Monday, April 25, 2005

Company Endorsements

I have been having the worst experience with a company that I have ever had in my life with Comcast Cable. I really, truly hate Comcast. But the story is so long and painful (and still unresolved) that I didn't feel like writing about it... So I've decided instead to write about companies that I would actually endorse. Not just OK companies, but companies (or products) that are so above and beyond the competition, that when I speak of them I feel like I am doing a commercial.

Perhaps if I put it out there, maybe I'll get a paid endorsement. The only sad thing is that the list is kind of (very) short right now. But I'll let you know if I feel like expanding:

- Jet Blue: worth the drive all the way to Long Beach.

- Washington Mutual: truly free banking, and they mean it.

- America's Tire Company: free patching, excellent service every time, every location.

- Kraft Macaroni & Cheese: there is no substitute for the original Kraft Dinner.

- My eye doctor: almost worth being nearly blind temporarily so I can fly home to see the best.

- AAA: great rates, great service.


Sadly, not as many as I had hoped for, but it's a beginning.

Losing Love

Have you ever felt the ache of losing love? Silly question, I think we all have. I've been "home" where I grew up for a weekend, and I had several visits with family and friends. I have some truly amazing and special people in my life. It always takes these moments to be reminded of it, unfortunately.

I met my niece for the first time (and she is adorable!!!!), saw some high school friends, some work friends, and some long-lost relatives. I saw an old workplace and the co-workers from there, some family friends, and even a wonderful doctor of mine. I discovered that my sexuality now officially runs on both sides of the family, and I've been reminded how special my family and my wife are in the hearts and minds of others, who were kind enough to share their thoughts about these people with me.

With this great outpouring of love, I am unfortunately sometimes also reminded of lost loves along the way. The family members who have past on, the exes that didn't work out, the friends that have moved on and drifted away, the secret loves that never materialized. Even surrounded by so much love, losing love is something that never gets easier.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Birds and the Bees

Well, I've finally recovered enough from my cold to write about the Birds & the Bees, and now I'm just burned out thinking about writing to catch up for the last 2 weeks. I had a lot of ideas for this post in the past couple of weeks, but now I'm just tired, and there is so much to catch up on. However, I'll give it a shot or I'll never get to it.

Spring time finally hit Maryland, and for the first time I think I finally understand what all the fuss is about. I've heard friends from other states complain my whole adult life about how Los Angeles has no trees and no seasons. I always thought we had trees, but I really get the difference now. First of all, there are TONS of trees where I live now, partly because I am near several areas of woodlands. When I moved in the winter, it was just a ton of sticks, but lots of trees nonetheless. However, almost as if by magic overnight, they blossomed. Living near DC, we expected to go see the cherry blossoms, but little did we expect that our very own street would be lined with them. We didn't know what the trees were, so imagine our surprise to go to DC, fight the crowd of millions, and return home to our own cherry blossoms right in front of the house! Note to self: whenever we decide to sell, make sure it goes on the market right before the cherryblossoms bloom! Not only are the cherryblossoms beautiful and look like cotton candy, but there are apple blossoms, and all kinds of other assorted white, pink, yellow, red, and orange trees. It's so darn colorful it looks more like what I imagined fall to be like. And not only the trees, but the flowers. They are so vibrant they look like they were painted in place. And they bloom so quickly. Imagine my delight when the planters we were about to throw out suddenly sprouted with greenery, and tulips suddenly sprang up in the backyard too! Also, the grass is growing so fast we'll have to buy a lawnmower in the next week... We're already well overdue!

It's funny because I am writing this from Los Angeles, as I traveled home for a weekend to pick up my cat and celebrate Passover. And when I arrived in LA, suddenly it DID seem like there were a lot fewer trees, and they seemed so plain and just green. The flowers didn't seem as bold and really seemed forced. For the first time I wished I was back in Maryland. The fact that we're finally painting some rooms and making the house more for us also has helped matters, although there are people I very much miss in L.A. And I guess that for the first time in my life I finally officially lost my room completely and had to stay in the crappy small room also didn't make me want to stay in Los Angeles very long this time around. Not to say I would never want to come back, because there are many reasons I may also want that in life in the future, but spring really is incentive to be somewhere "spring-like," now that I understand the terminology. (Ask me again in August or December and we'll see how I feel about Maryland then!... But I digress.)

Back to spring... Some of the most interesting things about spring are how we have all these neighbors I didn't know existed. On the first beautiful day, suddenly all of these people are out. Kids and families are riding bicycles, people are mowing lawns, Home Depot bags of lawn waste are piled high on the curbs, everywhere you go they are selling annuals and perrenials. Everyone is planting, jogging, mowing, smiling, active... They just popped up out of nowhere! And it's not just the people, but the wildlife I've mentioned a few times before.

