Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dear Everybody: STFU About Palin and the Killed Turkeys

I'm the last person to defend Sarah Palin, but please, everybody, enough about her giving an interview while turkeys were being killed. Sure, it's an odd backdrop to a TV interview, but turkeys must die in order to get to your plate. And I can't believe some networks blurred out the guy with the bird; if that's so offensive, shouldn't they start covering all the meat in grocery stores?

People are too separated from the processing of their food. When I have kids, I want them to understand where their meat comes from --- that meat isn't just packaged, flat discs, but were once living, breathing animals. If they're upset by it, I'm going to tell them they have the option of becoming vegetarian. If not, put that big-ass bird in the oven and let's eat.

Deeep Thoughts: Getting My Butt Grabbed by a Gay Dude

During my Halloween party a homosexual man grabbed my butt while I was making drinks. I didn't think much of it, other than musing at the fact that many straight guys would've responded by socking him in the face. Isn't that a fair assessment of many straight American guys? --- especially those that don't live in cities?

When I was in Australia earlier this year, my Aussie distributor told me that he once beat up a gay guy for hitting on him in a bar. This response is foreign to me. Shouldn't he have been flattered, and in a Sarah Palin voice just said, "Thaynks, but noo thaynks"?

Some people think homophobes are gay themselves, but I'm fairly certain my Aussie business partner was not a homo. Homosexuality is just so far from his everyday rural experience that in his mind these people are defined solely by butt sex, and that makes him nauseated and angry for its pure strangeness. But if you live in a city with a larger gay population, you're less likely to think about anal sex when you meet or talk to gay men whose personalities are as varied as any other human you meet. Do homophobes and many religious people imagine first and foremost what it looks like when other people fuck? Do they also picture their straight friends doing it? Odd. I don't want to picture most of my friends doing ANY sexual act.

Years ago, I went to a gay strip club with a group of friends, including my wife. It was insane. This gay strip club was FAR different from a straight one in two main ways: 1) the patrons often fondle the strippers' private parts and; 2) there's hardcore porno playing on 100 TVs. It would be like if a guy went to see female strippers at a club where they allowed you to feel the titties and pussies and porno was blasting from every direction!

People who feel the urge to punch gays in the face for grabbing their butts or hitting on them should go to a gay strip club --- better to confront what you hate or fear head-on. Who would be afraid to do this? I suppose the same people who never step out of their comfort zone --- like those who won't swim in dark water, travel outside North America, or walk through a bad neighborhood.

Recently my old friend came out of the closet at age 42. Don't gay people usually come out of the closet sooner than that? I can't fathom the level of shame of not being able to tell the world who you really are until age 42. What a pity.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pics & Vids From a Cold-Ass Sail

Just got the visuals from the crisp sail I took on Wednesday: here you go.

Sailing videos and pictures never convey what it feels like to be out there; the waves never look as big as they did, the whitecaps are never as aggressive as they appeared, and the winds never seem as mean. I guess that's why they say you should go out and experience life rather than passively consuming it on a computer screen --- eh, douchebag??

My First Mate of the day, Steven D., at right. -->

He sold me the boat; I bought it from him. What a great guy to have on board --- never complains, smart conversationalist, knows the boat, and dresses warm enough that I would never have to nag him about wearing warm clothes like my father did to me (love you, Dad).

More pics below:

Yes, as you may know, I'm addicted to sailing, the computer, rock music, and Dinty Moore stew. This picture is the best of all those worlds: here I am, kneeling on the cabin sole, in full foulies, the Dinty steaming to my left, while I'm picking out a CD and waiting for the computer to load my Gmail and RSS feeds. By the way, thank Christ for Verizon Wireless internet cards; they get fast connections in the most remote areas --- middle of the Bay, no prob. Note: what the fuck am I saying to the camera here?:

