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3 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Email program dies tonight without explanation.  Two and one half hours later, nearly recovered minus recent messages.  New DL Projector dies on Friday after just 12 hours of use.  MINI is getting a new driver's side door after dealer's detailing department damages it.  Inadvertently disconnect power to answering machine, causing messages to be erased before writing down potentially important telephone number.  Not so attractive cold sore.  Four hour power outage.  Unwisely schedule laser surgery for the same day as Bingo.

Nicely recovered after a half pound hamburger, fries, cola and ice cream with a neighbor.

4 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

One of life’s greatest pleasures must be spending several hours gardening and then relaxing barefoot, a bottle in one hand, to watch the evening light on the fresh soil. 
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Manual labor is under appreciated.  If the Socialists and Communists of the world contributed nothing more than a healthy respect for manual labor, that is a worthy achievement.  Having spent much of my life in jobs where my efforts are measured by keystrokes and evaluation forms, it is immensely satisfying to use my entire body to perform a task, feeling later the remnant of the effort in my muscles and joints. 

5 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

It’s not uncommon for my clients to say they feel like a fraud.  I’ve heard this more frequently, and more emphatically, over the past few months.  This occurs at the same time we witness growing numbers of corporations confessing to fraudulent behavior.  These clients often judge themselves harshly, beating themselves up internally while attempting externally to perform to expectations.
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We face a difficult reality.  In both our personal and business lives, we have created a culture that places unrealistic and often unachievable demands on us as humans.  In the corporate realm, one manifestation of this truth is the continuing revelation of deliberate corporate accounting misrepresentation and financial deception.  Corporations are required to deliver ever-increasing profits and market share despite economic conditions and laws that prevent such continual growth.  Unable to meet these demands, companies resort to unethical and possibly criminal behavior. 

As individuals, in order to survive in such a culture of unrealistic expectations, we too are required to behave in ways that violate our integrity and more importantly, our humanity.  Workers are now routinely assigned work that would realistically take two or three workers to complete.  Managers and executives, themselves faced with unachievable expectations, push employees for increasing output despite acknowledging the overloaded nature of the workplace.  The treadmill speeds up regardless of how fast we can run. 

The demands on us as humans outside of the workplace are so common as to be clichéd.  Be happy, young, clear skinned, athletic, blah, blah, blah.  We can’t meet these expectations – and the people who trumpet them know this.  Because we can’t meet the expectations, we buy the products that promise to help us.  Or we consume the products that help us not to feel our shortcomings. 

We feel like frauds because for the most part, we are frauds.  We market ourselves as professionals when inside we are struggle to contain our anger, muster the energy to get out of bed, or build a desire beyond using the remote control.  We live our lives measuring up to the expectations of others and covering up when we fall short.  We strive desperately for unattainable goals that never fill us when we fail to reach them.

We feel like frauds because the society we have created is a fraud.  Everything that essential to humans: love, food, shelter, compassion, is placed behind everything that is not.  Profit, consumption and appearance become prizes to be obtained over all else.  Even if we don’t believe this, our society requires we behave as if we do.  To survive, much less succeed, requires we lie about the very things that make us human.

People are often disappointed with my answer at this point:  there is no easy out.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.  The outside force must be our will to be uncomfortable, to give up those things we think we find valuable, and focus on that which is truly valuable.  It requires we shift not only who we are, but also what our society is.  Faced with that reality, sometimes it’s easier to be a fraud.  To live in integrity often means we may well be expelled from society, shunned in the workplace, forced to live in a manner that no longer meets the demands of our culture.  It becomes a difficult choice of what we value more: integrity or comfort.

8 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

One of the regular bingo volunteers is ill, so yesterday was visiting day at the hospital.  For  rare photos of Sister Betty in habit, look here
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14 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

For my new readers in Miami, I’ll be writing more about the US and Cuban conflict in the next few days.  In the interim, I encourage you to read this and this.

Last Thursday was the anniversary of Ba-da-Bingo and it went swimmingly.  We raised a good sum of money for the Guy Lowe Legal Fund and enjoyed a new song about dildos.  There is something wonderful about seeing an 85-year-old man clapping along to a song about a foam rubber phallus. 

