Monday, April 29, 2013

Details, Details

As my birthday trip to Denver rapidly approaches, there are so many details yet to plan. Where will we stay? What will I wear? What age will I say I'm turning? I'm trying not to let it all overwhelm me.

We took care of the first detail this weekend when we booked a room at the Warwick Denver. It wasn't easy. With JB being a flight attendant, it's not in his nature to pay for hotel rooms at all.

While I was pushing for the Warwick all along, JB had to give the matter due diligence by starting with the hotel/motel/hostel advertising the lowest rate and working up from there.

It was then up to me to present the reasons why that particular choice of lodging wouldn't do at all. My first consideration was location. Wherever we stay must be within walking distance from the Denver Wrangler. Without the need to carry water and trail mix, I felt it necessary to add.

This requirement alone narrowed down the list of choices which were in JB's acceptable price range to exactly zero. He reminded me we'd have our rental car, which would put the entire Front Range Urban Corridor at our fingertips. I asked if this meant he was volunteering to be the designated driver. "Okay, give me the number for the Warwick."

I could only hear JB's side of that conversation. After wincing at the quoted nightly rate, he started asking what that price included. Parking? No. Breakfast? No. Wi-fi? No. Airline discount? Sorry. "Let me get back to you."

JB returned to his laptop. "Here's a place not far from the Warwick, and it's not too expensive." I started reading aloud what the Yelp reviewers had to say about the EconoLodge. The beds all have rubber under-sheets. And signs are posted in the rooms asking guests to kindly use the available ashtrays – not the walls please – when snuffing out their smokes.


"What's the number for the Warwick again?" JB went into full-flirt mode and sweet talked the guy into giving him a "travel agent rate", whatever that means.

Now... what to wear?

It's my birthday and I reserve the option to put
my butt out wherever I damn well please.
And no, I don't smoke.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


My junior year in high school I signed up for a summer canoe trip in Isle Royale National Park. In order to participate, I had to write three reports by the end of the school year which pertained in some way to the island.

I wrote one report on the shipwrecks of Lake Superior. Another on the ecological balance between the moose and wolf populations on Isle Royale. And finally a report about prehistoric indigenous copper mining on the island.

I didn't realize it at the time, but being encouraged to learn a little historical background allowed me to much better appreciate the experience while I was there. I'll never forget the thrill of coming across holes dug into solid rock and knowing ancient Native Americans once mined for copper in those pits. I left for the Island a boy and returned a filthy, sunburnt boy with parasites.

What stuck with me longer than the ticks and leeches was my fascination for geology and history. How every place that exists today is the the product of the random geologic processes which shaped its environment coupled with the aspirations and fortunes of the humans who chanced upon it, and either moved on or settled there permanently.

Later, while attending Michigan Technological University, I was able to learn much more about mining history and industrial archeology from a professor who quite literally wrote the book on the subject.

A few years later I took my first trip to Colorado just to visit several of the state's early abandoned gold and silver mines. Yeah, that's how fun I am.

After moving to Atlanta, I couldn't wait to explore the historic gold mining areas in the North Georgia mountains. Several booming communities were formed during Georgia's gold rush days of the 1830's only to go bust as more lucrative lodes were discovered in California and the prospectors moved west. Some of these early mining towns found other means of industry or survive today as tourist attractions while the rest are just stone foundations overgrown with trees and brush.

One of these North Georgia ghost towns is just outside of Dahlonega.  Auraria is Latin for  "land of gold". Legend has it the Georgia Gold Rush began in Auraria when someone tripped over a gold nugget. Today just a few ruins remain as evidence that earlier generations of Americans lived out their hopes and dreams on that spot.

I explored this ghost town years ago, but just this week I learned more about its story. Something that, had I known then, would have made standing there – the only human being in the derelict town of Auraria – even more significant.

In 1858 a group of prospectors left Georgia to follow rumors of gold in Colorado. Their party settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at the confluence of two rivers. Perhaps they were homesick, because they named their settlement after their home in Georgia.

As Auraria, Georgia gradually withered away into obscurity, it's namesake in Colorado continued to thrive, and still exists in name today as a neighborhood of Denver, the city which developed around the settlement.

I learned this because, as a nerd, and I like to study the history of a place before I visit.

Friday, April 19, 2013

By Your Side, Always

I know I can be long-winded sometimes. I plan to work on that, really.

Sometimes I start writing a comment to a blog post only to realize my "comment" has begun to dwarf the original post. This happened today while responding to a post on BosGuy's blog. Please read "Gay spouse forcibly removed from Kansas City MO hospital" then come back for my response.

I have to remind myself how lucky JB and I are to have the support of each other's families and to live in an area where healthcare professionals are accustomed to regularly dealing with same-sex families. In every medical situation we've experienced together so far – and there have been a few – I've been very impressed with the sensitivity and dignity that's been extended to us. It leads me to believe there's been some level of institutional awareness and training intended to avoid these types of incidents and the ensuing negative publicity.

