Friday, July 31, 2009

I Guess Beggars Can Be Choosers...When It Comes To Blood

Via Slog's Morning News [07/31/09]:
Hungry for Blood: Puget Sound Blood Center needs type O, stat.
For the record, my blood type is O negative. That is the universal blood type; anyone can receive my blood. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a policy in place that forbids men who have sex with other men from donating blood. Excerpts from their website:
"Men who have had sex with other men, at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion."

"A history of male-to-male sex is associated with an increased risk for the presence of and transmission of certain infectious diseases, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. FDA's policy is intended to protect all people who receive blood transfusions from an increased risk of exposure to potentially infected blood and blood products."

"Current scientific data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that, as a group, men who have sex with other men are at a higher risk for transmitting infectious diseases or HIV than are individuals in other risk categories. While statistics indicate a rising infection rate among young heterosexual women, their overall rate of HIV infection remains much lower than in men who have sex with other men."

"FDA's policies on donor deferral for history of male sex with males date back to 1983, when the risk of AIDS from transfusion was first recognized. Our current policy has been in place since 1992."
My own father adamantly told me that if he were in charge, he wouldn't let me donate either.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Wonder What He Will Do About The Ugly Customers

The Rumpus reported on Tuesday that American Apparel's President and CEO, Dov Charney, is enforcing an anti-ugly employee policy to help get sales up. That is, any store that is not doing well is required to forward a photo of the entire staff to Mr. Charney, and he will decide which employees are to be fired for their, in essence, ugliness. [Note: pictures of Charney are here.] Read the full article (with links) here.

Film Review

"This is not a love story. This is a story about love." So begins the opening of (500) Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt--adorable in that under-achieving and nerdy way--and Zooey Deschanel. Tom is a twenty-something writer in a greeting cards office, content with his underachieving and non-existent success at being an architect, when he falls smitten with a new employee, Summer. Tom spends a good deal of those (500) days trying to break down the proverbial wall that Summer has built up. She doesn't want a boyfriend, being overly-complacent with her independence and freedom as an individual. Slowly the wall begins to crumble, but then again, so does their relationship.

In a manner that is all-too-familiar, we gain exposure to both sides of the spectrum, and can identify (perfectly) with both. We can give too much, and receive too little, just as we can give too little, and receive too much. There is no perfect [relational] situation...ever. That is the point. The film will make you question what 'love' actually means to you. Is it real? Is it an illusion? Is there a right or wrong answer? No. Nothing is simple. Everything is complex. In that complexity, we thrive as individuals capable of not only the conception of 'love' but the arbiters thereof.

Go see it. Show times are here.

Where Else Would One Be In 103 Degree Weather?

The answer is quite obviously Madison Beach:

Complete with head trauma, resulting in several squad cars, fire engines, ambulances, and a complete evacuation of the surrounding swimming area. Soon after, four police officers arrested a woman (presumably for stealing people's belongings from the beach).

Warm And Sunny At Shilshole Bay

Northwest 60th Street Viewpoint:

Some People Will Do Anything Just To Stay Cool In This Heat

U.S. Bank - Boren and Madison:

Heat Can Drive People To Do Crazy Things

Do you need an example of this craziness? How about giving oral sex to your girlfriend (or whatever) on the ground near the swings at Cal Anderson Park? That sounds doubly hot to me. Well, actually, I take that back. I do not very much care for vaginas. Those are gross. Ew.

The picture is not great--that's a good thing. If you start from the bright headlight in the middle, look down a little, and to the left. That white spot is the guy on top of the girl. They later moved over under the playtoy. We thought they left. We were wrong.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cupcake Royale Comes To Capitol Hill

Cupcake Royale's Grand Opening on Capitol Hill was yesterday at 6 am. I got there around 9:30 am, and it was dead. To the detriment of my physical well-being, I went there (again) this morning around 10:30 am. Again, it was dead. I'm not an expert of when the hipsters like to get their cupcake 'fix', so I don't know yet if this spells doom for CRCH.

