Looking back on 2013

This morning, I asked the BF what his goals/resolutions/whatever for 2013 are and I realized that I never actually chose a theme for 2013. 2012 was “adventure,” though, and it seems like that theme continued… although not in the way I would have wanted/predicted.

Looking back on 2013, here are some things that happened.

MOVING
I haven’t been good about blogging, so I don’t remember how much I wrote about this, but last year before Christmas my apartment flooded thanks to a broken hot water line in the wall.  That meant that my mom and I moved to a new apartment at New Year’s.

And then in July, the BF and I moved in together… as part of the process of moving from Nashville, TN to Miami, FL.

Moving has never been fun for me. It’s always hard work. It’s always expensive. It’s always stressful, annoying, frustrating, etc.  But I was very happy to have a lot of help from the BF during both processes, but especially in the move to Miami.  Not only did he help me keep my sanity, he helped me make careful, financially responsible decisions.

TRAVEL
I did a LOT of traveling in 2013, although most of it was for work.  In fact, I achieved frequent flyer status for the first time in my life.  On a fun note, the realization that I had earned status came one morning when I was running late for a flight to California and the security lady waved me into the priority access lane. It was thanks to my priority access status that I made my flight that morning.

But the BF and I made two big trips this year. First, we went to the Dominican Republic for a friend’s wedding.  Then, we made a trip to Puerto Rico for our anniversary.  Both trips were amazing and wonderful adventures for different reasons.

ADVENTURES!
I did have lots of adventures this year, too. My birthday contained several: I got to pet a hippo at the zoo, we went deep sea fishing, we went on an airboat ride.  It was so much fun! But we did also get our open water diving certification.  That was cool and I’m hoping we get to do some diving in 2014.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Moving down to Miami took the BF and I farther away from a lot of our friends and family.  Granted, 2012/2013 had me a LOT closer to my family than I’ve been in several years…

My mom had her double lung transplant in October 2012.  Her recovery was incredible to watch and I was glad to be able to watch most of it. Congratulations to her, by the way, for making it through her first year with flying colors!

I did get to meet some of the BF’s friends this year. And I got to spend the Christmas holiday with L’Italiana again this year.

SUMMARY
2013 was a weird year. It was a pretty even mix of good and… not-so-good things. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were a lot of things that angered, frustrated, and disappointed me this year. A lot. Many lots.

But as we count down the hours until it’s over, I would call 2013 a good year over all. I have to attribute the positive balance largely to the BF sharing in all the craziness with me.

Miami Traffic Rule of Halves and Corollary of Quarters

NEWS, folks. I have news.  Science News.  I have recently developed a hypothesis regarding Miami traffic.

Before I explain my new science idea, you should know that Miami traffic is terrible. No, it didn’t make the list of worst commute cities. That’s probably because the madness that causes bad traffic here is pretty much a constant.

So, here’s my hypothesis:  The reason the traffic is so bad is because given a certain traffic situation, fully half of the divers in Miami are making the wrong decision. The Corollary of Quarters is that the wrongness of their decisions is further divided into halves where one quarter of the bad-decisions are made to one extreme of wrongness and the other quarter goes in the direction of the other extreme.

Here are some observed examples:

Speed limit

Half of the drivers observe the speed limit within +/- 10mph.  25% drive >15mph below the limit and 25% drive >15mph above.

Turn Signals

Half (actually that might be overstating things) of the people use their turn signals properly or at least to an extent demanded by necessity.  25% of the people don’t use signals at all. And at any given time I believe 25% of Miami drivers leave their turn signals on constantly.

Stop Signs

Half of the drivers observe stop sign rules. 25% of the drivers think the person to the right — or anyone else who cares to assert that they should go first — goes first.  The other 25% regards stop signs as too pedestrian for them. (See what I did there?)

Merging

Half of the drivers here merge into traffic normally.  25% of the people merge only very haltingly and in a way that is dangerous and distracting to other drivers.  And 25% of the other drivers who are in the merging lanes are there just to get ahead of everyone else and intend to cut someone off to do it.

Traffic Lights

Half of the drivers in Miami stop when the light turns red.  25% of the drivers in Miami will scoot through the intersection if the light turned red on the car just ahead of them.  And the other 25% are running a red light right now having seen three or more cars ahead of them also run the light.

The Left Lane

This one is actually a surprising exception because 50% of the drivers have no idea that the left lane is for faster traffic/passing.  25% of the people, though, do know that, but do not care.  (Interestingly, this group is often composed mostly of the 25% who drive >15mph under the speed limit.) And 25% of drivers foolishly think the left lane will be available to them for those times when they want to pass.

