has an interest in the same thing they do.
4) to be color-blind, left-handed, and/or be a serial killer. These are not interrelated.
5) to describe a location by saying "go 6.7 miles east, then turn south for 2.3 miles. It's on the northeast corner."

Monday, September 09, 2013

So I appeared in the newspaper...

ARTICLE: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/02/4447372/learning-trombone-is-a-practice.html

A couple of weeks ago, a reporter and a photographer from the Kansas City Star were at one of my lessons. A story was being written about my student, Robert Finn, bishop of Kansas City and St. Joseph.

As I get back into the swing of writing after my tour through Oklahoma City and Colorado last week, one of the entries I'll write is a companion piece to the story in the Star. As is often the case with trying to condense a multi-year regular appointment to a thousand words, many details are lost or not included. I'll have more thoughts in a larger entry.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Colorado Irish Festival

This week, I've been touring. For Labor Day weekend, I was in Oklahoma City, but now I'm near Estes Park in Colorado. The brass band is playing for a Scots Irish Festival in the little town. I'll have a larger update after I return to an actual computer.

More regular updates should resume in the next week.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"For the blood is the life" - Leviticus 17:14

CONTENT ADVISORY: This entry is about human blood. If that's the sort of topic that upsets you, please don't read any further.

I had blood drawn this morning, and as regular readers know, I am not a fan. The process of drawing blood from my body is rather adversarial: not between me and the hematology nurses, but between me and my own body. I have a poor track record (especially this year) of resisting the urge to pass out.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Things Doctor Andy Doesn't Think Anything About: Raising Children

There are several things that I try never to offer opinions about. These topics are things that fall outside my set of experiences, so any words I have to say are just conjecture, opinion, and received knowledge. These topics are also usually important and often serious, making me even more reluctant to offer pithy sarcasticality.

One of those items is raising children.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Are We Not Words?

Death has not stopped now that society has the internet. The degree to which we can be connected to our circles of friends combined with the ease of sharing information to those circles means that death also needs its space. Recently, a family friend noted that her brother had died in hospital. Seeing the news was only twenty minutes old, I called my parents and relayed the news to them. News of loss, spreading at the speed of electrons.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

An Evening with the New (and also Alex Lindsay)

Prometheus, who stole fire from the heavens to give to man
Last Friday night at six o'clock in the evening, I made an important decision. I made the decision that by seven o'clock, I was going to be in an area of Kansas City I'd infrequently visited, in a bar I had never heard of, meeting a man I don't know.

It turned to be a notable evening.

This is my story.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Greatest Hits?

Time for some site business. No, I'm not asking for donations or subscription fees. I just wanted to point out a feature that you may not have seen. It's tagging! Everyone loves tagging. It's searching my blog by subject heading. Remember library research classes?

Tagging occurs when I create little phrases to qualify and categorize the various entries I write. I make sure to tag everything I write with at least one tag. Tags are a way of taking a large group of items and dividing them into easier-to-manage categories. Think of it like adding data that can be searched for. If I write an entry about my feelings, it's not necessarily going to have the word "feelings" in it. So using the standard search bar at the top wouldn't find that entry, even though I might consider it to be largely about feelings.

In such a case, I would probably use my tag for "Reflections", possibly combined with "About Me".

In the right column, you can find all the list of tags I've created (I guess Blogger calls them "labels," but they're the same thing). I've created more than forty so far. Some of them are easily explainable (like Death, Social, Men, Women, etc.) but some of them are more opaque. For example, "'Loco' motive" refers to entries about cars or transportation. "A Modest Proposal" refers to entries steeped in satire. "Gullible's Travails" is about trips I take, which often have humorous episodes at my expense.

But for today, let me address your attention to "My Favorites." It is exactly what you might think it is. This label contains entries I think are especially good or representative of my writing. There's no hard or fast rule about what makes it into this elite list. In fact, some entries get added and then removed at a later time. It's merely a collection of entries that I think are particularly meaningful, haunting, funny, or thought-provoking. Basically, they are particularly something.

