Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Getting off my butt and posting as ordered by Dr. Brett Cajun. Of course he also asked for a prostate exam with the consultation but I refused. I’d rather be probed by an alien. Same thing actually.

Anyway, it’s National Peace Corps Week and I posted an old pic of me on Facebook from when I served in Kazakstan. Seeing my fellow volunteers’ posts this week reminded me that I lived in Portland before I went to serve overseas.

The economic situation at that time was very similar to today. Clinton was making cutbacks in the government and federal job openings were hard to come by. I was set in my mind to be a park ranger at that time and was having difficulty finding full-time, permanent work in that field. I was working at Kinko’s Copies and an athletic club trying to make ends meet and it wasn’t working. Peace Corps service offered a degree of preferential hiring status with the federal government, although I don’t recommend you try Peace Corps for just that reason alone. Several of my friends from college had joined Peace Corps at the time and I thought it would be fun. The other part in the decision was job panic.

Looking back had I not done Peace Corps I may have set on a different career path, similar to the one I ended up with anyway. I was doing graphic design at Kinko’s and could have moved into that position had I not fled Portland so fast the first time. But hindsight is 20/20 as they say. The path that took me indirectly to DC was a good one, and I developed some good skills and a Master’s degree along the way.

Back then no one told me it might take dozens, if not hundreds of job applications to get a better job. I think I had sent out less than a dozen when I was in Portland the first time and was freaking out that I wasn’t getting any bites.

Fast forward to today, my job search is a little more focused. While I’ve widened my search to non-federal jobs in the area, I’m still trying to stay in my field of public affairs and social media. I’ve worked too hard to develop my career to drop it and take a job in another field. Plus it took me a long time to realize that’s what I like to do, and know what kinds of jobs I wouldn’t like to do. From past work experiences I know I can’t just go to work and fake it – I need to be interested in what I’m doing and then I enjoy doing what I do more.

Now with this sequester bullshit, there are few federal job openings, and I’ve noticed a dip in openings elsewhere too just like back in ’95. Everyone is holding their purses tight and not hiring. There aren’t even job openings back in DC in what I did with my previous federal job.

The urge to freak out and flee again is strong. Security is a warm and welcoming thing, and I don’t have much of that these days. But I try to remind myself on a daily (if not hourly) basis to hold out and keep looking. 15 years later I hope I’ve learned some wisdom along the way, and that this wisdom pays back for a change.

The other day the lovely Dingo asked me to dig up a post I wrote when I was previously unemployed so he could send it to his newly unemployed friend. It was good to go back and read what I wrote in 2009:

It’s not the end of the world. You will survive. You will work again one day and you will regret it.

I’m such a ray of sunshine.

Jimbo and his friend from Boston encounter cross-cultural challenges in Portland.

When I was in Peace Corps during training before we were assigned to our posts, we were given some instruction dealing with cross-cultural issues we might have in a country on the other side of the planet from where we grew up. We were told that we would experience a cycle of adjustment, which included initial euphoria, an equal portion of culture shock, followed by decreasing cycles of adjustment and shock. I’ve found that training helped adjust to new workplaces, new homes with roomates, and of course moving to new cities.

We can assume my initial euphoria with being in a new place has ended by now. I have my ups and downs on a weekly basis but having lived here in Portland in 1995 has probably lessened the extremes somewhat. The cultural training also helped me observe differences between coastal cultures as well, which sometimes helps when I find myself frustrated with people here. I’m not saying I’m angry all the time, but little interactions come up on occasion where I find myself confused about how people work here. But I’m learning.

I went on a date (yes I go on dates now!) a month ago with a guy who used to live in Boston, which is a bit more extreme east coast culture than DC. But we both agreed to having some struggle with the way things go in Portland. I tried to frame how we see things here this way in a conversation with him: people from the larger cities on the east coast consciously or unconsciously learn to mind other people’s space, because there is less space for people in the densely populated cities of the east coast. If nobody in New York City minded other peoples’ space, there would be even more cranky people in New York. New York works because people learn to mind each others’ space.

