Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hypocrite Alert

7 Va. Episcopal Parishes Vote to Sever Ties
By Bill Turque and Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, December 18, 2006

Excerpts from The Washington Post article:

At least seven Virginia Episcopal parishes, opposed to the consecration of a gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions, have voted overwhelmingly to break from the U.S. church in a dramatic demonstration of widening rifts within the denomination.

The defections are likely to continue. Two other small Northern Virginia churches, Our Saviour Episcopal in Oatlands and Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, are expected to vote on separation early next year.

Conservative congregations have left the church in the past, including in the 1970s, when ordinations of women began, and a number have done so since Robinson's election.

Click here for the full article.

Okay, okay, okay, I KNOW I'm going to be pissing off some Episcopals, but I don't know any so that's fine. (Just as some of you don't know any homosexuals.)

A "shaken" Katrina Wagner is quoted in the above article as saying "the issue is: Are we going to follow Scripture?"

Which scripture, Katrina?

"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 14.

You, Katrina, remain a quiet member of the church as they ordain women (which assumes that after ordination they are allowed to preach in church rather than remain silent), but wave a battle flag when they consecrate a gay bishop? Come on.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hire Me!

Charles Walker
Martinsburg, West Virginia

A position that allows for my organizational skills and creativity in a positive environment in the Martinsburg, W.V. area.

Work Experience

Project Manager
9/1997 - Present Graduate School, USDA, Washington, D.C.
Primary editor and coordinator for all print marketing (catalogs, brochures, postcards, etc.) for the Graduate School, USDA. Discuss requirements for design of marketing materials with customers, identifying key information and offer guidance and direction based on an assessment of product specifications and customer needs. Schedule projects and manages internal staff to assure that customer’s project requirements are communicated and met. Determine need for outsourcing and takes appropriate steps to assure projects are kept on schedule. Act as manager and liaison between graphic designer, client, proofreader for all marketing materials. Develop and communicate project schedules and budgets (with cost estimates). Adjust to reflect customer feedback and staff input. Share weekly projects status reports with Communications Office and Business Development staff. Develop marketing proposals and options for enterprise wide and individual unit participation. Research alternatives, assess cost implications and determine if and how the effort can be tracked.

1/1995 - Present Federal City Performing Arts Association, Washington, D.C.
A member of the Federal City Performing Arts for over a decade, bringing organizational skills and performance talent to numerous productions, serving as property master, stage and set design and construction, costume design and construction, master of ceremonies, vocal and instrumental performance, assistant stage director, choreographer and stagehand. Also performed on the stages of such places as Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center, for presidents and royalty.

4/1996 - 9/1997 Florist's Workshop, Bethesda, Maryland
In addition to floral design, responsibilities included company reorganization and planning to raise profits and lower overhead, creating forms for daily sales records, calculating yearly income from various categories of sales and monthly percentages of those sales, creating a system to make wired orders more profitable, company tax preparation, and customer service. My experience at the Florist's Workshop gave me the skill and confidence to later organize and prepare the flowers for two weddings, which included bridal bouquets, boutonnières, corsages, pew clips, centerpieces and large sprays.

3/1994 - 3/1996 Belvedere Motor Inn/Days Inn, Lexington Park, Maryland
Maintained computer records of daily accounts and yearly running totals for 250-room hotel, daily cash deposits, electronic credit deposits and reports, customer service, telephone operator, and reservations while attending college full-time.

Customer Service/Night Stock
6/1992 - 6/1993 Wal-Mart, Toccoa, Georgia
Performed register sales, customer service, maintenance and stock of modular items, and kept three departments organized while attending college full-time.

Customer Service
10/1990 - 5/1991 Baltimore Aircoil Company, Laurel, Maryland
Responsible for production of various standard business letters, maintained sales files for national sales representatives, maintained monthly and yearly sales numbers for Maryland, California, and Canada plants, and performed as customer service liaison.

Cryptologic Technician Interpretive
9/1985 - 10/1990 U.S. NAVY, United States and Korea, Maryland
Korean Translator

Pursuing information to complete English and Education degree at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, West Virginia

1994 - 1996 St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. Mary's, Maryland
Major in English and Education.
1991 - 1993 Toccoa Falls College, Toccoa, Georgia
Major: Performing Arts

Ÿ Adobe Acrobat

Ÿ Adobe Photoshop

Ÿ Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

Ÿ Lotus Notes

Ÿ Microsoft Access

Ÿ Microsoft Excel

Ÿ Microsoft Project Manager

Ÿ Microsoft Word

Ÿ Microsoft PowerPoint

Ÿ WordPerfect

Ÿ American Sign Language

References available upon request.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Against the Spirit of the Season / What's in Your Wallet?

My husband and I gave each other our Solstice presents early this year.

I was 'doing math' last Sunday. In our household, 'doing math' means adding up the bills that are due, the minimum payments, the monthly payments, looking at what we have coming in, what absolutely must go out right away, and finally, our total debt amount.

After the situation was thoroughly assessed, I turned to Mike and told him the news.

We had a choice to make. After we pay everything that's due, we have enough left over to buy each other presents, or pay off a credit card bill completely.

Against the spirit of the season, we chose to pay off the credit card. I called the company and asked for a total payoff amount and made it happen over the phone. Then I wrote "PAID IN FULL" on the remittance slip and put it under the Yule tree.

Since then, we smile and make happy reference to it. "We paid off a credit card bill. Happy Solstice, Honey." And when we watch television and see all the 'must-have-hot-items-for-Christmas' commercials, we just smile to ourselves or at each other and sit content that we got what we really wanted for the holidays -- a little bit closer to our dream of being debt free.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baptist Witch Hunts / Catholic Closets / Anti-Lesby Presbys and Lunatic Ravings

Roman Catholics say Stay in the Closet!