The space itself is wide open, and very white. It almost feels like being in a Stanley Kubrick film. As to the quality of their cupcakes, they have gotten markedly better. The frosting is softer now. The CR in Ballard's frosting was always hard and chunky.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Conversation At Work Today Prompted By Lady Gaga's Kermit The Frog Outfit

Between me and a coworker:
JB - "If I were a Muppet, I would totally bang Kermit (the Frog)."
KL - "So you'd be miss piggy..."
JB - "Um...what are you trying to say?"
KL - "Just that Miss Piggy was his lover."
JB - "Oh...right."
Photo of LG's outfit here (via Towleroad).

Freeway Park Needs To Change Its Name

Here are some suggestions that might be more apropos of itself:
"Underachievers Park".
"Drum-Circle Park".
"We-Only-Wear-Black-Clothes-In-80-Degree-Weather Park".
"Sleep-On-A-Bench Park".
"Bugs-In-Your-Face Park".
"We've-Got-Frickin'-Waterfalls! Park".
"You-Please-Spare-Some-Change? Park".

I'm Thinking About Writing Glade A Letter

Okay, I know what 'clean linen' smells like. However, I am completely dumbfounded as to what 'angel whispers' smell like. Any ideas? Anyone?

Here are some of the responses that people have given me:
"Garlic", "Babies and Sugar", "I don't even believe in angels", "Feathers", "Blueberries", "Marshmallows", "Glade".

Monday, July 20, 2009

Just When I Thought I Could Keep My Desires Under Control...

...they had to go and open a Cupcake Royale in my neighborhood (Capitol Hill). Grand opening is this Wednesday at 6:00 am. 1111 East Pike. (See map below).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's An Election Year In Seattle

Okay, so you went to the polls back in November to vote for national (and some local) change, but we have more elections coming this fall. The Seattle School Board Position 5, Seattle Council Positions 2, 4, 6, and 8, and Seattle Mayor are all up for grabs. There are a total of 28 candidates running for any of those offices. Mary Bass, Richard Conlin, Nick Licata, and Greg Nickels are all up for re-election for SB5, SCP 2, SCP 6, and SM, respectively.

The role these offices play in Seattle are integral and should not be taken lightly. Education, budgets, transit, et al., are all things that get determined by the people we elect into these positions. Therefore, I highly recommend you attend the Seattle Candidate Forum at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Monday, July 27th, from 6-9 pm. A flyer with all the information is here.

In addition to these city positions, the August 18th primary will include County, City, Judicial, School, and District elections as well. It's time to do your proverbial homework. Read up on these candidate. What can they do? What experience do they have? What does their record indicate? You can see the full list of candidates here. The general election information is here.

New Non-Alcoholic Shot Combination

I call it "The Lazy Jon"*. One shot regular milk. One shot chocolate milk. Instructions: shoot back the chocolate, then the regular. Repeat as necessary.

*It's called this because I am, in fact, lazy. All of the cups and glasses in my apartment were dirty except for two shot glasses that I found in a cupboard. Rather than clean a glass and be a normal and fully functional member of society, I decided to utilize the two shot glasses instead. And thus, The Lazy Jon was born out of necessity. As the saying goes, "necessity is the mother of invention".

This Is Only Like Nine Years Overdue

From 8th grade until I graduated from college I slept on the bed that previously belonged to my sister. I only recently got a new one. During that time, I never got new sheets for it. Yes, that is absolutely disgusting. Despite my ever increasing frustration with the Seattle area bus service*, I finally made a trip over to the Northgate Target yesterday after work. I bought a set of pillowcases, a full bed sheet, and a fitted sheet, all in jersey cotton. It's so soft! I also purchased a dust ruffle and a mattress pad. In total, it came out to $61 and change. When I finally got home for the night, I quickly washed and dried them, stripped off my disgusting old sheets, and put on the new ones. I've never been more comfortable in my whole life. Here are the before and after:

Now I just need to save up some money for some new pillows, a set of brown pillowcases, and comforter with an obvious brown/green color scheme.