I saw a TV program recently about detecting "micro-expressions" --- expressions on someone's face that reveal their true feelings at any given moment. Take a look at Steven's face. This is a snapshot of something clear: True Love of Sailing. It's darn cold right there in that shot. Look at him! Maybe 10% of anyone I've met enjoys cold-weather outdoor activities, and Steven's one of them. Look closely, he's fucking enjoying himself --- no doubt. It's all in the eyes, and the little smile:

Guys, I bought an American flag for the first time in my life. Yea, I know you right-wingers may think I wasn't patriotic until my man Barack won, but fuck all that. People who really know me know I have always loved the US of A. But it took our latest triumph of democracy before I displayed our nation's colors so proudly and prominently --- a 5-foot by 3-foot flag. I said I would nine months ago, didn't I?:

You hardcore sailors may criticize me for my sloppy reef and lazy luffing mainsail here, but you were not there, man, you were not there. This is a random video Steven took right after the winds increased from 18 to 22+ knots in a gust. I had to put on the Sex Pistols song, Liar, to compliment my mood:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cooking Dinty Moore While Sailing in 23-Degree Wind Chill

On my birthday yesterday, I took off work and sailed in the coldest weather of my boating career. It was awesome.

Why don't I sail more often in cold weather? It's quite nice, especially when I hove to in the middle of all the whitecaps on the Chesapeake Bay and cooked up two cans of Dinty Moore Chicken Stew --- a mediocre stew when eaten on land, but on a cold sea with salt spray in the air, the steaming gravy, soft carrot slices, and grade D meat tasted amazing. And chased with a few nips of Wild Turkey, life was quite nice, no question.

When preparing to sail in the cold, just remember that there's no such thing as bad weather --- only bad clothes. Steven and I suited up in multiple layers early Wednesday while the weatherman was predicting a small craft advisory --- a type of warning issued when winds are expected to reach a speed just less than gale force (22 to 33 knots). But to avid sailors like me and Steven, "small craft advisory" means "We advise you to sail. Powerboats should stay home." The temps on the Bay were in the 30s, with wind chills at 23F. But with winds blowing in the 20-knot range --- gusting to higher --- and my spirits soaring having just turned age 35, we headed out.

The boat handled great with full reefs and my small headsail. No problem. We rarely heeled more than 15-20 degrees. And there was nearly no one out there --- just an anchored towering car-carrier from Japan and a big catamaran who was calling for a tow on the VHF because he'd snagged a crab pot line --- just bobbing there in the icy waves and wind. Bummer.

That's it: my next sailing feat is to sail while it's snowing. Man, that would be NUTS. Anyone wanna join me? I'm not waiting for a wood stove to go. I now declare my sailing season is 12 months long.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Dogs Now Featured on NPR's Website

My dogs Grace and Oliver are now the official featured models for a line of dog sweaters on National Public Radio's online shop. See.

Here's the post I wrote after the photoshoot.

And an even cuter photo of them together on my couch:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finally: Beach Trip Photos from Late September

On the last weekend in September of this year, me and a bunch of friends went to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Here are the pictures from the trip.

Jim's amazing photography skills are responsible for what you see. The trip started out with us hanging around the house and me bringing home fish that I'd caught off the beach. We went to this cool ukulele shop in town where they sold all colors and prices of uke. We bought two and plinked away at them the whole weekend.

On Saturday night, we did karaoke at a bar where we were celebrating Jim's brother's birthday. You'll see Jim's father doing karaoke --- a real classic scene, with him casually holding a cocktail and singing Sinatra to the ladies and gents. So fun.

Toward the end, you'll see us preparing dinner, eating, and then me heading out to catch shark off the beach. The last photos are the shark I caught.

Good memories.

Beach Photos 2008.

I Love Selling Shit in Multiple-Ton Quantities.

Today, me and my company sold 15 truckloads of product and I am one happy man. Granted, it's not so much money, but Jesus, it IS fifteen truckloads. Do you know what that looks like? Can you picture it? 

