Archive for June, 2011

Pride and Apologies

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment

We were in San Francisco the day of the Pride Parade but I’m sorry to say we missed the main events. With New York finally coming on board with their adoption of a same sex marriage bill, there was plenty to celebrate and it was supposed to have been awesome. California is still suffering the setback caused by some overzealous Mormons with deep pockets, but Proposition 8 is bound to come down. It’s only a matter of time.

I’m looking forward to a time when this sort of thing is as mundane, when loving couples aren’t singled out and discriminated against because they happen to have the same toolset downstairs. Perhaps that’s too hopeful. There are always going to be douchebags who would do anything to sever the rights of any group of people they frown upon. We’re hoping for a governmental policy change and as much societal change as is possible.

I’m sorry to say that I used to be in the camp of those who loved to hate. Of course, we fundies called it, hate the sin, love the sinner. Ugh. What a crock of shit. When I was in high school and a devout Baptist, we had a pastor who loved to talk about the evils of anal sex. He had reams of Christian-biased “studies” that went into explicit details regarding all sorts of things that apparently every gay person did with the ol’ turd cutter and how angry it made baby Jesus.

I know this because in my creative writing class, we had to write a paper in which we took a side on something controversial. I hate to admit this, but I wrote a paper on all the evils of homosexuality and used a bunch of bullshit studies provided by my pastor as research. My controversial paper’s subject was nothing more than a denouncement of butt-sex in a feigned scientific tone. And I got a fucking A. I feel dirty, and its not because my pastor’s literature introduced me to such terms as rimming. It’s because in my ignorance and conceit, I accepted and parroted that nonsense without giving it a second thought. Being an anti-gay Christian is all about accentuating the ewwwww factor, and that absurd indoctrination the most disgusting thing of all.

Most of my life was lived as a devout Christian fundamentalist. I know that when the subject of homosexuality comes up, most fundies can’t get past their mental picture of a two dudes going at it. I’m pretty sure that straight Christian men think more about gays having sex than do homosexuals. They are obsessed. It’s all they see.

Fundies often refuse to see people as people when it comes to gay tolerance. It doesn’t matter how skewed their frightful image of what physical love between same-sex couples may be, they can’t separate their picture of what might be happening behind closed doors from the people involved. I find this sadder and sadder every day. Why the consensual sex acts of any adults are the business of holier-than-thou, complete strangers is beyond me. It’s unnerving that their obsession with other people’s sex lives has such a stranglehold on public policy.

A few months after my wife and I were married, I made a comment about how the whole push for gay marriage made so much more sense to me. I was greeted with a confused and distrustful gaze until I assured her that, indeed I was straight, but that I understood things much better. Relationships and marriage aren’t defined by the hanky-panky that goes on behind closed doors between consenting adults. It’s so much more than that. I love my wife completely. I can’t imagine being without her or even away from her for an extended period. To think that some selfish twats want to ruin that kind of relationship for people with matching bits just sickens me.

I applaud the gay community for the pride they carry and for the strength which they’ve gained. It’s a movement which can’t be stopped; only stalled. Equality will come. I disdain the type of person I was when I focused on all the wrong things. I look forward to the day when this is just another surprising period in our history books: one in which a bunch of douchebags wanted to deny equal rights to all but were eventually overcome.

Categories: love, religion, soapbox

Wine, Beer, and Prison

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment

We went up to Napa. Again. This time we dragged along Jen’s parents and went to an ever-so-delightful little bed and breakfast right in town. One of the places we visited this time was Castello di Amorosa, which, for those playing the home version of the game, means Castle of Love. Rawr.

It was an actual castle. Some rich dude with an inferiority complex started building it in 1993, yes 1993, hauling a bunch of real bricks and stones from ancient European castles and rebuilding it right here in Napa. It’s only been open in the last decade, and it’s freaking awesome. They have ancient stone walls and turrets, a working chapel and a medieval torture chamber, so Catholics oughta feel right at home, as well as countless underground chambers filled with barrels of wine. You wouldn’t be able to tell that it was all assembled so recently. Anyhoo, we went on a tour of the thing and then drank some wine.


This is several stories underground. They do big Valentines' and Halloween parties here

He's kinda leaning away from you there

The best part of the day, for me, was a short jaunt over the mountains into Sonoma Valley where we hit the Russian River Brewing Co. I’ve been told they make some of the best beer in the world, and I can’t argue with that point. It was all amazing. Being that I was the only one in the group who seemed to enjoy beer, I took one for the team. After two Pliny the Elder double IPAs and most of a sampler, I was feeling mighty good.

