Saturday, January 30, 2010


In many ways I consider myself a skeptical liberal. 15 years in the clutches of religious fanaticism left me with a bad taste in my mouth for extreme following. Whenever I feel like I'm asked to muffle logic and intuition in order to be part of a group, I start backing towards the door.

Because of that, I've never felt like a single-issue voter. We are all multifaceted. I am not just a feminist voter, queer voter, urban voter, racial minority voter, etc. Weighing the economy with social progress sometimes means delaying one or the other. These are difficult decisions. (I choose not to be a politician because these issues are messy and exhausting...and I've lost some enthusiasm for/optimism in the political process. Mostly, I'm just fucking tired.)

In a microcosm, we make these decisions all the time. Can I pay down my debt this month or fix the transmission or get that root canal? Do I save money for my child's college tuition or do I pay for braces? And these are, in terms of survival (think: Haiti) very luxurious options. But they illustrate the age-old struggle of deciding which desired goods can be obtained with limited resources. More significantly, which cannot be obtained. So Taxes, the Economy, Jobs, Government Programs, Helping the Poor and Social Policy are not party-line black and white in my mind.

Recently a few things have set my non-single-issue stance on its moderate ear.

Exhibit 1
A couple of weeks ago a transgendered woman, Myra Ical, was murdered in Houston and her body dumped. The Houston Police Department sent the story to the media in a way that makes me want to wring my hands and somebody's neck. The Chronicle's initial story: (subsequent stories were more respectful after the community outrage that prompted a vigil/protest)

Police are trying to determine why a man was killed and left half-naked in a field known to police as a hangout for prostitutes and drug users near the Montrose area.

Ruben Dario Ical, 51, of Houston, who also went by the name of Myra Chanel Ical, was found dead in the 4300 block of Garrott about 2 p.m. Jan. 10, police said.

He had numerous bruises and defensive wounds, as if he had struggled against his attacker. He was partially clothed.

Police said that the area where Ical's body was discovered is a well-known spot where homeless people camp and is frequented by prostitutes and drug users.

First of all, jesusfuckingchrist, it's an established practice to refer to a transgendered person by the gender with which they identify themselves. You can say, if necessary, that she was also known by her birth name but show minimal respect, assholes.

To compound that crime, they associated her death with the place where she was dumped, a "well-known spot where homeless people camp and is frequented by prostitutes and drug users." Well, shit. It's hard enough to get people to care about another death in a big city. Not to mention a transgendered person's death. Then, compound the insensitivity by insinuating that she was a prostitute/drug user and you know what happens? Nothing. NOTHING. Because people can tuck the tragedy away as just the loss of another one of society's undesirables. Not a lovely, caring woman who fought like hell not to die.

Exhibit 2
Like many of you, I am both fascinated and annoyed by Facebook. Often at the same time. But the one way in which I must give the phenomena its due is the reconnection with far flung family members. Cousins, to be specific. I'm now aware of their children going to college, their homes being renovated and holidays shared...all with cousins that I haven't seen or talked to in years. And that my fellow-jaded readers is fanfuckingtastic.

Here is a partial exchange between my wonderful cousin, one of his commenters and me:
Posted by my cousin:
"A man and a woman together create a family where individuals of the same gender cannot create a family," said NH state rep. Jordan's Ulery. (AP) Seriously?

Friend of the cousin;
Why is it that a man cannot have an opinion? Just because we may not agree with it doesn't mean our opinion isn't as valid as his...Opinions do not threaten anything if you don't get offended. If Mr. Ulery said fat people cannot create a family, I wouldn't be offended. It's his opinion, my human rights would be affected? Seriously?

Opinions cannot threaten anything unless they get enacted into law or are used to prevent one group from having equal rights...Ah, there's the rub. Ulery's completely in his rights to have an opinion. And so is anyone else protesting that their human rights ARE affected if, as a lawmaker, he works to codify that opinion.
Now, I'm not trying to pick on my cousin's friend. She is probably a lovely person and perhaps just playing devil's advocate. Besides her simile is weak and an easy target. But since she gives voice to the opinions of so many people, I felt the need to jump in.

You'd better believe that if anyone (in politics or not) advocated that "fat people" could not create families, it would produce a ground-shaking response from our overly-sated population taking to the streets. And as absurd as it sounds, if that notion moved towards law there would, and should, be an uproar. This particular discrimination, however, is not a real threat to the full-figured. (They deal with plenty of other irritating types of discrimination, though. And I'm not just Speaker for the Extra-Larges, I'm also a client.)

