Monday, September 29, 2008

Shana Tova

Shana Tova is the traditional greeting on Rosh Hashanah. In Hebrew it means "A Good Year."
A holiday remix of the Muppet recording "Mahna Mahna".


Friday, September 26, 2008

Twain Harte Weekend

The Twain Harte landmark
Last weekend we spent several quiet days in the heart of the California Gold Country. We stayed in a vacation home in the small town of Twain Harte, named after two famous authors who lived in California, Mark Twain and Bret Harte.
Twain Harte vacation homeWe won our weekend stay in Twain Harte at a silent auction benefit last spring. I think we were the only bidders on this item. E used to own a vacation beach house on the California coast. A couple times a year we would invite a group of friends and host a fun weekend. Since he no longer owns the property, we have missed doing this. The auction program description said the house sleeps 10 people. Cool! We could invite a large group of friends. Once we won the item and got the details we discovered that although it can sleep 10 people in four bedrooms, there is only one bathroom in the house. No way are we hosting a weekend for 10 gay men and only one bathroom. It would not even be practical for family gathering of 6-8. We decided to ask just one couple. After we put the invitation out to the couple, we learned that they had just broken up. One of them was available for the weekend we had chosen. Our party was now down to three. But we were good to go.
It turned out to be a wonderful weekend. Other than the bathroom, the house was magnificent and fully furnished. It had full kitchen with dishwasher and disposal, satellite cable-DVD-VHS TV and even Wi-Fi. The only disappointment was the one bathroom. It had an old fashioned clawfoot-tub with a rickety shower contraption around it with a plastic shower curtain you secure with clothes pins. It was like bathing in a baggie.
Saturday morning we did a five mile run and followed that with a six mile hike later in the afternoon. It was great to be out in the mountain woods. Other than these excursions, we didn’t do any of the local tourist stuff like visiting Columbia State Historic Park or Jamestown’s Historic Railtown Park.
The 3+ hour drive to and from Twain Harte was depressing for political reasons. The middle of California is full of Christianists. All I saw was mall, mall, mega-church, outlet mall, mega-church, mall, mega-church, mega-church, and mall. The area doesn’t feel very supportive of Obama or “No On Prop 8”.

TRIVIA: Mark Twain and Bret Harte were contempories but according to
Wikipedia they had little love for each other. Twain made many disparaging comments about Harte.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Butching it up with Baseball

Playing catch in the park with DadI’m a gay father with a 12 year old son that is a total jock. When he is with me, he always wants to go out and play catch. As a kid, I hated being forced to play sports and would rather dance with the dandelions. Now as a dad, I treasure every moment we play catch together. Soon, I know, it won’t be cool anymore to play with dad. Already, the kid can throw harder and faster then me.

Meanwhile, I try to mimic the other dads with their jockish gyrations and inane sports talk. I try to study up on the sports page headlines. It is not easy. I barely know the rules of the game and care even less about the game’s statistics.

I am also grateful that my son likes playing catch with a baseball. I can reasonably throw and catch a baseball. With football, on the other hand, I am totally clumsy and inept at throwing and catching it.
Playing catch

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Defend the Rights of same-sex couples

Vote NO on Prop 8 in CaliforniaA couple weeks ago we made a significant gift to the No on Prop 8 campaign. We chose to make this gift to the “No On Prop 8” campaign for several reasons.
One, it is wrong to eliminate fundamental rights. If passed, Proposition 8 will write into the California constitution prejudice and discrimination of gays and lesbians. It is not the government’s place to tell which couples are allowed to marry. California was a pioneer 60 years ago when the state Supreme Court ruled that barring black and white couples from marring was a violation of fundamental rights. The decision was not popular then. A poll taken at the time revealed that only 5% of the population supported the court’s decision. Time has shown that the court’s decision was correct.

Two, Domestic partnerships are not the same as marriage. Domestic partnerships don’t provide the same dignity, respect, and commitment as marriage. Separate but equal has never been a long-term solution.

The Yes on 8 campaign is well funded by right-wing, fundamental and out of state organizations. They are making up and spreading hateful misinformation about marriage for same-sex couples. Here are links to some of their stop-at-nothing tactics: or
They are spending more then $25 million dollars across California to stirrup fear and hatred of homosexuals.

