“Bouncing Off the Walls”
(October-December, 2004)

Welcome to my WebLog.  (I won’t call it a “b--g”; I don’t like the word.)  Way too much information about my life, my thoughts, my fears, and my ever-evolving politics.  For those of you who care (or for those who just accidentally found this page due to a web search).

Note that the parent site for this WebLog is designed for “mature audiences.”  So if you can’t handle kinky sexuality and adult language, or if you are a current or prospective employer, don’t go poking around.  You might want to leave right now, in fact.


11:39 am / Wednesday, November 19, 2004

Offensive Driving II

Read my first report here.

This time it wasn’t with a UPS truck; it was with a school bus.  Close to the same area, though, and same time of day (9:45 am).

Two lanes turn left from Rainier Avenue onto Dearborn.  Half a mile later, a left turn from Dearborn goes onto the I-90 bypass of I-5.  There is a two-way turn lane on Dearborn which becomes the left turn to the onramp.

I turned from the leftmost of the two lanes on Rainier into the leftmost of the lanes on Dearborn.  A school bus turned from the rightmost of the two lanes into the rightmost lane on Dearborn.  About half a block on Dearborn, the driver (I’ve since learned the driver was female; I only mention that so I can use a pronoun for the rest of this) realized she needed to get into the left lane to eventually get onto I-90, and she started to change lanes.

At first, she just edged into the lane a little, as though dodging around a parked car.  Once I was up almost parallel with her (she could probably see the hood of my car by looking directly down from her seat, but I may have been in a bit of a blind spot), she was signaling.  (She may have been signaling before that.  I don’t remember such, but it may have happened.)  At that point, we were stopped at a stoplight, and she was only a foot or so into my lane.  The only way for me to let her in without her hitting my car would have been to go into reverse, which is not smart in the left lane on city streets.  She edged in a little more, I honked, and I dodged around her.  (At this point, I saw that there were no cars immediately behind me; they had all held back to let her change lanes.)

A kid in the bus seated directly behind her put down his window and started yelling at me (I couldn’t hear what he said, but I can imagine it; I think he may have been the only other person on the buys, but I couldn't really tell).  She then laid on her horn for 5 seconds or more; I flipped her off, naturally.  She then gunned the bus (started to speed) and pulled into the two-way turn lane (maybe 1/4 mile before it becomes a left turn lane for the onramp), intending to at least race up to the onramp, but possibly to either pull up next to me and yell at me (or who knows what!) or else pull alongside me and prevent me from getting in the turn lane myself.  So I had to speed a little myself to ensure I got into the lane.

Once on the onramp, the bus fell back as much as 1/4 mile, since it just didn’t have the oomph that a smaller vehicle does.  Once onto the bypass, though, she picked up speed again – almost certainly speeding, since I was at or near the speed limit.  Three lanes merge into one to enter I-5, and she got in the right-hand lane, the second to merge, and rather than merging at a reasonable time, pushed the bus ahead to merge only when the two lanes collapsed together.  My belief is that she was trying to catch me.

Once on I-5, again at the speed limit, I crossed several lanes of traffic to get to my left-side exit at Mercer.  She continued speeding, pulling parallel to me, but a couple lanes over.  Glances to my right (trying not to impede my driving) showed the kid flipping me off and gave me the impression that she was on the phone (presumably to report the incident).  As a result, I noted the bus company and number, pulled out my cell, and left a message at work to report the incident myself.

When I called and spoke to the supervisor (also female; use those pronouns!), I found that indeed, the incident had been reported, and the supervisor verbally agreed with me that it sounded like there was some aggression and borderline reckless driving occurring (and with kids on board, that’s worse).  (I note that she verbally agreed with me; you can never tell over the phone that they are not just nodding and brushing you off.)  She promised that the driver would receive some additional training or something to that effect.  I did my best to be moderately apologetic and to admit my own part in the incident (the possible lack of realization that she was signaling to change lanes until I was right next to her).

The supervisor also refrained from take my name and contact number, lest it somehow get into the wrong hands and result in some form of retaliation.  I suppose that’s a good thing, although it does restrict any paper trail.  Ah well, I’ve done what I can.  I hold no malice toward the driver, and I apologize for my portion of the incident.  I hope she merely gets a “talking to” and maybe a short training session, and not any lasting job impact.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

6:45 pm / Tuesday, November 9, 2004
Comment Added: April 18, 2006

The Weight of a Quilt

Two months ago, on September 12, I went to the Seattle Center to view the WTC / Pentagon / Pennsylvania Memorial Quilt, and I volunteered some time while I was there.  I came back with somewhat conflicted feelings, rather underwhelmed by the display.

