Concern or Hatred? I Go With Hatred

This morning I was driving into work as I do most Fridays. Because of the traffic in DC, I generally listen to the local radio station on my way into work in the morning instead of the satellite radio. That way I get the traffic updates and know how late I am going to be to work.

As I drove in this morning the station teased a caller who was concerned about her son having a gay roommate in college as he is heading off to college for the first time. Her son had just found out that the roommate was gay after meeting him and the son was fine with it. The mother on the other hand would have nothing of it.

I am familiar with many of the arguments, and I know about the concerns a parent has for their children. When I came out to my mother she was very concerned about how I was living my life. This however, was a whole new level for me.

The DJ goes to the caller and asks her to explain the story. She spews hatred with every word saying that she is afraid that her son living with a gay man, who has clearly sinned, is encouraging him to pick up bad behaviors. She compares being gay to smoking and drinking at a party, and she doesn't want her son exposed to this kind of behavior. Homo-sexuality is a sin, and obviously this other child was not brought up properly. She is concerned that this will rub off on her son. Apparently she is concerned with her parenting here because if her son was "brought up properly" according to her he would never be gay.

This behavior is disgusting, and children who are gay are just acting out. They have not had the chance life properly, and they have made the wrong decisions. I just don't want my son to make the wrong decisions.

The morning show personalities all voice their concern for her opinions, interjecting and questioning her on why she feels this way. They try to explain that college is about getting to know new people. That her son not being concerned by this is a good thing, he is tolerant unlike his mother.

Callers call in, a woman who is 32 and has known she was gay since she was 10 assures the mother that her homo-sexuality will not rub off on her son. An enraged drag queen calls in and calls the mother ignorant (I agree completely). The mother writes all of these responses off as the response of sinners. It is clear that she will not change her mind and one can only hope that her son does not possess the same hatred as she does.

I am driving along listening to this and screaming at the radio. Here is my response to this woman and those of you like her...

I was raised in a very loving family, I was raised properly and I am still a gay man. I did not catch my homo-sexuality from anybody, and it is not a decision that I made. Believe me I take the easy way out, and coming out to my parents was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. The fact that your son is perfectly fine having a gay roommate should not scare you, it should make you proud. You have somehow despite all odd raised a very tolerant and accepting son, who appreciates that people come in all shapes and sizes. And whether this tolerant and accepting son is gay or not should not change the way you feel about him. He is your son, your flesh and blood, and you should love him no matter what. I know this is difficult for you to understand because your heart is so full of hatred, but please try to think about what you are saying before you say it. All men are created equal...

The fact that you were exposing yourself on the radio, and expressing how much you hate concerns me. It is this kind of hate that breeds violence. I have a feeling that you would have been fine with me being kicked in the head because I was gay and I was evil, and I would be one less person that your son could catch the gay disease from. Much like you pray that your son isn't gay... I pray that you have not passed along your hatred to your children.

Welcome to My New House on TV

So we are moving in August to a new Row House in DC, and the house was previously featured on HGTV's Curb Appeal. That means that my house is famous and yours is not!

I am very excited about the move, but not the act of moving. Some of the highlights of the house are that it is 3 levels, it has a sun room, tons of outdoor space, two roof decks,a huge master bedroom, and a hot tub. But most importantly, my house is famous... and yours isn't!

Pi: Pizza and WIne Bar

I don't do restaurant reviews, I never will, it's not fair to the establishment because I am such a picky eater. However, last week we decided that we would go someplace different for dinner, after all we love the Diner but there are so many restaurants that it is crazy to keep going to the same place for months (although we do that most of the time). We decided to go to a pizza and wine bar that we noticed a few weeks before. We figured, how could we go wrong, I love pizza, the Doctor loves wine. It's done! So we ended up at Pi Pizzeria and Wine Bar.

I have to say it was one of the most bizarre and fantastically insane dinners I have ever had. The owner of the restaurant was our waitress, and she is off the wall crazy. This was enjoyable kind of crazy, but I got the feeling that it could be a non-enjoyable crazy if you crossed her, but all was OK because she liked us.

For a visual image of her which will help you understand the evening, picture a tall blond Barbie doll, with a surgically enhanced chest, dressed from head to toe in designer. Not sure what designer but it was expensive.

I have struggled with how to write this post because it is not so much about the food (excellent) or the atmosphere (very cool and trendy and a little crazy) but more about the experience. And to me it seems like an experience that is beyond words.

