Thursday, December 19, 2013


So I like to try and concentrate on something each year, as a focus.  Sort of like a New Year's Resolution but technically it happens 18 days before NYE.  The focus of the 2013 has been the Year of the Law Enforcement (Again). I'm getting sworn in as a Reserve Police Officer tomorrow evening with the Metropolitan Police Department of DC if all goes well with the final exam tonight.  This caps off hundreds of hours of training on Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturdays over 9 months.  I am glad to have that time suck behind me and to get out on patrol, so I can show my fellow rookies how to properly balance a hot coffee while going lights and siren around a corner at 50 mph.

This next year will be the Year of Fitness.

In truth, I don't know what this actually means, asides from me wanting to lose weight, gain muscle and be able to outrun fat people on Black Friday.  I have a gym investment.  Its not really a membership.  I'm more of a donor, but its a Y, so I feel good that my money is going to community projects.  I'm going to be getting a trainer and running more and you can track my progress on this blog.  If people have any ideas, I'm open to trying then.

Expect to see one of those before shots soon, with basic stats.  My girlfriend goes to the gym all the time and sometimes even does double spin classes.  She is clearly in shape and I am not.  I am a guy, which means I get to be loved for my genial personality and sense of humor, while hoping that my lady is in shape.  Though, in truth, I'm happy when she's happy, regardless of what she looks like.  It makes for a stronger relationship.

I've been a chubby kid for most of my life and have owned that title pretty well.  I lost about 50 pounds when I went through the first police academy and that gradually returned, because chasing 17 year olds after eating chicken parm sandwiches does not a fitness routine make. While I don't hate my body, I'd be happier if it was a little trimmer.  Every time I read those articles that show the guy going from Zero to Hero, it gets to the part where he eats brown rice and grilled chicken 8 times a day.  Screw that.  Life is too short to not eat ribs out of a school bus.

So I'll post my stats and goals this weekend.  Should be fun.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Flames. Flames, on the side of my face

"This isn't too bad."

I had just gotten sprayed with pepper spray in an "X" pattern across the face, as part of the DC Metropolitan Police Academy's training for handling OC spray.

Quick primer on self-defense spray: The spray is called Oleoresin Capsicum, or shortened to OC spray for short.  Mace is a conpany, which started the concept using teargas as the agent and then it too switched over to OC.  There's a pretty good explanation of the ingredients in the wikipedia page linked above.  

MPD, like many other departments has officers get sprayed before getting OC so they know how to handle themselves when it happens to them.  I say when and not if, because cops get sprayed a lot, 99% of the time by other cops.  We call these cops, "dicks". So after being sprayed, they have to pretend to cuff a dummy and then read a number being held 50 feet away to simulate reading an address off a house and then finally you need to protect your firearm as someone tries to take it.

I should say that in my 5 years with the NYPD, I had been exposed to OC several times, but always it was a contact hit.  I was generally running into a cloud of OC after another cop has sprayed a perp.  See, you're supposed to spray them and then back off and let the OC do it's job, but a lot of times you're in an apartment and someone sprays a guy and you're all in a closet and then you're playing Seven Seconds in Heaven with handcuffs and much more cursing.  But this was a direct spray to the eyes, nose and mouth. Night and Day.  Arbys to In 'N Out. OTPHJ to ... well you get the point.

I keep referring to other people using OC, as the only time I used it, it had no effect on the 6'5" guy on PCP who later bit my neck.  So just know this stuff doesn't work on everyone.  Apparently 20% of the population is immune.  I am not in that group of people.

So we assembled outside, where is was rainy and cold, and lined up to get sprayed.  When it was my turn, I closed my eyes and mouth, deep breath and then came the Devil's money shot.  I could feel the heat on my face, but it wasn't until she told me to open my eyes and I found that I couldn't, did I realize that I had made a poor life decision in being a cop again, much less an unpaid one.  So OC is a lacrimator, which basically means you cry a lot.  But those tears feel like lava, and the remedy is sadly the hardest thing to do.

