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05 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Leigh ventured to Portland this weekend.  We decorated the Big Blue House for Halloween and then renamed the house Sterling Downs.  We wandered through Portland, barely avoided being bitten by a large dog when it finished mauling someone else, cruised drunk straight boys and a few gay boys, ate expensive lobster rolls and annoyed a number of waitpersons.  Together with Super Hot Local Boy, we rode a train through the changing autumn foliage of New Hampshire.

Leigh claims the title of First Official Houseguest at Sterling Downs and even had an audience with Crazy Helga and Nearly Dead Olaf outside Verrücktes Altes Katholisches Frau-Haus.

Now begins October, a month where my calendar has no little empty little day boxes, frequent flyers miles accumulate on bankrupt airlines like genital warts on unprotected pastrami flaps, and construction workers once again flail about in my checkbook and the second floor of Sterling Downs.

06 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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In the beginning:  Y'all know we dun invaded Iraq 'cuz they had dem weapons o' mass destruction. 

Then:  Really, now, we invaded Iraq 'cuz they had ties to terrorists. 

Then:  I meant we invaded Iraq to lib-er-ate a people from a dictator. 

Today:  Now, you understand we REALLY invaded Iraq 'cuz that Sa-damn fellow was going to give weapons o' mass destruction to terrorists.

Constantly:  My opponent flip flops on issues and cannot be trusted.

Your choices for President:  Idiot Savant or Easter Island Head.

08 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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If the country was at war in a jungle country where men are dying in the most hideous manner, if I were 18, if my father was rich and powerful enough to obtain a safe position in a stateside unit, I would take the job without hesitation.  Honor in a casket seems of little use.

If I were a combat veteran, if I had just returned from a place where slaughter was routine, if I had seen men die in the most gruesome manner, I might throw my medals at the Pentagon and speak out about the war.  Men who fight in such wars often suffer for decades.

Few of us would offer our early adulthood for close examination or as proof of our current character.  To debate the decisions made thirty years ago by two young men in two very different circumstances is simply distraction.

What happened to the dorky MTV youth asking if the President wears boxers or briefs?  If we need distraction, we might consider what the next intern will see in the Oval Office.

10 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Autumn is settling into New England.  The locals refer to the hordes of autumnal tourists as "leaf peepers".  In the Maine accent, this sounds like:  "Fuckin' leaf peepers", "Goddam' leaf peepers", and "Go home, you assholes." These phrases are most frequently uttered by those working in industries dependent on tourists.

Unlike San Francisco, restaurants in Portland close early.  Finding food after eight o'clock becomes difficult; nine o'clock becomes impossible; ten o'clock and you will be dining on whatever resides in the hinterlands of your refrigerator.  Provided you arrive before eight, reservations are rarely required.  However, during Leaf Peeping Season, every restaurant in town is full.  The restaurateurs Click for larger imageare celebrating while the rest of us grumble about the tourists in fake leopard print seated at our favorite tables.

The QM2 arrived yesterday, sending ashore herds of wealthy British and American travelers dressed in the most atrocious fashion.  (No, darling, fishnet knee-high stockings do not properly accessorize your blue flannel house dress.)  Money, it seems, does not buy fashion sense. 

11 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Topic Stew: 

Shaun of the Dead is Clever Monkey.  A local boy and I enjoyed it thoroughly on Sunday night.  We were the only people in the theater screaming with laughter, but Mainers are not inclined to demonstrable emotions. 

Two years ago, David, Hooker and I attended a live performance by Erika Lopez.  Erika was so funny my sides hurt and I had to pee long before the end of the show.  While our trio struggled to stay upright in our seats, the remainder of the audience were stone effigies.  I would never assert my fellow middle-class white folk become annoying audience members, but it is possible to laugh audibly without dislodging your dentures.

Many people ask where the Passage photograph series were taken.  Only one person knew.  I am not revealing the answer unless you guess correctly. 

When I am lazy, horny or otherwise unoccupied, here are a few of my favorite things: Patrick | Pete | Brian | Darren | Ricky | Joe

12 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Good night, Super Man.

Our planet suffers a lack of super heroes.  The last true super hero may have been Mother Theresa, but she died some time ago and left the position open with no viable candidates.