We walk in the front door of the restaurant and a blond streak comes running out from behind the bar..."Well, hello it looks like the hot guys have arrived." (See I told you she was a bit crazy). Immediately following the greeting, with white frosting on her fingers she asks... "Would you guys help me frost the penises?" At this point we knew that this was going to be an night to blog about, as the doctor begins humming Bonnie Raits, "Lets Give Them Something to Talk About."

She seats us at the big table in the front of the bar, and walks away. The friend we are with then excuses himself to the bathroom. She return with menus and says, "Was that a boy or a girl you were with? I don't know who was with you I was so distracted." Our friend returns, and we decide to not tell him that part.

She once again returns to take our order, and somehow we get on the topic of schools, apparently a nerd from MIT had turned her down in her past... "He was a jerk, I mean really, who would turn me down, and I mean MIT... come on, Oh, you didn't go to MIT did you?" At this point the three of us sitting at the table were practically doubled over.

Leaning seductively over the table she pours our wine, and begins discussing her gay employee, she then tell us that she has no "gaydar." We decide to make it easier on her and tell her that we are gay. She seems shocked, but continues to lean seductively over the table. "You guys need to totally come back when (name deleted cause I don't remember it) is working, he would love you, you know I have him on camera doing stuff in this restaurant... he would love you guys." I believe she was referring to her gay employee, but I'm not sure and it is possible that she was trying to hook us up with him.

When she returns with out appetizers she asks how we know each other, we explain the relationships, and that the Doctor and I are together, she turns to our friend and says... "I know how to break them up, next time I'll just put a roofie in the wine bottle..." She walks away and we almost fall out of our seats, apparently she is not only going to hook us up with her gay employee, but she is going to drug us as well in order to break us up.

Our pizza arrives, and she decides that she needs to tell us what she is planning to do this weekend, besides having a large party on her roof, which is also the best place to see fireworks apparently she is going to a gay male stripper bar. "Guess, where I am going... a bar called Secrets here in DC?... have you heard of it?" We tell her that we have, and that it is a gay strip club, "Oh my god, I didn't know it was a gay male stripper bar, that's gonna be so much fun." At this point she is like our new best friend, the one you bring to parties to entertain the masses.

"Here you guys need to try this shot, I don't drink, but it is so good." We were confused by this statement, not only because we would have expected her to be a raging alcoholic, but also because if you don't drink how do you know what the shot tastes like. It was good though, and the added touch of frosting from the penises was a nice touch.

The night continues with interesting comments, and asides, we are having a blast as we have a few final words with her, when out of nowhere she says, "I got my special needs daughter Allez hair removal because she is half Persian... so you know she needs it" I almost spit wine across the roof when she said this, and I had no idea how to respond other than to laugh.

We get up to leave and she tells us that we need to come back, and make sure that her gay employee is there... "You guys need to come back, next time sit at the bar, the wine is on me." Now keep in mind I didn't go back for that free wine, because, after all she did say it was going to be roofied so she could break me and my gay "husband" up, but we did go back for more pizza and the antics continued. I recommend stopping in if you are in DC, it is a good time... plus you can't go wrong with pizza and wine.

Costa Rica: Post 5 My Time with My Books

With a view like that how can you not lay in a hammock and read? One of our favorite pastimes in Costa Rica on this vacation was reading. When we went on this trip the one thing that I wanted to do was sit on the beach and read a book. I got to do this everyday and I couldn't have been happier. The Doctor even started reading a book, something he insists he hasn't done for fun in a long time. I finished two books while I was on vacation.

I Know You're Out There

This was a book that I picked up after a former employee recommended it on this blog. It was supposed to be very "David Sedaris" so I figured it would be worth a shot. The main idea of the story is that the author works for a newspaper in the personals. He tells his story through his experiences at the newspaper. The personals are a centerpiece but they are also used as a reflection of his own relationships. When I picked up this title I was expecting to get some insight on the authors life, but I was expecting to read more about his job at the personals. I won't say that I am disappointed in the book as a whole it was just not what I was expecting. Overall it was a light read and it was very enjoyable. He wrote with a great sense of humor, this was a perfect book for a vacation.