Take for example a crowded locker room in a city gym. On the east coast people will keep their stuff in a smaller pile on the bench, so other people can put their stuff down too. They don’t think about it, they just do it. At my new gym in an even smaller locker room, one guy will spread all his stuff on the bench, and I’m pretty sure he’s completely unaware that nobody else can put their stuff on the bench and not on the nasty floor. And even with three other people in the locker room who need the bench to change clothes, the one guy doesn’t move his stuff to accomodate other people. It happens on a regular basis.

This applies to all sorts of things, like training your dog not to bark all the time or cleaning after the dog on the sidewalk. And resolving conflicts. People here don’t communicate well when they perceive a conflict, so they avoid conflict altogether. On the east coast they are better at voicing something that bothers them, which can be perceived on the west coast as “rude.” In more compact living environments, people learn to resolve conflicts by communicating. They haven’t learned that here in Portland. And I’ve probably been perceived as “rude” already.

There may be a politeness factor involved this close to Canada. Maybe people are too polite to voice conflicts. I think it’s from differences in population density. Just a theory.

I perceive drivers here as too polite, often to the point of endangering themselves in order to drive politely. If I’m at an intersection on foot where a driver has no stop sign and he has the right of way, they’ll often stop for the pedestrian even if the pedestrian does not have a crosswalk. I perceive this as potentially dangerous for the driver. But I will learn to expect this and just cross to be polite to the driver I guess.

When I’m out and chatting with people I’ve heard some interesting west coast perceptions of people from DC. The conversations went like this:

Me: I just moved here in September from DC.
Him: Oh, did you work for the government?
Me: Yep.
Him: Oh but you can’t talk about it. (smirks)

Well I can talk about it, but I won’t bore you about how I did public outreach on an equine STD eradication team. Or that I wrote Q&A documents on invasive fruit flies. It leads to too many awkward conversations about equine STD treatments or the science of how ripening fruit rots. You don’t really want to hear that, do you?

For the record, anyone from DC who tells you they can’t talk about what they do probably spend their time photocopying or filing and don’t want to talk about it. Those who truly can’t talk about what they do have a short pitch like “I do policy work.”

The other strange perception is of gays in DC. When I mention I moved from DC people here have said, “Oh, are all the gays closeted conservative Republicans?” No. Most of them are flaming liberal Democrats, but there are some Republicans, but not all of them are closeted. There are a few flaming gay conservatives who are out, but most of the people I knew were out all over the place. Of course there are a few deeply closeted cases, or semi-closeted gays who work for deeply conservative politicians, but I knew some guys who were out and still worked for these people. I guess there are all kinds of gays in DC, but they’re not all closeted Republicans for the record.

I think I did pick up a few east coast cultural habits without knowing it and brought them here to Portland with me. One strange one I see that makes me stick out a bit is public singing. In the neighborhoods I lived in, or in the deeply African-American Prince George’s County where I commuted and worked in for many years, people were unafraid of singing or humming aloud on the street or in the Metro. Mostly hip-hop but other styles of music too while they were listening to their headphones or iPods. It rarely bothered me, and at some point I guess I started doing it myself. I get strange looks here when I break out a verse in the gym or on the street, and notice that no one else here seems to sing publicly. This is one habit I think I will try to maintain despite cultural differences.
>; )

After the awful bile of the Republican National Committee (RNC) convention last week, expected gasps of fresh air are already incoming from Michelle Obmama’s Convention speech:

“…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.”

Everyone. From the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson et al:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I strongly believe in this virtue of our country, and it is a foundation upon which our country was built.

While I made the decision to move out of DC in June, I wanted to stay at my job until September to complete a solid four years at my job. I also stayed in DC until this week to be part of a marriage recognition ceremony of a friend’s union with his partner. Tonight he responded to Michelle Obama’s speech:

“I’m proud of my country and my president. And I’m extremely proud that marriage equality is something worth mentioning in a major party platform and on the stage at a national convention, over and over again, especially on my 18th anniversary with the best partner I could have ever asked for.”