*I arrived at my bus stop around 5:15pm. The bus did not come until 6pm. Then I had to transfer to another bus to get to Northgate, which meant more waiting. After shopping, I had to walk about a mile to a bus stop, only to get on the right bus, but in the wrong direction, which took me back to where I was in the first place. Then I had to walk over to the next bay to get back on the bus, again. I finally got over to Queen Anne (from Northgate). Then I waited for another 45 minutes for the bus to come, and subsequently drive us straight through the heart of The Bite of Seattle bus mobbings. In short, I left work at 5:10pm (in Lake Forest Park) and arrived home (in First/Capitol Hill) around 8:35pm. So, let's recap here: getting from my work to my home, with only two stops along the way, took just over three-and-a-half hours. In a car, the whole trip would have taken no more than an hour. So much of a commuter's life is wasted in transit.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Highly Appropriate Workplace Conversation

This works better without any context:
Coworker - "Wow...I like the way your balls feel."
Me - "If I had a nickel..."

Around The World...Around The World...Around The World

So, last night was amazing. Among other things, I attended the Daft Punk Laser Show at the Pacific Science Center in Queen Anne. This is now the only "proper" method of listening to DP, at least for me. If you have not already been--it's been there for several months now, I believe--you need to grab $8.50 and get your ass down there on any Friday or Saturday night at 10:30pm.

As a precaution, keep a relatively empty stomach before you go. At least don't consume anything that might give you gas. The volume and bass coming from the giant speakers--I believe I was about 20 feet away from them--is enough to give your colon a workout. Oy.

The songs tend to go on for quite a while, but would you expect anything less? We started out with "Around the World", featuring a booming 3D globe. Other songs included: "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", "One More Time", "Digital Love"--my favorite, and will now remind me of someone in particular whenever I hear it--, and "Aerodynamic". The show concluded with an overwhelming version of "Technologic". You think it's over, and then...BOOM! Go see this show!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review

I hardly ever read memoirs. The last one I read was Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast". So when I heard that Stephen Elliot was mailing out free advanced reading copies of his book, I said to myself, "why not?" It would be a nice interruption to my Infinite Summer madness. I sent him an email, and had it within a week.

The book is subtitled: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder. That describes the book perfectly. Elliott has so many flaws, but I think that is what draws the reader into his story. He has daddy-issues; his mom died when he was young; he's abused copious amounts of both legal and illegal drugs; he keeps casual relationships with women who like to make him dress up in a camisole before getting in bed; he likes to be cut and beaten. It's a complete laundry list of dysfunctions.

The (what I would call) "guiding hand" that pushes the story forward regards the murder trial of Hans Reiser. From wikipedia:
On 28 April 2008, Reiser was convicted of the first degree murder of his wife, Nina Reiser, who disappeared in 2006. On 29 August 2008, Reiser pled guilty to a reduced charge of second degree murder, as part of a settlement agreement that included identifying the location of Nina Reiser's body.
He jumps around a lot with times and places, and sometimes appears to just start a new thought before ending the last one. Maybe I was too tired when I read it, though. Either way, it's an interesting and quick read, so give it a shot. He'll be reading at Elliott Bay Book's on Friday, September 18th. Perhaps I can formulate some questions for him before that time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Closing California's $26.3 Million Budget Deficit

Rather than making huge budget cuts, the state should have taken this into consideration. It's an analysis-report from the Williams Institute (published June 2008) claiming that "extending marriage to same-sex couples will boost California state and local government revenues by over $63.8 million...over the next three years." Granted, the California Supreme Court has ruled Proposition 8 constitutional [q.v. Strauss v. Horton; Tyler v. State of California; City and County of San Francisco v. Horton], and thus the state government does not have the authority to simply start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

I suppose those Californians that voted "Yes" on Prop 8 are feeling quite righteous at this moment. They would rather have less funding for public education (q.v. "The Governor's July 1 Proposals")--thereby making our children dumber--than see two men or two women, who love each other, happily married.

Once again, this is merely me trying to prove to the world that I'm smart. I'm not sure if it's working. Does anyone actually read this dribble of mine?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