Part of it is that I don’t know anyone who was killed (or injured; how many survived but were hurt?) in the September 11 attacks.  The event remains for me very much something which occurred in the distance, not unlike the War in Iraq.  The only two panels which had any real impact were one which was just for children who were killed, and one which include Father Mychal Judge and Mark Bingham (and by extension, was probably all gay and lesbian victims).  These last were the closest to being people I know; they were people whose names I knew.  There were also a few squares which had some truly innovative work on them, and some panels with extras, such as the lyrics to America the Beautiful stitched into the panel.

The largest part of my ambivalence, though, is that quilt memorials have been done before, and done both better and bigger.  Compared to the Names Project’s AIDS Quilt, this is but a shadow of the earlier one.

  • The WTC Quilt took up the space of a large ballroom (albeit hung vertically, and back to back, which reduced the space required by a factor of probably 6 or 8), while the AIDS quilt covered the entire Mall in Washington DC.
  • The WTC Quilt uses 25 quilt squares per panel, while the AIDS Quilt uses only 8.  That’s more than three times the impact per piece and per victim.
  • The WTC Quilt largely uses traditional quilting methods and patterns, and mostly limited the colors to a patriotic red, white/cream, and blue; only a few of the quilts included other fabrics or fabric-printed photos.  The AIDS Quilt is a cacophony of colors, materials, and imagery.  As a result, pieces of the AIDS Quilt stand out very strongly, while the WTC Quilt fades into a sea of sameness.  Even standing in front of the right panel, finding a square for a particular person is difficult, and once found, it’s a let down because there’s nothing personal about it: just a quilted square with a name scribbled on it.  (This strengthens the randomness of the attacks, perhaps, but doesn’t really give you a reason to look at more than a fragment of the whole display.)
  • Panels in the AIDS Quilt were usually made by lovers, friends, or family of the deceased.  You can feel the love and the pain that went into every panel, producing a memorial to each person.  With the WTC Quilt, most of the panels were done by people with no direct connection to the attacks.  The panels were largely done blindly, not attached to a name (even to a name the quilter knew nothing about).  The WTC Quilt comes off somewhat generic and cold as a result.
  • Not that I wish that more famous people had died in the September 11 attacks, but much of the reason to see the AIDS Quilt, if not to see someone you know, is to see someone you know of.  Celebrity is a touchstone, and it’s a great way to educate.  The reason to see the WTC Quilt is to see the quilt; the reason to see the AIDS Quilt is to see someone’s quilt.

In no way do I want to say that the WTC Quilt is bad or poorly thought out.  It is what it is, and it certainly has a power to it.  (And both memorials utilize an American artform, as well.)  But just as my ability to publicly grieve at yet another death faded over the 1990s as friends and acquaintances succumbed to AIDS (and as half my own family died of mostly age-related causes), so too has my ability to be awestruck by the immensity of such a memorial gone away.  I’ve seen displays of the AIDS Quilt – and outright cried the first time, and halfway wish I had been able to see a full display in DC (but halfway don’t) – and I donated money to the NAMES Project for years.  The WTC Quilt cannot compare, in any direction.

(I stopped donating to the NAMES Project in the late 1990s when I recognized that AIDS was not, should not be the centerpiece of the gay community.  A friend and dance partner of mine – Parm Nelson – died, not of AIDS but of melanoma… of cancer.  [And I got to be the one to call everyone in our dance troupe to tell them the news.]  A major tragedy for those who knew and loved him, but a quilt panel for Parm?  Nope.  No such memorial for gays who merely died of common ailments, almost as though if it wasn’t AIDS, it wasn’t worth dealing with.  [My choice to no longer donate to the NAMES Project was purely from my own growth, not a failing of that organization.]  Many organizations in our community have had to and are still having to deal with the fact that, as AIDS becomes less of a deadly immediacy, their structures being built solely on that disease become unstable, unfunded, and less vital to the community.)

Comment by Sid M. (Bellingham, WA)/ received April 17, 2006:
Hi… I recently read your web-log <not blog> and see that your were a friend of Parm Nelson.
I was a pledge  brother of Parm’s at Sigma Nu – University of Idaho and sadly had reconnected with him after many years just before he died.  We were both deeply in the closet then, but in retrospect I think we both “knew”.
I was curious what ever happened to his partner?  I talked him several times but was never able to convey my condolences.
Anyhow, quilt, or no quilt, Parm remains in our memories.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

6:05 pm / Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Selection 2004: Dr. Seuss

Click here for part 19 of Selection 2004.

If Dr. Seuss wrote a children’s book about the Presidential election:

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

3:52 pm / Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Selection 2004: Making Lemonade

Click here for part 18 of Selection 2004.