Tomorrow night is my annual birthday party.  If you can’t attend or weren’t invited (a nod again to my new readers in Miami), you can watch it live on the web from 1900 until 2300, Pacific Daylight Time, by clicking here
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In the past two months, I have had one person use a cell-phone text message to cancel a date, had someone stop seeing me because they discovered what they thought were Kenneth Cole shoes on my feet were actually Sketchers, received a death threat via email, met a really nice guy I had to stop seeing when I realized he was an alcoholic, met a really nice guy who then stood me up for a date, ran into someone I hadn’t seen in over a year and had a very nice evening, was informed that I am a Communist (who knew?), discovered a fun crowd at a coffee house, and put up new curtains in the living room. 

Sometime soon I will write something of substance.

15 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Tonight is the annual birthday party.  In moments I have to go out to the garden and plant the Tiki torches, put the ice around the beer, and begin preparing the food.  The security guard and bartenders arrive at 7:30, and I’m told David and Mark may attend.  A good number of people who failed to RSVP seem to be planning on attending, too.  I hope the weather holds; we’ll need the extra space in the garden.  You can watch the event live via the internet by clicking here.
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16 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Last night was very fun.  I met the illusive Mark, who is cuter in person than any picture I’ve yet seen of him.  If you weren’t certain, I can vouch David and Mark are head over heels for each other.  I have the stains on the recliner to prove it. 

The brief overview of the party:  five nuns, scads of gay boys (amazingly, the only person wearing heels was a straight woman), a posse of deaf folk, animation and pornographic movies on a 30-foot screen, three cakes, tiki torches.  Our straight friend had never seen gay porno before.  A patient gay man explained what that little rubber ring is for.  Do straight men wear cock rings?
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Drew gave me a nun made of Lego and a Super Chief Lego kit.  The Lego nun is about the coolest bit of nun paraphernalia I’ve ever seen. Sister Dana brought a Bingo Bunny, which is likely to become an official bingo mascot.  And the new Betty Bowers book arrived as well.  Thanks to everyone – cool stuff all around.  No regifting this year.

If you need photographic evidence of the party, look here.

This came up in conversation last night, so here are more odd things typed into search engines in the past 24 hours that resulted in people coming to this site (shown here verbatim):

  • where does the light go in a mirror lined room?
  • influencing dropped felony charges
  • marlboro slaughter house
  • planets run on nuclear reactors
  • home blow jobs
No, I didn’t make any of these up. 

16 June 2002 - Editing note

I just repaired several small errors in both the Cuba and Around the Bay by Rail photo essays.  Both are now slightly more functional.

By the way, if you didn't already know, the web-camera that I used for the party is generally located in my office.  If I'm not with clients, you can watch by clicking here.

18 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

I grew up in a conservative Dutch home.  Pride, it was said, went before a fall.  It was somewhat acceptable to be proud of an accomplishment, but not too proud.  One never spoke of such pride in public, rather you were required to wait for someone else to say:  “You must be proud.”  To which the proper answer was a deprecating glance.
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Society from time to time finds ways to shame people.  Nearly every subgroup has been the subject of ridicule at one time or another, from Italians (wops), Blacks (niggers), gays (faggots), Hispanics (spics), Jews (kikes), women (cunts), lesbians (dykes), and even white men (patriarchal chauvinists).  Somewhere along the way, the word pride became an antonym for ashamed.

Establishing our pride often requires elaborate and vocal demonstrations.  From wearing costumes of places our ancestors may or may not have hailed from, to weekend-long festivals and parades, we pantomime a life free of any self-doubt or perhaps even self-loathing.

While prejudice, intolerance and discrimination are real and present influences in our society, such demonstrations of pride often are counterproductive to producing a more equitable future.  They often serve as fodder to further alienate those outside of our subgroup, distancing or even worse, driving away, potential allies.