The point is, of course, that when a lawmaker says, this group...this group of "others" is not to be given credibility, respect or protection, his "opinion" can morph into legislation that discriminates. And that, my queer and non-queer friends, pisses me off.

Exhibit 3
In his State of the Union, Obama looked into the surly faces of the military brass and said, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is going away. High fucking time. Is there anyone out there that doesn't understand the logical and constitutional cluster-fuck that is DADT? That's rhetorical, obviously there are hordes of ignorami.

If I said, You can stand in front of me, protect me and even take a bullet for me but you can't tell anyone you're a Christian, most people would sprain their middle finger tendon shooting me the bird. And rightly so.

But we, as a nation, have no problem saying to thousands of soldiers, Look, you can sacrifice your life for your country but you'll need to offer that priceless gift in silence. If you want to Die for Us, you gotta Lie to Us.

End of the Exhibits
No, it actually wasn't these three experiences that pushed me here. They were the proverbial straws.

So here it is: if you vote against same-sex rights, you vote against me.

I may love you as family or friend but now (and always) it's personal. And I'm not proposing that friendship with me is the brass ring. I don't expect want of my friendship to topple organizations or cause wholesale apostasy (though, that would be sweet, wouldn't it?) I'm just saying that I view friendship as powerful and rare, each person's gift to give or not to give. I'm no longer giving on this one. This, by the way, is how I feel about racial bigotry and all the other ignorant attitudes used to discriminate against anyone swimming outside the mainstream.

You can no longer count me as your friend if you are an active part of a
  • church,
  • party,
  • civic association or
  • club, etc.
that works to deny me
  • the right to marry my partner of 23 years,
  • the right to teach outside the closet,
  • the right to serve my country openly,
  • the opportunity to foster or adopt children,
  • Social Security benefits if I lose my spouse,
  • spousal rights in hospitals and emergency rooms,
  • the right to raise my children without fear of losing custody of them,
  • general legal equity as an openly queer citizen,
  • etc., ad nauseum
and you quietly acquiesce.

The government demands and receives my taxes. Civic organizations appreciate my patronage. My community expects me to fulfill neighborhood obligations. Charitable and political groups ask for donations of time and money. And then I'm told: but you don't get to have the same rights. Enough. It is political and it is personal. This is my life and if you love me, you will not silently condone this bigotry in your church or party or organization or community or family and get to call me friend.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

wtf scotus?

“The rule announced today — that Congress must treat corporations exactly like human speakers in the political realm — represents a radical change in the law,” he said from the bench. “The court’s decision is at war with the views of generations of Americans.”

“While American democracy is imperfect,” he wrote, “few outside the majority of this court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”
Justice John Paul Stevens
via The New York Times

Sunday, January 24, 2010

sports and the athletically unsupported

As the non-sportly half of a relationship with a woman who loves sports (and was herself an incredible athlete) I find myself musing about sports more than I'd expected. Ever.

To be sure, my interests are tangential. I am interested in team logos and colors (Rockets and Texans: nice; Astros: meh). I am fascinated by expressions and chants (Good eye! Good eye!). I am curious about superstition and it's manifestations (You don't wash your socks during a streak? You velcro and unvelcro your glove three times before every swing? You draw a smiley face on your away game cup?). I like to mock the interviews (see Bull Durham: "We gotta play it one day at a time."). Being a wordaholic, I mostly like to see if where the team lives has anything to do with it's name.

The Minnesota team is called The Vikings. All those Scandinavian-descended mid-westerners rightly picked a name from Nordic history. (Although "Vikings" is rather showy and aggressive for such a unfussy people, eh?) Then there's the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco Forty-Niners, New England Patriots...all clearly symbolic and geographically-rooted. I particularly like the Baltimore Ravens (shout out to my man and opium-hound, E.A. Poe) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Argh). H-Town, of course, has it's NASA/space-flavored team names: Astros, Rockets and the sadly defunct WNBA Comets.

When a team is usurped, bought or flees to another town, I think they ought to create a new name. Like the witness-protection program: start a new life, new branding, new location, new name.

When the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to L.A. (and broke my sweet mother's heart, you bastards) they kept the Dodgers part. This from Wikipedia:

"By 1890 New Yorkers (Brooklyn was a separate city until it became a borough in 1898) routinely called anyone from Brooklyn a 'trolley dodger'..."
Which is a lovely bit of local history that produced a name. However, since Dodge(r) is a word that has multiple meanings and connotations (Artful Dodger, Draft Dodger, Dodge baller, Dodge vehicles are craptastic, etc.,) I suppose it was more adaptable to the California move than some other names.