I'm not going into detail about what exactly I sell, but it comes in a dry powdered form and is sold in big quantities, packed in one-ton superbags like those in the photo. One truckload is 24 tons so that picture is about 1.5 truckloads. Imagine all those superbags multiplied by TEN. Yea, bitch, times TEN. TEN. That's the sale. Hey, I ain't braggin'; I'm just happy. This is the first big sale after a tough and rough period of glitches and moneyless bullshit, so I gotta get this off the chest.

Nearly three years ago I was working for a non-profit organization answering phones, shifting papers into different piles, and staring at a computer screen eight hours a day for a living. Now I'm involved in international trade (but still enjoy staring at computer screens). It hasn't been all butter, but times like these make me feel like celebrating.

Do most people know what trade is? Near Detroit, where my wife's family is from, "trade" means that you might have to speak Chinese in a few years. Big misunderstanding of how shit works. I'm not even sure the people at the US Commerce Department truly understand what it means in any practical sense. I had a meeting with them two weeks ago and was surprised at some of their questions. Wait, you mean the people in government have no hands-on idea of what it means to sell products across an international border? Surprise, surprise.

I love knowing that actual stuff --- tons of stuff --- is being moved on account of what I do. That's the basis of any economic activity --- not national governments, not non-profit organizations, not international NGOs, and not the United Nations. No, this is way more basic: we make a sales pitch to someone, that someone becomes a customer, and we, in turn, send them tons and tons of heavy, physical stuff packed into shipping containers. Big, dusty, powdery stuff. In a sense, there's not much more to the story than that --- other than the hundreds of hours of traveling, weird cultural stuff, bad food, long bumpy car rides, tedious trade shows, social overload, and getting drunk on foreign alcohol. Sure, there's the registration and the occasional embassy authentications, but it's a lot simpler than someone may think who's fresh out of their MBA program. 

All this is the root of taxes, and whatever else governments do. They exist because of other people's sales of stuff. Everything that exists is because of that simple formula of selling a product or service for more than you bought it for. It's so simple, yet often people don't think about it --- especially where I live in Washington DC where government and non-profit organizations are king.

When people decide they want to make the world a better place, why do so many choose government or non-profit organizations? Sad, isn't it. I have yet to meet any one of my international distributors who have benefited from anything other than their own hard work and persistence in wooing customers. I know, that sounds cliché, but I just report what I see; I've never given you less.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm proud to say I was the first to inform Jeff Simmermon that Obama collects comic books.

I recently came across the 50 Facts You Might Not Know About Barack Obama and the first one states that "he collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics." I figured if any blogger would already know that fact, it would be my comic-book-loving friend Jeff, but when I IMed the info to him, I was pleased to have been the first to inform him --- a real honor. It made my day to get his reaction:
me: "Barack Obama collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics"
Jeff: where'd you see that?
11:01 AM
Jeff: jesus
how cool is it
that the coolest person on earth
is the president of the US?
Yes, I know this is becoming a cult of personality, but this man is truly extraordinary. It may take another year for many Americans to realize what an incredible person we've elected as our leader. Don't get me wrong, I don't think he's flawless, but I never thought we'd have a cool guy as president.

My personal favorite is that "his favourite book is Moby Dick by Herman Melville." Fuckin' A. Mine too. That's the only book that immediately after finishing the final page of the book, I turned back to page one and began reading it for a second time. Unbelievable.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Friend Derek's New Speakeasy-Style Bar

A good bar with quality cocktails makes me feel damn good, and not just because of my alcohol buzz from expensive ingredients. But sadly, most cocktails that cost over $10 these days are straight swill --- way out of balance, with little love or thought having gone into their creation.

That's why my friend Derek Brown's latest cooperation with The Gibson bar makes Washington DC a more livable place --- at least for drunks like me.