It is by no means a comprehensive list. Selecting an entry usually follows any time I dive back into my archive for an unrelated reason. While I'm in there poking around, I stumble across an entry I didn't even remember, read it once more, appreciate it, and stick the tag on. Tags were introduced sometime after I started writing, so earlier entries tend not to be tagged with anything, unless I've specifically gone back and assigned some.

I've published more than 750 entries at this point. Let me tell you that - just between us - they aren't all great. But when I tag something as being part of My Favorites, it's because I found something about it that made it stand out in my mind. It's the best of what I've written (by my own estimation), and I'm happy to invite you to take a look if you haven't.

You can find it in the right column near the bottom, or through this handy shortcut http://doctorandyspeaks.blogspot.com/search/label/My%20Favorites

Monday, July 29, 2013

Addendum to "The Perils of Non-Human Banking"

I contacted Bank of America's online chat help today. As before, they were able to credit the fee back to me. As before, they didn't really seem to have any idea why the item was returned. So now I'm going to go back to the branch of Wells Fargo and have them cash it, as I did last week.

The check writer didn't have any idea what was wrong last week, and I'm sure they still won't this week. Luckily I don't have to drive out of my way to stop in at Wells Fargo and get them to cash me out.

I totally got spoiled with the fancy-internet-phone depositing. Let's hope the current "I have no idea why anything is wrong, but that will be $12 please" idea dies as soon as possible, Bank of America.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Perils of Non-Human Banking

UPDATE, 7/29/2013: Situation temporarily resolved and described at http://doctorandyspeaks.blogspot.com/2013/07/addendum-to-perils-of-non-human-banking.html

I have an account with Bank of America that I've had for years. Even before moving to Kansas City, I had an account of one type or another with BofA, which has caused all kinds of small difficulties. Due to some weird relic of banking integration, I always need to tell branches in this area that my account was created in Missouri, otherwise things go slightly haywire. I don't know what the difference is between Kansas and Missouri accounts, but there is some divide that means that they can't use PURPLE ink on PINK paper for this transaction -- it needs to be PINK ink on PURPLE paper. Obviously.

Still, it hasn't really ever effected me. My transactions still go through with regular speed and little happens to cause disquiet. But then I got to last week...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Of Dogs and Cigarettes

My parents have not smoked since I've been alive. I think they smoked in younger times, but I seem to recall the story saying they had given it up by the time I was born. I bring up this story, because the ash trays in the cars I grew up in were clean. Except for the occasional gum piece us kids put there, or wrappers to various candies that ended up collected there.

It was like a secret hiding place! Usually out of the way but still reachable when bucked in, they'd be in the doors or the armrests or in the dash, just waiting to be flipped open and closed with little spring-mounted doors. A roaring trade was done in daring brothers to put a finger in, then trying to snap it closed. Everyone then got a rush of realizing how close they had come to DEATH!

Friday, July 12, 2013

All the YES and none of the NO

SOURCE: http://www.santiagotimes.cl/chile/human-rights-a-law/26440-victim-president-and-conservatives-address-chilean-abortion-debate

SUMMARY: An 11-year old girl was raped by her stepfather and is now pregnant. The child's mother says he would never have used force and that the relationship was "consensual." The child issued a statement that her mother was lying. The father has confessed to the relationship. The case is now news in Chile and beyond because it is one of only five or six countries in the world that prohibit abortion in all cases.

OPINION: I have always been frustrated with compromise speak in abortion discussions. Here in the States, many provisions restricting abortion have a "rape and incest and mother's health" proviso somewhere, such that abortions are restricted "except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother." It always struck me as proof that a fair amount of people haven't really given abortion the whole of their attention.

The way I've always seen it, at the core there are only two positions for the abortion issue:

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Doctor Andy... Produces?

[I recorded this yesterday morning, before the events that spurred the previous dour entry. It couldn't really be different in tone or scope.]


