All Hail the Heroes

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

So. Coronavirus. Here we are, sitting on the couch, binging on Netflix, and hoarding dry goods. For the general population who is able to work from home, the sacrifice barely registers on the annoyance scale, let alone reaches the community efforts required for many of history's worst calamities.*

Reputable experts in infectious disease have assured us that this epidemic will get worse before it gets better, and that people should be prepared to shelter in place for at least another 30 days (or longer), depending on which expert you listen to. Please note I said expert, not the third bullshitter from the left or some media personality who thinks their presence in front of a camera suddenly makes them a qualified epidemiologist. This is a science based problem, and we should be listening to scientists.

Ahem. Sorry about that digression. I'm a little irked by the misinformation being spread about for political, selfish, or economic reasons.

ANYWAY.

The purpose of this post is to point out that we, as a society, owe a debt of gratitude to some unsung heroes in our midst. Not the medical professionals, although their professionalism in dealing with this crisis has been exemplary and selfless.

No, I'm talking about the supply chain. You know, the process that everyone takes for granted. The process that moves goods from one place to another, and then distributes it to retail establishments so we can buy SpaghettiOs and sausage, toilet paper and tampons, beans and broccoli. It starts at the source - farms and manufacturing plants, and then moves these goods to distribution centers who then move it to retail stores.

These people are working their asses off. They can't keep up with demand, and with people acting like selfish knobs with their hoarding and other dumbassery, their lives are pretty sucky right now. They're trying to meet the demands of their companies, even though they have families of their own, people they need to take of in this crisis, and doing so puts their own health and the health of their families at risk. And they're doing this so that people can buy their groceries and other goods they need on a daily basis.

And what do they get for their trouble? They get shouted at. They get called names. They get their companies failing to recognize their efforts with extra pay and additional safety measures. They get bupkis. And that's just not right.

These people are the unsung heroes of this crisis. They deserve our thanks, our gratitude, and to be treated with courtesy and respect, especially given their current working conditions. So when the grocery store employee tells you there are limits on how much you can buy of a certain item, the correct answer is, "I wasn't aware of that, thank you so much for letting me know," not a public rant about your rights or how much more YOU need a bag of rice rather than your neighbor.

Don't be a tool, y'all. We're in this together, and if everyone makes an effort to follow expert advice and take care of each other, we'll come through it that much quicker. Allow this crisis to bring out the best in us, and not the worst. Take care of your neighbors. Thank the supply chain heroes who bring you your essentials, taking a chance of getting sick to do so. Be kind.


*Yes, I know people who work in the service industry are struggling, and many small businesses need immediate help. I feel for them, I do, especially since members of my circle fall into both categories. But that's a blog post for another day.

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Beware the flying vector

He's coming for you.
Every time I write about coronavirus, in my head I hear COVID-19, but my fingers type CORVID-19. I know I'm not the only one who does this, and I find it pretty amusing. Clearly my affinity for crows is getting the better of my subconscious mind.

What is wrong with people? 

I just don't get people. Why are they hoarding paper products and stocking up on ammo? This isn't Doomsday Preppers. It's an epidemic that can be managed if we pay respectful attention to facts, follow the advice of those who have expertise in this area, and don't act like a bunch of selfish knobs. Speaking of selfish knobs, while all these hoarders were buying up all the TP in the store, did they remember to pick up a few things for their neighbors who are at higher risk of dying if they contract COVID-19, or are they just lining the shelves of their basement? I think we all know the answer. If we can all manage to be cautious and decent to one another, this entire thing will end sooner rather than later, with no one needing to lead armed raids to steal their neighbors' toilet paper.

Speaking of cautious

There's an excellent article in the Washington Post today that includes simulations about how fast the virus spreads, why quarantines don't work, and how social isolation is the best way to combat the spread of the epidemic. The bottom line is this: If you're not someone who provides or is in the supply chain of critical services to the population such as food, water, power, healthcare, or emergency services, stay home. It won't kill us to cook our meals at home for the duration, use available technology to stay in touch with loved ones, and telecommute if our employers have the infrastructure to support it. Everyone has to go out for supplies periodically, but other than that, don't go places where you might infect or get infected by other people. Is it a huge bummer, especially during Spring break? Yes. Yes, it is. We've already cancelled two trips as a result of the epidemic, and the rest of our Spring/Summer travel plans don't look too good, either. But my desire to lounge at a resort or visit a National Park doesn't matter one bit when the health and safety of everyone is at stake. Again, don't be a selfish knob.

