Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spiking the ball...

"your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins"
 - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935) 

"Where we've already won on same sex marriage, stop spiking the ball."
- GayCynic (Hippie Era-Present)

Look. Once you've won the ball-game, don't be spiking the ball - it merely invites your former opponents to get sufficiently bent out of shape to stage a resurgence, something that we in the LGBT community just plain don't need. The current histrionics over the proposed Arizona Statute look suspiciously like spiking the ball, unless someone can show me a version where it actually bars protests and exercise of free speech employed against religious bigots (or religious objectors, if you prefer).

I'd like to see resistance to same sex marriage drop off a lot more than I'd like to see religiously motivated busi

If some florist, or baker, photographer, venue or faith organization has all kinds of religious issues with same sex marriage - ultimately, we don't need  them. There's more than one of each in the world, and there exists plenty of payback possible, should it come to that - boycotts, picketing, protests, pamphlets and a wide variety of other fun that is particularly effective against the most likely targets - one-off mom'n'pops. For some reason larger businesses range from "don't make me get that all over me" on our issues to actually being supportive.

Yet, as a community, we've had to "go there." Not satisfied with garnering same sex marriage several states (and with recent court cases, I wouldn't bet against nationwide sometime soon) we apparently need to compel people to support those marriages publicly, against their will and in violation of their religious faith.

Let's see the response we're getting from our straight allies.

"You know, I'd be much more likely to believe the demands for "tolerance" and "equality" if it weren't for the fact that people are actually suing others because they won't make them a wedding cake.

Here's fair. If a person does not wish to sell you a wedding cake for your gay marriage, then go somewhere else. If he wants to be that way, let him. If you involve the government to force him to violate his religion, then you're a bigger ass than he could ever be.

Oh, and here's the scary Arizona "NO GAYS ALLOWED!" law."
            - Facebook Post, 2/21/14 from Sean Sorrentino, owner of NC Gun Blog"

As it happens, Sean is an ally in most senses - but fairly even-handed on calling "jerk" on either side of the issue.

Coercive laws that force a small business owner or individual to do business with a person or group they'd rather not do business with do not promote tolerance, equality or diversity in any true sense. Instead they promote shoddy service (do you *REALLY* want someone shooting your wedding, doing the cake or floral arrangements against their will? When it really is that easy to do a shoddy job of any of the above?) and festering resentment.

And what are we when we coerce labor from the unwilling but yet another form of oppressor?

I'd rather go across town or the state to get service from someone supportive that I can trust not to make malicious errors. I'd much rather lead a protest or a negative publicity campaign against a bigoted establishment.

Both approaches result in either corrected behavior or the offending party going bankrupt - and they do not require government coercion. These approaches recognize that a business owner has the right to do business with whom he or she chooses and that *particularly* when matters of faith come into play, they have rights every bit as important as ours - but at the same time, ensure that dollars do not go to support bigotry..

I may utterly despise those of Phelpsian ilk, but they have every right to spew their hatred - just as we have a right to our Pride Parades. I may celebrate a faith of love and acceptance, but others have just as much right to stew in a theological sewage pit filled with narrow-mindedness, hatred and bigotry.

I am not required to like them, refrain from making fun of them, nor to do business with or otherwise associate with them. I am merely required to keep my paws to myself and refrain from spontaneous violence. Is that something we want changed, since it will apply just as much against us as for us?

I don't want to be forced to serve dinner to the Phelps clan or have to do up a wedding cake for the Grand Wizard of the local KKK.  I'd rather not accept a photography and promotional graphic arts commission documenting *and supporting* a Catholic Archbishop promoting anti-gay discrimination and an initiative to repeal a gay marriage law.

None of us with a vague grip on rationality would want to be forced to accept such noxious business deals lest we be imprisoned or sued into bankruptcy. Yet that is what we propose for our opponents...and ultimately, the law is pretty good at playing "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander."

If we look at the Boston St. Paddy's Parade case, it came down to "you cannot make someone endorse or support something contrary or sabotaging to their  own message" in a ruling that the parade organizers could exclude LGBT contingents. Later, at least one Pride Parade used this same case to exclude NAMBLA from their event. Many have theorized that inherent to "freedom of association" guaranteed in the constitution is a twin to an equally valid less celebrated "right not to associate."