I was coughing and squinting and cursing. If Popeye had a love child with Mr. Magoo, that would be me.   You need to open your eyes to allow the air in, as air and water are the best ways to decontaminate.  I passed the obstacle course, though seeing that number in the dark through my eyeballs of fury was not easy.  My face felt like it was on fire and my eyes wanted to close, but when they were closed it hurt 100 times more to open them.  And you needed to cry to get the OC out of your eyeballs.

And the snotting. So much snotting.  As my friend Steve used to say, my nose was running like Carl Lewis.  Snotting everywhere.  I was lacrimating out of every orifice on my head.  I also managed to wipe some of the OC on my left neck so I had a nice burn developing there as well.  I was blowing my nose on my t-shirt, because I didn't care about my looks at that point.  Hell, I couldn't see enough to know what I looked like anyway.

I haven't showered since, because the water reactivates the OC, and I'm waiting until I arrive at my mother's house where my crying will be mistaken for that of my new nephew who is 3 months old.  I can still feel the OC in my eyes and on my face.  And the experience reminded me again of why its so important to talk your way out of situations. My partner in NYC was a guy named Will who had a quicker temper than me, but we worked really well together.  I often played good cop to his bad cop, as defendants would refuse to work with him and only talk to me.  You need to be able to talk to people and also be ready to put your hands on people.  But if I never have to pull that stupid can out of its holder, that's fine with me.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cruises: A Binary Reaction

I blame Dr. Cohen.  Steve Cohen was my history teacher in high school. In 11th grade, we discussed Disney World and Dr. Cohen, who leaned a little left of center, said that theme parks were a terrible illusion, that took people's hard earned money and gave them only a glimpse of a false utopia, with happy people and clean walkways and constant parades.  I never passed Exit 7A on the Jersey Turnpike again the same way.  Thanks a lot, Dr. Cohen.   I was reminded of that lesson when I took a 7-day cruise to Bermuda courtesy of my job.

Now before I get into the cruise, let me say that none of my previous jobs have ever taken me on a cruise before and so I am incredibly grateful that Allyson and I could go on this cruise.  I have learned that cruises are a binary experience.  You either love them or you hate them.  There is little in between.  This very much depends on the kind of travel person you are. Do you like visiting cities and walking until you get lost or riding public transportation in those places to get a feel for the average citizen?  Yeah, cruises aren't for you.  Do you like your alcohol colored blue with umbrellas and plastic flamingos in it?  Getting warmer.

So, let's get into this, shall we.  The ship, you don't call them boats, was the Explorer of the Seas, and she sailed from Cape Liberty, NJ.  Cape Liberty doesn't exist, but it sounds better than its actual name, the Bayonne, NJ waterfront.  The ship is one of the largest in the world, and carries over 3,100 passengers and over 1,000 crew.  To put this in perspective, it is larger than the USS Intrepid, which is the aircraft carrier that most NYC kids know from field trips.  The voyage was to take 7 days, with 2 getting to Bermuda, three in port, and two returning.

This is not really a ship, or a boat.  It had an Irish Bar and a rock climbing wall, and 6 hot tubs, and an ice skating rink.  It was like a floating city.  But not a city you would want to live.  More like a floating Branson.  The problem with all of these opportunities are that they are just okay.  Don't get me wrong, seeing an ice show while sailing along the Atlantic Ocean, is wild.  However, when you take the experiences and put them side by side, the shine dulls a bit.  Let's take the food.

One of the reasons people go on cruises I've learned is to eat.  Not so much eat, as shovel food into their gullets and eat two bites of everything and throw the rest away.  The main dining area has two seatings.  6:30 and 8:30PM.  The room feeds about 1,500 people at once which means that all of your meat is cooked well done and the logistics of serving all of these meals is far more impressive than the actual dishes being served.  The other dining option that most people go to is the Windjammer, which is the giant buffet that's open for most of the day.  This is where you see the professional eaters.  This also is where you see the absolute fear of the cruise lines about Norovirus, and the lengths they go to have you wash your hands.  There is a gauntlet of Purell dispensers blocking the way into the buffet and a woman yelling "Washy Washy", which I still hear in my nightmares, at you as you enter.