Charity begins at home

Speaking of cooking our meals at home, there are now thousands of people all over the country who are unemployed for the duration. I'm speaking, of course, of those who work in the food service or hospitality industries in states where those establishments have been closed by order of their state or federal authorities. Many of these folks are living under the poverty line anyway, and being out of work for some period of time is going to be devastating. The Smart Son is in this position, and while the Smart Man and I are prepared to help him if necessary, not everyone has the safety net of well-off parents. We'll be donating the money we're saving from not eating out (which we tend to do a lot) to a local food bank or other charities who provide help to this demographic for the duration. It's the least we can do, given our own circumstances and how little we'll be affected by the epidemic. Please - join us if you're able.

This is not about politics

You all know I'm a big ole flaming liberal, but here's the thing - this epidemic, and our response to this epidemic, is not about politics. It's about everyone doing their best to ensure the risk to our entire population is reduced as much as possible. That absolutely starts with our elected leaders who have to make the tough decisions about how we, as a people, respond to this crisis. But I am not going to ignore recommendations from the federal government because our current President is a vapid piece of shit. Nor do I expect my conservative neighbors to ignore recommendations from our Governor because he's gay and liberal. I am going to take it on faith that everyone involved has the best interest of the American people at heart, and not use the crisis as a means to tear down (or build up) politicians. There will plenty of time for a post-mortem once the danger is passed.

So you think you want to vote

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

I've been a bit frustrated of late with social media, and the non-fact based populist crap that's currently running rampant there, and will continue to run rampant probably forever.

So I created this handy-dandy voter flow-chart to help people work their way through the voting process without being a complete rube about it.

Warning: It's more than a little snarky, and so not suitable for my Facebook page, where I try to keep the partisan sniping to a minimum.



(c) Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men

Voting my Conscience

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The primary ballots for this year's election were mailed on Monday from our County Clerk, and so it's time for me to think in earnest about the Presidential election.

Here in Colorado, any registered voter may vote in any one primary. So as a registered independent, I can vote in the Democratic Primary or the Republican Primary. I strongly approve of this law, because in our strongly partisan political system, the Primary is where the real decisions are made. Given their current platform, there's no fucking way I would vote for a Republican for National office, because seriously, racist, bigot, misogynist, asshole much? But I would like the Republican candidate to be someone other than an amoral, narcissistic, stupid, incurious, lying sexual predator. Someone like Romney, for example. I rarely agree on policy issues with the good Senator, but at least   I believe he's a politician of good character.

I've never even heard of the Republican challengers to 47, and Colorado does not permit write-in candidates for President. So really, what's the point of voting in the Republican Primary?

Which leaves us with the Democratic Primary.

Cory Booker dropped out since the ballots were printed, so I have eleven to choose from for this primary, and here are my thoughts:

  • If you're an old, white, rich guy, you're out. This particular category of Boomers have done more than enough to screw up our nation and our world, and they are out of chances. So go home Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, and Bernie Sanders. Your time has come and gone. Accept it, and retreat gracefully. 
  • There are three women still in the race - Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and Amy Klobuchar.   Having a woman in the White House would make my heart sing, but that's not a good enough reason for me to vote for one of them purely on that basis. 
  • There's one Black candidate, and I like what I've heard from Deval Patrick. He's moderate, and a negotiator who wants to heal the country. Unfortunately, he hasn't made any of the debates, so I doubt his ability to get elected against Trump, especially since a majority of Trump supporters have "issues" with people of color, bless their hearts. 
  • Pete Buttigieg is the youngest candidate, and the first openly gay Democratic Presidential candidate. I have to admit, I loves me some Mayor Pete. He's smart, thoughtful, moderate, and by all accounts a person of good character. I don't worry about his age, but I am concerned about his lack of national political experience, and his electability (see comment regarding bigoted Republicans above). 
  • I like Michael Bennett. I like him as my Senator, and I think he's a good candidate for President. However - electability. He's not very well known outside of Colorado. 
  • Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang are both Ritchy-Rich Rich. This doesn't necessarily eliminate them from contention with me, but it makes me look at them a bit harder. 
In all honesty, I think I'm going to just vote my conscience without regard to electability. The Republican Party has become the Party of Mean, the Party of "Fuck you, I've got mine," the Party of "We Don't Need No Rule of Law," the Party of "Character Doesn't Matter," the Party of "Let's Elect an Amoral, Narcissistic, Stupid, Incurious, Lying Sexual Predator and then Convince the Haters he's the Second Coming." Yeah. Fuck you, Republican Party. At this point in the political cycle, I'd rather have a Libertarian than you, and that's saying something. 