This is what our country is about. The other party, the other candidate, are not part of this ideal. I hope you support 18 years, 2 years, or 40 years of these unions in the Pursuit of Happiness for everyone.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial

I was out in Virginia wine country again this weekend for our final Dungeons & Dragons gaming session with the geek gang. ~sob!~ While we were there we went to the Hazzard Homecoming in Rappahannock Co., VA. I got to see a few of the stars of the show from a distance and several dozen replicas of the General Lee:
Git 'er done
The entry fee was steep, but offered the opportunity to get autographs from many of the actors from the show. But the lines were long and it was hot out and I was fine with seeeing the cars, but we did see Tom Wopat from a distance. Wopat is from Wisconsin fyi, as is this rarely bearded fellow, who is apparently Mitt Romney’s running mate for President: does not support flagrant use of the Confederate flag nor Paul Ryan for Vice-President. We only support his beard.

This picture is so awesome I had to share. But I’m sure you’ve already seen it all over the place on the Facebooks.

While the President’s statement was not a law enacted, it was still powerful and will have a lasting effect. Sure, other lawmakers may have voiced their support for gay marriage in the past, but this guy said it while he was in office.

I suspect this was fully calculated despite some pundits’ insistence it was a reaction to Biden’s perceived diarrhea of the mouth earlier in the week. Both Biden and a cabinet member spoke in favor of gay marriage beforehand and I believe these statements were strategically placed trial balloons. If the public had freaked out over what Biden and Duncan had said, then Obama wouldn’t have come out publicly like he did so soon.

But the trial balloons did not pop too loudly, and Obama did say it and said it eloquently. Watch the whole interview beyond the major talking points seen on the news if you can. (I’m looking for the entire interview for y’all…)

The most important and lasting effect of his statement was the affirmation for gay youth. To be honest coming out in the early 90s was scary and really sucked, but to have the President’s support today must make the kids who are coming out feel really good. And with such an organized and fanatic opposition today, the kids need every boost they can get. There were anti-gay sentiments in the 90s but they were nowhere near as organized back then as the anti-gay haters are today. These days they are mean and calculated reptiles.

Oh wait I need to correct myself: perhaps the most important thing coming out of this whole discussion is that one day BrettCajun will finally be able to get married to some Southern belle. Then he will finally stop texting me and peeking at my Scruff profile every 4 hours, all thanks to President Obama.

Only then will I truly be free.

The ski trip was fun and I believe I only heard “We Found Love” only about 6 times which was tolerable, but they did play that LMFAO song more than I wanted to hear. It’s still stuck in my brain like a malignant brain tumor. I missed the Madonna halftime live but did catch her later on the YouTubes. She was fun and I liked the guests except for that weird ginger afro dude tightrope walking. That was out of place. And Kylie would like her 2011 Aphrodite tour dancers and props back please, thanks. Here’s a review of the show from NPR.

The snow conditions on the slopes were to be expected for the warm winter we’ve had in the region, and there was only snow on the runs but nowhere else on the mountain. Knowing snowboarding would probably suck on icy manufactured snow, I checked out those newfangled parabolic skis which did make skiing a little easer. I think it’s been like 10 years since I skiied (rather than snowboard) but I didn’t forget a thing. But I was reminded of how much I still have to learn on the ‘board so I won’t be buying a pair of skis anytime soon. I still like the snowboarding.

Later that evening at the local gay bar (12 Penny Saloon in Moosic) I tried my smooth moves on two locals from the Wilkes-Barre area but didn’t get anywhere. I apparently no longer have game and don’t know how to successfully trick anymore. Perhaps it is because I am dead inside.

That reminds me about something I’ve wanted to discuss here. I see on a lot of the youngster profiles here and there on apps and sites where they state that they are strictly on a “NO HOOKUPS” policy which I find hard to believe. Now I’m old fashioned on a lot of gay things but I don’t believe in absinence, and I have a hard time believing these 20somethings aren’t having sex. I worry that their policies will blow up in their faces and they’ll suddenly binge on sex all at once, unsafely.