See, people come on the cruise to be gluttonous and cruise lines are all about helping you fulfill your goal.  The buffet has many mediocre varieties of food, ranging from hot dogs and burgers to "build your own pizza".  And it functions much like any other buffet,  whether in a casino or strip mall.  You get all kinds of different food, eat a bite of each thing, and then throw it all out.  The most popular thing offered at the buffet was the Mongolian Grill.  Which proves my point about cruises.  When offered culinary options, the masses choose a meat and veggie concoction that is covered in a sweet sauce meaning it tastes the same regardless of whether its beef, chicken or rubber.

I think cruises depend greatly on where you choose to go.  If you choose a Caribbean or tropical destination, just know that the companies put their largest ships on this route with all the most attractions, from bumper cars to projected movies of the sea so inside staterooms feel like they have windows.  I'm not kidding.  These voyages are filled with people who want to drink and eat and tan.  These are the ships that allow you to do zip line and drink mai tais in Haiti . But a piece of Haiti behind miles of razor wire so none of the drunks realize that they're paying $10 for a daquiri in the poorest country in the Americas.  Do you go on vacation to escape, as Dr. Cohen would ask?  Then cruises allow that.

There are smaller ships to Europe or the Greek Isles, and those ships are smaller with less of the attractions which put more of the focus on the destinations.  This is how I may cruise again.  May. It will need to be a little while before I think about setting foot on a boat.  I still can't get this damn song out of my head.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Ad I Hate Most

There's an ad running right now from Prudential that is clearly designed for Boomers or those about to retire.  Here it is:

I get it. This ad is designed for long-time employees of companies like GM or IBM and others where you earn the gold watch and then decide what to do. I call bullshit. None of those jobs they mentioned couldn't have been had sooner. I get it. Its scary.  I've worked in three states.  I have two pensions and about 5 401Ks.  This is how it works.  Not for my parents.  But for me.  I'm not waiting for 65 to do what I want to do.  That time is now.  Life is way too short to toil at a job for 35 years to get to do what I want to do.

Everyone wants their kids to have better than them.  Even if I had kids, that wouldn't be possible.  My Dad was a banker and my mom was an interior decorator.  I learned to live my life whatever that means, and especially without kids that means being happy, which I am.  Allyson and I travel to different countries every year and that matters way to me than saving an extra $35 a month so that maybe when both my hips are fake I can have the life I dream.

Live the life you want now.  No one will judge you later.  They'll only be jealous.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sin City in 25 hours

The title of this post would make this seem like an exciting trip.  Perhaps some gambling, David Copperfield and alcohol fueled binge.  It was not.  I was there for work, teaching a class.  I've been furloughed as part of  the House GOP's War Against The American People, so its nice when there are other things I have to make a little money.  I also love teaching, so its a win win.  So landing in Vegas at 9PM and flying out the next day at 10PM, here's some highlights and lowlights of the trip.

In-N-Out Burger

A bit cliched I suppose, but my personal rule to get a Double-Double Animal Style on every trip that takes me to a place with In-N-Out has never proven me wrong.  Watching the young kid destroying potatoes in that contraption that makes them into raw fries is fascinating.  And yes they do love Jesus, but not with the political sideshow of Chick Fil A.  I think the East Coast beats the West Coast, but I have to say that the fast food on the West Coast destroys the East Coast.  You ever stopped at a Roy Rogers on the Jersey Turnpike?  Ever see anything that resembled the photo above?  Yeah.

Element Hotel

This is one of the newer Starwood lines.  It's a brand by Westin that focuses on sustainability.  Honestly, I can't say too much about it because I got in late and left super early, but it was clean and nice.  I like that they lend out mountain bikes and provide free breakfast, which is rare for Starwood properties.  I would stay here again.  In fact I'm staying at the same hotel in a month, but sadly only for a limited time again.  Hopefully get to try the gym this time.