A Year In The Merde

This was another recommendation, and while I enjoyed I Know You're Out There, I loved A Year in the Merde... and not just because he was brutal in his criticism of the French. (Sorry French readers and friends). His humor and his experiences were so entertaining I loved every minute of reading the book.

As the book jacket says this is a book for Francophiles and Francophobes, and it is an enjoyable read for the armchair traveler such as myself. The author creates the story of an ex pat living in France for a job, and his character is a fierce observer of those funny aspects of living in a country different from your own. Paul West (the main character) is a thirty something British man who has come to Paris for a job opening a bunch of English tearooms (I pictured the British version of Starbucks) who is in Paris to open a string of very English tearooms. There are a number of obstacles Paul faces in Paris including difficult employees (even more so than some of mine, a tyrannic boss, numerous strikes and of course doge merde in the streets. On the positive not for Mr. West he also endeavours into the adventures of love while in Paris. Some go well, others do not, most of them end. This is an interesting adventure through French life, and is laugh out loud funny. I would recommend picking it up.

Costa Rica: Post 4 My Flip Flops Join the Umbrella

One of the most effective ways to get around the Osa besides walking is on a Quad. Otherwise known as a four wheeler, since the Doctor didn't know what a Quad was before we went to Costa Rica. A Quad is generally made for one person, and sometimes two, but we were three so we needed to create a makeshift seat on the back for none other than myself when we were traveling.

The first time we went out on the Quad I put a couple towels on the back, and was smart enough to wear sneakers. While I was holding on for dear life I noticed that the bar I was holding on to was right above the exhaust and got hot quickly. There was conveniently a rag blowing in the wind and I caught it and used it to protect my hand. Overall, it wasn't really a bad ride. It actually was a more comfortable ride then the jeep, mainly because the Quad had better suspension and the breeze felt good.

The second trip was into town and it proved a bit more challenging. First off I decided to wear flip flops, figuring that I would just hold them while we were on the Quad so that they wouldn't fall off. This worked for a while until my hand started to ache from stretching around my flip flops and then to the bar I needed to hold onto, and because the ride into town was longer my towels began to shift which made the ride slightly more uncomfortable. Bounce bounce bounce pothole... OUCH! That was pretty much the trip into town and to the restaurant on the beach. Don't get me wrong it was a beautiful ride, it was just painful at times.

After the restaurant I decided to try leaving my flip flops on for a bit until our next stop. This was also a bad idea as my toes got cramped trying to hold my flip flops on my feet as we whizzed past building on an open air machine at 40 miles per hour. Finally, I decided to wedge the flip flops in and out of the bars where I was sitting keeping them nice and secure without me having to worry about holding them. This proved even more useful since our next stop was the market where we bought some items we needed back at the resort. When we got back on the Quad the Doctor had to hold on to Yogi A in the front and not let got of a bag full of candles and fruit, and I had to hold onto a bag with a bottle of wine and a few other items in it.

As the landscape flew by and I was getting covered in dust and grime I was getting an excellent core workout, holding onto the bar on the quad with one hand, and a bottle of wine with his other. Every once in a while the Doctor had to reach back and stabilize me so I wouldn't go flying off the Quad and break the bottle of wine. Bounce bounce bounce, pothole... Ouch... Images of me being covered in red wine, shards of glass, and lovely scratches caused by jagged Costa Rica rocks danced through my head. We were getting closer to the resort as we bounced our way down the road. I was feeling more comfortable, and almost like I was going to survive. We pull up at the gate, and I go to get off the back of the Quad. I look to my left to retrieve my flip flops and they are gone.

Damn my flip flops are now somewhere on the side of the road with the ugly umbrella. If you are down in the Osa and see a lovely pair of American Eagle flip flops, and a red umbrella please return them to the Blue Osa!

Sen. Ted Kennedy and The Matthew Shepard Amendment

Today the Matthew Shepard Amendment and the bill it is attached to was passed in the Senate. This bill will expand federal hate crimes legislation, this amendment adds sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to previous hate crimes statutes. After 12 years of struggle this bill finally passes. For some additional information please visit He does an excellent job explaining the changes and the struggle. Finally, a change...

This means a lot to me after what happened last summer, as I have stood up and fought against the injustices and the hate that surrounded my attack, I have been hoping that I could help make a change. Many people have been fighting longer than I have but I am elated at the passage of the Matthew Shepard amendment today. And adding to this, Senator Kennedy's floor debate speech which is included in it's entirety below references the Fabio Brandao case, and what happened to me and my friends that one summer evening.