I remember back in the 90s there was this sex positive movement in response to the fear of sex during the AIDS crisis. Anyone remember that? It was about teaching and doing safe sex while still having a healthy, realistic attitude about having sex. I thought it was a good idea and wonder if the kids these days have a bad attitude about sex out of ignorance. But then again I also see HIV rates increasing in that demographic and wonder if maybe they just don’t care, or possibly don’t know enough about safe sex? The safer sex education and outreach isn’t as prevalent as it was when I came out. Anyway I worry that the kids don’t like the sex, which isn’t healthy either.

Or they’re growing up fucked up if they live in Michelle Bachmann’s congressional district where 9 kids committed suicide in 2 years. Read this Rolling Stone article for more details. It’s horrifying how the school board and citizen leaders deliberately chose to dampen any discussion on orientation. Kids are coming out far earlier than they used to, and they need affirmation and support, not gag orders and ignorance. It sounds like the leaders in the Anoka region are both soulless and spineless, and it’s the kids who are paying the price.

Then I watch this documentary “Kidnapped for Christ” on Joe.My.God, where a gay kid has been sent to what amounts to a concentration camp in the Dominican Republic for “reform.” This stuff is still happening!

Reading and watching stuff like this makes me think that despite all the openness, affirmation and exposure the gays have experienced recently, that it’s almost worse for young gays these days because our opposition has also become more organized and focused as well. Even though we can (sort of) serve openly in the military and get married in some states, it’s still shitty out there for gay youth.

This rat picture has nothing to do with the post but I think it's cuteI have noticed the gays don’t have their iPhones out obsessively checking Grindr all the time anymore. I’m guessing the craze is over and also people may have realized how rude and/or douchey they were looking checking their Grindr while in a gay bar. Or maybe they’re scared their dick pictures will get hacked. Oopsie!

Anyway, I’m happy to see people are experiencing others in a live setting without the use of a device. It was getting unsettling there for a while and I was starting to think SkyNet had taken over the gays.

A few people have sent me this link about a new phenomenon called “Phone Stacking.” Basically when a group of people are out at a restaurant or bar they all put their phones in a stack. The first person who compulsively grabs their phone to check a text or Grindr foots the bill. I like that since very few texts are really that important that you have to check it during a meal. You’re not a EMT or a CDC fatal disease outbreak epidemiologist, are you? No you’re not. But there are still plenty of self-important people in DC who will continue to do that. But for the most part I believe people are getting better with behavior and devices. Every new invention brings with it some social situation that could be negatively affected. At the advent of the toilet seat, we had to learn when to put it up or down when we were done, depending on the household. Similarly when we all got email for the first time, many learned not to forward every. single. joke. they received in their inbox. There are a few people who forward everything they receive to a mass e-mail list but they are so few they’re endearing at this point and I just hit ‘delete’.

Anyway, where’s some fun stuff for the weekend. First a fun not-electronica Robyn mashup:

And a flying dildo invades a Russian press conference!

This is kind of amazing because dildos are fairly heavy, so it takes a lot of lift to get that thing aloft and stay horizontal like that. I’m guessing they hollowed one out or used a lighter foam cast.

A recent chat exchange on Scruff has inspired me to blog again!
It’s about big giant Sarlacc Pit bottoms and Star Destroyer tops.
The image below is an artist’s rendering of BrettCajun‘s gaping hole:
BrettCajun's gaping hole
The Sarlacc Pit was that big giant hole (see image above) with tentacles in Return of the Jedi that ate Boba Fett and almost got Luke Skywalker too. The Star Destroyer was first seen in the original Star Wars movie and one crashed on the Death Star, penetrating deep into its core.

So anyway I was chatting on the Scruff app with a guy in my neighborhood and I could see where the conversation was going very fast. Eventually as I expected he said, “I’m a ‘vers/bottom’, what are you?”

My immediate thought was “Why does it always have to come down to assfucking? Is this really the be-all end-all of gay existence?” I think I’m bored with the whole top/bottom dictomy and rhetoric. But I understand fucking and/or being fucked is the Alpha and Omega for many gay men. I don’t know about you but my sexual experience with men is more than just fucking.