The current crop of rights-balancing legislation (AZ, MO, elsewhere) is deeply flawed, most basically in the attempt of many such statutes to force the same standards upon both businesses and governmental agencies/employees. Nothing could be less realistic.

Government must be held to a substantially higher standard of non-discrimination than any other body in our society. At a minimum,  a government agency must provide scrupulously non-discriminatory service to all citizens unless such person has through due process of law been disqualified from receiving such service. (e.g., the rights of children, felons and the mentally incompetent are all limited by law, as are their legitimate interactions with governments).

Similarly, active duty members of the military forfeit a variety of rights for the duration of their term of service - I would argue that limitation extends more broadly to government workers in the sense that by signing on as a government employee you should forfeit your rights to engage in discriminatory behavior while acting as an government employee or while on government premises.

In short, if you cannot provide service as a .gov staffer to the public on a non-discriminatory basis in adherence with relevant law, you have no business as a government employee.

The standard for individual and small business service providers is, of necessity, far lower. As a nation, rights are things we have historically we have enforced (or far too often, failed to enforce) as limitations upon government - not individuals. And a business - particularly a small business or a sole proprietorship - is nothing more than an expression of an individual or group of individuals.

When dealing with individuals or a private entities (non-profits, businesses, etc) we need to stick with the notion of requiring a compelling interest and the utilization of the least intrusive mechanism to accomplish said interest before we allow the dread behemoth of governmental regulation upon the playing field. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tolerance, Firefox & Payback

Over the last several days, various folks have been getting all excited about the notion that members of the LGBT community - who usually call for tolerance in the workplace - were somehow being hypocritical in their expressed hostility towards Mr. Eich. That somehow, if you called for tolerance you gave up your ability to act against individuals who had at some level offended you.

This is a possibly willful misunderstanding of what makes up "tolerance." Tolerance does not mean that an individual somehow gets a pass for their actually harmful actions.

Put simply, intolerance can be described as when a member of the particular group you dislike/distrust/despise comes in the house or office door and you leap up onto the nearest piece of office furniture and scream "IT'S A (scary group identifier here )!! AIEEE!" before actually or metaphorically opening fire.

Tolerance is admitting that the critter that just walked through the door is human and an individual - and worthy of being judged on their own merits rather than being tarred with some one-size-fits-all brush dipped in a stereotype.

Nothing here prevents or deters the operation of a second life reality - "payback is a bitch" - when our example critter walks in the door, rushes up to you, and kicks you in the balls prior to trying to get his/her pet goat to rape everything semi-mobile in the room.

At that point (and several less vivid examples) tolerance stops being a relevant question. This critter has just grossly offended, their very own selves, by various and sundry physical assaults - and any little old bad thing that happens to them during the response to their misconduct belongs almost solely to the offender (brownie points can be lost, rather extensively, for over-enthusiasm in the response).

And so it is with Firefox and Eich.

Eich donated a $1,000 to the pro Prop 8 campaign - a campaign that in television, print media and radio strove to use every vile stereotype of LGBT folks as pedophiles, corrupters of children and neither capable nor worthy of meaningful relationships.

The proponents of Prop 8 gave us a campaign based in hatred, fear and bigotry. One that not only pushed through a constitutional amendment designed to ensure second class status for LGBT folks in California - and as a happy bonus push the cause of civil rights for LGBT folks back by decades.

And, to the best of my knowledge, he has never recanted or criticized the techniques of the Prop 8 promoters.

Dress it up in diplomacy if you want, but why yes - when somebody tries to marginalize an entire community (of which I am a member) and stimulate bigotry against said community - tolerance is no longer relevant to the discussion.

They've kicked down the door and brought the goat...and what follows is the kind of thing that both right then and for years to come will occupy a special and warm place in the hearts of those offended.

The "payback is a bitch" place.

Eich could have, at any point, issued a public mea culpa and likely driven off the fall-out. I don't even think that it would have had to have been for his donation, but for the vile manner in which the pro Prop 8 campaign was conducted.