The Other Side of Vegas

So most people who go to Vegas go to the Strip, which is where you can see thousands of people shuffling along wearing ill-fitting shirts that usually read something like "1 Tequila, 2 Tequila, 3 Tequila, Floor" or something equally as witty.  However being there for work meant I got to see the other side of Vegas, which looks less like the glitz of the Bellagio's fountains and more like a sprawl of title loan places, pawn shops, psychics, fast food and liquor stores.  I guess this isn't a surprise.  Look at Atlantic City.  It has one supermarket, which just opened in 2012.   It is weird though, because driving through Vegas can feel like a Hollywood set with the Strip being the side the camera faces and the plywood backing being for the residents.

Centurion Club at Las Vegas Airport

This was a highlight.  I saw it when I landed and read about it.  American Express built a travel lounge concept that is high class with hot food designed by Scott Conant and special cocktails also.  It's unlimited, all you can eat or drink.  They also offer showers, free tablets and headphones and chaises so you can nap or lie down and watch the airport.  The catch?  It's only free for Centurion (Black Card) members, with all other Amex cardholders needing to pay $50.  I had won $40 on a few spins of the Wheel of Fortune machine at the Palms, because I'm a whale and so I thought I'd treat myself.  Imagine my tears of joy when the woman said that they are now allowing Platinum cardmembers in for free also.  Let the Bulleit flow like water, friends!

Las Vegas, you are unapologetically American.  I hope that the National Parks are not closed so I can see Red Rocks next month.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Throw Off Those Lanyards

Last night, I had the opportunity to see Measure for Measure at the Shakespeare Theater in DC.  It was brilliantly directed by Jonathan Munby and the acting and lighting and sound were terrific.  A really enjoyable take on one of Shakespeare's not often produced plays.  The cabaret that began the show for about 20 minutes even had boobs for the kids.

But I was there to witness the performance of my friend, Miriam Silverman who was excellent as Isabella, as she is in really everything she does.  She married my good friend from high school who is also an actor, and they come down to do shows at the Shakespeare Theater in DC with some regularity and my girlfriend and I are the lucky recipients of free tickets to see great shows.

And it struck me that it's rare to see your friends at work.  Sure you may see them on conference calls or mashing a reply to their boss on a Friday at happy hour on their phone, but actually watching them do their craft is rare.  I don't like the word craft, but I use it here to make a point.  I work in L'Enfant Plaza, and like Crystal City, where I've also worked, it is populated by office drones.  You can spot them by their lanyards and FIPS 201 standard badges.  And when asked "What's going on?" you will oft hear said "Same shit, different day." Many of these people have jobs, but they don't seem to have crafts.  Granted middle management federal bureaucrat is not very craft-ish, even if they vastly outnumber actors, starving or otherwise.

Perhaps arguing with IT about printer drivers really is someone's perfect day, but its not mine.  I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with my life and at 36 and three-quarters am still wondering what I'll be when I grow up.  But I hope it doesn't involve a lanyard with an ID, because the idea that we can be truly happy outside of work while hating our job is a fallacy.  We spend so much time at work, whether physically there or mentally due to smartphones.  I don't mind work being a heavy part of a work-life balance.  I just want the work part to count for something besides a 401 contribution and 10 paid holidays a year.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It was Quiet

The above photo was taken by Mark Lennihan, an AP photographer from the base of the Tribute in Lights memorial piece at the base of Manhattan.  I always loved the lights and wished they had stayed up longer, stupid migrating birds.  I think part of the reason I liked them so much was they were silent and incredibly powerful.  People reported seeing them from the Jersey Shore and out on Long Island.  They were an incredibly powerful tribute to the buildings and New York that was before 9/11/2001.

I miss that quiet reverence.  Today on the National Mall, we had some Muslim 9/11 Truthers who had planned something called the Million Muslim March.  Well, that freaked out conservatives who responded with the 2 Million Bikers to DC.  [Sidenote, remember when the first Million Man March happened and we actually thought we would get a million people anywhere] So you've got these morons yelling about false flags, and other morons yelling no to Sharia law.  Then there were still other morons called Patriots 4 America who were yelling to get Obama impeached.  Finally, the biggest boob of all, was railing about Benghazi.