So I will absolutely vote for the Democratic candidate unless they're dead. And even then I might still vote for them. So in this primary election, I will cast my ballot for the candidate who most closely aligns with my values, and let the chips fall where they may. 

My Reasons for Gratitude, 2019

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

This year the Smart Man and I had an opportunity to go to Disney World with my Awesome, Awesome Niece and her staff. It was our first time, but the Smart Niece is an old pro, and spending that time with her and her parents is a gift to be cherished.

For Pride 2019, I joined a group of fellow LGBTQ+ allies at the Denver Pridefest to provide "Free Mom Hugs" to any and all who needed or wanted them. It was my first year doing so, and I found the experience emotionally exhausting, and utterly, utterly necessary and worthwhile. I'm grateful that I've come far enough on my grief journey to have the emotional fortitude to be able to do this work.

Our AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk team, Maureen's Marchers, were the highest fundraising group this year, and I was the #1 individual fundraiser. I'm grateful for the friends, family, and colleagues who donate in Moe's name in an effort to support and defend those who fall into despair. 

I also joined a group called "The Parasol Patrol," who provide escort and shielding services for LGBTQ+ youth who are attending events designed for the LGBTQ+ community. Not only am I grateful to provide support to this marginalized group, I'm proud that I have not yet allowed my anger and rage at the protesters who make my participation in the Parasol Patrol necessary get the better of me.

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my hip this year, but it could have been in my spine, which is much harder to manage and would affect my mobility more severely. I'm grateful there's a surgical remedy for my decrepitude when it's required.

The Smart Man and I finally went to see an independent financial advisor. The one I had from Fidelity irked me, and we really like our new guy. We're in much better shape than we assumed, and while we still have some actions to take in order to retire in the style in which we'd prefer, we're absolutely on track to do so. I'm grateful to have the means to be able to plan effectively for my retirement.


Walking the Walk

Monday, September 9, 2019
It's that time of year. Time for the annual Out of the Darkness Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and once again, me and my family will be walking to raise money in our daughter's name.
________

Moe-Moe with our niece
July 31, 2013 was the worst day of my life. It was the worst day of my life because that was the day the Police Department came to our home to tell us that our precious daughter Moe had died of suicide at the age of 22.

Moe died of uncontrolled mental illness. She experienced severe depression, and was under a doctor's care for her condition. But we lost her anyway, leaving a Moe-shaped hole in my heart that nothing is able to fill.

Every day I mourn her loss in this world, and I would give everything to have her here with us again. But I can't do that, so instead I choose to perform service projects in her memory such as being a good ally to the LGBTQ+ community, and donating money to institutions she cared about, like our local library foundation.

And I also support  AFSP's mission in helping people who are at risk overcome their lack of hope and help those who have been affected by suicide.

This is the third year I've been up to participating in this event personally, but this will be the seventh year the Maureen's Marchers team is hitting the road in my baby girl's name on the annual Out of the Darkness Denver Metro Walk. The money raised in this event will go to fighting suicide and supporting AFSP's goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.

The danger of suicide is especially high within the LGBTQ+ community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 24 and the third leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 14. Among youth who identify as sexual minorities, the likelihood of death by suicide has been estimated to be two to seven times greater than the likelihood of death by suicide among heterosexual youth. These kids need help, and it's up to us to provide it in any way we can.

Please help us honor our lost, beloved Moe-Moe and consider donating to the AFSP by clicking this "Donatelink. All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide. The AFSP is a Charity Navigator 3 star charity, and they spend 83.7% of their total budget on program expenses.

"When you are sorrowful look again at your own heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." ~ Khalil Gibron

Thank you for your support!

The Ridiculousness of the Righteous, with Translations

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Last Sunday, the Smart Man, Sister Stacey and me went to our first Parasol Patrol event. For those who aren't familiar, here is their mission:
The "Parasol Patrol" was formed out of a need to protect our children's senses from the onslaught of hateful speech from protesters. We provide hearing protection to muffle the vitriolic taunts and use our umbrellas to shield them from the vulgar signs and angry faces. Without rising to the bait of these misguided protesters, we walk between them and the kids/guests, buffering the children from those who would do them harm. Parasol Patrol is comprised of community volunteers and are not a security force or vocal anti-protesters. We do what we can in the spirit of peace and love so that the youngest can have a safe places in which to share their talents and creativity.
The event we attended was "Dragutante," at the Bluebird Theater. The purpose of the event is to allow young people the opportunity to participate in a drag event in a safe space, with the encouragement of their families and the guidance and mentorship of adult drag queens who volunteer their time to this non-profit.