The fight isn't over yet but we are making steps in the right direction. Below is the text from Kennedy's floor debate...

Floor Remarks of Senator Edward M. Kennedy
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act
July 13, 2009

Mr. President, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join in supporting the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

We need to pass this bill without further delay. The House passed a hate crimes bill with a vote of 249 to 175 in April. President Obama has repeatedly stated that he supports swift enactment of hate crimes legislation. The Department of Justice has expressed a need to strengthen our federal hate crimes law. And, over 300 law enforcement, religious, civil rights, and community organizations have stated their support for this Act. We need to make certain that every American is protected from hate crimes. No one should be a victim of violence because of who they are.
In fact, hate crimes are domestic terrorism. Like all terrorist acts, they seek to bring fear to whole communities through violence on a few. We have committed ourselves to protecting our country from terrorists that strike from abroad, so we must make the same commitment to protecting Americans from homegrown terrorism.
Only weeks ago, a small distance from this Capitol, James von Brunn, a formerly convicted criminal and a known anti-Semite, entered the D.C. Holocaust Memorial Museum and began firing a rifle. During the attack, von Brunn shot and killed security guard Stephen Johns. As tragic as this incident was, the heroism of Stephen Johns, and the heroism of other members of the museum’s security team, prevented von Brunn from conducting a violent massacre of innocent men, women, and children. Von Brunn planned a hate crime, an act of domestic terrorism. Our society recognizes that such a crime cannot be tolerated. Attacks like these send shockwaves through American communities and must be prosecuted as terrorizing crimes.

The original hate crime statute, enacted in 1968, criminalized violent acts based on a victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin. Over the past 40 years, we have learned from experience that hate crime perpetrators often target communities unprotected by the original statute. This amendment strengthens that statute to protect victims targeted with violence because of their gender, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, or their disability.

In Boston on August 24, 2008, Jonathan Howard and three friends were viciously attacked by four men while walking home from a Boston nightclub. The assault began when a Honda pulled up beside the victims. The four men in the vehicle began yelling obscenities and homophobic slurs at the group. The perpetrators told Howard to die and repeatedly kicked his head into the pavement. After the event, Howard stated that “the type of assault that we encountered was completely random, unprovoked, and unforgivable.” This type of attack was just as much a hate crime as the attack by James von Brunn, and it needs to be recognized as a federal hate crime.

The victims did nothing to provoke their attack. They did not deserve to be the subjects of violence. No member of the LGBT community should be terrified to walk down the street for fear of hateful violence. Hate crimes perpetrators must not be allowed to place our communities in fear.

On May 11th, the Boston Globe reported that the historic election of President Barack Obama spurred a wave of hate crime violence. The article cites a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center that shows the number of white extremist groups in the United States has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2000, and that white extremist activity has sharply increased over the past several months.
Last November 5th, following the election of President Barrack Obama, four men rampaged across Staten Island, assaulting African-Americans in response to President Obama’s victory. The attackers beat a 17-year-old boy with a pipe, they physically assaulted another man to the ground, verbally harassed individuals suspected of voting for President Obama, and slammed into a man with a car because they mistakenly believed he was African-American. None of these victims were known to their attackers. None of these victims could have prevented the attacks. The victims were terrorized because their attackers wanted to send a violent message of hate to the African-American community.

Last July 12th, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Luis Ramirez, a 25 year-old Mexican and father of two, was beaten by several drunken students from the local high school. Authorities said the teenagers yelled ethnic slurs as they punched and kicked Mr. Ramirez, causing him to lose consciousness and begin to foam at the mouth. As a result of the attack, Mr. Ramirez died two days later. During the attack, one of the assailants reportedly yelled, “tell your . . . Mexican friends to get . . . out of Shenandoah . . .” According to Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, “Luis Ramirez was targeted, beaten, and killed because he was Mexican.” Yet, after a jury trial in state court, the killers were acquitted of the most serious charges and convicted of simple assault – yes, simple assault.

As the result of this case, the Justice Department is currently investigating civil rights violations with one hand tied behind their back. Because the incident occurred while the victim was walking by a park, and because walking by a park may not be considered a “federally protected activity,” the Justice Department is not able to fully investigate and prosecute this crime. This legislation closes the flagrant loophole that prevents prosecution of a hate crime when a victim is not engaged in a federally protected activity. It provides that hate crime perpetrators may be prosecuted, regardless of where their victim was or what they were doing when he or she was attacked.