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops, meeting in Baltimore, declared [recently] that Catholics who minister to gays must firmly adhere to the church's teaching that same-sex attractions are "disordered." Catholics with "a homosexual inclination" should be encouraged to live in chastity and discouraged from making "general public announcements" about their sexual orientation, the bishops said. (Herald Sun)

Baptists Begin Witch Hunts

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina voted [recently] to cut ties with congregations that affirm or approve of homosexuality, formally adopting a rigid anti-gay policy that allows the group to investigate whether member churches are gay friendly. (Washington Post)

Presbyterian's Kangaroo Court

And recently in Pittsburgh, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a mainline Protestant denomination with about 3 million members, put a minister on trial for conducting a marriage ceremony for two women. (Herald Sun)

Here's a little test. Who is not going to hell? (A trick question.)

A) The new mother attending a church social dinner (shrimp and steak tar tar!) in the church sanctuary with her husband and month old daughter. The mother is sporting a mohawk, and a neck tattoo is just visible above the rabbit fur trimmed patchwork sweater that goes quite well with the artfully faded men's Levi's.

B) The kindly, hunched over, nearsighted virgin priest/pastor.

C) The slaveowner

D) All or None of the above

I do not cotton to or subscribe to the Christian religion, so why does it bug the heck out of me when one of them believes that I and others like me are going to a hell of their making?

Their afterlife punishment for transgressions against their law should not bother me in the slightest.

I know, it shouldn't matter to me what they think. Yet still, I know that in their heart of hearts those people have judged me against their biblical standard and found me unrepentant and wanting. They may be nice, talk to me, even visit and offer presents, but in the back of their mind they're thinking, "You're going to hell." I doubt that many are pleased with that idea within themselves, but there it is.

They have judged and yet refuse to acknowledge judgement by the same measure. As they point out failure to adhere to Levitical strictures of the Old Testament, they themselves fail to abide by all the obsolete guidelines found in the same book. All or nothing people. You can't pick and choose.

This is not a discussion of old covenent vs. new covenent or the arbitrary distinction of moral/civil/ceremonial law. This is selective enforcement.

Just browsing Leviticus you'll find you can't eat rabbit or pork, or even touch the dead rabbit's fur or pig's skin. You can't eat lobster, shrimp or crab. Women can't wear men's clothes. Men can't wear women's clothes. You can't wear clothes woven of two different materials. You can't eat fat or rare steak. You can't go to church for a month if you gave birth to a boy -- two months if it's a girl. Slavery is fine. Priests can't have any defects, not even poor eyesight. Of course one must observe all the feasts, some sans yeast. Oh, and no tattoos or mohawks.

I recently sent a USA Today link to someone about religion and homosexuality. I said it was a great article. She said "I'm sure it is 'great' from your perspective. Please drop the subject." (I picture covered ears and a loud "LA LA LA LA LA LA.") Purposeful ignorance! They won't think logically or absorb any facts that are contrary to their application of biblical law. (The earth goes 'round the sun. HERETIC! ) They will not continue the discussion through to logical ends. They often close their ears or talk over you. Or get to the point where they "drop the subject," "agree to disagree,""hate the sin, love the sinner," or chalk it up to blind faith. (Translation, "No one can prove any of it, but we can still be friends until you go to hell.")

This invasive bigotry changes YOUR quality of life. If YOU don't speak up, and get justifiably angered, it will invade YOUR HOME even more than it does now. I can't get my marriage acknowledged in my state - because of religion. That may not effect you. Can you buy alcohol on Sundays? I can't buy alcohol in my county (at least it's not a dry county) until after 1 p.m. on Sundays. Why? I'm guessing because of an outdated religious-based statute. What other religion-based laws effect you?

As an opiate for the masses, or a coping mechanism - I think religion is fine. More in the way of philosophy and guidelines. (Be kind to others and all things in moderation, you know.) Religion and prayer in most usage is simply verbalized hope and a displacement of worry or anxiety--a tool, used to help people not to obsess about something over which they have no control. It is my opinion, that if they need to personify an energy or create a deity to which they hand these control issues, let them. It's got to be less stressful for them.

I understand but do not feel the need to personify or create a deity to explain anything, to justify my existance or to give me an ultimate goal or destination.

When Religion Loses its Credibility

Monday, November 27, 2006

How Many Shopping Days 'til Solstice?

Okay, it has officially begun. I've started getting the cutesy e-mails from friends and relatives who push the Christ in Christmas. The same ones who send me the e-hugs and e-Jesus and e-prayers. (Egads.)

So, I've compiled the information below from various Internet pages and saved it so I could hit 'reply all' and push back.

It is not a CHRISTmas tree. It is a Yule tree. Say it with me, YULE tree. Get it right.

The Christmas tree is often explained as a christianization of the ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life. The exact origin of the Christmas tree seems under debate, but it is safe to say that this symbol evolved from Pagan tradition.

The Norse pagans and Celtic Druids revered evergreens as manifestations of deity because they did not "die" from year to year but stayed green and alive when other plants appeared dead and bare. The trees represented everlasting life and hope for the return of spring.

The first Christian use of the Christmas tree symbol is credited to 16th century when devout Christians also brought decorated trees into their homes. German born Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, is credited with starting the trend in England in 1841 when he brought the first Christmas Tree to Windsor Castle.