More importantly, when we base pride on who we are rather than what we accomplish, we allow ourselves the illusion that we are perfect and whole as we currently exist.  Pride, however, often masks our own inner doubts, the shame we really do feel, the failings of our character and integrity.  The reality is that if we were fully secure human beings, the trappings of pride would seem irrelevant.

The queer community once held Freedom Day Celebrations.  Emerging from decades where brutality against queers was commonplace and encouraged, Freedom Day was truly about celebrating freedom – freedom to be and freedom to grow.  Somewhere along the way, Freedom became Pride, and Pride became meaningless.  We came to believe that corporate sponsors and big-name bands somehow reinforce queer pride.  While we tolerate the occasional political speech, we rarely consider our individual freedom, our collective freedom, or the responsibilities inherent in both.

18 June 2002 - Hours later

If you have ten minutes, you've already read today's entry (see above) and enjoy dry wit, then go look at Lurid Digs (thanks to Ron of the Spikettes for this).  My favorites are this one, this one and this one.  I haven't laughed this hard in months.

20 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Click for larger image."The distinction between atheists and believers is perhaps beginning to lose its point:  the real distinction is between those who are willing to be intelligent about the problems of existence and those who are not.  And if tacit atheism has become the default belief of our age, it needs to be noted that it is no longer the badge of a courageous free spirit but, more often than not, the "do not disturb" sign hung out by the intellectually inert.  Of course there are ways in which religious belief can lead to dogmatic folly.  Any fool can see that believers are liable to think their gods the only true ones, and such exclusive certitudes can lead by well-trodden paths to fanaticism and murderous intolerance.  But that is not the only logic of religious belief; nor is it the most interesting one.  Believing in a God also means recognizing the possibility of an intelligence that sees things differently from you, and far better too.  In that respect religious belief is a standing lesson in tolerance and pluralism, and indeed in relativism."  - Johnathan Ree, The Poverty of Unbelief, Winter issue of Index on Censorship.

21 June 2002 (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Ongoing changes at this weekend. 
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Aluminum Siding is now retired.  I hadn’t written any entries since February and the last entry was exceptionally bad.  If you are one of the six people who ever read past the front page, thank you and the archives are located here

You can now visit Saint Hella’s Athletic Club.  No, I’m not satisfied with the lead graphic, either. 

A new logo for Radiationworks should be out this weekend, too.  I may even put this one on t-shirts.

Here is an amazing story for today:  two people are knocked off the Bay Bridge, one is saved by her boyfriend and the other survives the fall. 

I’m rather annoyed by someone who has joined the Thursday night Quaker reading group.  I’ve not yet decided what to do about this.  I’m having breakfast on Sunday with a Quaker I respect a great deal and I hope to bring this up in conversation.

You see, there is very little happening in my corner of the world this week, including any interesting thoughts.

22 June 2002 - AM - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

0405.  It's dark outside and even the cats are asleep at this hour.  I just finished the update to Radiationworks. If you look carefully, you can find [1] the nuclear airplane (yes, there really was such a thing and there are photos, too), [2] the only existing photograph in the public domain of the ill-fated Army reactor which left a man impaled on the ceiling of the containment structure, and [3] the first nuclear powered ship (which is now razor blades). 

I'll give you a Radiationworks t-shirt if you can tell me what significant item, other than nuclear power, military application or my website, links those three items.

24 June 2002 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Did I mention the Navy built a giant pool in Idaho to test reactor design in a full-sized submarine?  Have I mentioned I worked there?  No?  Well, I’ll tell that story another time.

Playing with Radiationworks over the weekend, I was reminded of the 1980s when I was stationed at the INEL.  One weekend I drove out across the plains of Idaho on my motorcycle to the tiny town of Arco, Idaho to visit EBR-1 and discovered the nuclear airplane.
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EBR-1 was the first nuclear reactor in the world to produce electricity.  The site is now a National Historic Landmark and somewhat of a Holy Shrine for the nuclear-minded set.  Pulling into the parking lot, I saw what appeared to be two nuclear reactors on skids.  Since nuclear reactors aren’t generally placed on skids in the public view, I had to take a look.  It turned out the reactors were built to power nuclear aircraft.