Further study is requires, so if you want to support science you can send me some money. I’m not saying I plan on doing a real science study, but I will accept money and I am pro-science.

The Terrorists Are Using Peanuts and Winning

I don’t know how I missed this, but back in 2008 Yankee Stadium had “Mustache Day.” The first 20,000 fans got replicas of Jason Giambi’s mustache to wear.

And earlier this year the Dodgers dubbed one of their game nights “LGBT night” which they intend to do annually. No word on whether attendees had to prove that they’re gay to attend or if they were permitted to pretend to be gay for all the special treatment that comes with being fabulous.

I also haven’t heard whether attendees to Jewish Heritage Night at Dodgers Stadium had to drop trou to get in. (Note: LGBT night and Jewish Heritage Night are not the same event.) But the Cardinals also have a Jewish night at their stadium. I’m sure there are others doing that.

And did you know that the Red Sox had “Changing Diabetes Night” at their stadium?  Everyone in attendance had to stare at signs that forced them to think about the proper diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. THROUGH THE WHOLE GAME.

These things aren’t always for a single night. Gillette Stadium doesn’t allow smoking AT ALL. That’s probably because some weaklings got cancer or something.

Oh, and you don’t have to look hard if you want to attend a sporting event at a stadium on a “cancer awareness night” like the one the Baltimore Ravens have.

No one with half a brain for business could possibly conceive of a reason why any stadium would do these things. They’re silly and impose totally unreasonable restrictions on the rest of us. (I CAN’T GROW A PROPER MUSTACHE OF MY OWN, YANKEES! THANKS FOR POINTING THAT OUT. AGAIN.)

One thing is clear: Terrorists are ruining everything.

There’s no possible other explanation for this rash of special nights and changes in policy at stadiums. (I almost pointed out handicap access at stadiums, but we all know that was imposed by Muslim Dictators in Washington. No business would voluntarily accommodate handicapped people on their own.)

All of these things are designed simply to inconvenience and reduce the amount of unfettered joy the rest of us can have.  If you don’t understand this, then you are probably in a permanent vegetative state brought on by voting for a Kenyan-born Muslim. Whatever the case, you clearly do not understand the current socioeconomicmilitarxenoracigendermetaphysic conditions of our society.

 

What Diana Ross Doesn’t Tell You

Even though US society has come a long way in how gay people are treated, the process of coming out is still frequently a complicated, emotional, and lengthy process.

I came out in college and just the first step, the step of coming to face the simple fact that I am gay, took me several years beginning in high school and finally coming to a point my sophomore year in college. Even just admitting to myself that I am sexually attracted to other men required nearly a year of therapy. And even then I started out saying I was bisexual because I still held out “hope” that I would marry a woman.

My struggle with coming out to myself meant dealing with how I saw myself in society, in my family, in my future, in my future career, etc. I had to consider what it meant for my sense of my own masculinity and my identity. I was a Christian at the time and I had to think about what it would mean for my faith. I had to wonder if I would ever feel safe in a crowd because headlines of gay people being killed by random strangers were and still are all too common.

Fear. Guilt. Confusion.

It was tough.

It was an emotional and sometimes painful process. And I hadn’t even reached a point where I thought I could tell anyone else.

When I did eventually start telling my friends, I swore each one to secrecy. I was afraid of what people would say if I weren’t there to talk it through with them and put their — and my — worries to rest.

It took a while, but I did finally get to a point where I didn’t mind if my friends told other people that I’m gay. These days I just assume everyone knows I’m gay, but back then I was actually afraid of going to a gay pride parade lest I be spotted in the b-roll of news footage of the event!

If you’ve never had to go through the process of coming out it’s probably difficult to really grasp the scope and complexity of this extremely emotional process. This is why I frequently tell people that when someone comes out to someone else it’s less about the person being told than the person doing the telling. It’s a process, a journey.

I was fortunate to have a number of respectful, supportive, and trustworthy friends around me. I think a lot of them already knew I was gay before I did, but they never pushed me about it. They let me come out to them in my own time and in my own way. And when I did tell them I knew I could trust them not to treat the “revelation” as a bit of gossip to be bandied about.

Unfortunately, my BF has not been as fortunate.

His process of coming out didn’t really start until a few years ago. And when we started dating he wasn’t out to any of his friends or family.

