Friday, August 29, 2008

it's not experience, it's qualifications

no one has presidential experience, except an ex-president. We're not looking for someone who did the job before; we're looking for someone who can do it now. We're looking for someone who has shown by their life of activities, and words, and thoughts, and relationships, and accomplishments, and challenges and successes; and also failures and what they learned from them, that a person is qualified to be President.

It made no sense to me when Hilary Clinton made an issue of experience, and the issue failed to persuade voters and she eventually dropped it. Now John McCain is trying the same issue (in fact so far his whole campaign has been lifted from Clinton's playbook: experience, elitism, and now an appeal to feminist identity politics - and remember, she lost). Clinton and McCain don't have presidential experience, neither do Obama and Biden, but all four of them are qualified to be President.

The question is not whether Sarah Palin's two years as the Alaska state governor gives her presidential experience, of course not, but that's not the issue. The issue is whether she is qualified to be President. And here the answer is obviously, and dangerously "No." To demure and say she was picked only as the Vice President, takes a very reckless approach to our nation's future. And that degree of recklessness from John McCain then raises doubts about his own qualification for the job of President.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I had my second surgery on my right wrist yesterday. It all seems to have gone well, although the arm is in a cast so I can't see it. I have a follow-up appointment with the doc two weeks from now.

In the meantime I'm back on percocet for the pain, sleeping a lot, and typing with one-hand. Peleg's brother gave me a ride home from the hospital and then he and his girlfriend came back in the evening and spent the night. So I'm well taken care of. I'll just take it easy for a few days and start working my way back to wellness.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Disney Hall Debut

Last night the Gay Mens Chorus of Los Angeles sang at the Frank Gehry designed Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles. What a fantastic experience. I have been to the Hall a few times as an audience member and love it. It is visually beautiful and aurally stunning. It's not as crazy on the inside as it appears on the outside. Basically all the twisting metal is just stuck onto the sides of what turns out to be a normal theater-looking wooden cube inside. Everything is symetrical. But the wood work is still gorgeous. The stage is thrust into the middle of the room with some seats behind and on either side. And the acoustics just blow you away. I was able to hear myself and hear the other parts of the chorus as I've never been able to before. And because we're standing in the same room as the audience everybody hears what we hear without the need for amplification.

The program was a Gala to kick off the 30th anniversary of the chorus. We sang songs we've sung over the last few years. Plus we had several celebrity guests who spoke or sang with us. Christine Chavez (Cesar's granddaughter) and Donzeliegh Abernathy (Ralph's daughter) put the gay rights movement in line with the Civil RIghts struggles of other people. And we did an extended section of songs and words about the marriage movement. George Takei was there with his soon to be married same-sex partner, and the Executive Director of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center gave a great speech about the importance of the No on Proposition 8 vote in November.

We sold out the house and raised a quarter of a million dollars for the chorus. And everybody seemed to have a great time.

surgery tomorrow

My follow-up wrist surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning. When I had the initial surgery back in May it was only 4 days after the accident. My arm was already in a cast from the procedure they had done in the Emergency Room. It all went by very fast and I was in a bit of a daze from shock and just doing what I had to do. So there wasn't time to be nervous.

This time is different. I've had several days now to think about the surgery. And my hand actually appears to be mostly well. I'm not in a cast or brace of any kind. I have most of my strength and mobility back. I'm typing obviously. And I'm certainly not in shock.

So I'm just looking at my apparently healthy wrist and thinking about the flesh being cut open and all the tendons and muscles exposed, and the blood, and that one piece of bone floating out there that is the point of the surgery. The scar on the inside of my wrist looks even more like a zipper to me now as the surgeon told me he would make the incision in the same place. But all in all my reaction isn't really fear, or disgust, it's just amazement at the fact that a doctor can do this, and relief and optimism that this will really help me get not only well but whole, and I'll finally be able to get back on my bike.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Bad news at the orthopaedic surgeon's office this morning. He's going to need to re-open my hand and repair a bit of broken bone that hadn't healed properly. The surgery is scheduled for Wednesday.