And so I drink the muddling draft and sail until I wake

This is a post about death and grief, so I encourage you to postpone reading it if you're having the sort of day that makes this sort of post unwelcome. It ends optimistically - after a fashion - if that matters.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

"Sweet are the uses of adversity" -- KC Shakespeare's "As You Like It", part one

I delayed a trip out of town by a day to take advantage of the magnificently-awesome unseasonable weather we've been having. Feeling very much in the artistic mind the last few weeks, I went to the Heart of America's Shakespeare Festival production of "As You Like It" in Southmoreland Park - as fine a park name as you might e'er wish to see a Shakepearean play performed under. The temperatures were forecast to be mild and I went to my market and bought some picnic fixins to eke out a sandwich: tabbouleh with feta and (a bit too much) cilantro, and pistachio desert salad.

I parked in the nearby garage and hiked to the grounds. As I soon found, while they share some of the same pedigree, there were many differences between this Kansas City event and the one at the St. Louis performance of "Twelfth Night" I saw a month ago. Both are on sloping hills in a park right across from the local art museum. Both try to incorporate the trees into the set design. Both have Shakespearean tendencies? I know, I'm reaching, but you aren't supposed to use a list like this unless you can enumerate three things.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moved to a Different Place

[I originally posted this to my another social media account, but I realized it would have just squatted there like an angry toad next to pictures of me and other friends looking happy. If I confine this to the blog, it will just vanish into the archives unless someone really looks for it, which is a better solution to ignorance of this kind: it should never be forgotten about, but it should be archived for proper study and occasional ridicule.] 

I'm even hiding it behind a jump, because I don't want to see it on my front page. I do think it's something I'll write about in the near future, because the concept of aggrieved heterosexuals is... interesting ground.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sometimes the Tale is Told

One of the things I would love to get better at is the telling of stories. In general, I don't have an aptitude for it. Only in very specialized circumstances have I felt proud of my output. One is when I read the material of others. It's probably the leftover drama training from eighth grade, but I love reading stories out loud. Making voices for characters, trying to add layers of meaning... it's not something I've had much call to do -- watch out, prospective children of mine! -- but I enjoy it regardless.

The second is relating the circumstances of relationships. And those (so far) are stories that end in failure. In spite of that rather gloomy end, I try to never make these stories depressing. Emphasizing the comic aspects of life usually helps. Who can resist stories about people who smoke complaining about addictive behaviors in others? Or about a pair of people so accommodating that they end up working against their own interests? That's just funny.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Close Friends à la Facebook

One of the more interesting ideas that has arrived with the wide-scale adoption of social networks is the concept of a digit that expresses how many "friends" you have. It's most common with Facebook, since it is still the social giant. A friend is someone who you have clicked to say "this is a friend of mine" and the other person clicks and says, "yes, I agree that we are friends". It's a link between the two personal accounts, and that link grants viewing rights for certain buckets of content (status updates, location, photos, etc) as defined by the users. In more technical parlance, it's known as a "synchronous" connection, because both people must agree explicitly to each other (you can't "friend" someone by fiat who does not wish to be so connected).

Monday, June 17, 2013

Doctoring the Records

All signs seem to point to me having completed my doctoral degree. I've been very careful about making any announcements like this because the process involves a lot of extra forms, extra version edits, extra jumping hoops, so I tried to temper expectations. But everyone knows I'm close, so I've had to continually play defense when people ask about my current status. Or, as is usually said, "Aren't you done yet?"

And now I am.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Feigning Maturity

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
It looks like I've finished all of the doctoral study. As often occurs with these things, there has not yet been the "now you're done, hooray!" moment. In a few months, when my diploma arrives, perhaps that will satisfy. For now, I have to make do with an email from my professor saying, "Well, I marked you as done. And you got A's so don't worry."

It's not quite what I was picturing.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

*TWEET* Improper cross block on five twenty-one! Do over!

SOURCES: http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/free/20130522arizona-house-non-prayer-sparks-christian-re-do.html  AND http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/arizona-house-prayer_n_3322240.html

The Arizona House of Representatives opens each days session with a prayer and the pledge of allegience.  Tuesday, Representative Mendez offered a non-theistic recognition of the shared humanity of all those working. Instead of bowing heads, he encouraged everyone to look around at the other people in the room. He also quoted Carl Sagan, saying, "For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love."