That’s been a real struggle for me because I’ve been out for so long and I frequently blog, tweet, and Facebook about the details of my life. I don’t keep it a secret and it’s often easy for me to forget those feelings of fear and doubt that I had while coming out. I’m just so happy to be with him and proud of him. I love him and I want to tell everyone in the world how wonderful it is being with him! But I do try to be patient, supportive, and understanding.

And I regret that this means I’ve really overstepped the bounds of his comfort sometimes in talking about him in public. It breaks my heart to know that I’ve been the cause of some amount of fear and angst because I’ve been too open about our relationship.

But he’s come a long way and I’m also very happy to have been with him through the process, which is still ongoing.

As far as he’s been able to tell me, most of my BF’s friends to whom he’s come out have been very supportive and nice about it. Obviously, I can’t know what they think privately or if they’ve treated him poorly behind closed doors. But overall and by all appearances he’s been well-supported.

Except for one person.

It’s hard for me not to call this woman nasty names because her complete lack of sensitivity and basic courtesy has not only been hurtful to my BF, but she has been using my postings to social media and my blogs to conduct a campaign that is explicitly dedicated to outing him to his friends — and she doesn’t give a damn how he feels about that.

And she has the audacity (or self delusion) to say she treats him this way because she wants to be his friend.

Before I made my Facebook profile private, she snooped my pictures and posts looking for references to my BF and events that she could line up with facts about his life, looking for proof of our relationship. She’s been following my Twitter posts, which is why I had to make my Twitter and Instagram accounts private this morning.

And I believe she will read this post, so I hope she’s reading carefully.

To that woman:

Lady, your behavior is not that of a friend. You have been rude, insensitive, and disrespectful. You have treated this sensitive and important part of his life has grist for rumor and gossip.

I am told you lack the social and self awareness to comprehend the wrong you’ve done, but you owe him an apology.

At one point early in our relationship when she suspected that I was his new relationship, she sent him a text message asking him rather brusquely if he was gay. At the time, I tried to be supportive but wrote off the tone deafness of text as simple immaturity or perhaps drunkenness.

Pro tip: If you want someone to disclose sensitive information, don’t confront them via text. See also: only assholes break up via text message.

But it didn’t end there. My BF is at a wedding of his friends this weekend and one of them told him that this woman had made it her “number one goal” to out him at this wedding. That’s a direct quote from one of the many friends to whom she’s taken her amassed evidence of our relationship. Apparently, she likes to go through the pictures I post online in hopes of catching a glimpse of the BF’s hands, legs, or clothes and then take them to their mutual friends so as to advance her position as town gossip.

I realize that — if she is reading this — when she realizes this post is about her she is likely to get angry. And I also understand from my BF that she seems to honestly believe she’s done nothing wrong here, so it’s likely that this will fall on deaf ears.

But my goal in writing this is to explain to people at large — and her in particular — that coming out is a non-trivial process and friends should be respectful and supportive of their friends who are going through this journey. It’s not something you can speed along except by being kind, thoughtful, and patient while letting your friend work through it on their own. If they haven’t come out to you yet, just wait quietly for the time to come.

Problems I’ve Had with Xfinity Since Moving to Miami

  • Was quoted one price for monthly service; actual rate turned out to be $30 a month more.
  • Service was not set up correctly. eg, although we have a DVR, DVR was not activated on my account.
  • I didn’t change ANY of my service from Nashville, so it should have been a straight transfer, but that’s not how they work. I had to get a whole new account. They even sent me a “sorry to see you go” letter!
  • We’ve had at least two outages in the last three weeks.
  • Xfinity requires installation of some app on my computer in order to access my internet connection.
  • Said app adds bookmarks and heavens know what else.
  • It took no fewer than four phone calls to get them to understand that my legal name is “Givens Peden” and not “Peden Given.”
  • It took no fewer than six phone calls to get the pricing problem resolved to my satisfaction.
  • The On Demand button doesn’t work on our remote due to some lack of system integration at Xfinity. We have to go to channel 1 to get On Demand.
  • Because I had a new account, I was assigned a new username. That username was one I only just memorized: pedengiven7288. Or was it 7244? Or 7822?  Now I can’t remember. What I do remember is that I was NOT allowed to use my old username: SupaTrey, which I use everywhere.
  • Instead, I had to make no fewer than three phone calls to get my old username transferred to my new account.
  • Even though it is a brand new account, one of the methods customer service repeatedly used to validate my identity was by asking me the amount of my last payment. Another thing they like to ask is if I know my account number — although it’s a new account and I’ve not received a single piece of mail — electronic or otherwise — with an account number on it.