When the Houston Oilers (lousy logo, pukey colors but understandable nomenclature) moved to Appalachia, it seemed right that they became the Tennessee Titans...well, the alliteration works anyway. (I'm not sure being named after the Giants who spawned the Greek Gods isn't setting yourself up for some disappointing comparisons. But it's SO much better than the Tennessee Oilers, which just conjures up the image of Jed 'n Jethro gnawing on greasy possum fritters.)

When the basketball team from New Orleans named themselves The Jazz, I thought, right on. Jazz is an American concoction with a bluesy heart and lyrical playfulness. New Orleans Jazz is unique from St. Louis Jazz is unique from Chicago Jazz, etc., so great name! Then, they were jettisoned out of Louisiana to Utah. Utah. Where innovative, experimental and cutting edge land with a dull thud.
  • Utah is Scenic not Shimmying.
  • Utah is LDS not LSD. (A stretch but do you have any idea how long I've waited to say this?)
  • Utah is Hiking not Hip-Hop.
  • Utah is Mormon not Mardi Gras.
  • Utah is Casserole not Creole.
  • Utah is The Tabernacle Choir not The Jazz.
I could go on but I'll rein myself in here.
When the team became the Utah Jazz, a little part of me died.

And I can't stand basketball.

I just hate it more that two words standing next to each other in line are forced to hold hands when it's obvious they are not meant to be together.

As I overheard Barbara cheering the New Orleans Saints, it dawned on me–Hey, if the Saints moved to Utah, they wouldn't have to change their name at all.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Movie slacker that I am, I'm always tickled that I've seen any of the movie(s) being referenced.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

holiday handiwork

I went on a Linzer tarts kick over the holidays. They're one of my favorite cookies (and my inner adolescent giggles every time I say, "Ooo, I love eating tarts"). Here are a few of the piles of tarts we made over Christmas and New Years:

I found this great Linzer tart recipe on The cookies are basically shortbread (read: butter, egg, brown sugar and just enough flour to hold it all together) but this recipe replaced some of the flour with ground roasted hazelnuts. And there's no way that won't make everything in your life better. Sandwiched between the not-too-sweet cookies I spooned some Trappist jam:

Trappist Preserves are god-damned awesome. The are really made by monks at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. Trappist Monks also make incredible beer, I understand. (If the Catholic church wants some PR spin away from the pedophiles, just shine a big ol' spotlight on the Jam & Ale Brothers.) I bought mine at mega-wonderful Specs in downtown Houston. I tried raspberry, apricot and blackberry preserves. The raspberry, to my tastes, was the best. Blackberry a close second. The apricot jam was phenomenal but a little too mild for the cookies. The finishing touch is a fine sprinkling of powdered sugar on top.

While I was trawling for cookie recipes, I stumbled upon these handtool-shaped cookie cutters:

Sold by The Cookie Cutter Shop, I ordered them so fast my mouse got dizzy.

Which led to additional batches and these cunning "tool tarts" which I took to my dear design guys and friends at work:
The pliers (see cookie cutter image above) shape turned out to be too breakable-none of them made it to this stage intact (maybe better with a less shortbread-type recipe) and as you see, the screwdriver needed to be handled carefully. All that aside, these were mighty tasty and fun to present.

Out of the kitchen and into, living room. Many years ago friends (real lesbians with horses) gave me a bunch of leftover washable wool they'd used to make horse blankets (see?). In addition to fashioning a Wuthering-Heights-worthy hooded cape from it for my daughter years ago, I created this tree skirt:

For those of you who don't know my love of all things associated with tools, I made the pattern to match a circular saw blade (Is this a fucking big blade, or what?):

It took me forever to get around to making this simple skirt. Now that it's done, I've decided that every year I want to add some small embellishment. Two years ago, I blanket-stitched the edges for contrast and to help keep the skirt from getting distorted over time.

I used black felt that I had for backing and that was not a great choice as it tends to shed. I figure if I continue to embroider the skirt, it will help contain the backing as well as decorate the top.

This year, I added metal eyelets to each point and satin-stitch-covered them in different colors:

I have always been terrible about documenting my projects–I'm just not comfortable with photography. However, I've been inspired by my friend Kim, who is crazy-creative and a damn good photographer and her husband (my coworker) Gary, who explained that the little flower symbol on my digital camera was as close to a macro lens as I was going to get (thank you, hombre!). So, here. Proof Examples of what I did on my Christmas vacation, with very little Photoshop cleanup needed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

happy palindrome day! !yad emordnilap yppah

Today's date is 01.11.10, for all you binary & palindrome lovers. I know this one doesn't have the cachet of 01022010 but this is the one I caught.