Instead, I've heard naught but silence - and while I'm not particularly moved to action on this, all things considered, I am not moved to huge sympathy or support for Eichman. I'll keep using Mozilla, thank you.

And just because a community calls for tolerance doesn't mean they have to smile and say thank you when someone rushes up and kicks the right between the forks and gets out the goat.

(Note: Corrections have been made after coffee has been applied to writer. Further corrections may occur after additional caffeine.)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

GunRightsAcrAmerica ‏@GRAAmerica 11h Thoughts? @GayPatriot @Gay_Cynic "@DLoesch: Bill Maher: "There is a gay mafia ..."

The link hauls you over to Real Clear Politics and the original article.

The answer is "Not exactly and it's not that simple."

To understand what some folks call the "gay mafia" you need to both appreciate some of the factors in the psychology and history of the LGBT community, and to realize that the LGBT community couldn't pull off a "mafia" on its best day.

We're just not that organized, and trying to impose organization is not well received.

The modern LGBT community in the United States emerged amidst the Civil Rights Movement - from the ashes of the Stonewall Riots.

Our first successful leaders were folks from the left and the outer edges of society. It wasn't the polite sorts that conformed that broke the ground for equal rights - it was our hippies, drag queens, and leather queens with the occasional social justice warrior (back when social justice was something other than victim herding). We were led by a rowdy crowd of rabid indivualists of a leftist persuasion (you could still do that, then), misfits and rebels - held together by equal portions of hope and fury.

Jumping ahead several chapters, you might recall that the LGBT community - particularly the gay community - suffered a serious epidemic during the 80's and 90's that gut shot an entire generation of potential leaders, forcing the "old warhorses" to remain in harness and folks more than a little green into leadership roles before their time. My take is that this will sort itself out in a couple of more decades, but today we still have an odd combination of "impassioned 70's radical" and "pseudo-occupy" fairly predominant.

Neither has to talk amongst themselves to be grimly unforgiving of those who attack the community. That's a good thing, because unless under direct threat...we don't necessarily play well together at an organizational level.

Let's not forget Prop. 8 in California was not merely an initiative battle - proponents waged a war of vicious slurs and vile implication upon the entire LGBT community. While I don't usually cite Slate as anything other than an online bird cage liner, in this case they get it right in their review of the Prop 8 campaign.

 Just to rub salt in the wound, Prop 8 was launched in response to the much trumpeted ruling by the California Supreme Court holding that barring LGBT marriage violated the constitution...and before the first ad was run, Prop 8 was pissing in the wheaties of a celebratory moment with a message of "I'm sorry, we're going to keep on discriminating against your relationships and families."

Under the best of circumstances, that would not be well received. The campaign tactics of proponents were gasoline upon an already well-stoked fire.

Those of you who know me well have, on occasion, heard me hint that "never, EVER mess with a drag queen" was a really good rule to follow. The same holds true, in spades, for a minority community activist that you've persuaded that you're in support of a return of the Klan or the next best thing.

Things well and truly hit the fan and, frankly, I am forced to say that those who supported Prop 8 largely worked really hard (or allowed those that represented them to do so) to build a large and quite possibly permanently angry fan base amongst the LGBT community. I find it difficult to sympathize with them.

An ill-fitting analogy might be to contemplate the response of other communities were David Duke appointed the CEO of Ford. It seems reasonable to expect that would not go well.

Thus it is with former Brendan Eich and his $1,000 Prop 8 donation. No gay mafia required (I'd rather herd cats cross-bred with scorpions than try to organize such a thing) - just a whole bunch of abidingly angry people with long memories.

More generally? It's been less than 50 years since it was illegal for three gay folks to gather in a NY bar. It's been less than 5 years since the Atlanta Police raided the Atlanta Eagle (from what I understand, the lawsuits are proceeding merrily along). Bashings still happen.

As a community we've learned smiling sweetly and saying thank you when attacked is often an invitation to a swift kick in the teeth. Calling B**s***t and firing up the protestors and waking up the lawyers? Not so much.

Instead, for everyone with three or more neurons to rub together and any sense of history the lesson that making it very clear that harassing LGBT folk is neither a good nor safe choice promotes ones individual and community safety (it's not a BUNCH more fun if it's your friend getting bashed rather than you..).