I could keep listing all the minor and major frustrations I’ve had with Xfinity since moving to Miami, but for my own sanity, I need to stop.

Government Mechanics

Democrats: Government is the best mechanism for ensuring the physical wellness of the population.

Republicans: Government is the best mechanism for ensuring the moral wellness of the population.

Libertarians: Government is the worst mechanism.

Florida Timing and Dependencies

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been preoccupied with doing all sorts of things out in the real world.  What I would like to talk about today is the fact that the BF and I have moved to (mostly) sunny Miami, Florida and the mess that has been our experience trying to get one simple thing. Can you guess what it is?

Do I want to talk about how the BF sprained his ankle almost immediately upon entering the state of Florida? No. Because that is a problem easily addressed.

Do I want to talk about how the brake system in the Uhaul went haywire two hours from Miami forcing us to reschedule movers and all sorts of madness? No. Because that stress is behind me.

Do I want to talk about how my work schedule has me traveling more than 50% of the time right now and so pretty much as soon as we unloaded the truck I had to hop on a plane? No. Because that’s life and I won’t have to travel like this for much longer.

I want to talk about the process of parking decals.

The community in which we are renting an apartment requires parking decals on all resident vehicles. If you don’t have a decal, then you have to go to the security guard every day and get a parking pass, which expires at midnight every day. And, yes, we’ve pondered the possibility that our cars will get towed at 1 am on any given night. That’s just a risk we have to take. But every day we have to go to the security guard until we get decals.

In order to get parking decals you have to fill out a little form documenting our vehicle registration and submit a copy of your drivers license which shows your address at the community.  This means we had to get Florida drivers licenses and, since we’re at it, we need Florida tags as well.

In order to get a Florida drivers license when you’re moving from out of state, you have to produce proof of ID (Drivers license is NOT accepted.), proof of your social security number, and two proofs of your residence.

One easy way to prove you live somewhere is to produce some mail from an approved entity — banks and governments, basically — that was sent to you at that address.

Unfortunately, two things interfered with our getting mail for the first week and a half that we were here.  First, our landlord told us the wrong mailbox, so our key would not work to see if we had mail.  We found the right one by simply trying to unlock all of the mailboxes.  Second, our mail carrier deemed our unit to be vacant and in spite of receiving mail forwarding instructions to accept mail as well as mail forwarded to our unit, he simply sent all of our mail back without delivering it.  We solve this by sitting around all day one Saturday watching for him to come to deliver the mail and telling him we are real people who would like to receive mail.

By the way, the state of Florida requires you to get Florida tags within 10 days of starting work in the state.  They allow you 30 days to get your license, but you have to have your license to get your tags, so for us the 30 day limit is moot.

Once we were able to gather appropriate documentation of our residency (Thankfully, they accepted documentation from electronic sources such as our auto insurance.) we were able to head over to the DMV to get our drivers licenses.  Amazingly, that took us less than an hour!

The tags are a different story.  In order to get tags in Florida, you have to first go to the tag office with your title or the contact information of your loan holder. Since we’re both still paying on our cars, the tag office has to contact our bank and request the title. The bank has to send the title back to the DMV where they digitize the title and alert us that they are now ready to receive our application for new tags.

Our loan holder, Bank of America, takes five business days to complete title requests. At the end of the five days, they overnight the title to the requesting agency.  I don’t know how long it takes the DMV to digitize a title, but I assume it will take at least a day.  That means I can go BACK to the tag office a day later to get tags. I estimate that although the state requires tags within 10 days, it’s not possible to get tags in less than 8 days — unless you can start the registration process before moving, which we could not for a number of reasons.

And every day we go to the security guard for a new parking pass.

I have no idea how long it will take us to get decals for our cars once we submit the form with our registration information and copies of licenses. I think they mail it to us.  One hopes the mailman will continue delivering mail to us.

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Fact about My Childhood

Back in the 80′s, when I was a youngster, there used to be these commercials on television for mixed-artist, compilation albums.  You know, they’re the ones that have the “top hits” from a lot of different bands. Think K-Tel Records. Although, I think it was a different company.

Well, there was one commercial that bragged about its inclusion of a song by the band Nine-Inch Nails.  Now, I knew of that band, but because I consistently mis-heard the voice over on the commercial and thought there was another band featured on the record and it wasn’t until I read the track list that I realized the actual name of the band they were saying.