I have one favor to ask everyone.

Shut. The. Fuck. Up. 

Today is not the day for your platform, or your cause.  This is not your day.  It is everyone's day.  Maybe this day will turn into some bullshit holiday like Memorial Day, where people actually say Happy 9/11 Day, and Sears offers amazing deals on lawnmowers.  Maybe people one day will forget what happened on this day so many years ago, and just recall it from a CNN broadcast of B-roll of buildings collapsing and firefighters hugging as "reporters" blather about nothing.  Maybe that will all happen.

But not today.  Today, I remember.

I remember how blue the sky was that Tuesday.  I remember that the weather was perfect.  A little cool, but one of those crisp fall days in the city that rival any New England foliage.  I remember how nice everyone was that week.  How people actually were aware of the police and thanked them, as opposed to viewing them like lamposts or the homeless, something you see but don't notice.  I remember a city being briefly panicked and then just being so kind and so strong and people just helping everyone and caring about everyone. It showed the inside of a New York that you knew was there as a New Yorker, but never usually saw.  Mostly I remember it being quiet.  The light would turn green and nobody honked.  And that was unheard of in a city that used the horn like teenagers use emoticons.

I am lucky to have a Facebook feed filled with friends and police officers which means that today was an outpouring of memories, grief and pride. I don't think everyone needs to wear black today.  I don't think people can't get tanked and make life mistakes today.  But you respect this day and you don't use the memories of dead heroes and flag pins to score political points.  To gin up outrage for your cause.  There is no outrage so great that politicians can't wait 24 hours to rail about it tomorrow.

Today is a day for quiet.  Not literal quiet, but the silence from sensationalism and hyperbole and outrage.  Seriously.  Shut the fuck up.

P.S. I wasn't going to post today, because I didn't have much to say that I hadn't written about in years prior, but my friend Brian Grosz, tumbled (or whatever you kids say) something that struck me.  So thanks Brian.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hello Alaska. Goodbye Alaska

Over the current 36 hours (Noon Sunday to Evening Monday) I will have travelled 9694 miles on American Airlines.  Indeed, as I type this, I'm currently drinking a gin and tonic and eating some warm nuts on my way to Chicago.  I travel a fair amount for work and play, but this purpose of this travel is simply to travel.  I'm on a mileage run.  I've explained this before in previous years, but wanted to discuss it as I had many friends this weekend totally confused.

I'm currently Platinum on US Airways, and in late April, American Airlines sent me an offer to make Platinum there if I flew 12,000 miles by August 31.  I didn't think it was a problem as I had work travel, but I didn't get to fly only American and found myself short, by like, a lot.  Making the challenge means having status on American until the end of 2014, so I really wanted to do it.  So I found a flight to Alaska for around $350 and booked it.  And then I realized I was going to be about 600 miles short.  So I needed to tack on this flight tonight to Chicago.

Now, if I'm being honest with you, Platinum on American and US is pretty good but it's not the best.  It's the second highest level of status and status is really like the analogy about sled dogs.  Unless you're the lead dog, the view never changes.  So I would very much like to get that level of status, because they come with systemwide upgrades or SWUs, usually pronounced SWOO.  This lets you take your $500 ticket to Europe in Coach and upgrade to Business.  It's the holy grail.  The granddaddy of the domestic upgrade.

Also to keep it real, you should be mileage running at the start of the year, because you get the status for the following year, so why not get the most out of it.  And to further preach, the best way to do this is just a few TPAC (Across the Pacific) runs because those can be 18,000 miles roundtrip each, meaning you don't have to keep flying 30 domestic legs.

This is weird.  It's not normal.  I get that.  But my friends spend money on clothes or golf clubs or pre-natal care.  I choose to spend my money on this.  I said before that most people thinks that their vacation starts when they get off the plane.  Bullshit.  I say it starts when you get to the airport.  But you have to play the game right.  Instead of saving money by flying Spirit (I think I vomited in my mouth a bit) why not fly an actual airline and have champagnes and a lie-flat bed.  It's not that hard.  I'm not bright, and I can do it.