So it brings out the crazies, because of course it does. Nothing stirs up the self-righteous bigots like things they don't understand.

Enter the Parasol Patrol.

This was taken prior to the arrival of the crazies. The lovely couple to my left is Ruthie and Lowell, who have been friends of my birth family for many, many years.


One of the founders of the group, a lovely man named Eli, told us that the protesters had announced they were "coming out in force" for this event. Apparently "in force" means about seven people. The Parasol Patrol volunteers numbered about 70.

We stood on the private property owned by the Bluebird. Bluebird's security occupied the neutral zone between us and sidewalk where the protesters chose to display their signs and use their bull-horns.

When I first volunteered for this event, I was really concerned about my ability to keep my temper and not get emotionally hooked by the rhetoric of the protesters. But you know what? I need not have worried. These people were just so utterly ridiculous, it was hard to take them seriously.

The first item of note is that about half the crazies chose to wear masks. I guess because nothing says "I'm a righteous paragon of virtue crusading against moral turpitude" like refusing to show your face. Bonus dumbassery: They stupidly chose to wear Guy Fawkes masks from V for Vendetta. Yeah. I've seen that movie, and its point is exactly the opposite of controlling people and their choices because you don't agree with them. The ignorance is strong in this one.

Then there were their so-called "messages," which basically consisted of ancient tropes and personal attacks that have nothing to do with the modern world and the current state of sociological and psychological science concerning the LGBTQ community in general and non-gender conforming people specifically.

And because we like to perform public service here at Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men, I am going to helpfully provide translations of their signs and chants. You're welcome!

PROTESTER: The LGBTQ community is just like NAMBLA!
TRANSLATION: The gayz are icky.

PROTESTER: All the men who support this are gay!*
TRANSLATION: I cannot accept that human sexuality is a spectrum, and not a binary categorization. I can't accept this because the idea of a spectrum makes me uncomfortable with my own sexuality, and I'm a manly, man's man, and I can't have that.

PROTESTER: This is sexual exploitation!
TRANSLATION: This sort of self expression makes me very uncomfortable. You can tell that's how I feel because I never show up for beauty contests for little, little kids, just this.

PROTESTER: This is child abuse!
TRANSLATION: It never occurs to me that teaching my own kids to hate others for no reason is far more abusive than allowing free self-expression.

PROTESTER: You're not welcome here!
TRANSLATION: You're ignoring my CIS, male, white privilege and doing what you want rather than doing what I want you to do. Simultaneously, I am ignoring that I am outnumbered at this event ten to one.

PROTESTER: You're infringing on my rights!
TRANSLATION: Those would be my rights to force people into the roles and places I find acceptable. Everyone knows freedom and the First Amendment are only for CIS, white, males.

PROTESTER: You're only here because seeing boys dressed as women is how you get your rocks off!
TRANSLATION: I'm very uncomfortable with modern sexuality, so I don't understand how normal sexual expression and actual criminal behavior are different. Also, I probably have a tiny penis.

PROTESTER: Perverts!
TRANSLATION: My definition of "normal" is very narrow and only includes my own, provincial experience.

There was only one protester there (who arrived late) who I considered to be anything other than the last, pathetic gasp of toxic masculinity. This guy just SHOUTED white nationalist/white supremacist/Neo-nazi, and made sure his demeanor was as threatening as possible. The Smart Man noticed the Denver Police (who had two officers there to ensure things didn't get out of control) were watching him pretty closely. I noticed that the loudest of the protestors knew Nazi-boy personally, and kept telling him how very glad he was to see him. I suspect the overlap between white supremacists and anti-LGBTQ protesters is non-trivial, but I have no data to back that up, so take it for what it's worth - a private opinion I pulled out of my ass.

Our next event is Drag for All Ages at Mile High Comics. This one's a recurring event, and longtime members of the Parasol Patrol told us Sunday that the vitriol, nastiness, and vulgarity at this event is even worse. So of course we'll be there.

I guess nothing says I'm a righteous man like spouting hateful language at minor children. So, so ridiculous. History will not judge them kindly, and neither will I.
________

*The Smart Man noted later that this particular taunt really hurt his feelings. So, so much. 🙄 How insecure in their own identities are these knuckleheads that they think calling someone "gay" is a deadly insult? RIDICULOUS.