ASCAP Wants Money Every Time Your Ringtone Is Heard Publicly

According to an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) article, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) filed a legal claim in federal court asserting copyright infringement against cellphone users when their (already purchased, and royalties paid) ringtones play in public. From the amicus curiae brief filed by the EFF:
"In an effort to squeeze additional royalty payments from the Carriers, ASCAP has invited this Court to endorse the remarkable proposition that millions of American consumers break the law every time their mobile phones ring in public. Having branded every public ring of a musical ringtone an "unlicensed ringtone performance," ASCAP then argues that the Carriers must either pay royalties or be held liable for these alleged consumer infringements."
The brief goes on further to explain that this lawsuit is in contravention of 17 USC §110(4), which states, "Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:
"(4) performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work otherwise than in a transmission to the public, without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage and without payment of any fee or other compensation for the performance to any of its performers, promoters, or organizers, if—

there is no direct or indirect admission charge; or

the proceeds, after deducting the reasonable costs of producing the performance, are used exclusively for educational, religious, or charitable purposes and not for private financial gain, except where the copyright owner has served notice of objection to the performance under the following conditions:

the notice shall be in writing and signed by the copyright owner or such owner’s duly authorized agent; and

the notice shall be served on the person responsible for the performance at least seven days before the date of the performance, and shall state the reasons for the objection; and

the notice shall comply, in form, content, and manner of service, with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation."
Does greed know no end? It appears that the answer is, quite obviously, no.

[Update]: I was informing my coworker of this news today and she posited that if ASCAP is going to (presumably) charge consumers for using their music as ringtones, then there should be a flat fee. I.e., consumers pay an additional $12.00--(a price chosen at random)--and they get to use select songs for ringtone usage. This was her suggestion at fixing the short-term problem.

I view the issue in terms of a long-term, or -range, problem. Say, for example, you go into a coffee shop, restaurant, bookstore, etc., and you hear a song playing in the background that you really like. You have not previously heard the song, and you do not know the musical artist/group. This prompts you to inquire, and you find out that it's "X" by "Y". What do you do? You go online, or to a record store, and you purchase Y's music. You fall in love with a new band. You go to Y's concerts. You have now invested all of this money because you merely overheard a song and were immediately a fan.

Now, if ASCAP wants to charge consumers (and/or mobile service carriers) more money to play these 30-second song samples as ringtones, the consumers/carriers will be hesitant to purchase any ringtones from here on out. That reduces the chances of people having encounters with otherwise unknown musical artists/groups and their subsequent spending of money on CDs, concert tickets, memorabilia, etc. It's free advertising, ASCAP! Get your heads out of your asses.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Storytelling: Raw, Compelling, Amateur

I never thought that this would come. This day. This moment. This rite of passage. But it did. And I won’t lie and say it was perfect, because it wasn’t. In fact, it was terrible. But in so far as it was terrible, it was also beautiful, and something that I will never forget. It was September 10, 2005—I had turned 21 years old four days previous. I even remember the day! What I did previous to that evening seemed irrelevant, and so I can’t tell you what I did or where I was. I will always make a terrible witness, so please don’t ask me to testify…ever.

A dear friend of mine invited me to a surprise party that was to be thrown for his coworker. We arrived at the apartment building in Pioneer Square, and had a few drinks prior to the celebration. As I recall now, we had Malibu rum with pineapple juice—something that, at the time, made me feel good inside and out. My stomach no longer has any tolerance for such a sugary and sweet libation. Never make this drink for me…ever.

People were jovial and drinking from the keg. We had roof access, and could see most of the downtown area. It was a beautiful night. The time eventually came for my friend and I to head home, and we did so. He pissed on the King County Administration building while I stood watch from the street on 5th Avenue. I made sure not to look at him. I didn’t want him to get nervous and not get it all out. We walked up to First Hill, where we parted ways; he to his dumpy apartment on 9th Avenue across from St. James Cathedral, and I to my more upscale (daddy-subsidized) apartment on Spring Street. I thought I was in for the night. I was wrong.

The phone rang. It was him. We had met only once prior to this evening; it was less than a week ago, at this point. We met for Chai and a very uncomfortable game of Scrabble. He was having a house party. His parents were out of town. He was 17 years old—over the hump, and soon-to-be-18. “What are you doing?” he asked. I told him I just got home from a party, which I was surprised to hear come out of my own mouth. I was at a party…who would have thought? “Come to me…”. “Let me sober up a bit, and then I’ll head over”. I did just that. I downed two glasses of water, waited ten minutes, and grabbed my car keys.

The drive was not long. He lived right south of Carkeek Park. “I’m here.” “Where?...I don’t see you.” “Come out to the street.” “Hey!” He ran up to me and gave me a big bear hug…but let me assure you, he was no Bear. We made some small chit-chat as we walked over and into his house. “Guess what? My friend from kindergarten is here…and she doesn’t believe me that I’m gay!” I didn’t really know what to say to that. He was very drunk…and stoned to boot. “Do you want anything to drink?” he asked. I was unbelievably nervous at this point. I knew what was coming. It was my time.