But some would not let this prattle stand!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

At the door, looking on.

I feel as though I stand under the lintel of a door. One step will take me through or back. How long can one stand without making a choice? Ahead: the unknown, spread wide and shapeless before me. Behind: the familiar lines of the past, familiar in the good and the bad. 

All life distills to taking a step, but either step is a risk. And standing still only heightens the discomfort. Even as I try to avoid making the wrong choice, I make it continuously -- for not deciding is the only wrong choice.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Commence au festival!

Today is the 2013 Spring commencements for the Conservatory. I was planning to attend, as (weirdly) I have friends graduating again. Meaning that, for a while, I didn't know anyone who was graduating -- apparently things have turned again.

I say "planning to attend" because I woke this morning with the sore throat I'd been successfully avoiding for most of the past year. So now I'm in bed, tapping away on a keyboard, while the live webcast from the Kauffman Center is being established. I just saw two of the music professors who'll be playing with the brass ensemble peek their heads on stage while adjusting chairs and stands.

It's a little "Rear Window" for my tastes, but at least I get to sit hear gargling salt water. If they can get everything running by show time, I'll be able to watch 200-300 pixel-high versions of my friends and professors getting degree-ed and hooded...-ed.

I watched one other Conservatory performance live streamed like this, and it worked great. Sound was excellent, picture was clear. This ceremony hasn't started yet, but I'm thinking it's not going to go as smoothly, for whatever reason. For one, I haven't heard a peep of audio. Crowd noise, chair scuffing, something.

Oh well.  Technology.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Storm Trooper Detachment

[This entry concerns Star Wars and my connections to it.  It does not -- by any stretch of the imagination in the grand scheme of the world -- matter.  I'm not writing this because I think it is suggestive of some sort of universal trend or a grievous act perpetrated by or on humanity.  It's just me talking about something I remember.

If you have no memory of these things, or have no interest in reading about me being nostalgic at LENGTH, please look away now.]

I love Star Wars.

Friday, May 03, 2013

A Reward for Myself

It snowed here yesterday. In May. For the first time since 1907 or something.

And this afternoon, I submitted my doctoral work for consideration.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Journal Entry: May 31, 2011

This entry was written in the journal I took on the European tour the brass band took in 2011. My parents are leaving this week for a European vacation, and I delved into my writings to see if I'd written about my experience at the American Cemetery. They're headed there in a few weeks.

It was written in two parts. The first on the ferry as we waiting for disembarkation, the second after our performance at the American Cemetery. The concert was one of the highlights of my career as a musician and one of the great memories of my life. This entry is a paltry reflection of that written on a moving coach, headed to Paris.

May 31, 2011
[Time not marked]--------

Riding the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen today. Boarded at 10:45pm, [arriving] this morning in about 15 minutes. This morning, I awoke to a 4:15am shower. Returning to the bunk in the darkness, listening to the thrum of the engine[,] the absence of other sounds. It harkens [sic] the mind back to the landing here.  Crossing the Channel under darkness, I had the luxery [sic] of a cramped shower and only 2 men to a 4 bunk room.

My grandfather didn't storm the beach in the first wave, but at some point he crossed over the water.  Landing and crossing over the previous week's battlefields, just to get to the place where some would die.

Today we have a concert at the American Cemetery with patriotic music. At 8:30am, I'm not sure how many are expected as an audience.  Whether one or one thousand, I feel it will be a moving experience.  So many memories -- but not my memories.

11:22am -----------

It was all that I thought it would be.  The clock chimes struck in tune with "Hymn to the Fallen." The sea creates the background noise, while the murmurs of conversation ebb and flow from the small groups gathered around the gravesites [sic].  A blue and cloudy sky, with a wind that blows cautiously -- chill in the shadows, but comfort in the sun.

And everywhere the crosses of the dead, known and unknown.  It can be overwhelming to be in a place of such peace, which was once the site of so much violence.

