Saturday, March 29, 2008

Birthday girl

The youngest in the family turns 9 today. Last year of single digit birthdays! E made angel food cupcakes from scratch. They were wonderful.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lecture and visit to computer museum

Samantha Power at book signing. Friend Dave in the background.Last week we attended a lecture by Samantha Power. She is the former Obama foreign policy adviser that resigned after describing Hillary Clinton as a “monster”. Prior to this election year faux pas she was better known as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Harvard professor. She spoke about her new book, “Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World”. Sergio Vieira de Mello was an UN diplomat that was known for his efforts on behalf of the humanitarian and political programs of the UN. Ms Power described him as a combination of Bobby Kennedy’s humanity and James Bond’s daredevil tactics. His fascinating life was cut short by a bombing in Iraq of UN offices in August 2003. Her presentation and lecture about Vieira del Mello was very interesting.

The lecture was held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. I toured their collection of computer hardware and had a total geek fest. I took pictures of some of the machines I have used.

Punch Card Sorter at the Computer History MuseumThe only programming class I took in college was FORTRAN. In 1979 one had to key the commands on punch cards and then run the stack of cards through a reader. The punch card was the way to do data entry, store and process information. This is a picture of a punch card sorter.

DEC PDP-11 at Computer History MuseumOne of the first major computer systems I was responsible for was a mini-system, DEC PDP-11, that was donated to the theatre company I was working for. It ran our subscription and donor databases.

The museum had racks and racks of old personal computer models. It was fun picking out the different brands and models that I used in the past. They also had a big display of old HP calculators. I must have owned a half-dozen of them through high school and college.
Racks of old computers at Computer History Museum Old HP calculators at Computer History Museum

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The audacity to fight for justice. The perseverance to win.

NCRL logoThat is the tag line for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), one of several non-profit organizations we support. We first learned about NCLR a couple years ago and have become more and more involved with the organization.

NCLR is a non-profit, public interest law firm which litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBT people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBT legal issues.

Vino Locale, a wonderful wine bar located in Palo AltoLast Sunday we invited 45 of our gay and lesbian friends to a wine and appetizer party we hosted at a neighborhood wine bar, Vino Locale, to learn more about the organization, its history, the cases it takes on and the people who run it. It was fun to see our gay and lesbian friends from our Jewish activities, FrontRunners group, theatre acquaintances and work associates meeting and mingling with each other. Even though the purpose for the event was informational, we still help to fundraise over $11,000.

NCLR is lead counsel in a lawsuit seeking marriage equality on behalf of eleven same-sex couples pending before the California Supreme Court. One of the gay couples in that case came to talk about their experience. Their other cases have focused on elder law, employment, family law, healthcare, immigration, marriage, relationship protections, transgender law, youth, and other civil rights.Staff from NCLR with the party host

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Laramie Project

The cast of THE LARAMIE PROJECTThursday night we attended an outstanding production of "The Laramie Project" at Palo Alto High School. We went mostly to support this group of students doing this particular play, but we were totally blown away. For two guys who attended over 100 productions last year, this one really ranks as one of the most moving, well-done plays we have seen in a long time. The 25 students in this cast have captured the 60 or so characters they are portraying so well, and they have brought much heart and understanding to this very important play about Matthew Shepard and Laramie, Wyoming.

I highly recommend that you do not miss a chance to see this play performed by students at a local high school or college. The play is a sad reminder that this year is the 10th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder and there is still no hate crime legislation. People are still be attacked, beaten and murdered because of the basis of their sexual orientation.
The director’s program notes asks if the play is still relevant today? She says, “The destructiveness of hate and the redemptive power of hope and forgiveness – are just as timely today as they were when the play opened. There is sadly no noticeable change in the realm of national Hate Crime Statistics…Just last week in Oxnard, CA, a 15 year old boy, Lawrence King, was murdered by a 14 year old peer who reportedly did not like the fact that Lawrence was openly gay.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Playful Weekend

We had one of our theatre going weekends. Several times a year we like to book a room at our favorite bed and breakfast in San Francisco, Inn on Castro. Then we fill the weekend with as many plays as we can. By chance, the weekend was full of plays being done by mid-size theatre companies (generally around 100-200 seats). All five shows saw were fantastic. The list:

Pugilistic Play 'Blade to the Heat' at the Thick HouseBlade to the Heat by Oliver Mayer, Thick House
Deals with latent homosexuality in the boxing world of 1959. Three boxers vie for the middleweight championship. Fantastic staged boxing scenes. This was my favorite play. Highly recommend you see it. (Plays through March 16 then moves to San Jose Stage Company, April 2 - 27, 2008).