But BosGuy is right: this story serves as a reminder that we can't be complacent, either legislatively or from a personal and practical legal standpoint. Without the standard protections of family law, basic contracts like medical power of attorney are vitally important. The fact that we've been lucky in the past is irrelevant when it comes to the law and, until reading this, has only served to entrench my complacency.

While having medical power of attorney didn't prevent this particular outrage, the fact this couple had one goes a long way to remove any argument that they were in the right and the hospital was wrong.

A simple yet powerful image, Mark Kelly holds his wife
Gabrielle Giffords' hand at her hospital bedside.
Yes, there are rays of hope on the horizon. But I realize I can't let my optimism deter or delay me from taking action now to protect me and mine from the injustice of current reality.

Like BosGuy and so many others, I think this story resonates because I just can't picture myself voluntarily leaving JB's side under my own power.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I just heard on the radio this morning that today is the anniversary of the day the first iPad went on sale. A flood of vivid memories washed over me. Has it really been three years already?

I ordered my iPad (my first iPad) online with the promise it would be delivered on the same day it was going to be available in the Apple Store. I may be an Apple fanboy, but I refuse to wait in line. Mostly because I'm sick of being included in anonymous, neck-down crowd shots on the evening news. I don't care if it's a puff piece about the latest trendy gadget or an exposé on America's obesity epidemic, just stop it.

As the final days of March slowly passed, my excitement intensified. Like everyone else in those early, naïve days of 2010, I had no idea what an iPad was or what I would do with one. I only knew I had to have it.

I don't know if I was attempting to distract myself from tracking my iPad's glacial FedEx progress from China, or if it was some sort of psychological transference of my iPad excitement. Perhaps it was simply the arrival of Spring that had my sex drive kicked up a notch or two. I apologize for skipping over a lot of impertinent details here, but thus began a chain of events which led to my unboxing my new iPad in a hospital room. Three years ago today.

The only (questionably) pertinent information I'll share is that I'm strictly a top. Except for maybe once every three years or so. I'm not sure what got into me that balmy April 2nd... scratch that. I know what got into me. I just don't know how I broke it.

We can rebuild it... we have the

After two unsuccessful catheterizations, the team of urologists hovering over JB decided what they needed was a bigger catheter. Having already listened to the first two attempts through the curtain, I squeezed JB's hand and tried to explain that it was because I love him that I needed to sit this one out in the ER waiting room.

It didn't help. Even in the furthest reaches of the waiting room with my fingers in my ears, I could still hear JB's guttural shriek. A man in scrubs walked through the double doors by the nurse's desk and as the doors swung open, the howl from within reverberated unabated through the waiting room. The doors closed then opened, then closed again, creating a sort of surreal doppler effect.

The nurse at the desk asked the man in the scrubs, "What on earth are you doing to that poor guy?". The man just shrugged and said, "I know, right?"

I watched the look of alarm on the faces of the people in the crowded waiting room. At least three of them, one gingerly holding his bandaged arm, decided they were just going to walk it off and left the ER.

I lost count of how many doctors examined JB that weekend, but each visit began with him or her flipping through JB's file and asking, "So... what do we have here?" I began to wonder if they recorded anything in those files, or if they just wanted to hear the story told in person. It was difficult enough the first time having to explain in detail how I wrecked JB's penis. With my ass. How, during an afternoon of playful, adventurous intimacy, our escalating passion inexplicably segued into the prom scene from Carrie.

Now imagine having to tell that story at least twenty times to a parade of random strangers.

Reactions ranged from clinically detached to mildly amused to visibly disturbed. One doctor actually suggested that it would be prudent for us going forward to "switch places". I asked if this would be the same recommendation he'd give to a straight couple in this situation. He admitted he wouldn't, and I suggested he treat JB accordingly. I didn't see the need to dilute my moment of righteous indignation by mentioning that switching places was what got us there in the first place.

The medical consensus was that a blood vessel in JB's prostate ruptured during ejaculation. Just a teeny-tiny blood vessel, not a major artery as I first guessed having experienced the prom carnage first hand. "It's really very common, I see it all the time," one doctor explained. "Nothing to be too concerned about." JB apologized for not sharing the doctor's nonchalance while he peed red through a tube into a bag. Only the way he said it was more colorful.

As JB watched TV and waited for the nurse to come and
remove his catheter, I turned my new iPad over and over
just to watch the "plug into iTunes" picture reorient itself.
They transferred JB to a hospital room for overnight observation. He'd be allowed to leave the next day once the contents of his urine bag started looking like urine. I let him get some rest and returned the next morning with a change of clothes and my brand new iPad, still in the FedEx package.

