Friday, November 28, 2008

What have you done?

I got this To Do List from my girl Alex, who got it from her pal Sheila.
I put stars next to the things I've done. How 'bout you?

1. Started your own blog***

2. Slept under the stars***

3. Played in a band***

4. Visited Hawaii***

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity***

7. Been to Disneyland

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo***

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch***

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning***

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables***

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train***

21. Had a pillow fight***

22. Hitch hiked***

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill*** Oh Please.

24. Built a snow fort***

25. Held a lamb***

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse***

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset***

31. Hit a home run***

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied***

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelos David

41. Sung karaoke***

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant***

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight***

46. Been transported in an ambulance***

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling***

52. Kissed in the rain***

53. Played in the mud***

54. Gone to a drive-in theater***

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies***

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason***

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma***

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check***

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy***

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar***

72. Pieced a quilt***

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job***

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone***

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car***

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper***

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating***

88. Had chickenpox***

89. Saved someone’s life***

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous***

92. Joined a book club***

93. Lost a loved one***

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit***

98. Owned a cell phone***

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Read an entire book in one day***

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some Extra Mac'n Cheese for America, Please

This time of year especially, we see requests for food donations everywhere; at the market, school, the office, everywhere. Mostly the donations are geared toward Holiday dinners for those who can't afford the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday feasts. This year, here in the USA, it is more vital than ever to give. This economy-in-the-toilet thing is not something we can look at as affecting those poor unfortunate others. None of us know if or how or when it will trickle it's way to us. And, excuse the word trickle, it is often not a trickle but more like a gush. My church has a weekly offering that goes to a local HIV/AIDS food pantry and a local food bank. A couple of weeks ago we were told that not only were these pantries experiencing an upsurge in need and a decrease in contributions and food donations, but some of the people who were frequent contributors are now coming in for food themselves.

We hear about more and more business closings and downsizings and they all have domino effects. When Lehman Bros. closed, there were ripples down to the the dry cleaner, the car service employee, the health club, and it goes rippling on down.

So, it is important to remember that the need is not just for one day's feast. We are hurting more than ever. So when you do that Thanksgiving shopping, pick up some extra items for the donation box.
I realize that box is always there. I gotta remember to remember it even after Christmas. We gotta get each other through this, yall.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transgender Day of Remembrance, 2008

Today is the 10th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Events have been held all over the world to commemorate the lives of those transgender individuals who have been murdered as a result of transphobic hatred.

Duanna Johnson — a transgender woman who was beaten by Memphis police while handcuffed and in custody. She was sprayed with mace, hit with a closed fist by an officer who wore handcuffs around his knuckles, ignored by medical staff, and called abhorrent transphobic names. Her attack was caught on tape, and Duanna dared to speak out against the violence and injustice that was committed against her. And two officers were rightfully fired, but wrongfully apparently not prosecuted.

Now, Duanna is dead. She was shot, and her body was found lying in the street. Just left there. She was 42 years old.

Again this year there are far too many people on this list. In a time when we are hopeful about getting our diversity act together in this country, we are reminded once again of the fear and hatred in this world. These crimes are particulary disturbing to me. But we can't shorten this list if we don't raise awareness that it happens.
Their names and faces are here in remembrance.

Kellie Telesford, 18
Location: Thornton Heath, UK
Cause of Death: Strangled
Date of Death: November 21, 2007

Brian McGlothin, 25
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Cause of Death: Shot in the head with an automatic rifle
by Antonio Williams who is serving a six year sentence.
Date of Death: December 23, 2007

Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz
Location: Santiago, Chile
Cause of Death: Attacked and stabbed
Date of Death: December 28, 2007

Patrick Murphy, 39
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Cause of Death: Shot Several times in the head
Date of Death: January 8, 2008

Stacy Brown, 30
Location: Baltimore, MD
Cause of Death: Shot in the head
Date of Death: January 8, 2008

Adolphus Simmons
Location: Charleston, SC
Cause of Death: Shot to Death (Aldophus was 18 yrs. old)
Date of Death: January 21, 200

Simmie Williams Jr., 17
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Cause of Death: Shot to death
Date of Death: February 22, 2008

Ashley Sweeney
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Cause of Death: Shot in the head
Date of Death: February 4, 2008
The age of Ashley Sweeney is unknown, she was only described
as a young transgender woman.