Yule falls approximately on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. After Yule the period of daylight begins to wax, until it reaches the longest day on June 21, the Summer Solstice. For folks in Northern climes, the Winter Solstice was a most welcome day to anticipate at the dark end of the year, and although months of darkness lay ahead, folk could rest assured Sunna's might was on the increase and darkness was waning.

Yule is actually a span of thirteen days, usually counted from the night before the solstice (19 or 20 December, as it varies from year to year ), to the thirteenth night, (usually January 6 called "Twelfth Night" later by Christians). Bede called Yule eve "Mother Night", and it is thought this night was devoted to honouring the Idises (or Disir, female ancestral spirits) the family protectors. The Solstice itself, either 20, 21 or 22 December, is the most important of the days, when the dead and other beings of the dark fare most freely, Winter arrives, and humans are closest to the spirit worlds.

The druids decorated their trees with symbols of prosperity -- a fruitful harvest, coins for wealth and various charms such as those for love or fertility. Scandinavian Pagans are thought to be the first to bring their decorated trees indoors as this provided a warm and welcoming environment for the native fairy folk and tree elementals to join in the festivities. The Saxons, a Germanic pagan tribe, were the first to place lights on the their trees in the form of candles. Ancient Romans decorated their homes with greens at the Festival of Saturnalia, their New Year and exchanged evergreen branches with friends as a sign of good luck.

No matter what you choose to celebrate, a birthday or the increase of daylight, fertility or the miracle of light, Yuletide is a time of peace, renewal, thanksgiving and remembrance. Be sure to tell your family, friends, and friends who are family how much they mean to you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tea with the Hedge Sisters - Chapter 2

"Woo hoooo!" Called Magnolia, sweeping into the house, arms laden with an eclectic bundle of items; a flower pot with what used to be a mum plant in it, a tray of her signature horrendous biscuits, two lengths of brightly colored fabric, a glass jar of crushed mica flakes and a cigarette case. "I brought prehhhhhzzzzents!"

Ivy, and well, truthfully anyone, could always hear Magnolia's arrival in whichever part of the house she happened to be. Though the house wasn't the size of Versailles, it wouldn't have mattered. Magnolia had a way of making her presence unmistakably known in any establishment--like a lorry through the brick wall of a busy cafe.

"Boo," shouted Magnolia over her shoulder through the still open door, "Please be sure to bring my purse when you come in."

Bougainvillea could be seen through the parlor window taking her time to admire and wander among the plants in the small front yard.

"For what on earth will she need her purse?" Bougainvillea said to the roses, then turned back toward the motorcar just as Hydrangea's stylish auto careened into the driveway.

Hydrangea's fender delicately brushed by Bougainvillea's hemline at an alarming speed before narrowly missing the birdbath and, less delicately, pounding the well-established oak tree with a sudden and quite solid thud.

"Boo! You won't believe what I found at the market this morning!" Hydrangea chattered obliviously as she stepped from the car, straightened her hat and reached into the back of the car to pull out and triumphantly present in her best imitation of a magazine model, a pair of shiny red riding boots.

Bougainvillea stood wide-eyed and motionless, two inches from the swath of tire tracks through the pansies, silent, but for the sound of her short, rapid breaths. One white-knuckled hand clutched her pearls in a death grip, and the other hand pressed at her femininity to prevent an untimely and embarrassing release.

"I know!" Hydrangea squealed," I was speechless too! I could barely take my eyes off them as I drove over. Be a dear and help me with these bags, won't you?"

By this time, Magnolia and Ivy had appeared at the front and kitchen doors, having heard the unfamiliar 'whump' of car on tree. "What on earth is going on?!" Cried Ivy, rushing to the scene. "Hyde, why are you parked in the yard? Where is your driver? And...MY PANSIES!"

"Oh I had to let him go." Hydrangea explained, pointedly ignoring the condition of the pansies "I suspected he was stealing. But who needs him anyway? I tell you, it's very liberating. I just enjoyed a wonderfully spontaneous trip through the market, and I drove all the way myself!

"Through the market?" Said Magnolia with a raised eyebrow, "That would explain the fresh fruit pulp on the grill."

"Well, they made those streets too narrow." Hydrangea dismissed defensively, pulling bag after bag out of the car. "And that fruit vendor practically robs you with those prices anyway. I did the village a service. Oh and, Ivy," she said, passing by, into the house and out of earshot, "you should think about moving that tree. It's was right in the way! I really think th . . . ."

"She . . . she . . ." Stuttered Bougainvillea, "she's driving? No. . . No, this can't happen. No, no, no, no, no." She shook her head, looking at her two sisters with a confused plea, "We have to DO something!" She then marched resolutely for the handle of a nearby garden hoe, raised it high over her head and made for Hydrangea's car.

Ivy and Magnolia immediately moved to intercept. Magnolia, taller, liberated the hoe while Ivy caught Bougainvillea by the shoulders. "It's all right, dear." Ivy crooned, "Yes, we'll take care of it." she continued in a soothing voice to a protesting Bougainvillea who allowed herself to be turned toward the kitchen entrance. "You're absolutely right. We'll talk about it over tea. Won't you help me in the kitchen?"

Ivy's calming words and voice did not extend to her eyes as she shot a frantic 'what-the-hell-are-we-going-to-do?' look over Bougainvillea's head at Magnolia. Magnolia shot back her own eyebrowed shrug, replaced the hoe and followed after Hydrangea.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

You're Not Paranoid - You ARE Being Watched

You have much more of an impact on the world
than you think you do.
You are never as important as you think you are.