As we waited for the doctor to make her rounds, I opened the box, peeled away the protective plastic and marveled at the beautiful black slate of glass in my hands. I turned it on and waited for it to start up. It showed a picture indicating it needed to be plugged into iTunes before going any further.

Unlike later iPad models which are ready to go out of the box, that first iPad needed to be plugged into a computer and set up using iTunes before it could be used. JB was far from impressed, but I think he was just being grumpy.

"Is that an iPad? How do you like it?" the doctor asked as she held JB's urine bag up to the light.

"I love it!" It was an educated guess.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Jesus, Take The Wheel!

With the recent momentum behind marriage equality and last week's historic Supreme Court hearings, some of the nuttier fringe of the religious right are getting their lather extra whipped:
All hyperbole works better with Dramatic Chipmunk.

"The homosexual lobby is on the verge of a historic victory. The potential consequences will be calamitous for democracy and the family... Traditional America will be smashed — probably forever."
Duh duh duh! It continues...
"Their lifestyles and behaviors inevitably lead to a culture of death ... Homosexual behavior — for example, sodomy — is unnatural and immoral."
I like how he singles out only one example of "homosexual behavior" – sodomy – leaving out other behaviors such as interior design, nighttime moisturizing and power-ballad karaoke, which are arguably every bit as unnatural.

As usual, whenever I hear one of these asshats telling me my "lifestyle" is dangerous, I like to point out their lifestyle choice ain't so heathy either. That's why I felt it was time for another installment of a recurring feature I like to call, "HOLY SHIT LOOKOUT!!!"

Very tragic indeed. But what the Lord taketh, He gives back in 24-point font.
This has to the most redundant headline ever. I think its safe to say everyone on
that bus (with the exception of the innocent children) was a believer,
which is what put them in harm's way in the first place.
Perhaps they left out the word "still"?

Bus Crash Kills 24 in South Africa

Atlanta Black Star-Mar 15, 2013 — A church bus carrying over 60 passengers crashed in South Africa's ... Reuters reports that 44 passengers were hurt in the accident.

Police: Paroled sex offender was riding in church bus with children

Evansville Courier & Press-Mar 11, 2013 — At the time of his original arrest in 1996, prosecutors suspected ... of Albion, Rosenbower was caught riding on a church bus with small children.

11 hurt when church van rolls over on I-65 south of Birmingham

The Decatur Daily-Mar 10, 2013 CALERA (AP) — Eleven people are recovering from injuries after their church van rolled over on Interstate 65 in Calera. The accident ...

Mob hit man who led Boy Scout troop while working as a contract ...

Daily Mail - Mar 17, 2013 — A convicted mob hit man who led a Boy Scout troop while still a killer says he's living for God now and volunteers his time driving a church bus ...

Church van crash: 'It's a miracle from God that nobody died' (blog)-Mar 10, 2013 — BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Church-goers at the Worship & Deliverance Ministries in Ensley this morning celebrated and praised God after a ...

Driver in fatal church van crash now facing federal robbery charges

WBIR-TV-Mar 6, 2013 — A Seymour man facing charges in a deadly church van crash has now been indicted on federal robbery charges. ... The wreck killed youth leader Jeff Trussell and 16-year-old Courteney Kaliszewski. Ten others were injured.

6 month anniversary of church van crash

WBIR-TV-Mar 16, 2013 — The crashed injured 10 and killed two Cedar Grove Baptist Church ... were returning from a weekend youth retreat when the crash happened.

Driver who crashed head-on with a church van pleads not guilty to ...

Maryville Daily Times-Mar 20, 2013 — Several other youth were also injured in the crash. ... released from the hospital after the crash, in which he was allegedly high on bath salts.

Several injured in two-vehicle crash in Paducah

WPSD Local 6-Mar 21, 2013 — No one was seriously injured during a two vehicle crash at a Downtown ... Officers say a white church van traveling east on 6th Street slammed ...

Memorial will commemorate 10th anniversary of Dalton Mesarchik's ...

Bloomington Pantagraph-Mar 22, 2013 — Her son was waiting for a church van outside his home on March 26, 2003 ... Authorities said he was killed ...

Screening dates set for Carrollton bus crash documentary

WAVE-Mar 21, 2013 — Twenty-seven people were killed and dozens of others were injured in the crash after Larry Mahoney drove his pick-up truck the wrong way on ...

Former church bus driver accused of molesting youth group...

The Australian - Jul 27, 2010 — A church bus driver sexually molested children as they sat on his lap while he drove them to and from youth group activities, NSW police allege.

Church van struck by allegedly drunk driver in LA - San...

San Jose Mercury News - Feb 11, 2012 — Authorities say 11 people were injured when the church van they were in was struck by an allegedly drunk driver in Los Angeles.


$2.95 - Buffalo News - Aug 15, 2002 — Five people suffered potentially serious injuries Wednesday when a church van, driven by a teenager and carrying children, went off the Niagara Thruway in the ...