Sanesha (Talib) Stewart, 25
Location: Bronx, NY
Cause of Death: Stabbed to Death
Date of Death: February 10, 2008

Luna (no last name reported)
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Cause of Death: Brutally beaten to death
and tossed into a dumpster.
Date of Death: March 15, 2008

Lloyd Nixon,45
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
Cause of Death:Repeatedly beat in the head with a brick.
Date of Death: April 16, 2008

Felicia Melton-Smyth
Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Cause of Death: brutally stabbed to death by Francisco Javier Hollos,
who said he killed her because she would not pay for sex.
Felicia was an HIV activist on vacation from Wisconsin.
Date of Death: May 26, 2008

Silvana Berisha
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Cause of Death: Stabbed to Death
Date of Death: June 24, 2008

Ebony (Rodney) Whitaker, 20
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Cause of Death:Shot
Date of Death:July 1, 2008

Rosa Pazos
Location: Sevilla, Spain
Cause of Death: Was found in her apartment,
she had been stabbed in the throat.
Date of Death: July 11, 2008

Juan Carlos Aucalle Coronel, 35
Location: Lombardi, Italy
Cause of Death severely beaten causing fractures
to the head and face before being run over by a car.
Date of Death July 14, 2008

Angie Zapata,18
Location: Greeley, Colorado
Cause of Death: She was found in her home with two
severe fractures in her skull.
Angie was murdered by 31 year old, Alan Ray Andrade.
Date of Death: July 17, 2008

Jaylynn L. Namauu, 35
Location: Makiki Honolulu, Hawaii
Cause of Death: Stabbed to Death
Date of Death: July 17, 2008

Samantha Rangel Brandau, 30
Location: Milan, Italy
Cause of Death: beaten, gang raped and stabbed numerous
times before being left for dead.
Date of Death: July 29, 2008

Nakhia (Nikki) Williams, 29
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Cause of Death: Found near the dumpster next to her home,
she had been shot.
Date of Death: August 20, 2008

Ruby Molina, 22
Location: Sacramento, CaliforniaCause of Death: Drowned
Date of Death: September 21, 2008
Ruby’s naked body was found floating in the American river.

Aimee Wilcoxson, 34
Location: Aurora, Colorado
Cause of Death: undetermined (Police have yet to reveal cause)
Date of Death: November 3, 2008
Aimee was found dead in her bed.

Dilek Ince
Location: Ankara, Turkey
Cause of Death:Shot in the back of the head
Date of Death: November 11, 2008

Teish (Moses) Cannon, 22
Location: Syracuse, New York
Cause of Death: Shot
Date of Death: November 14, 2008

Cause of Death:executed for being transgender
Date of Death:2008, Month is Unknown

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inhaling Alice

Willard Wigans is a "micro-miniaturist," an artist known for creating some of the world's smallest sculptures. Wigan's, born in Birmingham England, is dyslexic and can neither read or write, but he can create a masterpiece within the eye of a tiny sewing needle, on top of a pin, the tip of an eyelash or a grain of sand. Wigan's is self taught and works in the solitude of night when there is less static electricity to interfere with the precision required to create the pieces. Wigan's, often working on a scale the width of a human hair, uses meditation to slow his breathing and heartbeat for total stillness of hand. He says this intense concentration leaves him mentally and physically drained.
Willard Wigan works with materials such as toothpicks, sugar crystals, and grains of rice and sand. It takes months to carve these materials into micro-figures. Whew! Check out the video to find out what happened to his Alice in Wonderland sculpture.

This man does the impossible. Check this out.
(Thanks Lavern)

Amazing! 20 million bucks? Art created between heartbeats, Priceless.

Boxing ring next to a match head.

Elvis on a pin head.

Girl with balloon on an eyelash attached to a needle.

Henry the 8th and wives.

Peter Pan on a fish hook.

The Thinker on the head of a pin.

Snow White and her guys

Visitors must view art through a microscope.
Can you believe this is possible? Would you have the patience to do this?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wanda Sykes Comes on Out

This may be a surprise to some of yall but Wanda Sykes is gay. Wanda didn't really publicly talk about her gayness but was never really in the closet either. She didn't hide it. When Prop 8 passed, Wanda decided to go all the way public. She also revealed that in October she was married in California. Congrats!