My tortellini is here.  God Bless American Airlines serving dinner on a 2 hour flight.  I hope Doug Parker doesn't screw with that if the merger goes through.  This carrot cake is delicious.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Yadda yadda, will blog more, yadda yadda.

Now that I've got that out of the way, allow me to talk to you a little bit about a recent trip to Sooner Country.  The great capital of Oklahoma.  Yes friends, I'm talking about Oklahoma City.  Like many of  my trip reports, this will really just be a bulleted list.  Mostly because I'm too lazy for anything else.  Second, because bullets should convey that this isn't a real comprehensive list.  More like brain farts around a specific theme.  So, in no particular order, here's my take on OKC:

  • The city looks like a jigsaw piece.  No really.  Look.  

  • Given the recent tornadoes, the TV was full of car dealers offering "hail-damaged" vehicles for thousands of dollars below resale.  Could be just a ploy.  But then while discussing these cars at breakfast with my colleague, a local fellow explained that they were really good deals, but you can't get them covered by warranty or insurance or something.  It all made more sense at breakfast, I promise.  
  • It was hot.  Seems obvious, but it's a different kind of heat than my Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic roots.  Not humid, more like a sauna. If you want to know how hot it was, we passed up $1 beer night at the ballpark because I was pretty sure I'd get heat stroke.  Reminded me of this scene from an old movie.  

  • The skyline is odd.  All of the buildings are around the same height.  30 stories or so.  Then Devon Energy built their world headquarters and it looks like a giant F-U to the other companies.  Or perhaps that the CEO is compensating.  

  • There's a touristy area of the city called Bricktown.  So called because it has a lot of brick buildings.  It was essentially an old warehouse district that was rundown and a local developer decided to spruce up.  The built this fake canal that meanders through it, and they have boat tours.  This seemed odd to me.  "If you turn to your left, you'll see Hooters which opened here 4 years ago, and off to the right is Toby Keith's 'I Love This Bar' which has been a hit since 2008."  
  • Don't see The Purge.  It was terrible.  There are so many times you find yourself yelling at the screen.  This has nothing to do with OKC, but I saw it there and it was God awful.  

  • See this thing?  This is an oil derrick.  And they're everywhere in OKC.  On the airport grounds, in random spots in the city, at the FAA Academy.  I'm sure this is like seeing pigeons in NYC, but the idea that there are natural resources right under the city being pulled out of the ground is kind of interesting.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I love that Dirty Water

I spent 5 years in Boston, working for the state, preparing state and local personnel for an incident much like the one that cowardly and savagely struck the City of Boston on Patriot's Day.  Boston is a closed city in many ways.  You either are from there or the region, or you went to school there, normally.  I was neither, moving there from New York City in 2004 for a number of reasons.  I was dating someone. I thought I had failed the Sergeant's test, and I realized that while I loved being a cop, that I wasn't great at it and I wanted to be great at something. 

After moving up there, the relationship fell apart (that was on me) and I ended up working for state government for five years.  Most of that time was spent with the talented people at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.  I actually conducted drills preparing for the marathon with the very same people who were carrying people down Boylston and undertaking heroic lifesaving missions in the medical tent. 

Also, I found a family up there.  Boston might be hard to break into, but once you do, you have family and amazing friends. I had friends running the marathon.  My friend Sara just had a baby a few months ago and was running while Chuck and her daughter Piper watched.  All of them are fine.  Physically.  Having been in New York on 9/11, I know well that just because you weren't affected with cuts or bruises, there can be damage sometimes to your heart and mind.  And while the media talks about Patriots Day, this was indeed the granddaddy of bullshit Mass State Holidays.  No offense, Bunker Hill Day.  I remember being  drunk at 1PM stumbling out of the Boston Beer Works in Kenmore thinking that life is grand.  And all those alcohol fueled people swarm down to the marathon route to scream at the runners, urging them on.  The Red Sox even have a morning start time at home each year to help.  It's a perfect storm of Massholes and happiness. 