The Gibson is a faux-speakeasy located next to Marvin at 14th and U Street. The entrance is a graffiti-covered door that you'd never guess was hiding an etched-leather black bar top and cocktails that sometimes require flaming orange peel oil (above). Check out their freaking cocktail menu here. Beautiful.

A cocktail should be a culinary venture, like it used to be 100 years ago. Thank Christ this city is thinking more about their cocktails than the run-of-the-mill Jack 'n' Cokes, Vodka 'n' Red Bulls, or other modern middle fingers to the craft of the cocktail.

I was lucky to be invited to their test run last week but their opening night was yesterday. I love when people like Derek do things to make people's lives just a little more enjoyable. Thank you, my friend (said in a McCain voice).

Me, happy:

Notice the etched black leather bar top. Classy:

Old-style incandescent bulbs above the bar. Simple and elegant:

As usual, photos by Jim.

I got kicked out of my gym for working out in jeans.

I never feel like changing at the gym so I just walk from my house for 15 minutes in street clothes and straight to the equipment. While I was doing my back exercises, the manager came up and told me that it's against their policy for people to work out while wearing jeans. He said it was written on the back of the contract I'd signed, and that it was a safety issue. I'm not the kind of person to get irate over trivial things (really) so I just left --- didn't really feel like working out anyway.

How could this be a safety issue? Does he think my tight jeans are going to rip open my nut-sack while I'm on the bench press?

I guess this is the kind of "soft fascism" that my former commenter Random Libertarian was warning us about.

By the way, I go to the Washington Sports Club in Columbia Heights. It's actually located on top of a Target. See:

Photo credit M.V. Jantzen.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This Fall Weather Makes Me Want a Wood-Burning Stove for the Sailboat

Fireplaces get me through winter. The problem is that my new house sadly does not have one and I'm now dreading the coldest part of winter.

And thanks to Mr. Russ and his blog, I'm wanting a wood stove for my sailboat even more. It certainly would increase my sailing season because I usually don't sail during December, January or February. I've never met Russ, but he seems to have a damn good life; he has a pretty wife, lives on the coast, and spends his days working on and sailing his old-style wooden boat. He sails in my style too --- apathetic about speed, he usually heads out past the point, heaves to, and cooks up some thick toast in an iron skillet on his wood-burning stove, then spikes his hot tea with a nip of British rum. That's living.

I found the stove company's website and can get one for about $700 but have no idea how to install it. I hardly use my boat's wet locker, so I could probably put it there. (Don't mind my wife's bikini hanging there):

Who needs a stupid wet locker when I could put in an actual wood-burning stove. The problem is that I'd only use it three or four months out of the year.

Is it worth it? I'd be interested in anyone's opinion, but especially those who've sailed with me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Photos from Our Halloween Party

My lovely wife dressed up as Gene Simmons from Kiss:

Me, mixing the punch:

My wife worked long and hard on this tombstone. The dogs love to eat the flour and water used for paper mache, so it was destroyed twice, causing her to rebuild it:

M., with a nice tattoo:

Pulp Fiction:

The scariest photo of the night:

Can't remember what these costumes are:

My dogs!:

A Cowgirl? I'm not sure:

Best costume of the night. B. was Mario punching a money box:

Those boobs are on a man:

Another cowgirl singing karaoke:

This was the 2AM karaoke session down in my basement bar:

All photos by Jim.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Reflection: Some Positive Thoughts

I can't leave the previous post at the top because I admit, it's very negative. I still mean what I wrote, and those F.U.s were well-deserved, but it was written last night after many celebratory beers in a fit of passion. Now some positive thoughts.

This election was won, in part, because of thousands of people whose names you will never know who worked tirelessly knocking on doors and making phone calls to persuade people. I did canvassing a few times during this campaign in Virginia and was impressed by Obama's ground game. That kind of community organizing was in every county of every battleground state in the nation. And you've never seen such hard work. We went down to Springfield at the campaign office in a strip mall a few weeks ago and the place was buzzing with activity --- people on the phones, passing around clipboards and training volunteers. After I was trained, we asked how late the office would be open and they told me "at least until 5AM." FIVE AM! Those people just battled it out until nearly sun-up, daily. This is partly why Obama won so handily.