In the 1950s, before the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the United States wanted an aircraft capable of carrying warheads that could stay in flight for a considerable period of time.  Conventional aircraft were limited by their fuel capacity.  In theory, nuclear aircraft could stay aloft for days, even weeks.  The Air Force was so driven to accomplish the feat that they demanded a workable aircraft within five years from the conception of the project.
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The project continued for nearly a decade with various reactor designs.  A rail line was built across the INEL (Wow, railroads and nuclear power, who could want more than that!) and the engines mounted on rail cars for testing.  The Air Force equipped a B-36 bomber with a non-propulsion reactor and flew it over Texas to test the effects of radiation and shielding design.  In the end, the prospect of operating reactors flying over US cities, the invention of functional ICBMs, and the cost of the program ended it before a fully operational nuclear airplane was built.

Now, the reactors and their turbines rest in the Idaho desert outside EBR-1. 

In my research over the weekend, I found this drawing of the project from the Air Force.  The pilots were housed in a separate compartment at the rear of the aircraft, so if the reactor malfunctioned, they could escape while the radioactive material showered on the populace below. 
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More information and some more photographs are available by clicking here.  The full government report on the project can be downloaded from the INEL by clicking here.

26 June 2002 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Wouldn’t you know that in the week I don’t have much time to write, on the day that my web host dumps my site, that is the day that USA Today mentions and links to
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I must say, I like this quote from the USA Today librarian:  “Sister to be a male nun but looks more like a truck driver to me.”  (This, of course, is definitive, objective proof that I am butch!  I am butch!  I am butch!  Click my heels three times, spit on the sidewalk and grab me malt liquor.)

Going back one step to the web host dumping the site today, if you run into any missing files or broken links, please let me know.

After I left the Navy, I spent several years working on the executive staff of several large, publicly traded companies.  I left and worked for an investment bank before taking my current job.  Without exception, every company I worked for was engaged in manipulation of financial reporting to increase perceived stock value.  Accounting firms and corporations engage in an elaborate dance to meet the requirements of the law and nothing more.  An accounting firm that really audits a company will shortly be replaced. 

Perhaps someday in the future I’ll tell some stories of what these companies did, but I’m neither interested nor motivated to do so at the moment.  I suspect we will continue to see more disclosure of corporate fraud.  It appears however, the desire to regulate the system has been lost in our search for Osama & Friends, and real change is unlikely.  Perhaps then we might place online brokerage firms under the same restrictions as online casinos.

Enough ranting for tonight.  I’m working on a new photo-essay and section for and I hope to have it up before the weekend.

27 June 2002 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

I thought I’d take a moment and respond to some statements I’ve received via email recently:
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Statement:  You must be a Communist.

Answer:  Well, I’m certainly not a Republican and I’m not a Democrat, either.  (Can someone tell me the difference?) So if the only remaining choice is Communist, then hand me a Little Red Book and a glass of Stoli.  With George Bush crying about multi-party elections in Palestine, I'm wondering if he'll start promoting those at home, too.

Statement:  You aren’t a nun.  Men can’t be nuns.

Answer:  This question generally comes from the set who also believe women can’t be priests.  (Note:  men aren’t really doing this whole priest thing so well right now either.)  See what I had to say about women in ministry by clicking here.  I suspect the Divine doesn’t really care what labels and robes we wear when we do our work.  If a man being a nun brings laughter to the world and helps someone connect with their creator, I suspect I’ll have some days shaved off my time in purgatory for having done so. 

Statement:  Quakers can’t be nuns.

Answer:  That’s only because a nun on a canister of quick oats would kill the marketing efforts. (Who wants to eat breakfast under the watchful eye of a nun with a ruler?)  Quakers were forward thinking four hundred years ago when they eliminated clergy altogether.  And, they focus on the internal rather than the external.  So, while I generally refrain from outrageous displays of faux jewelry at the meetinghouse, I’m happy to say my Quaker friends welcome nuns, too.

Statement:  [You] promote oppression and torture.

Answer:  If it occurs during or around Folsom Street Fair, you’d be correct.


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