In addition, this bill authorizes the Justice Department to make grants to state, local, and tribal authorities to combat, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes more effectively. During these times of economic crisis, state and local authorities are cash-strapped to deal with costly hate crime incidents. Investigations tend to be expensive. They require considerable law enforcement effort and extensive use of grand juries. To ease the extraordinary costs and complexity of such cases, the bill authorizes $5 million in Justice Department grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials who have incurred extraordinary expenses associated with investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.

The legislation also authorizes the Justice Department to make grants for states, local, and tribal programs that combat hate crimes committed by juveniles, including programs to train local law enforcement officers in identifying, investigating, prosecuting, and preventing hate crimes. With hate crimes against Latinos on the rise, and hate crimes against LGBT individuals on the rise, and hate group activity on the rise, we must ensure that our state and local law enforcement authorities have all the tools and resources they need to combat, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes.

I’m proud to take this opportunity to recognize the work of the Boston Police Department as the only major police department to incorporate hate crimes training into its mandatory training program. Unfortunately, many police departments around the country do not have the resources necessary to provide such training. This bill specifically authorizes the Justice Department to allocate funds for training so that other police departments may follow the example set by the Boston PD.
Violent attacks based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability deserve to be criminalized by federal law. Our nation must show that it will not permit these communities to be terrorized – one victim at a time.

For the past ten years, the Senate and the House of Representatives have each passed this legislation on multiple occasions – only to face political setbacks that have prevented the measure from being enacted. Now, we must finish the job and send this legislation to the President for his signature. By doing so, Congress will be reflecting the will of the American people. We will be sending a strong message that hate crime violence will not be tolerated – and that every citizen deserves federal protection against such crimes.

Religious leaders across the country support the amendment. As my colleagues know, the Golden Rule is recognized as one of the deepest principles in virtually every religious tradition. It is the simple principle that we ought to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. In the book of Matthew, chapter 7, Jesus says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This amendment embodies the Golden Rule by extending protection to individuals in communities that are vulnerable to violence fueled by hatred.

Religious leader, Pastor Joel C. Hunter, has said, “I would think that the followers of Jesus would be first in line to protect any group from hate crimes . . . This bill protects both the rights of conservative religious people to voice passionately their interpretations of their scriptures and protects their fellow citizens from physical attack.”

Many religious groups have expressed their support for the bill, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Interfaith Alliance, the Presbyterian Church, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the United Methodist Church, and the Congress of National Black Churches.
Over 10 years have passed since the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act was first introduced in the Senate. Over 10 years have passed since Matthew Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die because he was gay. I commend Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, for her years of inspiring advocacy that have brought us to this moment. Now is the time for the Senate to vote and show that we will not allow domestic terrorism to tear apart the fabric of our nation and take the lives of innocent Americans. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow their hearts and minds and vote in favor of this legislation.

Costa Rica: Post 3 Hiking to the Waterfall

On the first day we were at Blue Osa we took a hike that I didn't enjoy. The water wasn't working so a trip up to the spring in the middle of the jungle up the mountain was necessary. This hike involved a machete which should have been my first sign that I wasn't going to enjoy it, and as a matter of fact I never actually finished the hike because I stayed at the base of the mountain as the Doctor and Yogi A continued on. While they were up there I did get to see howler monkeys move across the trees. A few days later I told the Doctor that if he wanted to go on a hike up to the waterfall I would go with him and I even promised to enjoy it.

So we decided one afternoon to hop on the quad (that is a whole separate post) and head up to the entrance to the river. Once we parked the Quad and went up to the entrance we began our hike. The water was a bit chilly but in the 100 degree heat it was almost bearable for me. Yogi A took the lead reminding us that the most important thing about the jungle is to "know where you are putting yourself." I was very cautious as we walked over the rocks and through the ankle to knee deep water. We came to a point where a tree was covering our path so we had to get out of the water and walk around, up over trees, up the hill and then back down. Once we had passed that area we once again entered the river and the "rapids" and ahead of us we could see the waterfall. The water was cascading down the rocks and into a beautifully tranquil pool of water in the middle of the jungle.