The other day, we were startled by the motion detector again and quickly looked outside expecting to see deer, but saw a large raccoon crawling his way over our fence. At the cherryblossom festival, I even saw my very first muskrat, chomping at the blossoms the tourists were throwing into the Tidal Basin. But mostly it's the birds. There are just so many of them. From the bright red cardinals to the black and orange birds that I'm embarrassed to admit took 2 weeks before I made the association with the baseball mascot and realized that they are Orioles. Duh! We even have a mama and papa bird outside the bedroom window that have been guarding a nest, and we are eager to see when the babies might arrive. And babies are definitely arriving. We saw a momma with her 9 baby ducks swimming in the Tidal Basin when we went to see the cherryblossoms. And when I was driving to the Costco a couple of weeks ago, I saw a a pair of geese with all of their babies in a center medium. I was worried for their safety in the middle fo the street like that, but on the way home noticed there was in fact a sign posted for duck crossing! Since we've moved here, we seen hawks and even a vulture. We even witnessed the tail end of one event which truly put the circle of life into perspective.

[Here is the point where I last saved my draft... and the computer erased the rest of my blog... Honestly, I'm too tired to recreate it all... so excuse the brevity in the rest of the post... This is why I often complain that I hate computers...]

After viewing the cherry blossoms, we were walking back along the National Mall, when we saw a crowd of people in semi-circle, hovering around something apparently interesting. As we approached, we saw a large hawk (a friend of mine said it might have been a falcon, but I'll call it a hawk for now) sitting on the ground among all the people. I never would have thought this majestic bird would be so bold as to sit among all these people, but there is was. Then people were talking on cell phones, I assumed to tell their friends about this amazing creature before us. But the conversations sounded more like this:

"Hi... you'll never guess what I just saw!... We were standing here on the Mall... We were watching this beautiful grey squirrel eating something out of the grass... All of a sudden this hawk dropped down out of the tree..."

Anyway, I had already snapped off about a half dozen pictures before I really realized what was going on! Thinking about it after the fact, I should have known that hawks don't have naturally red beaks, but I digress...

Along with the birds and the flowers, of course, come the bees. And we have several bees swarming the entrances to our home, just to make sitting out on the deck a major challenge. The bees, like I'm told of most insects out here, are very large. These gigantic bumblebees look like relatives of "The Fly." But the birds and the bees, for the good and the bad, make springtime truly special. Of all the things we've seen so far, I think spring has been the most amazing experience I've had since we moved.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Yucky

So, I still haven't gotten around to writing the post I want to. But I promise it's coming. It's in my head. Unfortunately, also in my head at this time is a lot of congestion and a darn nasty cold. I hate being sick. I think this is the longest srtretch I've ever had in my life without being sick. It might have been since last May the last time I had a cold, if I remember correctly. Anyway, I haven't felt up to thinking about writing, or doing much of anything, and I'm trying to recover a bit so I can fly back to L.A. next week and pick up my beloved cat.

So here's a quick entry, another protest of the week. Leave it to DC to finally have a baseball team after 34 years, and still have a protest about it. People standing outside the stadium on opening night were protesting the money being spent on the team, rather than on schools and children. I personally am happy to have a team to be behind for once, since I never took a liking to the Lakers or the Dodgers or the Raiders or the Rams. L.A. teams never had an appeal for me. So I've become a self-declared Nationals fan. Yes, the new team is called the Washington Nationals. And they are up 3-0 in their home opener series! They used to be the Senators way back when. But I guess when a district has a protest even on it's license plate stating "Washington D.C. - Taxation Without Representation," it would be a bit ironic to call them the Washington Senators this time around.

Anyway, back to rest. I will try to get around to the new post as soon as I feel better and have the time. It's exciting. It's about spring. Keep reading...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Protest of the Week - Week of April 11

I was hoping to have a more interesting post, and indeed I already know what I really want to write about. I'm just so gosh-darn tired I haven't put it together yet! So, I'm hoping I'll have the energy to write the more interesting stuff tomorrow... check back soon!

In the meantime, I give you this week's Protest of the Week:

(After spending a wonderful night patrolling RFK stadium after the Opening Night home game of the new DC baseball team, the Washington Nationals, my wife will spend the weekend monitoring activity surrounding this protest.)

World Bank-IMF Protests Set This Week
By Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, April 13, 2005; Page B03

Opponents of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund announced yesterday that they would stage two days of protests to coincide with annual meetings the two institutions will host beginning Friday. The organizers said the highlight will be a demonstration Saturday outside the World Bank's downtown headquarters, followed by a march to Dupont Circle.

... [Sen] said the demonstrations have created a substantial movement for change at the two 61-year old institutions, which protesters say promote policies that foster poverty and inequality. "We are not a fad. We are a movement," he said.

...