A month ago at my last check up, he noticed on the x-ray that one corner of the bone at the top of the radius had separated slightly from the rest of the bone. At the time he said he was concerned but wanted to wait and see. When we re-took xrays this morning the problem had not fixed itself and so surgery is now required. When I broke my radius on May 17 there was a long fracturing running the length of the bone and then several fractures at the top of the bone where it meets the wrist. The original surgery placed a T-shaped piece of metal into the arm; the long part of the T (with 4 pins) holding together the long fracture and the top part of the T (with 7 pins) holding all the shattered parts of the bone in place. But one corner of this top part of the bone had slipped out of place, rotating slightly and moving down. Instead of fusing with the bone and healing it's just sitting out there. And meanwhile the wrist bones above it have started to move down into the empty space. Although I'd been able to make quite a bit of progress with strength and mobility the surgeon warned that the wrist was unstable and would cause a lot of problems and pain throughout the rest of my life unless dealt with now.

So on Wednesday he'll open me up again. He'll take out the old plate and put in a new one with a shorter vertical piece (the long part of the bone has healed nicely) but a wider horizontal piece to secure that wayward bone fragment. He's also going to insert some synthetic bone graft material to make up for the bone that's been lost in the four months since the accident. He said he's likely going to have to open the wrist on both sides this time in order to capture the bone that has moved so I'll have a scar on top of the wrist as well as underneath. After surgery I'll start over with a cast for two weeks and then a brace and then physical therapy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

half way to normal

I had my eighth physical therapy appointment this morning. I'm definitely seeing signs of improvement but there's still a long way to go. So I'm both relieved and anxious depending on which measure I'm focusing on. The movement of holding my elbow at my side and rotating my hand palms up and palms down is the most improved. I can get nearly to flat now in both directions. But the movement of bending the hand forward and backward at the wrist is still very limited: about 45 degrees forward and 30 backward, where normal for me is 90 degrees both directions.

The physical therapy consists of several different treatments. One thing I do is a series of exercises where I use various grips to turn a pole at the end of which is attached a weight hanging from a rope. As I turn the pole the rope wraps around lifting the weight off the floor. It takes about 40 turns for the rope to be completely wrapped around the pole. Then I let the weight back to the floor and do it again, 10 times. The first day of physical therapy I used only a quarter pound weight. This morning I did 5 pounds. So pretty good.

The therapist says that I'll soon be finished with the official therapy visits, then within two or three months she predicts I'll be doing everything with the hand that I previously did, but she predicts it will be a full year before the hand feels completely normal again. I see the orthopaedic surgeon again tomorrow which will be another point of information on my progress.

Monday, August 18, 2008

definition of marriage

During the interviews with Obama and McCain conducted last weekend, Rick Warren asked the candidates for their definition of marriage. Both candidates are against same-sex marriage. It's a gotcha question. The words "definition of marriage" lead naturally to the language that has been written into DOMA and many state constitutions over the last few years. It's easy to fall into the trap, as Obama did, by starting your answer with, "Marriage is the union of one man and one woman." But there's a much better way to answer that question, both more accurate and more open.

Marriage is at the same time, a legal contract administered by a state, and a religious covenant sacralized by a faith community. As a legal institution the state is required by our laws and our American principles of fairness and equality to extend the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to any two adult persons who wish to make the pledges of mutual support that constitute legal marriage. As a religious covenant each faith community is free to define for itself what marriage means spiritually and which marriages they will recognize. At this time many religious communities will only bless the marriages of opposite-sex couples, while many other religious communities joyfully bless the marriages of same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples.

birth, marriage, death

Not only do I share my birthday with Madonna, August 16 is also the day in 1977 when Elvis died. And now, apparently, August 16 is also the wedding anniversary of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

bike hospital

I finally took my bike into the shop this morning. Since the evening of the accident, May 17, the bike has been in my garage. While I've gone through surgery, two casts, a splint, and now physical therapy for my broken wrist and forearm, the bike has been hanging out with an obviously busted front wheel and possibly other damage undiagnosed. I'm hoping that the frame is OK. I'll find out later today after the technician has a chance to look it over and get back to me.