Once we got to the pool took off our shoes and stripped down to our swimming attire and swam around a bit, and over to the waterfall. Luckily I brought my camera carefully protected in a Ziploc bag. While the water was cold the area was beyond picturesque it was perfect. The clear water the jungle surrounding us. The massage from the waterfall as the water ran down your body. This was another amazing experience that you could only have in Costa Rica and an experience we will never forget.

The way back down was a bit more difficult for me, I am not sure if it was because I was tired or it was downhill or the water was deeper but I was having a difficult time keeping my footing. At one point because I had my camera I had to scale a rock it was about 8 feet straight up and ten feet down directly into the water or rocks. I made it all the way up and most of the way back down and about six inches from the water I slipped and fell flat on my backside. My sunglasses went flying and I had the breathe knocked out of me but the camera was safe and dry in my shorts.

Once we got back to the bottom we all got back on the quad and Yogi A took us to a different part of the beach. There was an amazing outlook deck that was above the ocean in the middle of the jungle. We sat and listen to the waves as the cam onshore. You were looking out and all you could see was the purity of nature. As we sat and listened to the waves we also noticed that a howler monkey was very close. You could hear his cries from the trees behind us. As Yogi A and I sat on the outlook deck the Doctor went to go look for his howler monkey, and he found it. He came running back quietly a few minutes later looking for the camera, and he got a clear picture and video of the howler from below, this was as close as either of us had ever been to these monkeys, although we heard them every morning.

We ventured back to Blue Osa a bit later fully satisfied. We had an amazing day with friends and the waterfall and sitting by the beach was only a few hours of that. More life experiences and memories were made this day. I couldn't help but smile as I was being shaken apart on the ride back... this was what living your life is about, and I am lucky to be here to live it.

Costa Rica: Post 2 Private Beach

The beach we had at our resort was a very private beach. We could walk the beach for an hour and not run into anybody. Our cabina was about 100 meters off of the beach and we woke up and went to bed with the sound of the waves lapping up on shore. One of the amazing things about Costa Rica is that all of the beaches and the water are immediately adjacent to the jungle. During high tide in some cases the tree are "in" the ocean. The beaches are pure and by no sense man made this is one of the most amazing aspects of the beach at the Blue Osa.

Every morning we would wake up early and head down to the beach. Some mornings we would wake up and go down to the beach and read our books as the waves crashed ashore, and other mornings we would wake up and go for an early morning walk on the beach. I took hundreds of pictures on these long walks on the beach (I know it sounds like a personal ad) as we walked up and down around the trees and looking at the animals. Some mornings we spotted the hermit crabs walking up the beach and down into there holes, other morning the Scarlett macaws were flying side by side above us. The Doctor got in the habit of talking to the animals on these walks (yes he is a little crazy).

The trees above us provided a beautiful landscape and the sun shimmered on the water. Across the water you could see the mountains along the coast, and one point across the water in the distance you could see the distant shore of Panama.

Towards one of the ends of the beach there is a river that runs into the ocean, the river and ocean contrast is beautiful and one that I can't ever remember seeing up close before. As we walked down the other side of the beach we walked past the famous Blue Osa mud which is used in face masks and cosmetics. The Doctor collected some and he and Yogi A used it later one day.

The beach at the Blue Osa in Costa Rica is amazing, if you ever get the chance to go down to this resort when it opens next year it will be more than worth your time and money. The beach alone makes it worthwhile. And of course by the end of the last day we even had a hammock on the beach. Life could not be better.

Costa Rica: Post 1 Losing an Umbrella

Last night I just got back from Costa Rica... yes the second time this year, and since we didn't have any Internet I am going to post a few stories from Costa Rica here over the next few days. The first thing I want to write about is Friday night.

The Doctor and I are in the middle of the jungle in Costa Rica on the Osa Peninsula with our friend Yogi A who is opening a hotel/ resort there. He was kind enough to host us for a few days and on Friday night he wanted to bring us to a restaurant/ market up the road for dinner. It is the green season in Costa Rica so it generally rains, and rains very hard at night. When we go there Thursday we experienced some of the biggest thunderstorms I can remember.

So back to the story... we were getting ready for dinner when it began pouring. A tropical downpour is no joke so we thought we would wait for it to slow down. When it didn't, and we were more than ready to go we decided to borrow an umbrella and a sheet to get across the property to the jeep. As we run, stepping in puddles and piles of mud we get to the jeep. The sheet proved to be useless as the doctor and I just ended up being soaked with a very moist and muddy sheet over us, and the umbrella didn't prove to be much more useful since Yogi A was soaked as well.