Your mileage may vary. I calls them like I see them. I can't say I'm thrilled with Mr. Eichs debacle, but neither can I honestly say I'm astonishingly traumatized. Mr. Eichs had every right to make that donation - and the Mozilla staffers had every right to loudly and enthusiastically share their dismay based on that donation. Looks suspiciously like grown-ups playing amongst themselves with the polite masks of PC off.

Friday, March 21, 2014

News & Updates

First off, for those as have been following, thanks for all the prayers and kind thoughts. Keep'm coming, but I bring good news this day...

For those as have missed previous episodes, I turned up with liver cancer in January and got hooked up with the Y-90 bead implant protocol...and today was the MRI & "what's next" check-up.

At 0715 the MRI fun began and it continues - but per the interventional radiologist, it looks to his eye like we got what needed getting pending final MRI analysis on Monday. I'm scheduled for another MRI adventure in 3 mo as follow-up.

Simplified this translates to "hey! remission!" ...

Time to get on with life while keeping an eye on this front.

GC :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why do you need pepper spray?

A preacher was caught in rising floodwaters and climbed up onto the roof of his house to wait for God to rescue him. A neighbor paddled a canoe by, calling out “Water is going to be over your roof soon, climb on in and let’s get!”

“No thanks” the preacher replied. “God will save me”

A short time later the police motored by in a boat. “Water’s rising. Hop in or you’ll drown.”
“No thanks” replied the preacher. “God will save me.”

A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “Water’s getting pretty high. Climb on up and let’s get you safe.”

“No thanks” replied the preacher. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

The floodwaters kept rising, cresting the roof and the preacher was swept away and drowned.

On arriving, he demanded to see God about a complaint. Ushered before God’s he cried out, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

“Yes, you did my child” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

Recently I've been getting back involved with the Methodist Church (NW Variant) that, at least around here, is a protestant faith of generally liberal leaning. Happily enough, my pastor is a delightful lesbian about ten years my senior and we enjoy talking about a wide variety of issues. I especially enjoy that we're able to discuss things openly we may not necessarily agree on.

I'd gone to a Lent study this evening, and she asked me what I'd been doing since we'd last gabbed and I mentioned that I was looking at buying an ASP Key Defender or two on the reccomendation of a trusted friend.

Now, she knows that I carry a gun and that I tend to buy more based as much on "SHINY" as on any practical need (at least at this point). So she replied, "WHAT do you need PEPPER SPRAY for?" with a strong hint of impending moral correction (and the implication that if I carried a gun, well, whatever did I need with pepper spray...).

That left me pondering a bit even as I answered her question, pointing out that pepper spray was a nice non-lethal tool that - situation allowing - might allow me to depart a situation leaving my assailants unperforated, a condition I strongly preferred.

I think that as people who have accepted the occasional need for justifiable force, even lethal force, we have ethical obligations - that just because we carry a gun, even when the law says that we are within our rights to ventilate a wrongdoer, doesn't necessarily mean that we *should*...

Until someone is silly enough to pay me enough to overcome my basic caution, I'm going to stick with the notion that one of the best self-defense strategies of all is to be where the trouble isn't. I mean, there are a whole bunch of places in the world that you just *know* are high-risk AND stupid.

Avoiding them usually doesn't cost me anything and lets me miss out on all kinds of drama. I'm pretty ok with that. If there is some kind of concrete "good reason" for me to meander through drama central, all well and good - but "hey! lookkit this" or its many variants just don't qualify.

If it still works for you, "Run Away! Run AWAY!" has an awful lot going for it in a lot of situations. Beats the heck out of dropping 20k on a funeral or 50k on an attorney. Pride's cheap - hospital bills and attorney fees, not so much. And if you can talk your way out of things going sideways, more power to you. In a lot of cases waving cheerfully at your fleeing SumDude has a lot going for it.

I'm still thinking about it, but probably will add the ASP Key Defender to my inventory. As an asthmatic I'm a tad twitchy about pepper spray, but I really like the idea of a non-lethal option - so I'll likely fret a bit and buy one for me and another for the Mom-unit. And inert practice cartridges.