Do you ever catch yourself watching someone -- be it a stranger or someone you know -- and thinking about their actions, their words, their motivations?

What do you think about the person who constantly interupts conversations? Why do you think this person let you cut in line? How did that lady who callously smacked you with her carry on luggage influence your morning? Why on earth is that blue SUV honking their horn? Didn't it make you feel good when that person offered their seat?

Are these people aware that you are watching and thinking about their actions?

Now turn it around. What do you do? How do you carry yourself? What is it that you do that makes friends and strangers take note? What kind of an influence do you have on the people around you?

I'm often amazed at times and wonder about the motivations of the people with a 'me first' and 'better than you' attitude. I find myself making up excuses for the rude rush of other drivers. Of course, it doesn't get me anywhere faster or make my ride sweeter if I become angry with them. And it makes me smile when I sit behind them at a light after they just cut, swerved and zoomed by about a mile before.

I make room for the pedestrian hogs who walk three people abreast through the crowded corridors of malls and mass transit terminals. I like to think I'm being considerate when I alter my route for people to pass. But, flip the coin and I find myself grumbling "Why should I be the one to make room? What makes them so important? Next time I'm going to stay my course. Someone needs to teach them consideration of others." But when next time comes, I instinctually make room.

I saw a woman purposely stomp on the heel of another traveler as they walked through a crowded terminal - then blame her actions on the person she stomped on. The other traveler graciously shook it off, accepted the blame, apologized and moved on.

I was right behind them and witnessed the whole nasty thing. I went up to the traveler and told her that she was very kind and carried herself well -- that I was impressed.

Anyhoo, the point is this, you are watching people and people are watching you. I don't mean people are stalking and peeping. I mean that anywhere you go in public, your actions are being silently scrutinized by complete strangers as well as by acquaintances and close friends. They see you smoke, litter, drink, fart and belch. But they also see your random acts of kindness, alms to the poor, thoughtful compliments and gentility.

Your watchers may make comment or they may not. And the strangers may just file it away. If they ever see you again, or you ever pop into their memory, you'll be (good or bad) 'the person who ____ that time at the ____.'

Why am I writing this?

I have recently discovered an online description of me. I had no idea that this person gave me or my actions much beyond a friendly but passing thought. But there I am plain as day in the eyes of another.


I mean, I already had this philosophy, (I even have the tattoo to prove it) but sometimes it really smacks you. The single line of your life, short or long, wide-reaching or narrow, weaves in, around and through everyone else's lives with whom you come in contact, making them weave in, around and through as well.

How does your zig make them zag?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Martinsburg Journal - Letter to the Editor

This letter to the Editor was printed a couple weeks ago in the Martinsburg, W.V. Journal Newspaper.

Put yourself in my shoes.

If your husband or wife were gravely injured, you could not visit them in the hospital without their family's permission. You would have no part in the decisions of emergency medical treatment. If they died, you would have no legal stance regarding burial or estate.
In these traumatic moments of your life – when they need you the most – you would be separated from your loved one.

The privileges of marriage are extended to people like Britney Spears who was married for 55 hours and to Mickey Rooney who was married eight times.

Why does West Virginia deny my family even the most basic rights and privileges of marriage? Whose idea of the 'sanctity' of marriage includes a two-night stand and serial divorces, but excludes a relationship of years of love and commitment?

No logical argument can be made against same-sex marriages. Childless couples enjoy the benefits of marriage and single people procreate all the time so one can't argue that children are the purpose of marriage. If one argues using religion, by whose religion are we creating law? Observe the natural habits of the animal kingdom before arguing same-sex marriages are unnatural. The tradition of marriage is made by man, and can be changed.

We live here. We work and pay taxes. We vote and deliver your mail. We sit next to you in church and on the train. We're your neighbors and family. Give us equality, West Virginia.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Byrd

Mr. Robert C. Byrd

In response to my letter, in which (if memory serves) I inquired as to why you are against same-sex marriages, your office sent to me Volume 150, Number 97 of the Congressional Record dated more than two years ago, July 14, 2004, with page S8084 tabbed—which referenced your vote against Senate Joint Resolution 40, a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

Although I am pleased to have received a tailored response, I am extremely disappointed with the content and can only surmise that the response from your office was intended placate and befuddle a reader of lesser education or skill. How little your office must think of the average West Virginian.

In a June 7, 2006 statement (Ref. 1) that followed the procedural vote on the Constitutional amendment on gay marriage, you clearly state that you strongly oppose same-sex marriages. The only support you offer for that stance is your personal religious conviction, misquoting the Bible and using such words and references as; holy, Bible, Good Book, sacred and God-fearing.

Your religious zealotry is denying my family what the United States General Accounting Office has identified as a “total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.” (Ref. 2)

You do not accurately represent me.

Charles E. Walker
Martinsburg, W.V.

Ref. 1
Ref. 2
GAO-04-353R Defense of Marriage Act - Update to Prior Report

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Walking East into Autumn

The other morning I walked the few blocks from my home to the train station. It was just about six and the first Monday of Autumn. The sun, not yet risen, was tinting the dark morning sky with patches of deep blue behind silhouettes of cloud.

Autumn is furthest away from my favorite season, and the smell of 'back to school' in the air always used to pull me into an emotional funk. Inexplicably, I would be overcome with the blahs. An apathetic, everything-is-dying, there is no future, why-am-I-here sort of existence.

Fortunately, years ago, I recognized that funk and began to question and think about it rather than wallow in it.

"Okay, I feel yucky.
Why do I feel yucky?
Is there any good reason to feel this way?
Yes? What can I do about it? Something? Okay I will.
No? Nothing? Okay, then I'll suck it up and ride it out."