  • Even in Mississippi, at least 14% of people thought that preventing gay marriage via constitutional amendment was a really stupid idea.
  • Pete Coors lost.
  • Seattle’s monorail is back on track, and we’ll clean up Hanford, and we won’t have video slots in ever bar and convenience store (and Tim Eynman lost again), and we won’t have a sales tax increase to pay for an undefined education “trust fund”.

Click here for part 20 of Selection 2004.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

4:23 pm / Friday, October 15, 2004

Selection 2004: Flip-Flops

Click here for part 17 of Selection 2004.

Flip Flop pendant

A couple weeks ago, I ran into a display of these at the local Walgreens.  (Click image for the website.)

Apparently these pendants, in all sorts of designs for every holiday and theme you can imagine, are widely available, but I’ve never run into one before.  (I’m not a sorority girl, though.  Delta Nu!!!)  Can’t help but think that there’s a political intent behind a patriotic-bejeweled flip-flop during this Election Year.

But what intent?  Are you projecting a constant reminder of the “flip-flop” imagery used against Kerry, like with all the people holding such footwear at the Republican convention?  Or would you be embracing that imagery and saying “Flip-flops are okay, and they can even be patriotic!”

Click here for part 19 of Selection 2004.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

4:11 pm / Friday, October 15, 2004

Selection 2004: Likely Voters

Click here for part 16 of Selection 2004.

Repeatedly, we’ve heard about polls of “Registered Voters” and “Likely Voters”.  I had kind of assumed that the latter term meant that the pollsters asked “Do you plan to vote on November 2”, and got some answer other than “No” or “If I get around to it.”

That’s not the case, however.  “Likely” means “voted in the 2000 election.”  Suddenly the polls of these people is shown in a different light, and the value of the polls becomes somewhat questionable.  “Likely” voters leaves out two important sets of people.

  • Those who could have voted in 2000 (were registered), but did not.  An oft-quoted statistic is that perhaps 4 million “Evangelical Christians” stayed home in 2000.  This is the group that Bush is trying to pull in via his stances on stem cell research, abortion, and gay marriage, and which assorted bishops and ministers are trying to fire up.
  • And then there are those who could not vote in 2000 but can now: especially young adults ages 18-22, and newly naturalized citizens.  Young people tend to vote the Democrat/liberal side more often, as do immigrants.  There will likewise be millions of these potential voters this year.

There’s no way of knowing just what percentage of each group will actually turn out to vote, nor who they will actually vote for (although we can probably guess for the Evangelical Christians), nor which group will be larger in the end, but with the believed very small set of “undecided” voters out there, these groups loom large in their power.

I have heard is that there has been a much greater volume of new voter registrations this year than in years past – significant enough that there’s one case under investigation of a company in Nevada gathering registrations and then discarding the Democrat ones rather than turning them all in – and that a lot of these registrations are coming from high schools and colleges.

Among other things, these kids are smart enough to see the potential for a draft looming.  I know that when I was their age, avoiding such would have been one of my big issues (as it was for Bush, and to a degree for Kerry), and I would have tended toward the candidate less likely to institute such.  (And here, that would be the guy who is opposed to the war.)

Click here for part 18 of Selection 2004.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

11:02 am / Thursday, October 14, 2004
Edited at 11:37 am / Thursday, October 14, 2004

Selection 2004: The Great Debate (#4)

Click here for part 15 of Selection 2004.

Admission up front: I am biased against Bush, in favor of Kerry.  Admission out back: I’m not overly thrilled with Kerry.

I again listened to most of the debate, all but maybe three questions worth, but did not see any of it.  Nothing surprising, although phrases like “flip-flop”, “I have a plan”, “It’s just not credible”, and “You can run, but you can’t hide” were mercifully absent (or at least less prominent) in this debate.

  • Is there anything which can’t be solved by Pell Grants, Mr. Bush?
  • “No litmus test on judges” as the answer to whether you’ll try to overturn Roe v. Wade?  We’ll take that dodge as a “Yes,” since you didn’t say no.  Not that anything but “Yes” could be expected, given the Republican platform plank this year seeking a Constitutional amendment outlawing all abortions.  (And Bush has already said he does have a litmus test: strict Constitutional interpretation.  Flip-flop much, Mr. President?)
  • Speaking of Dodge City, what kind of an answer was that on the Minimum Wage?  For a 25 year-old single mother working at Taco Bell, education (and Pell Grants) are not the answer.  A 40% pay hike from $5-something an hour to $7-something an hour, that will help.  (Not that education isn’t important, but that pays off 2, 5, 10 years down the line, and it doesn’t do shit for those who are below the poverty line now.)
  • Kerry is being painted as not just a liberal, but a liberal from Massachusetts.  I’m inclined to interpret that as code for “He supports gay marriage,” despite Kerry’s protests to the contrary.  Same-sex civil marriage is the most prominent recent event pushing Massachusetts into the hearts and minds of Americans.
  • In one question, Kerry made a reference to there being two education systems in this country, one for the haves and one for the have nots.  (Or something similar to that.)  While that mostly plays to Edwards’s “Two Americas” speech, it also may be code for Kerry not supporting Charter Schools, since such are usually painted as either a benefit only for better-off families, or a method for publicly funning religious-oriented schools.