Yesterday, I went door-to-door in a get-out-the-vote campaign. We targeted people who had told us they were going to vote to remind them and to drive them to the polls if they needed. By 3:00PM yesterday, I was knocking on doors that volunteers had already visited TWICE. We were also sent to an apartment building where the doorman had previously denied volunteers entry. The volunteer manager told us we would be needed for a "ninja mission": we had to get into the building. My technique was to smooth-talk the doorman, but it was easy: as soon as I told him we were going to knock on doors to get out the vote for Barack Obama, the doorman nervously looked around for his boss, then waved us in. We did it!

Last night I was at a bar packed full of people watching the results come in. When it was announced that Obama was elected president, the bar went nuts. Some people were crying and shouting the song "American the Beautiful" and our national anthem. Mind you, these are the "urban liberals" that you might not expect to be showing their patriotism so aggressively.

The last time I can remember feeling so patriotic was right after September 11th, 2001, but it was NOTHING like this. I feel bits and pieces of patriotism all the time; I just don't feel the need to constantly remind people of it --- wearing it on my sleeve like a religious belief. Every time I come home from abroad I am reminded how much I love this country. It's even something as small as the taste of Jimmy Dean sausage or quality orange juice after only eating Indonesian food for weeks. Also, whenever I'm abroad I feel a comfort knowing that if I run into trouble, I can always call the US Embassy and they will have my back. If there are any naysayers left about American democracy, take a business trip to another country for a few weeks, then get back to me. God bless the USA. I mean that --- as much as any heathen can.

UPDATE: Here is a video that my friend Pierre put together shot near the bar where I was celebrating here last night here in Washington, DC.

This is a defeat of dumbassery and fear.

Oh, and to Sarah Palin, seriously, FUCK YOU. Go back to that crap-hole of a town you're from. YOU LOST. And take that crotch-mouthed husband of yours too. Go on, GIT! GIT! And don't come back to the lower 48. Stick to those "pro-American areas" of the country. Sit and spin, bitch.

Also, to all those whiny-ass liberals I had to battle throughout this campaign who said that white people would be overwhelmed with racism on election day, FUCK YOU. I need you as much as the race-baiting douchebags we've dealt with for over a year. LORD.

Oh, and to John McCain, I'd like to give a very special and very sweet FUCK YOU. Ok, I give it to the old man for battling it out all this time, but you resorted to crap I will never forgive you for. I hope your alien-looking wife never fucks you again.

I called this shit, yea, and I'm not afraid to rub it in. Here was my prediction, and it was nearly RIGHT. Suck it.

And to all nerdy-ass conspiracy theorists: this is your ultimate loss, without a doubt --- including the extremists on the left and the right. Will anyone take you seriously again? Well, I give the right wing extremists probably more possibility because that's where the next propaganda of the Republican party will come from. Good luck, suckas, you're gonna need it!

Monday, November 03, 2008

The same fools who gave us the Worst President Ever are out there voting for McCain and Palin.

Don't let them win. Remember, no one remembers the names of candidates who lose elections. In 10 years, will you even remember the names John McCain and Sarah Palin? Probably not. But only if you VOTE. After I vote tomorrow, I'm going down to the Obama campaign office in Arlington, Virginia to make phone calls to remind people to go to the polls. I urge you to take off work and do the same. You can contact your local office here.

My rational side says I should never predict anything, especially the future, but screw it, here's the way I think America will split Tuesday:

Here are a few songs to get you motivated. A lively Reggae song:

Barack Obama even causes Irishmen to break into song:

And in case you need to get mad, here's a video by Rage Against the Machine. Yea, I know their lyrics are a bit douchey, but at least listen until the chorus comes on:

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