I'm pretty ok with having options - particularly options that let everyone go home mostly the way they showed up.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Welcome, young reporter....

Welcome young communications/journalism major from those of us in alt-media, the blogosphere, and the myriad channels beyond.

You are most fortunate, young padawan in having entered a profession that bears many privileges. Once you achieve minimal fame, petty concerns like legality and morality shall be of far less concern to you than the average mortal - for though you should sensibly remain somewhat concerned about such matters, the powers that be will most often be more hesitant to torment you for your faux pas than they would a mere peon of the state. After all, look at David Gregory...

As our exemplar demonstrates, however, there are some laws - that no matter how especially special you may become due to fame fortune or journalistic status - that just won't respect your specialness. Physical laws, for instance.

When a whole bunch of hillside (or water, or steaming lava, or snowy mountainside) is rolling on past, no matter how peaceable it looks...don't step out in the middle of it.

Press credentials also aren't a terribly effective shield against natural disaster, gun (or any projectile, really) fire or very large angry people carrying scary big sticks with nails driven through them.

That will be all.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A few thoughts on Open Carry and the Knee Jerk Condemnation thereof...

I have been a supporter of gun rights and other civil rights work for some years.

At the end of the day, Open Carry folks are the "drag and leather queens" of our movement. In the State of Washington, where carry is still largely accepted, we do ourselves no disservice with holstered open carry of handguns. Much like the aforementioned drag and leather queens, our open carry community members are the ones most likely to be out there loud and proud and getting interviewed for the media - because they are visible. For philosophical or other reasons, there exist  individuals who responsibly open carry  - often in the belief that it is wrong to require a license or otherwise exercise prior restraint upon individuals wishing to exercise a fundamental right - carry. Further, many believe that open carry offers the same benefit to the 2A community that "coming out of the closet" does to the LGBT community.

It is far easier to demonize someone (or an entire class of someones) that you've never met or a group with whom you've had a very limited number of interactions with the so-called "bad children" of that group than it is to demonize Aunt Sally, Uncle Jim, cousin Larry or "my brothers best buddy, Sheila-Sue that likes girls and fixes his car for him." Familiarity makes that whole "all LGBT folks" or "all gun owners" demonizing MUCH harder to accomplish - the "hey, I know someone gay, a gun owner, or both and they are pretty decent folks..." thing kicks in and the propaganda starts to break down in the face of that.

The question "is open carry always bad" is a red herring, at best. The real question, the one which requires actual thought, is "under what circumstances and by whom is open carry beneficial?"  I would suggest points for consideration:

* Is the firearm you propose to carry inherently frightening to the general populace (regardless of whether that fear is rational, and no, anti-gun loons do not count as "general populace" - neither do gun-owners, for this purpose)?

* Do you have the social skills to interact politely and diplomatically (see "non-confrontationally") with the general public and/or law enforcement when questions arise?

*Do you have the necessary skills to interact with media successfully?

At this point in history, I'd suggest that at about 98% or so of public gatherings that long arms or semi-auto firearms closely based on a long-arm platform are right out under the first test - and further, that they indicate an undesirable (for our purpose) degree of attention-seeking. It is possible that, with guidance, folks engaging in such can learn "how to win friends and discombobulate the anti's" - but only in the presence of a willingness to learn AND a willing teacher. Most that I've met carrying long arms at rallies and such are newcomers to political activity and while quite passionate, are often more focused on that passion and moral righteousness ("it's my RIGHT") than on *winning*.

On the other hand, pretty much everyone else in the OC movement I've met...they are our allies, not our enemies. It's probably less than constructive to deride an entire group of potential supporters just because of their outriders.