What can you do?Give as much as you can afford. You can easily donate at
Vow to Vote No on November 5th. Pledge at
Begin key conversations with family and friends. They are waiting to hear from you abut why it is so important to you that they vote no on Election Day. See for a toolkit to help you begin these conversations.
Volunteer. Sign up at

Vote NO on Amendment 2 in FloridaI want to mention another important state campaign on the other side of the country. Florida has an atrocious record in discriminating and persecuting the GLBT community. This year they have an especially horrendous amendment measure on the ballot.

Vote No on Amendment 2 in Florida:
Amendment 2 does nothing to “protect traditional marriage”. Florida already passed a law banning gay marriage. This new amendment is far more dangerous for all. If passed, it will take away important family protections, health care insurance, hospital visitation and medical decision-making authority, from all unmarried couples, gay and straight. It permanently bans civil unions and dismantles domestic partner benefits that seniors, teachers, police officers and firefighters rely on in more than 18 communities across the state.

Please support Equality Florida as they battle this disregard of human rights. Equality Florida seeks to:
* Overturn the toughest Anti-GLBT Florida adoption ban in the US
* End Anti-GLBT harassment and violence in Florida’s schools
* Full legal recognition of our relationships and families
* Change Florida’s Law and Public Policy so that NO Floridian faces discrimination based on Sexual Orientation, Race, Gender and Class
* Build coalitions of support for the progressive movement in Florida
* Provide the information, expertise and tools necessary to strengthen local groups working to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, class and gender (including identity and expression).

WeddingFinally, over the Labor Day weekend, we attend the same-sex wedding of two good friends, Alfred and Steve. Their wedding ceremony was held in the chapel of the Sonoma Mission. (Mission San Francisco Solano). It was a beautiful Episcopal service performed by their Vicar. Congratulations to Alfred and Steve. We spent the rest of the weekend sitting around the pool reading at the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa Hotel.

UPDATE: Almost forgot the third state anti-marriage proposition in Arizona. This is the second time Arizona has voted on discrimination against same-sex couples. Voters in Arizona defeated a similar measure in 2006. Support them to defeat it again. Vote No on Proposition 102.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Island Hopping in Iceland and Ireland

The Snaefellsjokull glacier dominates the Snaefellsnes peninsula.We are finally back and unpacked from our 3 1/2 week trip to Iceland and Ireland. We began the trip back on July 29 by flying across the US and on to London and then back to Reykjavik, Iceland. We arrived a couple days before our tour with Alyson Adventures started. We booked a one-day excursion of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, a western region of Iceland that was not part of our other tour. The Snaefellsjokull glacier dominates the Snaefellsnes peninsula. It is renowned for its mystical powers and was the starting point of Jules Verne's novel "Journey to the Centre of the Earth".

Our Alyson Adventures travel groupThe Alyson group was a blast. For this trip there were 12 gay men (2 couples counting us, the rest were all single; 9 from the USA, 2 from Canada and 1 from Ireland) and a US guide from Alyson and a local Icelandic guide named Halldor. Although Halldor is a straight man, he now only guides for gay groups. After years of leading various types of groups, he has decided that the best and most appreciative groups are gay men. We highly recommend this trip and Alyson Adventures in general.

