Monday, September 22, 2008

We packed our bags today for our Thursday departure. A couple of years ago Fritz, who’s a very savvy traveler, introduced us to Pack-it clothing compressors. The idea is to fold your clothes, place them in the plastic bag and seal it with the zip lock closure. You then roll the bag or, in my case, place it flat on the floor and kneel on it. All the air is expelled through the one-way air valves at the other end. The compacted clothing takes up considerably less space in a suitcase than, ahh, undeflated clothing.

We’ve been using the compactors for all our plane travel. Since the airlines have a really bad record with lost luggage, we like to travel without checking any baggage at all. Each of us has a rolling suitcase approved to fit in an overhead bin, and we take one other bag, usually a backpack, for under the seat. It contains things we’ll want on the plane—books (Sudoku for Fritz, a history of some arcane period or other for me), travel-sized games, our tickets and other documentation, etc.

And that’s it. I do our laundry in hotel rooms or in our river cruiser’s cabin bathroom. We pack for maximum flexibility of clothing, making sure we can interchange any shirt with any pair of trousers and layer things for cooler weather and still look good. It takes a bit of discipline and it does help that neither of us is a fashion queen, although I’m much more involved in coordination of colors and accessories than Fritz. Still, I make it all work in the one bag so that when we land we’re not stuck by a baggage carousel while everybody else’s luggage but ours appears on the belt. We’re on our way and off to our latest adventure.


Old joke: How many heterosexual church organists/choir directors in the Unite States does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: both of them.

Somehow, somebody at St. Andrew’s Church wasn’t with the program. Story from and WKOW, Madison Wisconsin:

After decades of honing his musical skills, Charles Philyaw landed his dream job in 2004 as the full-time director of music liturgy at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Verona.

The church, with 1,643 adult members, was more than just a place to work for Philyaw. He and his partner, James Mulder-Philyaw, joined the parish and participated fully in the religious community.

Then in June, it all collapsed. Philyaw said he was told by the parish priest, the Rev. Dave Timmerman, that he would no longer be retained because he was living an openly gay life. He was given two weeks' notice. "He said having an openly gay male employed at the Church is a scandal," said Philyaw, recounting the conversation. "I felt betrayed. But I'm not bitter."

The Madison Catholic Diocese declined an interview request citing their policy of not discussing personnel issues.

Philyaw says he's never had any problems at work before and claims the Church knew he was gay when they hired him. Still, employment lawyers there's nothing illegal about what happened.
"The Church is not supposed to have the state sticking its nose in its ecclesiastical positions," said employment lawyer Tamara Packard.

Packard says religious institutions are exempt from anti-discrimination laws so long as the affected employee holds a ministerial or ecclesiastical position. She says it's unclear whether music director qualifies, and it's yet to be tested in Wisconsin courts.

Philyaw says he has no plans for a lawsuit. He's just disappointed. "I don't understand why they pretended to be our friends," he said. Philyaw is now working in night clubs.

Madison is a major university town and reputedly of a liberal-intellectual bent. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.

John McCain and his kind feel that including gays and lesbians in anti-discrimination and anti-hate laws is unnecessary and wrong.


But then again, it depends on who’s doing the employing. From Michelangelo Signorile’s blog:

Over the past month I’ve been contacted by three different individuals (two of them members of the Log Cabin Republicans) claiming that McCain’s Senate chief of staff, Mark Buse, is gay. None of these individuals would be quoted by name, though each described Buse as being rather “open” to those around him and to his family – in a “glass closet” rather than deeply undercover or trying to appear heterosexual.

Then I was contacted in recent weeks by 46-year-old Brian Davis, an Arizona resident, who told me about his intimate relationship with Mark Buse (confirmed by his mother, as well as by a long-time friend), and who decided he needed to tell the truth about Buse, on the record, in light of John McCain’s dramatic shift to the ideological religious right in this election and his choice of Sarah Palin, starlet of the evangelical movement, as a running mate. (Repeated calls to Mark Buse's office and calls and email to McCain's communications office in the Senate regarding this story were unreturned. Mike Rogers, the blogger and activist who revealed the truth about Senator Larry Craig and others in politics, today reports this same reality about Mark Buse that I report here, with separate, independent sourcing.) [Signorile posted a video of Buse taken by an ex-boyfriend at their apartment in 2000.]

John McCain is opposed to every single gay rights measure of recent years –- from a hate crimes bill, to an anti-discrimination bill to an attempt to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military –- and is publicly on record supporting a ballot measure in California this November to strip gays and lesbians there of their legally-won right to marry in that state. If that isn’t enough to make it relevant to report on his 20-year-relationship with a close aide and chief of staff who is gay, the fact that Sarah Palin is now on the ticket -- garnering support for McCain from previously reticent antigay leaders like James Dobson of Focus on the Family –- surely does.

Mark Buse, after all, is a public figure in his own right. His role as chief of staff to a man running for president has elevated him and certainly his controversial former role as a prominent lobbyist has brought media scrutiny to him. And he is running the Senate office of a 72-year-old presidential candidate who has had recurrent cancer and who might well usher into the White House as president a woman who, by what evidence we have, has melded her politics with her evangelical religious beliefs.

Mark Buse is not just a Chief of Staff for a homophobic United States Senator, but he is helping that Senator get elected to the White House.

Does Mark Buse fit the Barney Frank rule? Without a doubt. While McCain voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he supports amending state constitutions defining marriage as between a man and a woman. McCain knows our country needs everyone who wants to serve in the military and he knows that DADT is wrong, yet he swings to the right on repealing it.

Worst of all, and a demonstration of his inability to act rationally and with the country's best interests at heart, he picked someone who, if she becomes president (very likely), will be the most homophobic in American history.
With that in mind, and after confirming the information with two other sources, I decided it was time to present Buse the Roy Cohn Award for working against the interests of the lesbian and gay community while living as a gay man.

[The Daily Kos is also giving major coverage to this story.]


The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush AND Dan Quayle

<- I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things. —aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003

-> I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican.

So, you'll scrub out my panties if I go on a trip with you guys? You do all of the laundry, right? I hope you have a total blast! Whose going to be taking good care of the brand new Estate on Chestnut Hill? And I dig that light bulb joke....and man is it true. See you when you return.
The "Estate" will be in the hands of a young gay teacher, a guy who went through Masters Degree program Fritz runs here for Lesley University. He loves cats and the house and will be in residence while we're gone.

I'd SO love to spruce up your undies, Lewis!
We packed our bags today for our Thursday departure.

That made me laugh. It really shows your age ; )

I love those compressor things, I'm going to have to look into that.
If I were the sort of person who was always thinking about sex, I'd wonder aloud just what else you're doing while you're kneeling on your travel bags, but I'm not that sort of person, so I won't.
Good Lord...George quotes. Can't he say or do anything right?
No, Rick, he can't. The whole illegal, ramshackle administration the little SOB has been totally mismanaging for almost eight years is not coming apart at the seams faster and faster. If it weren't for the fact that so many ordinary Americans are getting destroyed in the mess he's created, I'd be getting an immense amount of satisfaction out of this.

As it is, my hope is that the whole Bush gang gets swept out of the White House and Congress in the coming election and will be facing a variety of criminal and conspiracy charges not long thereafter.

Sorry for the rant, but MAN did that feel good!
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