The second test addresses more of the "whom" part - if you are hot-headed or generally quick to anger, going for a quick OC stroll through some of Seattle's more liberal neighborhoods is likely not the best possible choice. There are certainly other regions of the state where the chance of less than enthusiastic acceptance exist. Odds are quite good that even if you are acting in an entirely lawful manner, that you are going to get to interact with the Seattle Police (a good number of which are alleged to suffer from mild to severe cases of "not from around here" and may not necessarily have the skills to interact successfully with an oversensitive soul). It'll be up to you, wherever you are open carrying, to be "the calm one" and "the ambassador" in any situation you stumble into - whether with SPD or the curious/concerned lil' old southern granny asking if you are a cop and "is that really legal?" "Why?" You need to be ready to patiently work with either of the above. If you can't, OC probably isn't for you (at least in any way beneficial to the 2A community.  When you OC, you take on a greater responsibility than all the rest of us quietly CCP'ing away - because you are *visible.*

Finally, the third test (optional as long as you never talk to the media nor allow yourself to be photographed by them). Talk to someone with media experience before you go so far as to identify yourself to the media. The media are *not* your friend - they are there in pursuit of stories that sell ad revenue. The bigger and splashier the story, the happier their managers. Big and splashy is *fine* - so long as gun owners are perceived as rational, intelligent and well-informed folks at the end of the day. However, controversy sells - so the media will gleefully seek out the most emotionally wrenching, shocking or just plain dramatic elements to portray - don't give them that.

Your mileage may vary. All this represents only my opinion on things, not that of any organizations that I may or may not be associated with in theory or in reality. If you want organizations views, you should probably talk to people who *do* speak for organizations.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Terror is not a sustainable condition

At least as far as I can tell, one can only do terror (and/or watch ones intellect leave the building) for a limited period. Then you have to either get over it and move in the most positive direction available or do some variation on curling up and preparing to die.

I've chosen the first option, hopefully rather obviously. I've done the angiogram tango and tomorrow morning will be doing the y-90 bead implant radiation thing. I'm feeling fairly positive about it, and hopeful that it will nuke the bejeezus out of the tumor.

I'm thankful for those in my life who've been gracious as I lost my marbles for nearly a month (they were, thankfully, returned about Tuesday before last) and am now working like a madman to try and play a mean game of catch-up. The world does not pause simply because I got told I am engaged in medical adventure.

Finally, I got to take four newbies (my brother, his brother-in-law & wife and their kid) out shooting this Saturday. All had fun, nobody was inappropriately perforated and things went well - but I learned a thing or two. One experienced shooter is simply not enough to work with four newbies is right high on the list of "lessons learned." Next time I take them out, I'll plan on taking along at least one other experienced shooter and perhaps two... and hope for warmer/drier weather.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Men are failing us"

Breda brought an utterly regrettable article to my attention via FaceBook some time ago that reminds me of many articles I've read elsewhere and of folks I've heard of speaking - claiming to represent the womens community or other "oppressed" communities - preaching the gospel of victimhood loud and proud. This particular special snowflake blurts forth:

"Where are our men? Why are they not protecting us?" Sanchez continued, her voice full of frustration. "Men are failing us. I feel as though we are not being protected."
 Perhaps Sanchez asks the wrong question. After decades of being told by the National Organization for Women and their fellow travelers that women are strong and intelligent individuals, worthy of respect and not needing the oppressive protection of men - just perhaps "Where are our men?" is the wrong question.

We've been told to go away. Repeatedly. That our services as protectors were neither required nor desired.

Is it any surprise that an awful lot of men went?


(From a discussion on FB regarding the unique vulnerability of real estate agents)

Carrying a firearm is an intensely personal decision and should be considered in the context of "this is not some kind of self-defense or safety strategy magic wand." If you make that choice, I would strongly encourage a comprehensive safety strategy to include de-escalation, exit choices and training. As a side note, I would equally strongly resist *mandating* such training.

In the Seattle area we are fortunate to have the Seattle Firearms Academy led by Gila & Marty Hayes (among other training institutions) where nationally renowned trainer Massad Ayoob regularly teaches. We are also lucky enough to have Kathy Jackson, author of the "Cornered Cat" living and teaching in our area.

My contribution?

1) Be where the trouble isn't, if at all possible.
2) Run away! Run away! (if you can - for some of us that doesn't work so well..)
3) De-escalate, if you can.
4) Shoot center of mass.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A few more steps...

It's been a busy week.

Monday evening I met with my pastor for a couple of hours, opening an ongoing conversation on faith, finality and hope. We talked for hours and I began my rapproachment with the Methodist church. Like all things human, it is flawed - but it is also a source of hope and comfort.