Here is Wanda at a rally this weekend.

There were rallies and demonstrations across the country this weekend protesting and testifying and showing our resolve not to be pushed back into the closet behind the coats.

In Chicago, gay and straight supporters took to the streets for equal rights. The rally began in Federal Plaza with songs by Windy City Gay Chorus and various speeches and turned into an impromptu march through the "Loop" (Chicago's downtown area), stopping traffic. A member of my church who marched told us that there was a (straight) bride and groom just married and riding in their wedding limo who joined the march. How 'bout that!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

To Proposition 8 Supporters

To those voters and supporters who consider themselves doing gay people a favor by saving our soul or doing society a favor by denying us equal rights or to those who never really gave it much thought because you never had any reason to and finally to those who care enough to listen and think about it. Listen, think about it.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dehumanizing Gay People

Did you ever think you would see a Black president in your lifetime? That's a question asked over and over lately. It took 40 years since Dr. King to get this done. It took the most destructive, arrogant, self aggrandizing president in the history of this country to bring it about. It took every black civil rights leader on whose shoulders the new president stands. It took loss of jobs and homes and loss of U.S. respect in the world, and ruination of the planet. It took a special person with character, vision, intelligence and common sense, skill and decorum to weather the attacks, brave the threats and run the most organized grassroots campaign in this country's history. Why did it take all of that? Why are Americans so damn slow? Or so damn selfish.

Well, this nation held it back as long as it could. We grew up a lot in spite of ourselves in these last two years. Will we learn anything from this?

On that same triumphant night on that same California ballot, voters decided to undo a righted wrong by voting for Proposition 8 banning gay marriage after the state Supreme Court voted to allow it. How can this discrimination be in any way consistent, coherent? Easy, people don't see gay people as people. The dehumanizing of gay people makes it easy to deny us basic human rights. The same strategy is used in war. Dehumanizing the enemy makes it easier to dismiss and attack them.

We can argue against homophobia forever. We can argue with the church people with their love the sinner hate the sin bullshit, and their we are doing what God wants crap, until the earth turns backwards. We can try and explain that it's not a choice, that we don't want to recruit your damn kids, or interfere with your lousy marriages, until our faces turn blue. California is blue, Illinois is too, so what. I am tired of explaining that I am human and that I love, and want the same things everyone else does. No one should have to do that. I am tired of people being content to make me less then they are to make themselves comfy in their narrow views. BEEN THERE DONE THAT!

I am willing to take change step by step. I know it takes time. Times up! There is no excuse for such a lack of common sense. Maybe I am so angry because on the very night I finally felt I was home, I was made to feel like an alien. I don't care what people think or what pastor narrow minded says, I am an American citizen and I legally deserve my civil rights. How black folks in particular don't get this is mind blowing. Californians and Chicagoans took it to the streets. Here we go again.

Will I be 100 years old answering, did you ever think you would see this in your lifetime?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Election Night

I just saw these pictures of the then Senators Obama and Biden and their families and staff watching election results. In case you haven't seen them, here ya go.

You think it's gonna be a long night?

Looking good so far.

We got Pennsylvania! Yayyy! That puppy's on the way.

What's Florida doing? C'mon Ohio!

Am I gonna be the future First Mother-in-Law?


Precious and historic moment.

Way to go!

We're the winners. Yeah but Barack, are we nuts? Yes Joe, we are.

A kiss for sis.

Let's go change the world!

Here we go.

Friday, November 07, 2008

America the Beautiful, Again

It's awfully soon and still new, our new president.
President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama.
President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama!
Personally, I am still not yet very articulate about what's happened.

My friend Alex said "The world is different. And I’m in the middle of a brand new possibility."
My new friend Chris said, "my soul feels different."
The always articulate Monica Roberts said "It's a new morning in America."

So many emotions and feelings. I loved the global response just as much. The world is gleeful for us. Our torch is glowing bright again. The promise of America is back! The world depends on our hope and promise to be there. Do you think they feel better about the state of the world when America is at it's best?

This is such a great feel good story.