Best sampler ever.

I have never had a sour beer before. Russian River had several that knocked me off my feet. There was one that was aged in Cabernet barrels and another that was aged in Pinot Noir barrels, and they got that sour kick just right. There were so many on the sampler that I couldn’t really tell them apart by name, and remembering them was made even more confusing by the similarity of their names: things like, Consecration, Damnation, Supplication, and so on. Clever, but confusing. The Pliny the Elder was a double IPA that got it completely right. It wasn’t a kick-you-in-the-nuts kind of flavor. Rather, it was the type of double IPA against which all others should be judged. I love my IPAs and especially my doubles, but all others seem to have a unique flavor of their own. Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s just that Russian River’s double hit it right on the nose. This is how a double IPA is done.

Yada, yada, yada, we did more wine tasting all around the valley. It never gets old, but I don’t want to repeat myself.

Sunday, we went to Alcatraz. It wasn’t quite as I expected. There was no personally guided tour. Indeed it was too packed inside the cellhouse for such a thing. Instead, you all get headphones with an audio tour which was surprisingly well done. It led you throughout the various cells and halls and administrative portions of the cellhouse, telling bits about the prison’s history. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone visiting. Otherwise, you’re pretty much free to roam around the tiny island, which we also did plenty of.

At the end of the prison tour, in the gift shop, we met an author who was there for a signing who had lived on the island as a kid. She seemed remarkably blasé about the whole thing. Not a good selling point. It was interesting to talk with her a bit about her life as a kid on the island. Every day they caught a ferry to the mainland to go to school. She said she was there during one of the infamous escape attempts in which three prisoners fashioned fake heads out of soap, paint, and hair clippings and either died or got away. But, she recounted the story kinda boringly. Like it was no big deal and she just sat, locked in her room during the whole escapade. I don’t think she sold a lot of books that day.

Categories: travel

Crazy Pirate Lady

June 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Jen was working last night so I tooled around town on my bicycle like a little punk kid. I swung into the main park in Santa Clara and they had a rockabilly band playing in the courtyard so I stopped in for a few minutes. The people-watching was more entertaining than the music.

Up near the stage was an old drunk pirate hooker with a cane, dancing and yelling at everyone else in the crowd to get up and dance. The majority of the crowd seemed to be the type of middle-aged conservative folks with kids and dogs you would expect to see at a weeknight concert in the park. Y’know, the kind that look the other way when someone expects them to dance? People like me. Except for the pirate lady. She stole the show.

This is the best shot I could get without being hit by her cane

That’s her to the left of center, dancing away, very carefully. When no one was dancing near her, she would take to yelling something in a  high-pitched Asian dialect that I don’t think anyone could understand. When someone – usually a cute old couple – started dancing even more slowly next to her, she would lean back on her cane and look approvingly upon them.

The lead guitar guy in the band liked to talk between the songs. The pirate lady didn’t like this. She’d start off glaring menacingly at the band until they started playing. If he kept talking, that screeching Asian dialect would overwhelm anything the poor guy had to say. Luckily, once they started playing again, she’d go back to her less-than-graceful, teetering dance and her accusatory yammering would be directed at all of those losers just sitting down. I was just hoping she wouldn’t see me in the back, not dancing. She was not a force I was prepared to reckon with.

Categories: travel

You Don’t Say

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the fun things about having a blog here on WordPress is that you get to see the various search terms people use to find you. I’m not out to win a vast amount of readership with this thing, but apparently people are stumbling across my words of wisdom. I’m currently number 8 on the list if you google the phrase

classy ads to market strip clubs on billboards

Impressive, no? I’m pretty sure it’s a word density thing, because it links to a completely unrelated blog post which briefly mentions the billboards I saw while driving through Chicago. I don’t know the first thing about what would make a classy ad for a strip club. But if I ever come up with something, I’ll be sure to post it here.

The internet works in mysterious ways, but I know Google likes big text, links, and clicks. I’m at number 8 for this phrase right now. With your help, I can make it to number 1.