Tir na nÓg (Land of Youth) by Edna O'Brien, Magic Theatre
Adaptation of O'Brien's novel The Country Girls. With live music and dance, this coming of age play follows two girls who make their way from rural Ireland to Dublin. This was E’s favorite play. He loves Irish plays. It starts a little slow and choppy but it wins you over by the end. (Plays through March 23, 2008)

Orlando by Virginia Woolf, adapted by Sarah Ruhl, A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program
Story of a young man during the reign of Elizabeth I, who decides not to grow old. He passes through the ages as a young man until he wakes up one morning to find that he has metamorphosed into a woman - the same person but in a woman's body. The remaining centuries are seen through a woman's eyes. We thought the stage version was much better than the 1992 film with Tilda Swinton and Quentin Crisp. It is performed by the ACT MFA students. We have seen them do a handful of plays and they do a great job. (Plays through March 15, 2008 at the Zeum Theatre.)

Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre and Word for Word
Baldwin's short story of two brothers in 1950’s Harlem - the elder a schoolteacher and family man; the younger, Sonny, a jazz pianist with a troubled past - navigate a tense and complicated relationship against the jazzy rhythmic background of city life. Word for Word stages short stories, performing every word the author has written. (Closing weekend)

Daphne Zuniga, Howard Swain and Aaron Davidman in SF Playhouse comedy The SceneThe Scene by Theresa Rebeck, San Francisco Playhouse
An attractive young woman who both despises and prides herself that every man wants her for sex. And, to boost her self-esteem, she proceeds to use sex to conquer one male after another. A dark comedy on sex, relationships, scandal and the TV industry in NY. Similar to a NYC version of “Speed the Plow”. (Closing weekend)

We still had time to visit the photography exhibits at SF Museum of Modern Art and to attend a fun drag show at Harvey’s called "The Monster Show: a killer drag show" with Cookie Dough. We also met and had a wonderful conversation with the owner of the Tao Barber Salon.

TIP: Half-price tickets for many select performances, sporting events and family activities are often available on Goldstar Events. Areas include San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Walk Away and Do Not Sign

GLBT organizations have reports that well-funded anti-gay organizations are harassing people for their signatures on petitions and deceiving them - so please WALK AWAY and DO NOT SIGN any petition this year.Last week the California Supreme Court heard arguments for same-sex marriage. We have received several email requests from GLBT groups warning of well-funded anti-GLBT organizations that are paying people to gather signatures. These anti-gay organizations are also paying for automated phone calls to put a constitutional amendment on the California November 2008 ballot that would permanently exclude same-sex couples from marriage.
GLBT organizations have reports that the proponents of this hateful and destructive measure are harassing people for their signatures and deceiving them - so please WALK AWAY and DO NOT SIGN any petition this year.

We cannot give the proponents of this initiative any accidental signatures, so please help us encourage everyone to WALK AWAY and DO NOT SIGN when they see these people on the streets.

Please encourage others not to sign this initiative. We especially need to get the word out to San Diego, Orange County, San Gabriel Valley, Riverside and San Bernardino, Fresno, and Sacramento. Tell your friends and family [link to:] how to sign up online to volunteer and donate.

Please send all information about signature gatherers you see on the streets to
We can defeat the forces of hatred and bigotry, but we are the underdogs in this fight, and it will take all of us to win.

This is your chance to make a difference.

We received this message first from the National Center for Lesbian Rights. We are proud supports of NCLR.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Web Wanderings

I am no fan of the cartoon strip Garfield. I have always thought it was inane. Our kids, however, have all gone through an early childhood phase of loving it. From ages 5 to about 12 Garfield has been a favorite to read on the comic page or in book form. Several years ago some creative types started to erase the Garfield thought bubbles in the strip. I thought that was a big improvement to the strip. It was now less idiotic and more surrealistic. The character Jon was now a more forceful caricature of a depressed, sad and lonely person.

There is a new blog site called Garfield Minus Garfield that now erases all words and pictures of Garfield. I now find the strip funny and laugh out loud. It is now a “comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life.” Love it.

I saw this 7 minute movie montage posted over at Tinman’s blog. (I have read Tinman’s blog longer than any other blog. Someday I would like to meet him and his partner.)

The montage was done by Chuck Workman who has done many of them for the Academy Awards show.
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