Photo: Me

Self-portrait, 27 April 2013
I took this black and white self-portrait yesterday morning. I had been out late the night before for a friend's birthday party, but woke early because that's how the body plays tricks on you. Everything in my immediate vicinity smelled like I'd been french kissing a smoker (we were never allowed to claim our party room because the previous party didn't leave, so we moved to the smoking porch). Before I'd even taken a shower, I threw on a different shirt and took the picture.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Writing Elsewhere

I know this is closing the barn door subsequent to an escape, but the lack of updates is because I'm hunkered down working on finishing the stuff for my doctorate. I'm hustling to finish things in time to turn in this Friday (last Friday in April). That may or may not happen, but at least I have a goal date and will have completed most of the work (if not all).

Regular updates will continue soon (hopefully by starting off with a "whew, I'm done" post).

Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Roger Ebert, dead at age 70 from cancer

Roger Ebert died today.

I'll have other thoughts about this, but I wanted to put up the best testimony about his death. It comes from an article written by Roger for Salon in 2011:

I am 69, have had cancer, will die sooner than most of those reading this. That is in the nature of things. In my plans for life after death, I say, again with Whitman:
 I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
And with Will, the brother in Saul Bellow’s “Herzog,” I say, “Look for me in the weather reports.”
"I do not fear death" September 15, 2011

Monday, April 01, 2013

2013's April Fools


The above article highlights some ignorant people who got confused over Google using it's homescreen-replacement "doodle" on March 31 to highlight the birthday of Cesar Chavez.  Many people got it confused with Hugo Chavez, recently deceased Venezuelan dictator, even though the Doodle tells you who it is and presents you with Google results of their lives.  Oh, and their names and lives are different.

A few people got incensed after thinking about it for only the amount of time necessary to compose an angry tweet.  A few acknowledged their error, but others doubled down. No doubt they reiterated because of the social shame we all feel if we go overboard on an opinion nowadays and then discover that we were wholly or partially wrong. In order to avoid embarrassment, many people .  Opinions were voiced that all left-leaning Hispanic people must be the same, or that it was a greater affront that Google didn't do something with colored eggs or Jesus (who fits the brown-skinned left-winger trope well).

I get a lot of schadenfreude out of these, but I suspect that's only because I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that I might be wrong in public. I hope that I'd have enough sense to say, "Man, I was wrong." But I have a suspicion that I'd probably get uncomfortable enough to try and B.S. an answer out of nothing. That's certainly happened before -- I'm writing this partially to try and remind myself that isn't a good way to handle anything.

Friday, March 22, 2013

How much is a human life worth?

Pietà (Michelangelo)
It's a morbid question, I know. And this is a morbid entry, because it deals with the death of the young. Forewarned is forearmed.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wordworthy = "Fremdscham"

Into the great lexical maelstrom of English words borrowed from other languages...

From the creators of Schadenfreude and other useful words...

I present to you Fremdscham.  It's a word which may not yet be a word but which probably should be.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Up Late

I've been doing research on a potential lead for about the last hour and half.  I don't want to say anything more at the moment, but I should be able to speak a little bit more about it by the end of the week.  In the mean time, I made good progress in shaping up the end of my degree, and have feedback that another of the points for my program should move firmly into the "done" column sometime this weekend.  If all goes well and the following seas.  Or something.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Post Sleep, part III: Slightly better than abysmal

I have good news!  Or rather, I have less-bad news.  Still, less-bad is good, right?

I did manage to sleep for a significant (possibly even majority) portion of the night.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Pre-sleep, part III: Sleep Harder

Yes, you read the subject right: I'm going back to the clinic for yet another overnight observation.  Just a few days after the last one, they called again to say that my doctor had ordered another round of testing.  I don't know what if anything will change this time -- will I get the elusive full nose/mouth mask? -- but I do know that this stuff has lost its charm.

You may remember that it never really started with any charm.

I'm turning it into a proper two-day affair this time.  I have time budgeted tomorrow for far more exercise than I usually do. Not only will this be a nice bonus for me, but I'm going to try really hard to exhaust myself before the clinic.