In my mind, they were bragging about a song by the “Nay-nay Chanelles.”

True story.

Safe, Safer, Safest

Practice safe sex.  I shouldn’t actually have to say that, but given what I’m about to say in this post I think I should just get it out there: practice safe sex.

But what does it mean to practice safe sex?

Obviously, if you’re having a casual sexual encounter or if you’re in a new relationship, I think it means using condoms and other measures to prevent possible exposure to infections you might contract from your partner.

This post is inspired by this ad for safe sex that I came across this evening:

Here’s the thing: I do not think it is “stupid” or “irresponsible” or “irrational” or “illogical” to stop using condoms or protection at a certain point in a relationship. Where that point is is something individuals have to determine for themselves and discuss with their partners.

“Barebacking = risk”

There are so many people in this world. It amazes me how stupid so many are about the concept of risk.

Did you know that if you go into the ocean you are at risk of being attacked by a shark? Ocean swimming = risk. But aside from a very few people, no one is suggesting that everyone immediately stop swimming in the ocean.

YOU CAN DIE FROM SHARK ATTACK, PEOPLE! STOP YOUR INSANITY!!

And did you know that if you go outside you might be struck by a falling meteor? Hell, that could happen to you if you’re just inside your house. Existence = Risk. STOP EXISTING!

But people really are campaigning to have people stop having unprotected sex. The argument against unprotected sex goes something like this: You may not know if your partner is lying about being faithful to you, which means if you’re having unprotected sex — even in a long-term, “monogamous” relationship — you’re putting yourself at risk for getting infected with a serious disease.

Now, to be fair, that ad does not make that argument. It simply makes the broad point that people should not bareback and we don’t know if the couple shown is a casual hook-up situation or if they’re in a relationship. It’s possible that the people behind it simply want people to make conscious choices about the risks they accept in their lives. I mean, it did get me blogging about the topic of risk. So, let’s assume they aren’t idiots.

But there are idiots out there. And they should probably be reminded to practice safe sex. Practice safe sex, people.

But let’s not kid ourselves: it is impossible to eliminate risk from your life. And I would also argue that all unprotected sex is of equal risk. Not all sex acts present the same level of risk. Not all partners present the same level of risk.

I agree with the point that people should be conscientious about their health and should mitigate unreasonable risks. But I do not think it’s reasonable to sustain the argument that everyone should always practice safe sex unless they’re trying to conceive a baby and both partners have been thoroughly tested for every disease known.

A Note from a Reader

I got an really cool email from a reader, Tom R, the other day:

Hi,
I came across your 2009 blogging about Mucha’s Moon and stars (which I too like a lot) recently while looking into their symbolism for a university essay.
I thought it quite interesting, however I think you may have missed something which you may find interesting:

The Zorya; a Slavic/Russian set of three women. See:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fVQz3I4FCWUC&pg=PA18&dq=Zorya+mythology&hl=en&sa=X&ei=z3JHUeqgLMXrswbxq4DACQ&ved=0CFAQ6AEwBzgK#v=onepage&q=Zorya%20mythology&f=false

and

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=eD5AkdM83iIC&pg=PA321&dq=Zorya+mythology&hl=en&sa=X&ei=PHBHUdmDGcrQtAbCjoDACw&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Zorya%20mythology&f=false

(hopefully those will take you to the right pages in the book previews, but basically they are the morning, midnight and evening stars. From the first book: “In great Russian folklore, the sun is sometimes seen to ride through the skies on his horse … but at dusk he returns as an old man to a maternal earth, from which he rises again as a child in the morning. His attendants are women. The Morning Star gives him birth; and the Evening Star takes him to his death.” [imo. Mucha's midnight star looks slightly pregnant])

Also, although it is correct to see connection between the narcissus and vanity, it is also seen as associated with death, and in Christianity, Easter and resurrection (see: http://jxb.oxfordjournals.org/content/60/2/353.full.pdf). With regard to the Lily, there is a Madonna Lily (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilium_longiflorum) and an Easter Lily (though this seems to be from Japan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilium_longiflorum). There also seems to be a connection with Christ, Easter and the Laurel (http://www.lovranske-vile.com/files/200801140703590.The%20Laurel%20tree.pdf).

Enjoy.

I actually didn’t know anything about the Russian mythology of the Zoryas until I read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I think there’s a good point made here especially when we consider that Mucha was very proud of his slavic heritage.

Anyway, great note and a lot of great info and points made here.  Thanks, Tom!

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