Once we got into the car, Yogi A tried to back it up in the pouring rain, and since there are no lights in the jungle, backing up was difficult. As he turned the car around he noticed that he forgot the extra container of gas just in case we ran out since they didn't know how much gas the jeep had in it. He ran back to the main cabina and the gas wasn't there because the "property manager," Marie (who will be another post later this week) was waiting along the side of the road with it since she knew we had forgotten it.

Yogi A got back to the car even more soaked then before. We were on our way out of the property and down the road. The road is a dirt road, rocky and bisected by streams of water. With the pouring rain and lack of light this was an adventure and a half. Add on top of the road conditions and the rain the fact that the windows of the jeep kept fogging up, and the fumes from the gas were making us a little silly. Yogi A let out a screech every time we went through a puddle or unexpected stream and the Doctor was laughing hysterically, I was holding on for my life as we bounced into the parking area of the restaurant.

On Friday nights this restaurant is also a "market" where the locals go to sell some of their wares. Yogi A knows some of these people including the woman who sells the chocolate, she is an amazing woman with some amazing stories, and by the time you are done talking to her you think that you are the one that is crazy. We grab a seat in at the communal table and order a bottle of wine for the Doctor and Yogi A and a beer for myself. We are slightly disappointed they don't have pork chops but they have tuna and I have the gnnocci. We sit, we laugh, we talk, we meet up with some people from town and we have a blast. The restaurant is amazing and filled with interesting people. The food arrives and the Doctor grabs me another beer. The rain is coming down and we sit in the middle of the jungle and enjoy a fantastic meal. We continue to talk laugh drink, and mingle as a few more of Yogi A's friends stop by to talk.

The Doctor goes over and buys some chocolate, we continue to rink talk and laugh and then we are on our way back to the resort. It is still raining a little bit as we run to the jeep dogging puddles all the way. Yogi A stops at the door and puts the umbrella he is using on the roof of the jeep as he looks for the keys and does something else. We get in the car and we adventure back. The road conditions are a little better than before and we can see out of the car. Halfway home Yogi A asks me if there is an umbrella in the back. Of course there wasn't and he realizes that he must have left it on the roof of the car. Damn the umbrella is missing somewhere on the road. We decide that we will have to take a look for it tomorrow. Yes we laughed a little the rest of the way home about the missing bright red patterned umbrella. We also laughed about how Marie was going to respond to the fact that her umbrella was missing.

We make it home, get in the gate, make it to the kitchen area, and open another bottle of wine. We sit down and talk some more laugh, and overall enjoy each others company. We are up late enjoying every moment. it is a night I will not forget because it was a night of laughter and fun and friendship. It was a night where we enjoyed each others company without the worries of the modern world. It was a night when we lost a very ugly umbrella.


I just recieved the following email from Ted Kennedy's office-

Just as a follow-up, we have included information about JRH's incident in our materials for the floor debate for the hate crimes bill. The bill will likely be on the floor in the next few weeks. I will try to send you a copy of the debate if incident is mentioned. Thanks for sharing Jonathan's story. I look forward to the day when we have federal laws to protect inviduals from hate crimes. Let me know if I can answer any questions or be of service...

That means that all of the speaking out, the fighting, the protests, and work has the potential to pay off. We need federal laws in place to protect people from Hate Crimes, and we need JUDGES who will enforce these laws. We are making steps forward, lets keep on fighting!

Oh and by the way I am actually shaking at my desk as I type this, and if I wasn't at work I think I would be crying!

I Need Tall Buildings and Warm Water

I will admit here that I was a raging b word yesterday and I apologize for being so darn grumpy. We had a crazy weekend this weekend with the Holiday, a large BBQ with my family and friends, and then on Sunday the Doctor wanted to go White Water Tubing in West Virginia. The BBQ was fantastic and apparently I raised the bar when it comes to family BBQ's... damn I am good. The problem arose with the white water tubing, which in theory sounds like a good time. But I an not a nature person, and the fact that it was in WV did not help.