Is It Cool to Be an American Abroad?
World News
VIENNA, Austria (Nov. 6) - She was a stranger, and she kissed me. Just for being an American.
It happened on the bus on my way to work Wednesday morning, a few hours after compatriots clamoring for change swept Barack Obama to his historic victory. I was on the phone, and the 20-something Austrian woman seated in front of me overheard me speaking English.
Without a word, she turned, pecked me on the cheek and stepped off at the next stop.
Nothing was said, but the message was clear: Today, we are all Americans.
For longtime U.S. expatriates like me — someone far more accustomed to being targeted over unpopular policies, for having my very Americanness publicly assailed —it feels like an extraordinary turnabout. Like a long journey over a very bumpy road has abruptly come to an end.
And it's not just me.

An American colleague in Egypt says several people came up to her on the streets of Cairo and said: "America, hooray!" Others, including strangers, expressed congratulations with a smile and a hand over their hearts.
Another colleague, in Amman, says Jordanians stopped her on the street and that several women described how they wept with joy.
When you're an American abroad, you can quickly become a whipping post. Regardless of your political affiliation, if you happen to be living and working overseas at a time when the United States has antagonized much of the world, you get a lot of grief.
You can find yourself pressed to be some kind of apologist for Washington. And you can wind up feeling ashamed and alone.
I'll never forget a ride in a taxi in Vienna when the world was waking up to the abuses wrought by U.S. troops at the detention center for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
My driver, a Muslim, was indignant. "You are American, yes?" he asked in that accusatory tone so familiar to many expats.
"Uh, no, Canadian," I said.
And it wasn't the first time I fudged where I was from. I speak three foreign languages, so I have a bit of flexibility when it comes to faking. At various times, I've been a German in Serbia, a Frenchman in Turkey, a Dutchman in Austria.
I'm not proud of it. But when you're far from home, and you're feeling cornered, you develop what you come to believe are survival skills.

Last spring, after the Bush administration recognized Kosovo's independence, a Serb who overheard my American-accented English lobbed a beer can at me in central Vienna. He missed, but spat out an unflattering "Amerikanac" and told me where to go.
On another occasion, an Austrian who heard my teenage daughter chatting with a friend pursued her, screaming, "Go Home!"
Physical attacks on Americans overseas are rare. Yet some of us felt vaguely at risk.
Maybe it was just the hostility we'd encounter even in friendly venues such as cocktail parties, when our foreign hosts would surround us and demand to know why U.S. troops were roughing up inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Or refusing to sign the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Or rejecting the Kyoto accord on climate change.
Maybe it was the State Department, which issues regular travel advisories urging Americans to keep a low profile even in tranquil Austria.
Often, of course, I've pushed back — reminding critics that most Americans are decent and generous souls, quick to respond with money and manpower whenever and wherever in the world catastrophe may strike.
My children came of age in Europe, and in a hostile post-9/11 world we had to teach them to avoid being too conspicuously American. Don't speak English loudly on the subway. Don't wear baseball caps and tennis shoes. Don't single yourselves out, guys, and even worldly wise Americans can unwittingly become targets.
We didn't overdo it, but there's always been that tension. That difficult-to-describe sense of vulnerability. That nagging instinct that maybe we'd better watch it, because our government is intensely unpopular and we're not entirely welcome.
I know Americans who at times have felt that way even in laid-back Vienna, where the greatest danger is probably eating a bad pastry.

That's what made Wednesday's unsolicited kiss so remarkable.
I don't want to read too much into an innocent smooch, but it didn't feel particularly pro-Obama, even though the new U.S. president-elect enjoys broad support here. No, it seemed to impart two sentiments I haven't felt for a long time: friendship and admiration.

Obama captured it in his acceptance speech — this sense that despite holding America's feet to the fire, the rest of the world is rooting for it and wants it to lead and succeed.
"Our destiny is shared," he said, "and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand."
Overnight, Americans did something their harshest critics in Europe have yet to do: elect a person of color as head of state and commander in chief. That gives U.S. citizens some bragging rights, even if a lot of us would just as soon eschew hubris and embrace humility.
I'm a marathon runner, and I have a red, white and blue singlet that I've seldom dared to wear on the Continent. Marathons are difficult enough without enduring catcalls and jeers from spectators.
But my best friend and training partner — who is French — just gave me his stamp of approval.
"Will you wear your Stars and Stripes shirt now? You're allowed!" he told me.

Paris, France


Manila, Philippines



Jakarta, Indonesia


Beijing, China

Basra Iraq

Athens Greece

Obama's step-grandma in Kenya