As in the past, the organizers list four demands: that the bank open board meetings to the media; that it cancel the debts of impoverished countries; that it stop financing "environmentally and socially destructive" projects; and that it stop "imposing harmful economic conditions" on countries.

for the full article, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48197-2005Apr12.html

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Most Miserable Person on Earth

Today I've discovered that I'm the most miserable person on earth. At least, it's been brought to my attention that's what many people think of me. It's funny, because I don't feel that way. I think most of my life I haven't been great at emoting what I feel deep down, so I guess it should come as no surprise that I've been misinterpreted again. Today a friend of mine called and asked how everything was going. By the time I was done telling him, he said that I sounded depressed. My wife has been saying that as well. Yet, I don't feel depressed. Sure, there is nothing dynamic going on at the moment, but that does not mean I'm depressed. It just means life is moving on. I think I've only had one friend my entire life who really got me, understood what was really going on deep beneath the surface. Unfortunately, it seems, we've drifted apart. But the thing that was understood was that sometimes the things I take joy in are simple, and don't express well in conversation. And sometimes the most conversational topics are the least interesting.

For example, my wife thinks I hate where I've moved. Frankly, I think I could live most anywhere. Day to day life is the same most places I feel I could wind up. Get up, go to work, eat, do laundry, watch TV, go to sleep, get up the next morning, and do it all over again. When I said that's mostly what I've been doing, I got the usual sympathetic reaction. As if most people don't do these things? But the differences come in the details.

The weather: I said I was looking forward to spring and that I was cold. I never said I was depressed. I never said I hated the winter. But I do get cold and, like MOST of the people here, I'm ready for it to warm up. And once it gets sweltering in mid-summer, I will then be hoping for it to cool down, like most people. I enjoy the beauty of a snowfall, the colors of the fall, the warm sun on my face, the blooming of the flowers. I appreciate them all, and yet I don't think wanting to be a nice, cozy 72 degrees with a slight breeze for the majority of the time makes me unusual, or makes me depressed when I don't have it.

Work: First of all, I haven't even mentioned in my blogs to date that I even got work. I did. In fact, it was the first interview I went on when I arrived that offered me a position. And as expected, the job is not in my previous field. I told my friend the best thing about the job was the commute, and other than that it is just a job. Again, that's true. I wish I were fortunate enough to have a job that I love. Many people have that, and many others don't. My job is a) not very exciting, b) not using my abilities to their past, present, or future potential, c) paying the bills, and mostly just the bills. I would love to love my job. Since most of my waking hours are spent there, that would be incredible, no doubt. But if I'm not going to love my job, there is something else I want from it. I want to stop living to work, and begin working to live. That is one of the benefits of the job I found. I found a job close to work. I thought with all of the public transportation out here, that commuting would be easier than L.A., but I've found traffic out here to be just as much of a nightmare. In fact, I work with a guy who commutes 7 hours round trip every day. No, I'm not making that up. He must love HIS job! But my commute is relatively short. I work for a boss who recognized potential talent on a resume even with no background in his industry. I work for a company who treats their employees as adults, and has an admirable sick/holiday/vacation policy unlike any I've ever seen. So, I will continue to look for work that I will love, and that may or not pay me more to love it, but I will see this as an opportunity to have a life outside of work, and that's not too depressing, is it? (Now, I will admit that I haven't quite figured out what I want of this life outside of work, and that can indeed be a drag, but that's not necessarily depressing, and it's definitely its own blog for another time.)

Activities: I said daily I mostly just go to work, come home, sleep. I don't call people too often, have barely called anyone in fact since I've moved. Guess I haven't felt there is much to talk about. Those are just daily routine activities. Same as in L.A. or anywhere else. But don't get me wrong. We do get out. Heck, since I've lived here, I've gone to Baltimore twice, Philadelphia once, visited Calvert County in the far south of Maryland, been to Virginia, driven by the Pentagon, walked through the National Air & Space museum, been to the National Zoo, walked to the Jefferson Monument on the Tidal Basin to see the cherryblossoms in bloom(they haven't bloomed yet, but waiting until next weekend to try again - see, they don't like the cold & rain either!), saw the National Cherryblossom kite festival in front of the Washington Monument, visited Ford's Theater (where Lincoln was shot) and the Peterson House (where Lincoln died), went to the International Spy Museum, visited a Super Pet Expo in Dulles, and of course made more trips with less success to the Home Depot than anyone else I know. I've also had my car into the shop 3 times in the just less than 2 months I've lived here.

But as exciting as these activities are, they never seem like good conversation topics. I don't tend to remember all of the history or information most people want to hear about when they talk about such places or events. I usually remember that a butterfly flew past when we were walking up that hill, that a breeze almost pushed me into oncoming traffic as we waited for a signal to change, that a lady read a paper on the metro and from the headline I knew it was 2 months old. I feel and think and often live in my head. I cherish my thoughts and feelings as deep, but private. Sometimes their significance or emotion feels muted once I've let them outside of that personal space. I think that's why I often prefer writing to talking. When I write I don't feel like I've always let the cat out of the bag, even if I have just as much if not more so.

So, no, I don't think I'm depressed. Could I be happier? Heck, there's always room to be happier. But really the most depressing thing of all is to be so darn misunderstood. And if being misunderstood can make you miserable, than perhaps everyone is right about me. I'm the most miserable person on earth.