Add to the blahs the ravages of time. Here I am at 40, (pleasantly surprised I made it past 30), walking through the dark, deserted, leave-ridden, Autumn streets, thinking these sort of thoughts, "I hate Autumn. My arm hurts. It smells like 'back to school' and it's getting cold. I'm old. I leave home in the dark and come home in the dark. . . . .

. . . Stop it, Chuck! It's just a season. Adapt yourself to nature. You need to change with the season. Become attuned. Your future awaits."

As I chose to think and not wallow, I noticed the striking blue in the sky, and thought of the promise of morning and a new and potential-filled day and the days that lay beyond. I remembered that, although I'm entering Autumn myself, I'm still learning and experiencing new things.

I had just learned to knit and started a rectangle the night before. It's symbolic, I thought then, of new beginnings. Here I am, an aging dog, learning new tricks. (I learned to purl today.)

Yes, it's the end of the bright growing seasons of light and the beginning of long patches of darkness, cold and damp. It's a new moon too. (New beginnings!) It's a season to try my acting ability in a non-musical, courtroom drama. I know I can sing, but can my acting carry me too? Let's find out. I will be assisting in a friend's art opening this weekend, I'll be painting my house, going to a show or two, drinking and playing cards with friends.

What is so freakin' bad about Autumn?

I tell you, it can be freakin' great. The key is to consciously make it freakin' great. If you are like me, I know I'm not alone, and this season sucks you down - just wrap your mind around it. Turn depression or apathy into introspection and self-knowledge.

The first day of Autumn is Mabon, the second harvest. Use Autumn to reap your abundant harvest (tangible and intangible) and think about your next garden.

How are you?
Where are you?
How's your family?
How are your friends?
Where have you been?
What's important to you?
Where do you want to go?

What would you like to do?

Monday, September 25, 2006

To Governor Joe Manchin, III (West Virginia)

I just finished writing a note to my Senator asking why he opposes same-sex marriages and a note (below) to my Governor asking why I'm denied basic rights of marriage.

If I get anything beyond a form letter, I'll keep you updated.

My letter to the Governor of West Virginia.

A thoughtful, personal response would be appreciated.

I am a man, married to a man. We married in Massachusetts and later moved to West Virginia.

A recognized marriage provides state protection to married couples in many important ways, including allowing hospital visitation, the right to make medical emergency decisions and the right to inherit without a will.

Put simply, if my husband were gravely injured or died, I could not visit without his family's permission, have no participation in the decisions of his medical treatment and would have no legal stance regarding his burial or the fate of his estate.

What is your stance, Governor, on same-sex marriages and why does West Virginia deny my family even the most basic rights and privileges of marriage?

My note generated this automated response.

Thank you very much for contacting me by e-mail. As always, it's good to hear your concerns and comments.

Please also be sure to visit my web site at for information on some of the most important issues I am working on right now.

If you did not include a U.S. Postal mailing address in your e-mail, please re-send your original email message and include your address so that I may respond to you directly.

Thanks again for getting in touch, and I look forward to responding more fully to your e-mail in the future.

Gov. Joe Manchin III

West Virginia State Capitol
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, E
Charleston, WV 25305
Toll-Free: 1-888-438-2731

Friday, September 22, 2006

. . . For I Have Sneezed . . .

I understand (kind of) the archaic practice of saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes.

If memory serves, it stems from plague-ridden times where if someone sneezed, obviously they had or were contracting the plague, so a quick "bless you" before they died would be quite welcome.

Nowadays, with modern medicine, plagues aren't as prevalent and diversity renders a "bless you" a throwaway phrase that's potentially offensive.

First of all, you don't mean it, but you feel compelled to say it. It's a socially expected, sort of habitual Tourette syndrome. If you truly WANT to express vocal concern for a sneezer's wellbeing, personalize it, and don't tack any sort of religious meaning to it -- Because, secondly, are you a priest - priestess - shaman - monk - warlock - friar - nun - witch - etc.? And do we attend the same rituals? Your unthinking blessing could be received as well as holy water to a wampyr - and that means you're crossing the line.

As I type this, my neighbor just sneezed! (How timely.) And I sit here thinking "I really should say something." "Must . . . acknowledge . . . sneeze."

Why do I feel this? It is purely only habit and tradition. But NO MORE! I'm going to break the pointless cycle and ignore the sneeze.

Now, when I sneeze, I'm sure I will experience a thoughtless blessing. What should I do?

Bless you.
Yeh, whatever.
Acchoo !
Gesundheit !
God Bless.
Which god? Bless what?

God bless you.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Defending the Sanctity of Marriage.

First of all, can we just start with a track record of the sanctity of marriage?

Renee Zellweger - Kenny Chesney, 4 Months
Britney Spears - Jason Alexander, 55 Hours
Drew Barrymore - Jeremy Thomas, less than 3 Weeks
Drew Barrymore Tom Green, less than 1 Year
Lisa Marie Presley - Danny Keough, 6 Years
Lisa Marie Presley - Michael Jackson, 19 Months Lisa Marie Presley, Nicolas Cage, 107 Days
Zsa Zsa Gabor - Filipe de Alba, 1 Day
Micky Rooney married 8 times.

Now that same-sex marriages have been around for a couple years, I am hoping that the large number of idiots, who live in fear that the sanctity of marriage would be somehow threatened, can rest assured that the instution remains unblemished. Well, at least there aren't any new, unique bruises to the reputation of marriage. Like a tarnished silver tea service, however shiny underneath, black is black.