Yes, we have a glut of stars - people made famous by the marketing machines of various sports leagues or entertainment conglomerates.  Even the most noble of these tend to collapse under the weight of Versace gowns and flashing bulbs.  No, stars are just commoners pretending to a title for which they possess no claim.

There might be a few minor heroes in small corners of the world; heroes bent on battling tiny monsters.  Our planet needs big heroes, the kind of hero who inspires the entire human populace - some one like Yuri Gagarin or Neil Armstrong.  We have no Eisenhower, no Patton, no Lincoln, no Washington, no Alexander, no Caesar, no Hercules, no Moses.  The job is unfilled and nary a glimpse of cape appears in the sky.

Of course, these great heroes may not have been no very great in their own time.  History washes away the sins of ordinary men and legend elevates them to a status greater than what their contemporaries might assign.  Perhaps this explains why so many heroes exist in past - not present - generations.

While heroes are lacking, we've no shortage of modern Three Headed Hydras, Minotaurs and Medusas.  These aged beasts are renamed Skepticism, Cynicism, and Apathy.  Any neoteric hero would battle all three in a maze created from digital signals instead of stone.

We might form a committee to go in search of a hero.  By the time we found a hero acceptable to the gay folk, the black folk, the latino folk, the females, the males, the Jews, the Muslims, the Christians and the other nine thousand and twelve bitter tribes of mankind, the hero would look a bit like Bill Clinton and be relegated to playing saxophone on MTV Christmas Specials. 

Even if Super Man could be found, the FCC would fine him for using X-Ray vision and the FAA would insist he avoid military airspace.

We could use a good hero:  strong, selfless, inspiring, a strong chin and excellent on camera presence. 

Like the denizens of Gotham, we might shine the Bat Signal high into the sky as troubles gather.  The Bat Cave, I believe, is empty and we are left to fend for ourselves - something I wonder if we are prepared to do.

15 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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It is time for the fifth (and perhaps last) round of grants from the Sisters' Social and Economic Justice Scholarship Fund.  Information and applications are at

I spent too much time this month inside airliners.  I acquired a nasty cold and an even nastier opinion of the traveling public.

17 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I would need to be a much more eloquent writer to describe autumn in New England.  My staring at foliage is the source of several near-miss accidents.  Local Boy may be growing weary of:  "Look over there!  Amazing!  Look over there!  Stunning!" 

At lunch today with a new mother and friend of Local Boy, I am reminded how difficult I find believing our mass of complicated, diverse life simply appeared several million years ago from the sea.  While the myths of a hundred different religions hold so little validity, evolution seems to lack some key element when asserting life appeared in salt water.  To believe a forest of hundreds of thousands of trees, each sensitive to light, temperature and soil composition, arrived in an unbroken chain from a chemical reaction in a primordial salt bath lacks an essential, unknown ingredient. Is this planet simply the winning ticket in a celestial lottery?

God is a difficult subject.  Humans have evolved our understanding of every topic from physics to slavery, and yet proponents of religion offer the same faiths popular when the world was flat and sea monsters swallowed ships.  If we avoid the major monotheistic religions, our choices dwindle to the arcane practices of scattered tribes chanting to wind goddesses or multi-limbed statues with large breasts.
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Queer folk, having in large suffered the wrath of religion, find it even more difficult to ponder unknown divinity.  A wrathful childhood God does not inspire an adult to wonder with much enthusiasm.

Perhaps the greatest failure of religion is just this:  Instead of continually seeking to evolve in understanding and relating to something larger than ourselves, we turned the concept of God into an easy and quick answer to the scariest questions of human existence.  Where did I come from?  What is the purpose of life?  And, most importantly:  What happens when I die? Mankind's  fervent desire to protect existing religions is not truly about serving the God we believe in, but protecting the only firm solution to our existential questions.

I do not know what, who or if God is.  I hold a bright red leaf in my hand and it appears that something is missing from the equation.

20 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I want a small, portable device for storing and displaying PowerPoint presentations; something the size of an iPod I can take to client meetings instead of hauling my laptop from place to place.  I doubt such a device exists.  Any suggestions?