I'm still hoping that I and the bike will both be ready to ride come September.

Monday, August 11, 2008

how do you get to Disney Hall?

The Gay Mens Chorus of Los Angeles is kicking off our 30th anniversary season with a concert August 25 at Disney Hall. That's the Frank Gerry designed concert hall with the perfect acoustics in downtown Los Angeles. It's certainly a thrill to get to sing there.

The program will be a kind of greatest hits selection of songs we've performed over the last couple of years, plus a few new ones, and also several "special guests" who have performed with us over the years or been regular supporters of the chorus. If you're interested in tickets click here.

12 Pound Weakling

My wrist is slowly healing. I had my physical therapy appointment this morning and the therapist complimented me on my improvement. That was nice to hear because I'm frankly still fairly anxious about getting all of my movement back. She said she could tell that I've been working hard, which I have. The physical therapy exercises that we started on a few weeks ago with 1/4 pound weights we've now pushed up to a pound and a quarter.

I also went to the gym today and decided to give a try to some of the old free weight exercises I haven't been able to do in three months because they require strength in the hand. I tried four exercises: bicep curls, arnold presses, an exercise that's like a bench press but done with two hand held weights, and a tri-cep extension. I could do all four exercises with a 12 pound weight where formerly I did those exercises with 30 to 45 pound weights.

So it felt a little pathetic to be so disabled. But it was a relief to be working those muscles at all. And slowly by slowly I know they will come back if I work at it.

good will hunting

My local Good WIll is the Nordstrom's of second hand stores. Big. Open space. Smells nice. I decided several months ago that the next time I needed some new clothes I would be green and also save some money by buying from Good Will instead of new. Today I gave it a try and had mixed success. I needed three things: some dressy short sleeve shirts for those occassions that need more than a tee shirt but less than a dress shirt: a couple of pairs of casual pairs of long pants, and a pair of everyday sneakers.

The short sleeve shirts were a big success. I bought 4 really nice shirts, cool styles, one is even a Ben Sherman, which is my favorite clothing line. Each shirt was only $4.49. But buying pants was impossible because they're not arranged by size, and some don't even have the size marked inside. It would have taken me hours to go through all the pants and then try them all on to see if they fit. Not worth it for pants that didn't look that great to start with. The shoes, too seemed pretty worn out and I can go to Payless and buy a new pair of sneaks for $10.

So I bought the 4 shirts plus a small glass vase all for less than $20. I paid with a credit card. And I donated two old wheelie suitcases that Peleg had thrown in the trash bin a few weeks ago but I rescued. The guy said they were really nice and was happy to get the donation. And I got a tax receipt.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

it's my birthday, too, yeah

When you're cutting the cake for Madonna's birthday on August 16, save a piece for me. She'll be 50. I'll be 46.

August 16 is also the day that Elvis Presley died, in 1977. He was 42.

lost and found

The streets in my neighborhood are narrow with no sidewalks and with cars parked on either side only enough room in the middle of the street for a single car. So there's a lot of good natured maneuvering and waving involved. So I'm walking my dog this afternoon, walking in the street and I hear a car coming up behind me. I pull my dog over to the side of the road to let the car pass. But instead of passing the car slows way down and pulls over behind me. I realize the car isn't trying to drive but to park and I'm still in the way.

At the same time I see an interesting object in the road, lying where the guy will park on top of it. It's a small tear-shaped piece of pearl gray plastic, about three inches long, and maybe an inch or so thick. I thought at first it might be a head set for a phone. With the guy in the car right behind me I stop and bend down and pick it up. I can't figure out what it is. There's no screen, but there is a battery door on the back so it's obviously electronic. I couldn't figure out what it was so I just put it back on the ground and got out of the car's way. Then as I walk off I hear the car behind me pull into the parking space and then this:

From the door of a house across the street a girl emerges and shouts, "Get back in the car, we're going right away!" From the driver of the car, "OK, Get my jacket." The girl calls into the house, "Mom, get dad's jacket." And then from the driver again, "Honey look what I found!" The girls answers, "OO where was it?" The dad answers, "Right here lying in the street."