Less than seven months after Massachusetts began same-sex marriages, same-sex divorces began in Suffolk County, Mass.

The first couple to be married in Cambridge, Marcia Hams, 57, and Susan Shepherd are now facing an impending divorce just two years later.

A lesbian couple in Ontario, who separated after five days of marriage, faced problems getting what could have been Canada's first same-sex divorce because the law could be read to limit divorce to male-female couples.

So what's the problem? Why is there constantly a bill or proposal or some legal action before state and federal courts and panels that is designed to prevent, outlaw or annul same-sex marriages?

What logical argument can be made against these marriages?
Please, if you need a moment, I'll wait.

. . . .

Yeh, there's no real argument.

Religion? - By whose religion are we creating law?

Tradition? - Tradition is made, and is mutable. Tradition made women 2nd class and allowed the husbands to beat them. Helotry (look it up) was a tradition that reaches much further back than traditional marriage. Even today's 'traditional' marriage is only a few decades old because it was changed to recognize interracial couples.

You're not comfortable with it? - Fine, don't do it. Thongs on morbidly obese people give me the willies, but I'm not going to fight to prevent their right to wear them.

It's unnatural? - Please take some time to observe the sexual habits of bison, gazelles, antelope, sage grouse, Guinean cocks-of-the-rock, silver gulls, black headed gulls, Japanese macaques and bonobo chimpanzees. (Just as a starter.)

Marriage is for procreation? - Although it has been proven that unmarried individuals can produce offspring (and often do), someone tell the barren, sterile, infirm and geriatric they are forbidden to marry. Annul all pre-existing non-procreative marriages after a certain deadline, as well as those that continue to remain married after the last child has popped out.

It's not healthy for children? - Again, Oh, please. How can it be unhealthy for a child to be reared in the environment of a loving, committed relationship? If your answer is any of the above objections, then please reread them. If it's because of the absence of a father or mother figure, then please organize the release of children from all single parents.

Where do you stand on this? Have you given thought about why?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tea with the Hedge Sisters, Chapter 1

"I have biscuits too . . . or, . . . " Magnolia cried over her shoulder as she laid out the tea time spread.

"I don't want any biscuits, Maggie."
Declared Hydrangea, already enthroned in the exact center of the sofa with her perfect skirts, the latest fashion, of course, spread expertly from pillow to pillow, providing the most aesthetically pleasing display.

Catching Magnolia's pause, Hydrangea became uncommonly interested with the silverware, "My, these are nice, Maggie. Are they new?"
Hoping to divert Magnolia from reciting a list of alternate items in the pantry available for tea.

"Why?" Stared Magnolia "Don't you like my biscuits?"
She asked, with just the hint of a tremble in the voice, before moving to the sideboard for napkins.

"Just hush and take a biscuit Hyde." Bougainvillea whispered harshly through gritted teeth as she passed Hydrangea with the tea tray. "If you think Mag's biscuits are awful, try spending the rest of the afternoon listening to her go on about how you insulted her cooking."

Bougainvillea punctuated with her patented 'hush-up-and-keep-the-peace' look, which was met and acidly destroyed by Hydrangea's own patented triple combination high-octave-'hmph,'-overly-exaggerated-eye-roll-and-invisible-lint-pick.

Rounding out the foursome in what can only be deemed an unmannerly 'holler' from the next room, "Bou, there's no beer in the icebox!"

"Ivy, this is tea time."
Replied Bougainvillea patiently.

Ivy popped her head through the doorway, "I'm not here for tea. I'm here to visit my deeear sisters. But if it'll make you happy," popping back out "just pour the beer in a tea cup and I'll drink with my pinky extended."

"Now there's something wrong with my tea?" Magnolia breathed, turning her disappointment from Hydrangea and the biscuits to Ivy and the clinks and thumps of items being shuffled in her search.

"Your tea is fine, I'm sure. It's just not beer." Said Ivy blithely as Magnolia joined her in the kitchen.

"Or coffee."
Uttered Bougainvillea to the air.

"Barbarian. I'll never fully believe that Ivy comes from the same bloodline as we do. " Hydrangea said, leaning into her sister. "Haven't you noticed the resemblance between Ivy and the milkman?"

"Well, she does tan awfully nicely." Began Bougainvillea thoughtfully. "Do you think that mother . . ."

"Not that milkman. I suppose you would have been to young to remember Mr. MacGregor."

"Careful Hyde, that statement shows your age."
Glared a triumphant beer-wielding Ivy from the doorway.

"So does direct sunlight." Added Magnolia, the eldest sister, nudging Ivy toward her usual place by the window as she passed and replaced Ivy's teacup with a glass. Pausing once to be sure everything was out, "Now," Magnolia seated herself with a 'whump,' "Would someone at least try the biscuits?!"
and began to pour.

"I love your biscuits, dear!"
Bougainvillea affirmed by reaching for the tongs and passing the heavy, flour and lard stones to the others with a stern 'you'll-eat-it-and-you'll-gush-loudly-about-how-scrumptious-they-are' look.

"But they clash with my outfit!"
Sputtered Hydrangea, desperate to avoid more dental work.

"What doesn't?"
Said Ivy, who dressed in men's clothes and clashed with pretty much everyone.
"Ivy, you hold your tongue." Hydrangea began,
"I'll have you know that this is an orig-- . . ."

"What a grand idea!" interrupted Bougainvillea forcefully. "Why don't we all hold our tongues?"