Click here for part 17 of Selection 2004.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

2:31 pm / Sunday, October 13, 2004


Did you hear that Winnie the Pooh came out of the closet?
He’s a silly willy nelly little bear.


Stephen Sondheim is doing the music for the new Stephen King musical.
It’s called Misery Loves Company.

[These jokes are original to me.]

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

12:48 pm / Saturday, October 8, 2004
Edited at 11:00 am / Thursday, October 14, 2004

Selection 2004: The Great Debate (#3)

Click here for part 14 of Selection 2004.

Admission up front: I am biased against Bush, in favor of Kerry.  Admission out back: I’m not overly thrilled with Kerry.

I didn’t get to see or hear all but about 10 minutes of the second debate.  The third one, I listened to about half of it – on the computer at work and in the car – and then saw the last 20+ minutes of it.

A few items that I haven’t seen noted enough:

  • Bush did better with this debate, or at least he did “less badly”.  If my estimation of him did fall as far after this debate as after the first one, does then mean he did well?
  • Yes, it begins to sound repetitive that John Kerry “has a plan.”  But you know, at least he does have one.  Does Bush?
  • The first thing out of Bush’s mouth about what he’s done for the environment is to limit emissions on off-road diesel engines.  Oh, that’s way up there among high-priority items.
  • One of the last questions (on mistakes, I think), asked by the gray-haired woman in glasses, Bush was talking directly to her (or at her?), and she had this terrific shell-shocked look on her face, like she was thinking “I wish he’s leave me alone, and God, I hope he doesn’t get re-elected.”
  • I don’t think either candidate did well on the controversy questions – stem-cell research, tax dollars for abortion, Supreme Court appointments – but Bush certainly fumbled his way verbally through the minefield much more so than Kerry did.
  • Bush is still on the repetition track: “It’s just not credible.”  (With little other than repetition to prove the lack of credibility, of course.)

Click here for part 16 of Selection 2004.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me

1:18 pm / Sunday, October 3, 2004

Selection 2004: The Great Debate (#1)

Click here for part 13 of Selection 2004.

By now, you’ve read all the pundits about the debate, with the liberals all saying Kerry won and the conservatives mostly saying it was a tie (because they couldn’t say Bush lost, of course).

I listened to the debate on the radio.  The main effect this has is that you hear what the candidates say and how they say it; you are not distracted by what they are wearing or the gestures they make, nor in how a given network displays the debate, focusing on one candidate or the other at critical times.  (On the flip side, you don’t get to see the gestures they make, whether they look at the camera or the moderator, or how they visually project themselves.  Andrew Sullivan’s blog had an e-mail from a viewer who saw mostly the reverse of me: he saw the debate with the sound off, and so could focus exclusively on the visuals.)

A few items that I haven’t seen noted enough:

  • Bush sounded uncertain in the debate.  Kerry would hit an answer or a rebuttal hard out of the gate, but Bush tended to spend (waste) the first 10 seconds or so with false starts and the like.  Not only did this cause him to have less time for his answers, but it made him sound unprepared, annoyed, and flustered.  Not a good image to project.
  • Bush had a couple of major flubs, most notably the bit where he conflated 9/11 with Iraq as the attacker.  It’s bad enough that he continues to project this misconception, but it gave Kerry an automatic attack point.  (Bush lobbed the ball up and didn’t defend against a spike.)  Bush’s handlers should have planned for this and directed Bush to never, ever make that sort of a comment, knowing the damning response it would get.  Either Bush’s handlers are overconfident, or Bush ignored their advice. That’s potentially fatal.
  • As I understand it, the focus of this debate – Foreign Policy – was chosen by the Bush campaign.  It is the arena where Bush is supposedly strongest, and if that were true, choosing to do that debate first and giving Kerry a major smackdown would have been very good for Bush.  But that distinctly did not happen.  If this was Bush on his strongest topic, how will he do when discussing domestic issues?  (But Kerry needs to be sure he doesn’t get overconfident by the results of this debate.  I suspect that’s what Bush did.)

Click here for part 15 of Selection 2004.

Bounce Your Thoughts Off Me


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