“Go down to that room on the left” he exclaimed. “Where is your bathroom?” I replied. He motioned where I needed to go, and I took a long and pensive piss. I don’t think there’s ever been a more anticipatory piss session in all of my life. I finished up, washed my hands, and made my way back out into the hallway. I quickly found him, and he escorted me, jubilantly—as any drunk and stoned high-schooler would do—to the room he mentioned prior to my bodily purge.

I entered, hesitantly, and turned around, watching him as he worked ever so hard to lock the door. This was his party, remember, and it would make sense that people would attempt to seek him out. He did not want any unfortunate interruptions. He told me to go sit down on the bed. I looked over at the bed and back at him. “Why?” I replied. My internalized trepidation about what was to happen was taking over. “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do…”. “Okay,” I said, and I went and sat on the bed.

The New York Times' Front Page News On My Birthday

A while back, I purchased "The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages 1851-2008" to be prominently displayed on my coffee table for my house guests to peruse and discuss. I don't own a coffee table, and I almost never have any guests. But that's neither here nor there. The point is that with the book comes three DVD discs containing all 54,267 Front Pages and links to the articles. I thought it would be interesting to see what was "front page news" on the day I was born: September 6, 1984.

Little did I know that a controversial judicial ruling was handed down regarding then-New York City Mayor Ed Koch's order
"forbidding discrimination against homosexuals by private companies and other groups that do business with New York City."
The rest of the article (by David W. Dunlap), as printed on the front page, is as follows:
"The judge, Alvin F. Klein, ruled that the Mayor "has usurped the power of the City Council and has impermissibly invaded the legislative domain" by extending employment protection to homosexuals.

Mr. Koch said the city would appeal the decision. But until that appeal is
filed, the contested parts of the order effectively "do not exist," according to the city's Corporation Counsel.

The Mayor said he would also seek legislation from the City Council to protect homosexuals' job rights in concerns and groups that sell goods and services under contract to the city. "Time will tell," Mr. Koch said, whether such a bill will fare any better than a broader measure that the Council has consistently rejected.

Leaders and lawyers in the religious organizations that brought the challenge in State Supreme Court in Manhattan — the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the Salvation Army and Agudath Israel of America — said they were pleased.

Together, the organizations had service contracts with the city worth millions of dollars. They refused on religious grounds to sign agreements to comply with the Mayor's order, jeopardizing the extension of the contracts.

Top city officials, leaders of homosexual rights groups and the New York Civil Liberties Union expressed dismay but vowed to continue their fight in both the City Council and the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. The Appellate Division is the next judicial step after the State Supreme Court, which is the initial trial court in the New York State system.

The Corporation Counsel, Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., said the decision would affect all concerns doing business with the city, not just the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

At issue is Executive Order No. 50, which took effect in April 1980. It forbids job discrimination by concerns under contract with the city for a number of reasons, including "sexual orientation or affectional preference."

In a six-page decision, Judge Klein noted that New York City's administrative code "has not been amended to include 'sexual orientation' or 'affectional preference' as protected classifications." "Nor," he said, "are these classes protected under any existing Federal or New York State statute."

I don't have access to the full article, unless I pay for it; and money is tight right now. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about all the involved parties regarding this matter. I simply do not know enough about the situation to render any assertive verdict. Some other things that happened (or were reported) on the day I was born into this crazy world are:
  1. The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada won a majority of (I'm presuming to be) seats in parliament, "...almost certainly [making] the conservatives the majority party for the rest of [this] century."
  2. The F.A.A. suggested fewer takeoffs from Newark and more from Kennedy and La Guardia.
  3. The space shuttle Discovery returned safely to earth.
  4. President Ronald Reagan sought for Congress to ratify the 1948 United Nations Genocide Pact.
  5. Walter F. Mondale (Reagan's Democratic opponent in the 1984 presidential election) pledged an immediate effort for arms freeze, if elected. [To recap the 1984 U.S. Presidential election (in terms of electoral votes): Reagan - 525; Mondale - 13. Ouch.]