Enitatine (Like Ovaltine, only saltier)

Friday, January 08, 2010

drinking from the firehose

There's this: The Ragbag (thank you, Risa)
And this: Sarah Belfort
And deargods, this: Song and Stamp
And then, this:

(thank you Dave)

If I live a thousand years, I could never get enough of it all. Words and making stuff and food and design and music and art and hula-hooping Jesi.

There's a tsunami of wonder out there on the interwebs.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

her hrc, really?

I've been bitching for years that the HRC (Human Rights Campaign, an national organization fighting for queer rights) has been dominated by wealthy, tux-owning gay men who liked to go to and throw black-tie fundraisers.

Sure, they've raised good money and I figured that even their male-centric efforts helped all queer people to some degree. Every time I received an invite to a $200/plate dinner, I just tossed it. Like we'd drop $400 for a meal, however good the cause.

Well, times are hard. And even the HRC has to broaden its donor base and reach out to the lesbians down here on the ground. I just received this invitation to "Her HRC; A National Night of Celebration for Women." Okay. That's not bad AND they managed to price it for almost everybody: $10.

Now Joe Solomonese (president of HRC) pissed off a lot of people recently with his Democrat bootlicking and lack of criticism of the Obama administration's disappointing inaction on GLBT issues. Yet even in that light, Her HRC seems like a decent gesture.

So, I'm looking at the invite and see that it's sponsored by Tylenol. Tylenol? Oh. It's a woman's event. With women and their womanly parts. And pains. So Tylenol. Sure. The predominant message here is that we need pain relief. That's refreshing.

Then, at the bottom is a plug for a Buying for Equality iPhone starts out with

"Shopping before the event?"


I am well aware that not all lesbians/bisexual women consider khakis their dress-up clothes. Not all lesbians wear ball caps and big ol' plaid shirts. Hell, many of us are not even allergic to nail polish and pumps. But if you are addressing a large group of (large-ish) women who largely do not partake of the girlie-defined world o' shopping, perhaps leading with the next line would be a little less ridiculous "Now you can find companies and products that support equality..."

Shopping before the event

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

my blog's saint's day

Here we are again. Celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany or, as I like to call it, Epiphenita Day.

Here is your feast from my new favorite food photo site,

Black bean chili with butter-roasted pumpkin
jessieschmeckts via

I think I need a macro lens. I want to photograph everything this close and clear. God (or something) is in the details, my friends.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

matter is neither created nor destroyed. i know this.

Spent the day cooking. Not because it's the New Year. No, it's just because I want to work on some projects and I find that cooking every other day sucks up more energy than I wish it did. That said, I'm pretty committed to eating healthy so don't want to start throwing fast meals together because that usually means the nutrition part gets haphazard.

Okay, so I cooked like a demon. All told, I think I've got almost three weeks of meals frozen. Chili, Senate bean soup (that's really what the recipe is called--it's just a ham bone, white northern beans, carrots, onions, garlic, etc.), arroz con pollo y frijoles negros, and corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. The corned beef I didn't freeze because the potatoes get all gross mealy.

Now the reason I'm telling you all this is not just to brag like a self-righteous pioneer. No, I want to talk about weird physics. Stay with me, this shouldn't take long. Okay, sometimes I drive to work in the morning and at the end of the day I get in my car and find I need to adjust the seat. I'm relatively sure I haven't shrunk over the day but I can't figure out how my legs felt comfortable reaching the pedals at 7am but suddenly need to be closer at 5pm.

The corned beef recipe called for 2 teaspoons of peppercorns. This went into a large dutch oven. Two teaspoons is not really that much when it's swimming in a gallon of broth. When I took the corned beef out and dumped the cabbage and potatoes into the hot broth to cook, I didn't add any more seasonings. When everything was cooked and cooled I moved the cabbage and potatoes into two casserole dishes and combined them with the corned beef.

I like the flavor of pepper and cloves and bay leaves. I'm just not interested in biting into any of them. So I started removing them from the dish. Bay leaves and cloves accounted for and plucked out. Here's the weird physics: I am pulling out peppercorns and they just keep coming. Like clowns out of a VW. Like rabbits out of cages. I am looking at a pile of peppercorns that is way greater than the amount I measured into the pot. Where did they all come from? Fucking peppercorns.