And while I was watching yesterday, I knew everything would be alright, because I knew who was working there.  My friends Rene and Adam in Homeland Security/Emergency Management.  Super bright and no-bullshit people that nothing gets by.  I thought about Bob Haley of Boston EMS, perhaps the only man that still can pull off a flat top, who is nicknamed Sarge and who commands respect.  I just imagined him seeing the bomb go off, flicking his cigarette to the curb and saying "Oh Hell No", in his gravely voice.  Bombs don't make Sarge scared.  Just mad. 

Hearing stories of the professionalism and heroism of the people who responded was not a surprise.  They're incredibly capable and they also care a lot about that city and that day.  Apologies for the rambling nature of the post.  And everyone has one, but I wanted to say that Boston will always be my home in many ways.  I love its people and its attitude and its heart.  When things calm down a bit, I'm going to come up and drink some Sam Summer, eat some grilled meats and we'll all laugh again. 

Until then, you all up there need anything, your tax dollars aren't funding Amtrak's "high-speed" train for nothing, you know. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Don't Poke The Transgendered Bear

Updated:2/26 with some Kansas love.  Kansas, home of the WBC as well as some really cool VC Grads.  Go Jayhawks.

So, in the two days since my last post, some really cool stuff has happened. What began initially as a rebellion against the Westboro Baptist Church turned into a Vassar LoveFest. I've gotten some comments that said we shouldn't do anything in response. That they feed off the response. Lets get one thing clear. These people don't give a shit about counter-protests. They could care less if you show up or not. They enjoy their constitutional freedoms and further enjoy the lawsuits that they get to file when they feel they've been violated. Because the only thing worse than a family of religious bigots is a family of religious bigoted lawyers.

Anyway, enough about those losers. Remember the fundraiser for the Trevor Project? Their goal was $4,500. Yeah, they're currently at over $67,000 with over 2,000 donations.   So that's better than a collage of puppy photos. Second, watching all of this pride on Facebook and Twitter, I thought about how to celebrate that. So, I suggested the idea of having Vassar Club events on the evening of the 28th to just get alums together to drink and laugh and share what made Vassar so special. Personally I think getting alums from over the years together is a great reminder of how special VC is by itself.

Cathy Lunn, who oversees the clubs for AAVC, sent out an email to the larger clubs suggesting that idea and it turns out that some, like NYC, were already planning something. Damn you New York. Always ahead of the curve.  So I thought I would list the clubs participating in Pride Night and people can hopefully find a club near them.

Cause, A Philanthropub
1926 9th St. NW (Near U St.)
7:30 PM until the hospitals fill up
Contact: Graham Campbell

Mug Lounge (Serves beer and offers dark grinding opportunities)
448 E 13th St. NYC
9:00 PM until the glow sticks go dark
Contact: Alex Dempsey
Tickets needed. Go to

Club Cafe 
209 Columbus Ave. (Back Bay)
Time TBD
Contact: Caitlyn Ly

Kansas City, MO
Snow & Co. (1815 Wyandotte, KCMO 64108)
5:30 - 7:30 PM
Contact: Kelly Berkson
**Snow & Co. will donate a percentage of the proceeds to a local LGBT
community center and safehouse** 

As more parties come in, I'll update the list. But simply put, this is awesome.  This isn't an AAVC thing and it doesn't have to be a Club thing. If you live somewhere like Albany, I'm looking at upon Mazura, and want to have a get together, I'm happy to post it here also. Either leave a comment or email me. My email is the contact info for the DC group.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thanks to the Westboro Baptist Church

So today, the Westboro Baptist Church announced that they will picket Vassar College on February 28th, for apparently 45 minutes.  Their press release is below.  They had a Twitter post that called the school "fag enablers"
Now, this protest is only for 45 minutes and as usual, there will be far more counter-protestors than protestors.  WBC doesn't actually care about the protest.  They are actually hoping that their rights to assemble are infringed upon and then they sue and fund their bizarre little empire.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has rightly labeled them a hate group.