On Sunday morning we met up with friends, loaded in the cars, late as usual because people are slow as s**t, and we were off to West Virginia. To start off, apparently the GPS thought that going to West Virgina would be a bad idea, it decided that it wanted us to stop on the Rock Creek Parkway and not even go, sighting our destination as a roadside stop with trees. Once we got on the highway the GPS immediately veered us off the highway away from West Virgina... maybe she knew that West Virgina was a bad idea.

Once we finally arrived in West Virgina, already over 45 minutes late despite the fact that the Doctor told everybody to arrive an hour early, we stopped to grab beer and lunch. Thank god I ate half of my sandwich before we got to the river because the other half became waterlogged immediately. As we get closer our XM loses satalite signal, apparently XM dislikes West Virginia as well. We get out at the site and the first thing I see is a pickup truck with the confederate flag in the rear view mirror. Really is this where I want to be right now?

Dear god get me out of here I am so out of place, where is my smog and my tall buildings! We walk up to the barn where we get all of our equipment and as we walk I notice a very odd sight behind the barn, I look closer and I see that a painted school bus has run over Santa Claus... I am not kidding a red velvet Santa suit is displayed on the front of the bus making it look like Santa was run over and left on the front grate of the bus to rot away... Can we say disturbing?

Once we get into the barn and we get our tubes my mood really begins to sour as I worry that the water is going to be freezing cold (compared to what a half Cuban boy like me would prefer...85 degrees). I am really uncomfortable in cold water and hate feeling like that. Granted its not an excuse for being unbearably bitchy, but it is the main reason behind it.

After watching a safety video (which was ridiculous) we are then loaded into a bus... not the one that ran over Santa, and taken down to the river. The guide tells us that the river is about 80 degrees and I cheer up slightly, but just for a moment. They off load the group of 10... and we are sent on our merry way out into the river.

I set foot in the water and immediately begin spitting venom. The water in my opinion is no where near 80 degrees, and the fact that I need to get into this water is painful. I step back, refusing to submit myself to this torture, until I am yelled at an realize I don't really have much of a choice. I am not kidding when I say I spent half of the trip shivering because I was truly freezing. The rest of the group was enjoying themselves, drinking beer, and obviously not feeling the cold, but I could not pull myself out of the pit.

The Doctor says that your outlook can change your perception of a situation, and my outlook was horrific, so my experience was awful. I unfortunately did not enjoy a minute on the river for a few reasons, one because I was cold, two because the river smelled funny, three because the sun wasn't out, four because there were bugs everywhere, and five... because I was determined not to enjoy myself.

I was really an despicable person for the rest of the time even giving the Doctor the finger from across the river because he had dragged me on this trip. So, I apologize for not trying to have a better time. I am sorry for being a raging b word all day yesterday, but I am not sure that I can apologize for not liking West Virginia.

A Prize In the Mess

When I got back from Chicago my desk was covered with papers and packages, my desk is always covered when I get back from a trip, or even a day away from work. I neatly piled my packages on my desk, checked my emails and voicemails, handled what I needed to handle and then began going through the pile.

Most of it was boring and was discarded immediately. At the bottom of the pile however, was a manila envelope from Random House. I couldn't figure out what I had ordered for the store from RH and why it hadn't made it to the sales floor. I opened it and recognized the book in the envelope. It was a free copy of The Angels Game by Zafon.

A few months back I had asked for an advanced readers copy and got it, and because the book had made the Bestseller list in its first week the publisher sent out copies to those people that supported the book. I neatly put the book back in the envelope and slid it into my bag.

Later at lunch I pulled the book out and noticed a letter in the book from the publisher. Out of interest I pull the letter out, read the thank you for support, and then notice the line

... please accept this signed first edition copy of The Angels Game...

Wow, that is really cool. Zafon is a fantastic author and I recommend reading him, and I do love Random House for sending me this gift, which went directly onto my bookshelf next to my other signed copies to be cherished.

If you haven't read Shadow of the Wind or The Angels Game you are missing out. Go pick them up at your local bookstore and enjoy!

Please Help

So last night I tried to update and freshen up my blog, I uploaded a new template (which you don’t see here cause it didn’t work) and somehow managed to lose chunks of my formatting and add-ons even though I backed up my entire blog.

Does anybody know how to work with blogger? How to reformat things? Maybe able to make things look fresh new and pretty? There are so many different things I see on other blogs that I like as well as nice new templates and I would like to freshen up my blog. Also, how do I get back the things that are lost? Is there anyway I can do that?

Please help!