And, while I am confident that God (however you imagine him) is ok with last minute conversions - I'm also fairly confident that there is a fair amount more sincerity (as opposed to desperation) in a more measured approach and acceptance of faith. I've never lost faith entirely, but I have wondered and have certainly been distant from organized faiths for a very long time.

It is time to change that.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in Olympia dealing with political amusements (I-594/591) and offering a few comments. I had the pleasure of riding with Minuteman and meeting a  number of new folks while I was down there. I'll comment elsewhere on Effective Activism 101 (aka, "How to Not Be A Numbskull & Get What You Want").

Thursday, as related in the last post, was the "great coming out in the office" regarding the cancer adventure. I am deeply grateful that I work with and for a number of quality individuals of great dignity (well, most of the time) and graciousness.

Friday was my initial consult with the Radiation Oncologist. I went in with the view that some hope was better than none, and that even a Hail Mary play was better than rolling over. To my surprise and delight the fine folks at UW suggested they felt they had a significantly better than even chance of beating this thing if I went along with the plan.

I intend to, rather enthusiastically. This will include more focus on hydration and giving up some culiinary choices near and dear to me at the price.

That brings us pretty much up to date. I'm told that my treatment will be a candy-coated combination of "hurry up" and "wait" which, while trying, is a relatively small cross to bear. This morning I ran down for a Bylaws committee meeting in Puyallup (and got stood up - just because I'm trying to be a better person doesn't mean I can't be a tad cranky about such things).

What I'm learning at this point? Well, I'd suggest not casually putting off happiness (or at least alleviating misery) for some theoretical future "ideal time." I'll repeat that there is an awful lot of crud that can be gotten out of the way (insurance of various sorts, final p
lanning, etc) well before things get all critical - and that when things are all critical is usually the worst possible time to be dealing with those details. And that sometimes life blinds us to how many and how wonderful a group(s) of friends we have, and how much they love us - it shouldn't take something of this scale to realize such a thing, but often we're *busy*. 

Wake up and smell the roses - and hug a friend :)

Coming out is hard to do... Part III

Fear isn't rational and it isn't usually filled with fluffy bunny optimism.

This is, perhaps, the third time I've come out over one thing or another. Can't say that I've been thrilled at the prospect on any of those occasions, and this one is no different. There was fear of rejection, financial ruin and general dismay.

Wasn't made any easier by the fact I had a few moral qualms about breaking the news to folks (and my boss) right before they were going to be involved in major events and legislative testimony. Something about not wanting to distract them when I did not see any sort of clinical benefit from said distraction.

Well. This

Seems I ran out of patience for blinding irrationality and spin about a day in to legislative testimony down in Olympia. Law is serious stuff and shouldn't be sold through tragedy or blood-dancing. So, if I was going to be handed a cancer diagnosis, I was going to use it - to quash such hype as best as I could.

Talked with the boss the next day, and received nothing but support. (Remember that bit about fear being irrational and not necessarily based in reality?).

More on next steps tomorrow and we should be all caught up. .

(Oh, re "Part III" - once as gay, once as a gun owner, and now as a cancer patient...)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Foggy paths


It is four days later and two days until I see the UW Liver Tumor folks. I am, simply both frightened and hopeful as I face this next step. My "cemetery-side" funeral needs are resolved and I am hoping to talk to Mom's minister tomorrow (Tuesday) and both take care of the "ceremony side" of affairs and re-examine my spiritual side.

I spoke with my youngest cousin this evening and asked her to share the news with the rest of her side of the family, particularly my cousin David as he is a bit... fragile. We'll see how that goes.

I have yet to break the news at work yet, and am planning on doing so on Thursday. It is my intent to work as long as is practical (well, unless someone sends me a winning lottery ticket) and to be of service to my family and communities as long as possible. I have projects I want to see complete and obligations I want fulfilled while I am still relatively perky.

I'm already learning important lessons that I hope others can learn from me, rather than from life. Mainly, make sure you have short and long term life insurance and in funereal plan in place well before you need them. Ideally, paid for in advance.