Of course people like BrettCajun will respond to that with “Oh you’re just saying that because you’re a big huge nelly bottom.” Such people are the very type of folk who obsess over the whole top/bottom thing in the first place. Brett sees himself as the biggest Alpha top in the world, and everyone else is a meek fem bottom. Inevitably the more these people protest about them being a top and everyone else being a bottom, the more you understand what a big giant bottom they are in reality. Seriously, every time I’ve met a guy who makes a big point about being a top, he inevitably flips over and screams to be fucked. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I respect honesty and genuine intentions instead of some bizarre cognitive dissonance about sexual identity and role stereotypes. God that shit bores me to tears, no pun intended. I don’t mind fucking but just be honest about what you like. A dance or word game beforehand is tiresome.

Anyway, former blogger and former DC socialite TJ once told me that I was more “orally oriented,” which is pretty accurate. I really like to make out and do other things with my mouth. Safe assfucking in one direction or another can often come out of this but it isn’t a guaranteed endpoint with me. So when guys start immediately asking about what role I serve in the fucking process I roll my eyes. Isn’t it kind of fun exploring and finding out that role through a discovery process? Have you ever been surprised? Are we just generic labeled items with our titles in black Arial boldface with a white background?

I remember reading that Savage Love column (3rd part of this article) that cited stats supporting that I’m not alone in this line of thinking, even amongst the gay:

“Of all sexual behaviors that men reported occurring during their last sexual event, those involving the anus were the least common,” Joshua G. Rosenberger, one of the study’s authors, writes.

Basically it said not every gay is fixated on the whole top/bottom thing. But you wouldn’t think that was the case with so many guys so fixated on insertive/receptive roles and procedures.

Anyway, wanna make out?

It’s Movember y’all, and there are ‘staches everywhere the eye can see. I can’t get enough of it and to me it’s better than Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving combined. The only problem is not everyone keeps their ‘stache afterwards but I can hope some do keep their ‘stache.

But as a mustache expert I question the act of growing a ‘stache from the clean-shaven state. A ‘stache will work out better if you shave from a full beard to a ‘stache. If you grow it out from scratch you’ll inevitably get an awkward growth phase that doesn’t look so hot.

Other miscellany: GWAR guitarist Cory Smoot (Flattus Maximus) passed away last week. Very sad news. I saw GWAR the first time about 15 years ago in Portland, Oregon and have seen them many times since. I believe Flattus himself spewed unholy fluids on me at one concert where I was in the greasy mosh pit so long my contact lenses were dyed red. It took several showers to get the food coloring out of my skin.

Don’t freak out this Wednesday, November 9 at 2pm EST where FEMA and the FCC will take over your television for a short time to exercise a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. I’m expecting the paranoid Teabaggers and anti-Obama people to freak out about this. But they’d also freak out if we didn’t do this too, so you can never placate those types. Anyway it’s just an exercise, a test to see if a nationwide notification system works so don’t freak out when Real Housewives is interrupted.

Here’s an interesting article from DC’s Washington Blade that brings up some good discussion about the “It Gets Better” YouTube anti-bullying campaign – has it jumped the shark? I don’t feel comfortable that towards the end of the trend that some organizations somehow felt they had to post a video because everyone else had posted one too. I’d rather watch a sincere first-person testimony instead of a fake, scripted, and ultimately insincere speech. What if the person on the video has no frikkin’ idea about how it gets better? The audience can detect a genuine sentiment over something an individual or organization felt obliged to perform. Read the article and the comments for more views on this topic.

Here is a new Dairy Queen commercial featuring my favorite ‘stached spokesMAN:

Depending on the weather, me and some friends may go beach camping at Assateague Island National Seashore this Veteran’s Day weekend. It is where the feral Chincoteague ponies roam, and the locale that inspired the favorite little girl’s book Misty of Chincoteague. I’ve camped there before and it’s very scenic, but let me tell ya those coastal mosquitoes are the worst I’ve ever encountered. They’re vicious and persistent blood-sucking monsters so we’ll be sure to bring the bug spray. I’ve been to Alaska, the Boundary Waters, and the Great Dismal Swamp and I must say the DelMarVa mosquitoes are the worst.