I teach my Tuesday lessons then have an hour to make it to the facility for a 9pm start.  Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I'll fall asleep.  That sure would make the time go by quicker.  The other fuss -- the atypical sleep time, the goop in my hair, the laughable attempts to pee while wired to a box -- would all be manageable if I could make the 8 hours pass unconsciously.

Damn.  I forgot about the third go-through of the 16 page paperwork.  It's a good thing I keep letting them know that I have never been a smoker, nor have I started smoking.  All the (lack of ) sleeping might have been for naught of one of these times I'd actually started smoking 15 years ago.

Bad at tech or on purpose?

Click to magnify

I saw this ad playing before an online video.  It was an advertisement about how a guy's contact lenses were blurry because he slept in them.  All the text was out of focus and the video had pronounced artifacts frequently found in low quality videos.  "How clever to get people to try and squint to see something, replicating a bad set of contacts.

But by the final shot of the ad (captured above), it wasn't any clearer.

And then I said, "Oh.  It's not clever.  It's just terribly made and terribly displayed."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good vs. Popular, part one: "The Good, the Bad, and the Bieber"

As a musician who performs for a certain part of my living and my enjoyment, the Eternal Question of "good" versus "popular" has practical as well as academic applicability.

Let me first establish that ideas can be both (things can be good AND popular) and it is also possible for them to be neither (things can be neither good NOR popular).  The refuge of the neurotic is that if one's art is not popular, at least it is good.  And that just isn't true.

I'd also like to establish that many creators want their content to be both good AND popular.  Popular means it is widely experienced and disseminated -- good means it is held to be meaningful and worthy of attention.  I certainly wouldn't complain were both to occur with this blog, for example.  

Let's look at YouTube.  As of today (Feb. 27, 2013), the top six videos of all time are:

The Second Storm: more or less

The much ballyhooed second winter storm of the year arrived today.  Though it was hyped almost as much as the first and the masses did gnash teeth, it ended up being partially a disappointment here (at least by my standards).  At my place, another 6-8 inches fell, but the warm temperatures meant that very little of it stuck to the roads or sidewalks. In the end, it looked about like it did before.

I did get the opportunity to look out of my windows over the lawn towards the boulevard and drink Jameson from a coffee mug, while watching the slate-colored sky.  Several times, the snow would slacken and it would be a still tableau.  Then the wind would rise again, and more flakes would fall.  Nothing like the storm from last week, when the white-out obscured even the trees just outside.

Because I left my previous job in December, I didn't have any pressing places to be.  I simply made sure that I had enough veggie burgers, goat cheese, and kids cereal to make it the couple of days until I could easily leave again.  Painless, thanks to preparation.  The grocery store was busy, but a single person with a basket can dodge and weave with the best.

There are rumors of a new snow event on the horizon, but nothing concrete as yet.  I am always thrilled by anything that accomplishes two things:

1) keeps snow in the air.  Because... well, snow!
2) helps keep seasons distinct.

Point 2 really annoyed me during last winter, when we had a pathetic amount of snow.  It felt like eternal autumn, as though the machines never fully engaged to give us winter.  I can never fully appreciate the Spring eventuality unless things have been truly bleak in the depths of the cold season.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Occam's Gay Razor!

SOURCE: Scott Lively, 'Kill The Gays' Bill Supporter, Pushes Claim Obama Is Gay, Dating Reggie Love 

The linked article concerns Sco
tt Lively, pastor and head of "Defend the Family", and his assertion that the President and his former personal assistant, Reggie Love, are in a homosexual relationship. Pastor Lively has previously asserted that high-ranking Nazi homosexuals helped to orchestrate the Holocaust.  This calls to mind my college roommate's assertion that the Nazis "killed homosexuals BEFORE they killed Jews."

If homosexual Muslims are willing to spend the time required to get married to opposite sex partners, have children, and spend an entire life telling people they're Christian, I don't see how we can possibly prevent the gaypocalypse.  

(Note: "gaypocalypse" is very different from "gaypocalypso", which is an exciting and danceable music genre.  Baracas are optional.)

PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.etsy.com/listing/111519976/baracas-a-musical-instrument-for-obama