Categories: nerd, travel

The Student Has Become the Master

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Sunday marked the beginning of our tour guide time. We’re about halfway through our adventure, and Jen’s parents have come out to visit for a few weeks, followed by a few of Jen’s friends for another week, and then my brother and his wife in the first week of August. We’re now certified experts on the area, so ask us anything. Jen will play Tour Guide Barbie, and I’ll be just another douchebag with a smartphone, trying to show you cool places on the map, but always having trouble.

Tim and Sue know how to make an entrance. They rolled into town in a cherry red new Mustang. This thing has to be great on all those windy mountain roads and Highway 1.

You should be able to outrun the CHP in that thing

This weekend we’re all headed up to Napa Valley for some more drunken revelry. This time, we’ll be riding in style.

We’ve got a delightful little bed and breakfast booked for Thursday night, and for my wife’s birthday, Sue got her (really, us) a couple’s massage at the b&b. I’m a freeloader, what can I say? Anyway, there will be candles in a curtained garden and probably a couple Swedish masseuses named Olga and Helga.

We’re going wine tasting in Sonoma valley on Friday and I’m forcing us to take a little break from the wine at the Russian River Brewing Co. north of the main Sonoma wine country. I’ve heard amazing things about the beer and it’s nearly impossible to get back home. If I can figure out a way to ship from the brewery, I may have to send some home for safekeeping.


Categories: travel

The Weather is Here, I Wish You Were Beautiful

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment

My mom called the other night to make sure I’m aware of the cataclysmic rain they’ve been having back home. Apparently Harold Camping was right and the end of the world is coming. Torrential downpours in West Michigan are surely a sign of impending doom. I haven’t heard anything about the house floating away or flooding, so I’m assuming it’s still standing.

Meanwhile, in California, we’ve had a bit of a heat spell these last few days but otherwise, it’s been sunny and around 80 this whole time and for the foreseeable future. A body could get used to this consistency.

Plus, we don’t have to hear people saying all the time how, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that gets you.” That statement is more annoying than the actual heat.

Categories: travel

Still on our Honeymoon

June 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday we spent the day in and around Muir Woods. Three years ago, we did the same day’s worth of hiking, starting at Muir Woods and ending up overlooking the Pacific Ocean near where the Dipsea Trail enters the woods going down to Deep Ravine. Only, three years ago, I asked Jen to be my wife.

I know what you’re saying; awwww, that’s the sweetest thing. And you’re right. It was pretty freaking adorable. She said yes, and we’ve been on our honeymoon ever since that day. The trail was about eleven miles roundtrip, with tons of hills, lots of sweat, and four sore calves.

Pucker up, little lady

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a sucker for long hikes through redwood forests. Muir woods is great, but this day I thought we were going to be out of luck. At the ranger station, they were all in a tizzy because one of the redwoods had fallen and currently laid across the main path, cutting off access to much of the park. This happened a week ago, and apparently the forest rangers have the same tedious levels of bureaucracy as any other area of government, because they all seemed to be standing around, scratching their head, wondering what to do with a tree across the path.

I thought, wow, this was gonna be cool. I was gonna witness some historic, monstrous, recently deceased redwood blocking our path. It must be enormous! When we got to the tree, this is what we saw:

It looked bigger in my mind

That’s it. I was hoping for something huge with at least ten people crushed under its girth, still desperately trying to get out. Instead, it was a trunk just below waist high. If I were brave enough, I would have thrown caution to the wind and leapt over it, evading the park rangers and their head scratching.

Actual scale of the little tree

But no, we decided to follow the plethora of signs and find another route. I’m still surprised we were able to find a route to where we wanted to go. It was like threading a needle, and we had to take a bunch of obscure trails all around the park, up and down various mountains and crossing several streams way out of the way. But, we made it. That downed tree added a few miles to our trip, and it was an awesome hike.

The second half of the trail, after you get out of the redwoods, is a deep ravine called “Deep Ravine,” which follows a little stream down a gorge as it slowly builds and gains momentum, gathering strength from lots of additional little streams running down the sides of the mountain. Deep Ravine has its own micro-climate that’s much more similar to a rain forest than the standard redwood groves that don’t have much underbrush. This part was much easier and more relaxing until we started back up the Dipsea Trail, which is a near vertical set of steps that eventually brings you out of the woods, into some meadows overlooking the Pacific.

This is where I engaged my wife years ago, and we honored this occasion by, once again, getting cheap prebuilt subs from the local grocery store and a cheap bottle of wine. I would have lugged two bottles of wine with us, but Jen argued that one should do. Oh, all right.

Categories: travel