Jeff and Sean from Toledo visited Portland over the weekend.  I know the Toledo Duo via and meeting them in person was pleasurable.  I am slowly recruiting enough gay men to shift the gay population eastward.  I should earn my State of Maine Toaster soon.

21 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Worried about telling your sexual partners you have a sexually transmitted disease?  Now you can do it anonymously via the internet at, a new website from the San Francisco Health Department.  You can choose to convey the bad news with one of six designer images.  What a brilliant idea and a fresh, clever way to harass evil co-workers.

23 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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A few days ago, I asked if anyone might suggest an alternative to my laptop for storing and presenting PowerPoint slides.  My request inspired more email than any other topic mentioned on  Here is a collection of small, portable solutions for PowerPoint users:

In the very small category:

PageShot:  Billed as a "portable presentation gizmo", this device stors JPG images of slides.  The manufacturer provides no information how to purchase the PageShot.

Palm:  There are two products for Palm enabled devices:  the Portsmith and Presenter-to-Go.  These products work with a range of Palm PDAs and phones (but, unfortunately, not the one I own).

Pocket PCs:  Pocket PC users have two options:  the Colorgraphic Voyager CF Card and the Margi Presenter

iPod 60GB:  The next generation iPod includes image viewing software and a video port.

In the somewhat-larger category:

OQO:  OQO offers the Model 01, the smallest, fully functional computer I know of.  I wish I could touch a Model 01 before buying, but OQO offers no information on retailers who offer the device. 

In the yet-larger category:

Sony:  Somewhat larger than the OQO, Sony's T-series laptop is the smallest laptop I found.

Other ideas:

Several people suggested USB drives or storage cards.  These store presentations but require the use of a computer. 

Perhaps projector manufacturers will someday add onboard PowerPoint capability to their products.

My appreciation to everyone who sent suggestions.

25 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I flew to New Orleans on Friday.  I generally avoid the southern United States.  High technology may be booming in Atlanta, but the South still carries the image of backwater towns filled with racism and small minded folk.  When I hear a southern drawl, I instantly assume the speaker is of reduced mental capacity.  Nearly all of my western and New England acquaintances freely admit to the same bias, although none of us can identify the source.  Maybe we all viewed too many movies about hicks kidnapping tourists, midnight lynchings, and racist governors turning dogs on protestors.

I went to Boot Camp in Orlando.  Florida, however, is not really the south.  Florida is Havana, Tel Aviv and Disneyland smashed flat on a sandbar and connected to the continental United States by constantly eroding coral and limestone.  I advocate dynamiting the border and allowing Florida to float away, forming another Caribbean nation.

Two shipmates and I traversed the Gulf Coast on our way to Idaho after Boot Camp.  Stopping Mobile, Alabama, for gasoline, we were chased away from the filling station by grizzly black men wielding crow bars.  We were a little too white to stop in that neighborhood for fuel.  (Later, in Utah, we were escorted over a county line by a sheriff who thought we looked insufficiently Mormon.)

Business required I travel to Atlanta a handful of times since, but I make a practice of avoiding any state south of Virginia and east of New Mexico.

Aside from humidity so dense it makes my underwear constrict, rubbing my legs an angry shade of red, New Orleans is lovely.  This city reminds me of Havana and Paris.  The ornate buildings built side by side slowly lean as the clay ground below settles.  The tropical humidity ages the building and ensures the city a constant state of decay.  Ships slide up the Mississippi while streetcars rattle down streets tinged with a slightly rancid odor.

A woman claiming to be a witch guided our tour of the cemeteries last night.  The cemeteries in New Orleans are as brilliant as the Necropolis or Père Lachaise.  We discovered old tombs broken open with bones visible in the gloom below.  The witch sat us atop an ornate crypt and showed photographs of ectoplasm and orbs from beyond.  I thought both looked like cigarette smoke blown in front of the camera, but my fellow tourists were less skeptical.  The witch stated ghosts often drain camera batteries and a woman cried "Oh my!  My battery just went dead!"  My camera, perhaps protected by my doubting nature, remained fully charged. 