I'm also learning to accept the mind-boggling love I've been showered with since this came up and the offers of support. For someone that has long been influenced by a desire to "not be a bother" and a certain shyness (often overcome with vigorous over-compensation) it's been affirming, heart-warming and tear-jerking - and I am immensely grateful for each and every one of these wonderful people.

For the most part, at least right now, I find myself past the desire to melt down every 10-15 minutes and mostly calm. The "I'm a cancer patient" meme runs through my head with an icing of horror and disbelief way too often, but I seem to be going through a period of calm - for now. There are still teary moments (that thankfully are internal for the most part - I'd really *like* to retain some shreds of dignity), but they are rarer.

That will be all for now. Posting will be irregular. Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beginning a Journey - "Nothing concentrates a man's mind more than the the prospect of being hanged in the morning." ~Samuel Johnson


On New Years Eve I saw my doctor for a check-up. I have diabetes and other issues and so checking in from time to time is medically indicated. Hands were shaken, blood was drawn, labs were sent.

A few days later he called me back and shared with me that the level of a protein indicating some kinds of cancer was elevated in my bloodstream and that he wanted me to have an ultrasound. Thinking this was fairly serious stuff, I promptly said "yes" and went along with the plan and had the ultrasound performed on January 6th. I let my employer know that there were some issues in progress.

It came back clean. I was very pleased and went so far as to buy myself a trinket I'd been lusting after for a number of years, a replica of a Civil War era sword, figuring that dodging a bullet of that magnitude was worth a tiny bit of celebration. I also let the boss know that I'd come back clean and we were both deeply relieved.

My doctor, however, remained concerned at the unexplained elevated protein level and ordered an MRI. The last time I did not take my doctors advice, it cost me, so I again went off to see folks with big machines and high tech and had an MRI performed - but with fairly high spirits.

On Friday, January 10th, I got back the first results from my doctor - a suspicious lesion was present on my liver. He referred me to a hepatology clinic and off I went, deeply concerned. I began to talk with a small group of friends about the situation and to reach out for support, as I was a bit frazzled.

Monday the 13th I visited the hepatology crew...and was diagnosed with liver cancer and given a prognosis of 6-12 months to live, with treatment - becoming symptomatic (i.e., symptoms so you'd notice) in 4 months at the earliest. I was told that like any prognosis of this kind that the numbers were almost certainly wrong that it could be longer or faster depending on just what kind of cancer was present. I was then referred to the University of Washington liver tumor group for treatment, second opinion, and further diagnosis. I was advised to "get all the logistical stuff in order so you can focus on medical."

That's where things are at as I write this. I'm going to keep posting (on this and other matters) as things progress, and it is my intention to do my darnedest to beat the odds. But I intend to keep posting on this topic as long as I can in the hopes that I can offer folks some insights on "how to do this" and, more than likely, "how not to do this."  I leave it to each of you to determine which is which.

What I've done so far? Beyond the whole "run in circles, scream and shout" bit I've notified my younger brother and his wife and their daughters, I've begun the process of making sure that the userid/pw combinations for websites and social media that I created/maintain have been passed on to the relevant folks to ensure a smooth transition, and I've put in place similar plans for this blog and my other "social web presence."

This Saturday I will be making burial arrangements (in case those should those become necessary), and I will be seeking spiritual counsel on a number of matters - as well as arranging a proper funeral, Methodist post-funeral potluck, and a wake for those inclined. Should I be required to make an early departure, it is my hope that my friends and family mark my departure with laughter, gossip and love - not tears and sack cloth.

I begin a journey with two possible endings - either some form of recovery or passage to what I am told is a kinder and gentler realm. I hope and will fight for the first - but am comforted by the notion of the second.

The support of my friends, family, and chosen family has been astonishing and wonderful in these early days. I am deeply grateful for each of them - and lest I be too distracted to do so later want to throw out particular recognition at this point to FarmFam, Scribbler, and MattG. I don't mean to neglect anyone by not mentioning them at this point, but they have really gone (and continue to go) way above the call of duty and I am immensely grateful for their efforts and support and that of others who have also stepped forward with offers of help, support and shared knowledge.

More later.