So, as it inevitably happened every Saturday, the foursome sat quietly and stared at nothing in particular, especially not at each other and certainly not at the biscuits, sipping their tea -- and beer.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Kernal Knowledge

My friend, Cookie, would ask "What's the number one rule of show business?"
And I'd say "Sleep with the casting director?" knowing full well that Cookie's answer is "Know your product."
I do so love the tests that tell you all about yourself if you answer just a few questions. I take those personality/sanity tests all the time. (Mostly due to a court order, but that doesn't detract from the pleasure.)
My friends could've told you this without me taking the test. Which alcoholic drink am I? The test totally pegs me as beer.
You Are Beer!

You don't need to get totally wasted when you hit the bars. More of a social drinker, you just like to have fun with your friends. And as long as the beer keeps flowing, you're a happy camper. But don't mix things up: "Beer Before Liquor, Never Been Sicker!"
Wow, that is SO true. My friends, my TRUE friends, fear repurcussions if they've invited me over and I find they have no beer. "What!? No beeeeeer?" (Picture the guy in Oliver. "You want mmmMMMMOOOOORE?!")
It's the same way in the morning with / without coffee.
One morning at a sleepover I awoke and stumbled through the house and into the kitchen, following the sweet gurgling sounds of the coffeemaker. [gurgle......gurgle.....sput....gurgle] "Ahh, yes I can almost taste it," I'm thinking as I pass two friends in the kitchen. They know better than to approach me at this point in the day. Don't make eye contact, don't smile, don't approach. But, THIS morning, the two (innocent?) bystanders were in a precarious catch-22. There was a SERIOUS bit of information that MUST be conveyed to the sleepy-eyed monster fumbling with a coffee cup before he reached the gurgling brew. [gurgle....gurgle] "I'm coming my preciousssssss." Cup in hand, I step forward and reach for the pitcher. [gurgle....ominous music....gurgle....minor chord....slow motion....guurrrrrgle.]
Cookie makes a life-altering decision and in dramatic slo-mo jumps in front of the proverbial bullet "CHUUUUCK ! IT'SSSS DE-CAAAFFFF !" Then crumples to the floor, fearing the worst.
You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat
You are a nice blend of cat and dog. You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful. And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

To pass the time with self-discovery I'll take pretty much any test and try very hard to answer the questions honestly, without trying to sway the outcomes. But some of the tests are pretty much geared toward the traditional if-you-answer-this-way-you-must-be-this-gender. I took one test (Which X-Man are You?) that asked which of the X-Men were sexier. I chose Wolverine so the test chose for me a female character. Grrrr. I don't want to be Storm! I could NEVER carry off those outfits. Even though this test says...

You Are 36% Lady
You tend to make up your rules of etiquette, throwing all conventions aside. And while you try to be a lady (sometimes), your behavior is often quite shocking.

So no matter the absurdity of the test, I welcome the questions that provide a kernal of insight. Too often we the people act out of emotions rather than thinking a situation through and giving a real and practical response. I mean, what rational practical person votes republican? Meaning, most people vote for a political party rather than a qualified individual. "Oh, HE'S republican? Then I'll vote for him." Disregarding he's spent 12 years in prison for whatever. "Oh, SHE'S Catholic? Then I HAVE to vote for her." Disregarding that the only reason she's Catholic is because her family dragged her to that church on Christmas and Easter and she doesn't know any different. It's not like either one of these examples of people have knowledge or values.

Saying all that prompts me to say this: Be inquisitive as to your nature and make decisions based on thought. Be sure to truly appreciate your friends who tell it like it is. They will argue, disagree, fight and bicker. They will piss you off, be extremely obnoxious and take you to your very wits end. But keep that weekly date for dinner, hooch and cards. Those are some of the most insightful and valuable times you'll ever have.

Get to know yourself - visit this site

Monday, July 31, 2006

Epithet Evolution

Wikipedia says that Sensitivity Training is a form of training that claims to make people:
  • more aware of their own prejudices and
  • more sensitive to others.

I thought to myself, "How can I write this without someone saying I'm biased against something?"

I can't. There is no way I could write about bias and sensitivities and be so vague and without an example that someone, somewhere wouldn't be guaranteed to call me "insensitive" or some other worse names. Because I don't share the same views, opinions or experiences, because I have formed my own opinion and because it disagrees with someone . . . I'm the bad guy and need to take sensitivity training. So, of course, I'll welcome your comments.

I was joking with some friends of mine and apparently shocked and dismayed another commuter who was waiting to deboard. As the door opened she said to me "You need sensitivity training!" then dashed off the train. It was like a drive-by shooting. Zing!

I wasn't talking to her. She doesn't know me or anything about me. She did not know my philosophy or my intent. Yet she misconstrues a light-hearted conversation between friends as a bigoted view of a group of people.

I'm gay Lady. I was making joking, gay comments. It's like obese people making light of their weight.

Now, why is it that she doesn't need "Desensitivity" training? I might even need to take the class with her.

That same week, my friend, Paul, (who is straight but knows a LOT of show tune lyrics) used the term Ghey (pronounced 'gay') when talking about his motorcycle. "I'm not going to put a windscreen on my bike 'cause that would look ghey." He later made frilly hand gestures and a falsetto voice to further clarify the impact of the windscreen. So, in context, I think I got his meaning. He noticed my raised eyebrows and he explained to me that it wasn't gay, it was g-H-e-y. Like leet speak.

The Urban Dictionary has this to say. Ghey: Lame. An excuse for using the term "Gay" in a negative way, without seeming to be offensive. However, changing the spelling of the word doesn't change how offensive it can still be to homosexuals.