27 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Midnight and I am somewhere over the last of the flyover states between Chicago and Boston.  The aging 757 is nearly empty.  The flight attendants are weary and barely notice the passengers.  The other occupant of my row is intent everyone understand his anger over our ten minute late departure.  He glares, coughs and rumbles.

The plane drops suddenly, sending books and magazines into the aisles.  We pitch forward like a lawn dart.  The captain announces seatbelts and the airframe begins to shake like an alcoholic two hours from a 7 AM bar opening.  The plane pulls up, banks steeply left, then steeply right, then down into a dive, then into yet a steeper dive.  The metal groans.  The pitch of the engine rises sharply, falls, fades, then screams again.  We are too far from Chicago to be turning back; too far from Boston to be arriving. 

Death doesn't frighten me, at least not most of the time.  I fear most I will see the skin of the airplane rip open in front of me, that my row will be the dividing line as two halves of the plane tumble through darkened sky to the empty autumn fields below.  I will have a perfect seat to watch the last seconds of my life as I plunge through freezing air.  Death doesn't scare me.  The moments falling from 37,000 feet terrify me.

The plane jolts upward.  This airline is bankrupt.  Is the maintenance staff as attentive as they were before court-enforced salary cuts?  Do they even come to work?  Before takeoff, the captain announced a small dent was discovered in the fuselage.  Maintenance declared the craft airworthy.  Was this a fair assessment or a calculated "fuck you" to management forced to face a terminal filled with grieving relatives?

The wings are groaning and the plane is still turning.  I can feel the strain in my seatback and the tightness of the belt around my waist. 

My laptop has a nifty magnesium alloy case.  It might survive the crash.  I hope someone deletes the nasty bits of electronic mail before handing the harddrive to anyone else who cares enough to read the contents.  I have no will.  My parents might take all my assets.  I'd rather my house and my money be burned in a giant pile.  Maybe I should place an AirPhone call to someone and leave a voicemail with my last wishes.

The airplane seems to even out but the wings are still shaking.  The flight attendants look frightened but they offer everyone another snack.  Then the plane dives and swerves yet again.

The flyover states are deep in the darkness below.  The passengers are silent.  I wonder where the black box is stowed.  Could I wrap myself around it and survive the crash?  Others may be thinking the same.  I could beat them off with my magnesium alloy laptop. 

28 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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New Orleans in a paragraph:  Hot, sticky, humid.  Rancid, fetid, trash strewn streets and no one seems to care.  Beautiful buildings slowly disappearing from neglect and decay.  The neglect and decay adds character for the moment.  Vile, crooked taxicab drivers.  Enough alcohol that even really, really, really ugly people get laid before midnight.  Beautiful cemeteries complete with ghosts if you believe in such things.  Clangy, functional, wonderful streetcars. Visit once, take many photographs, return for a second visit only if required by business,  a funeral, or forced evacuation from a more reasonable clime.

29 October 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I was Iraq.

The elementary school I attended was constructed in a series of long hallways called pods.  Each pod contained one grade level in three classrooms separated by heavy curtains.  The curtains were generally closed but could be opened for special events requiring the attention of every student at that grade level.  For really special events, every pod opened their curtains and the school became a single, funky unit.  Halloween was such an event.

Late in the day, after lunch but before the busses arrived, the curtains were opened in preparation for the Halloween Parade.  The kindergartners led the parade and each classroom fell in as the previous classroom marched by.  In this manner, everyone saw everyone else's costume.

The youngest of four boys, I spent many years wearing hand-me-down costumes everyone had seen before.  Our family owned two such costumes:  the clown and King Kong.  Both costumes consisted of a generic one-piece, polyester suit accompanied by a plastic mask.  Condensation from my breath would trickle form inside the mask and run into the collar of my costume. 

When I reached sixth grade I was both too tall and too independent to use a recycled costume.  I acquired a large appliance box and set to work with scissors, glue, tape and black markers.  Hours later, I was ready for the costume parade.

Surrounded by cowboys, Indians, hobos, princesses, and a smattering of Star Wars figures, I was Iraq.  For my sixth grade Halloween celebration I was a small, middle-eastern nation constructed from a Hotpoint refrigerator box.


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