I like to think the guy only found it because he saw me stooping to pick it up first and wondered what I was doing. I still don't know what it was.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Same Sex marriage on November 5

Peleg and I plan to be married some time before the election. We already had our big church wedding two years ago to mark our tenth anniversary. So this event will be strictly a legal affair of having one of my minister friends sign our license. But then comes the question of what will happen to that marriage if on November 4, California voters approve Proposition 8, which would "eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry" (as titled by Jerry Brown, our Attorney General). Would a marriage that was legal in June, July, August, September, October, or the first week of November, still be legal after November 4, or would our marriages be nullified?

Jerry Brown has said that the State's legal position will be that the existing marriages would stand. Thus he would defend couples like Peleg and I if anybody sued to dissolve our marriage. I appreciate his support but I think he's wrong, legally. The text of the constitutional amendment we're voting on is clear: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The amendment doesn't talk about weddings, it talks about marriages. It's not just the "right to marry" that is being eliminated, it is the right to have that marriage "recognized" in California. If Peleg and I wanted to receive any of the State-granted benefits of marriage after November 4, the State would have to recognize us as a married couple, which the Constitution (if Prop 8 succeeds) would expressly forbid.

The final decision will be made by the Courts, if Proposition 8 passes, and I am completely convinced that Prop. 8 will not pass. And it is partly the prospect of forcibly invalidating so many thousands of loving, legal marriages, that makes the Proposition so unattractive.

opening ceremony - not so much

It feels a little curmudgeonly to say anything bad about the Olympic opening ceremonies in China last night. I did enjoy it. Although I have to say the music throughout was awful. But I finished the evening unmoved. It was all spectacular and I kept waiting for beauty. The nearest thing to beauty was the precision tai chi masters. Amazing. Take that Rockettes! But the most moving was the 9 year-old student who saved two friends in the earthquake walking beside towering Yao Ming.

Everything else I found eye-poppingly big, but emotionally thin except to overwhelm. The screen on the floor was a marvel, but the images projected on it were dull and confusing. Same thing of the scrim/screen around the top of the stadium (except for the "waterfall" which was beautifully done). A pretty girl in a dress? lets have 2,000 of them! But more doesn't equal better. The point about the vast number of human resources available and how well they can work in synchronicity was best made in the opening number with the "movable type" boxes. Genuinely creative and lovely to look at. Unfortunately that same point of many acting as one was then made again and again, and only the Tai Chi Masters were as interesting as the first example.

The two most moving parts of the evening for me involved just a single person. The young boy with Yao Ming, as I've said, and then the lighting of the torch and the athlete's thrilling "run" around the dome of the stadium. Spectacular but also human-scaled.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

If I had a Hammer

My post-surgery physical therapy is really consuming my life right now. I'm slowly getting the movement back in my right wrist and fore-arm, but it is so slow and I've got such a long way to go still that it's really getting frustrating. The minute I feel a little joy ad noticing a millimeter or so of improvement I drop into anxiety about how limited I still am and fear that I'll never get back the flexibility I lost.

There are two main movements I'm working on. One is to bend the hand at the wrist forward and back. The other is rotating the whole forearm in both directions. For the latter movement I'm doing an exercise with a hammer.

I hold the hammer in my right hand with my elbow held against my side and the hammer sticking straight up. Then I slowly rotate my arm to the right letting the weight of the hammer head pull my hand around. I let the arm turn as far as it can and feel it stretch. Then I turn the hand back up and let it turn over the other direction. I go back and forth holding the arms in each position for as long as I can stand it and then take a break.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

knoxville homily

I've posted the homily I preached this morning on my website.