So, I started to use Pahl as a synonym for stupid or ignorant. "That's so pahl." (Pronounced 'paul') When I noticed his raised eyebrow, I explained, "It's okay, it's spelled p-a-H-l."

Yes, I'll admit, I was a little put off by him using the term 'ghey' as a derogatory. So now I'm really divided. Give that man freedom of expression and let him say 'ghey' or even 'gay' as a pejorative. But allow others the freedom of expression to say something too. Work to not be offended.

Any freedom, both physical and of expression, is hampered by idiots. Because idiots chiseled out pieces of Stonehenge as souveniers, visitors are now prevented from walking within the structure. Because bigoted people adopted the svastika or the southern cross as their banner, the reputations of both symbols are ruined. Because someone spills hot coffee on their lap - there are disclaimers and common sense warnings on everything. And because some idiot uses a term offensively, that term becomes taboo.

I have another friend who would not read the original 1936 Mary Poppins (quite different from the movie) to a child because it has the word picaninny.

Gays can't say breeder ( ). Heterosexuals can't say fag. (From the late sixteenth century, meaning an old, unpleasant woman.)

Carlos Mencia can say beaner. Dave Chappelle can say nigger. (From the Latin Niger, meaning black.)

Even in context, no one can say picaninny (from the Portuguese pequenino, meaning little) and Mitt Romney can't say tar baby (a sticky situation, a doll made of tar and turpentine).

I'm not saying that one should throw around racial slurs or bigoted epithets willy-nilly. Come on, be real. Practice consideration of the feelings of others and steer clear of stereotyping generalizations. I am saying, however, get some desensitivity training before no one is allowed to say anything.

It's not the word that should bother you. It's the contextual disdain, disrespect or poor and uninformed view that is behind the word. That is so very pahl.

Friday, July 28, 2006

What Women Want

Chivalry IS dead. You hear the mourning cries all over the country that chivalry has passed on. Well, not so much passed on as brutally murdered. And, what better way to divert suspicion as to be the one to cry the loudest at its passing. It's one or the other ladies. Do you want chivalry or do you want equality?

Please, make no mistake. -- I am in complete support of equality for women! But you're giving men mixed signals. It is my contention that to aid in the support of women's equality, the males of our race are exempted from holding doors, offering seats, killing spiders and feats of strength.

So, why do men get dirty looks when they are first into an elevator, remain seated in a crowded subway or buy just their own movie ticket? What justifies the guilt-laying? We're helping your cause!

Many times a day, I witness the pilgrimage of health-conscious, female coworkers from cubicle to cooler. It's a modern-day version of the ewers-on-the-head walk through the village from hut to well because each of these pilgrims keeps a water bottle or jug at their desk to sip throughout the day.

One morning at the end of their trek, two women arrived to find that the well had run dry. They took it upon themselves to rectify the situation and began another journey in search of a man to replace the jug.

I shocked them by refusing. "But we're thirsty!" they whined. So I gave them directions to the water fountain, two sinks, the bathroom, a restaurant and the convenience store in the lobby. And in return for all of my assistance I got dirty looks of disbelief and angry muttering.

There are no good arguments supporting this expectation of male to female deference.

Because you're a man.
-How is that a reason?
Because men are stronger.
-That's a stereotype.
Because YOU'RE so big and strong.
-Flattery cannot sway me to carry your things, give you my seat or buy you dinner.
I would really appreciate it.
-Hey, now you're talkin'. . . How will this appreciation be displayed?
Well, how about we . . . [Nod, nod, wink, wink]
-I'm gay.
Ooooo, Fine! Five bucks?
-Make it twenty and it's yours.

I wonder who changes the water jugs at the National Organization for Women.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Killing Kittens

I have some friends who can't help but hit the forward button to everyone in their e-mail address book everytime they get the cutesy e-mails of fluffy kittens or "A Prayer for You."

I finally drafted this e-mail and hit "Reply All" to their most recent posts - sending the word to just about 100 strangers.

Dear Group E-mail sender,

  • Regarding E-hugs, I prefer them in person with people I know and not a group-hug shared with the cold and electronic addresses in your Cc line.
  • The E-Prayer, E-Angel or E-Jesus that you send eventually ends up in my E-Trash. I then get the option to "Delete Jesus Forever? [Yes] [No]" Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. Why would you do that to Jesus?
  • When forwarding pictures of adorable puppies and kittens please do not forget to include the recipes.
  • Let me spoil it for you. That promise of a "really cool thing" that happens to your screen after you forward an e-mail to ten people? -- you're disappointed,
    3 people get pissed off,
    3 people deleted it without reading it,
    2 people have your address blocked from sending them e-mails,
    1 address is undeliverable, and
    1 idiot forwards it to 10 more people. Cool, huh?
  • I have automatic withholding from every paycheck, with a final rendering no later than April 15th each year and do not need to be reminded to "support our troops."
  • You said if you don't get that [e-mail wish] back from me you'll "know I'm not your friend." So why do you keep sending them? I thought I was being clear.
  • If you're worried about God being removed from politics and schools, do not fear. Have faith that she is where she pleases.
  • The stories of serendipity and random acts of kindness taste great, but are less filling than a quasi-cash deposit to my pay-pal account. ( It's so easy, Sign up for a PayPal account at Click the Send Money tab, Enter an amount, and the recipient's address )
  • I can pretty much guarantee you that by fate, luck, chance, kismet, destiny, happenstance, coincidence, predestination, faith or a willing god, faerie, spirit, sprite, God or Goddess that something good, bad or indifferent will happen to you whether or not you forward this e-mail to the number of people of your choice.

Chuck Walker