I went to Vassar College and graduated in 1999.  Friends and fellow alums have posted some great stuff on Facebook.  My friend Tom posted this:
"Westboro is going to Vassar? Hoo-boy. You're bringing a fart to a shitfight. Sure, 'don't dignify them with an answer' is the way most would deal with this. Vassar students, on the other hand, have been training in mountaintop dojos for 150 years for this. When someone inevitably prints up, "Fag Enabler" t-shirts, send me one." 

Someone else set up a Crowdrise fundraising page for The Trevor Project, which is a group that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to at-risk LGBT students.  The page was set up today with a goal of $4,500.  It's currently at $7,223 13,878 and climbing.

Yet the thing that I kept thinking about, was not my anger at the ignorance of a family of lawyers, but my love of my college. Vassar is a weird and quirky place, that used to have an event called The Homo Hop.  I was told when I got there that we didn't have a homecoming, but a "homo-coming." And while each year, seniors are convinced that the freshmen are boat shoe wearing, popped collar having, rich conservatives, its not really true.

I was a tour guide and every few tours, when I finished the tour and was standing around waiting for individual questions, a parent would come up and ask me if it was true that the school was 40% gay.  (I have no idea where they got these numbers.) I would say honestly that I didn't think Vassar had many more gay students than any other college.  I thought that gay students felt more comfortable at Vassar, enough to hold hands in public, or to kiss each other at parties.  I said that I was glad that I went to school in a place that felt that safe enough for people to be who they really are.

I am immensely proud of where I went to school.  And I had forgotten that pride, as life often gets in the way of remembering the things and places that made us.  It's easy with careers and family life to forget how we became who we are.  The people that I studied drank alongside of are probably some of the most amazing and intelligent people I've known.  To broadly paraphrase Groucho Marx, I'm not sure I'd want to be associated with a school that the WBC wouldn't protest.

While those inbred morons did not mean for this byproduct, I am so glad they decided to protest.  It has brought back a flood of good memories and long smiles.  And it's helped me remember a place and a people who've made my dumb ass who I am.

I am a Brewer.

Monday, January 07, 2013

So far January is Kicking Ass

So January of 2013 is one week old and it's looking pretty good so far.  Let's go over 2013 so far....

  • A Job: So it looks like I'll be employed by the end of the month, with a full-time job.  I'll be working for a company that is contracted to a federal agency, managing a 24/7/365 Operations Center.  I'll explain a little more once my offer letter is signed, but clearly gaining a paycheck and full-time employment is a great way to start the year.  I've not been working for 4 months and so it will be really nice to return to an office and to have some managerial opportunities.  Also, this means that I have free range for the next three weeks to play video games and explore DC with no guilt.  Awesome.  
  • Exploring Stand Up: So I decided to take the plunge and try open mic stand up.  After hearing from lots of people that I should do it, I thought I might give it a shot.  I think I had been hesitant because I enjoy humor a lot, but never wanted it to really feel like a job.  When you're a comedian, that's what you do and people approach you differently.  When you're a state employee, people really have none of those expectations.  My first gig this this Thursday night at a Kimpton Hotel for 3 minutes, so if I bomb, it can't last that long.  
  • Live Music: So went to the 9:30 Club for the first time on Saturday which is a medium-sized venue about 8 blocks from our place.  We saw Delta Rae, Jillette Johnson and the Wildfeathers. It had been awhile since I'd seen a show, and it was awesome.  The sound at the venue is terrific and it's just the right size.  We will surely be back.  But Delta Rae, who are from Durham, NC (Duke still sucks), were awesome and their energy was infectious.  Liz Hopkins (@BatSparkles) was awesome.  
So that's been the first week of January.  I really can't wait for the next few.  We've got a trip to Munich coming up, seeing friends up and down the East Coast, and some Kiva events.  Good stuff indeed.  Happy New Year everybody!