Some of the trip’s highlights:
GuyDads kayaking* Soaking in the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa and one of the most visited attractions in Iceland.
* A biking tour around the city of Reykjavik.
* A mountain bike ride through the rift valleys of the Reykjanes Peninsula. The dirt road ran through landscapes that varied from lush vegetation to alien moonscapes. One of the remote fields was used by the first Apollo astronauts to practice moonwalking. NASA chose the location because it offered earth's closest approximation of lunar conditions.
* A rainy afternoon of rafting on the Hvita River.
* Kayaking on the coastal waters of Stokkseyri during a beautiful, calm sunset.
* Fording a glacier fed stream and having your feet go numb half way across.
Soaking in a volcanically-warmed river* Hiking to a volcanically-warmed river and shedding our clothes and jumping in and soaking au natural.
* Hiking to countless waterfalls including Gullfoss or "Golden Falls", the most famous waterfall in Iceland. Our guide, Halldor, also showed us a beautiful artesian waterfall.
* Seeing dozens of geysers, including Geysir, from which the English word is derived, as well as the famous Strokkur geyser that erupts every 5-10 minutes.
* Enjoying the big, heated pool complexes that Icelanders enjoy at the end of the day as a relaxing social activity.
Thingvellir, the world's oldest true parliament* One of the most interesting sites was Iceland's most historic spot: Thingvellir (Parliament Plains). It was at Thingvellir that the Vikings formed the world's oldest true parliament, in A.D. 930. Geographically it is also where European continental plate is pulling away from the American plate. We hiked along a chasm between the two continents.
* Reykjavik, as well as all of Iceland, is on the verge of being the “It” place to vacation. I believe with in 5-8 years tourism could be primary industry. I suggest seeing Iceland now with all its natural beauty and historical charm before it goes all resort commercial.

Reykjavik Gay PrideThe trip ended on the first day of a four-day Gay Pride celebration. Reykjavik Gay Pride organizers nickname the event “the biggest little pride in the world”. And with around 70,000 attendees, it is small compared to San Francisco or New York City; but in a country of just 310,000 people, Reykjavik Gay Pride is Iceland’s second biggest annual event. Everyone comes out for it…families, seniors, kids, straight or gay. Like a Columbus Day or St. Patrick's Day celebration, on Pride everyone is gay and decked out in rainbows and pride paraphernalia. The celebration begins with a variety show on Thursday night. Reykjavik Gay Pride ParadeFriday offers several concerts and dances. Saturday afternoon at 2pm the Pride Parade marches through the city center and is followed with a large outdoor concert. Another big dance happens that night. Sunday, Pride weekend closes with a Rainbow mass at the Reykjavik Cathedral.

We began our second island vacation on August 11. Again we had several days before the next adventure group started in Dublin. We stayed at a gay owned Bed and Breakfast called Nua Haven. It is located in a quiet Dublin neighborhood not too far from the city center. We spent most of the time exploring the city. Old Library at Trinity CollegeWe did a historical walking tour, a tour of Trinity College that included the Old Library and the Book of Kells. We toured the National Galley of Ireland and saw four plays/performances: “An Ideal Husband” by Oscar Wilde at The Abbey Theatre, “The Weir” by Conor McPherson at The Gate Theatre (a prestigious theatre founded by a gay couple, Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir in 1928), “Riverdance” at The Gaiety Theatre, and a one-act, lunch-time theatre performance at Bewley's Cafe Theatre. We visited just about every gay bar (6 of them) in the city. Compared to San Francisco, Dublin’s gay bars are VERY classy and stylish. We also checked out the men’s spa too.

GuyDads from IrelandOur Irish hiking trip was through REI Adventures. We have enjoyed the half-dozen trips we have done with them. This trip was a hiking reunion with people we met on an earlier trip when we did the English Coast to Coast hike 3 years ago. Eight of the ten people on this trip knew each other from then. The trip began by meeting in Dublin and heading out to the seaside resort of Bray. From there we went to Cashel and then the Beara Peninsula and overnight in the picturesque town of Castletownbere. We spent a couple nights in Kenmare and then Dingle. In Dingle we attended the local community theatre and saw an Irish comedy, “Drama at Inish” by Lennox Robinson at The Beehive Theatre.
Foxy Johns Pub in Dingle IrelandThe highlights for me were the castles and pubs, plus the postcard pretty scenery we saw hiking. My favorite pubs were in Dingle. There were two types: charming tourist-type pubs that advertised “traditional Irish music nightly” and the easy to overlook local’s pub. The pubs visited by the locals can easily be mistaken for store fronts. In fact, they are both a store and pub. One is a shoe repair store and pub, another is a hardware store and pub and a third is a sporting goods store and pub. For much of the hike, we dodged rainstorms. Ireland was experiencing their wettest August in recorded history. Our last day in Ireland found us back in Dublin. We spent the afternoon touring the Guinness Storehouse and downing one more pint of Guinness.
One more pint
[More pictures: Iceland. Ireland]
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