Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays

I know I haven't been around much lately. And the truth is, I've been busy. It's the holidays with all the festivities and craziness that goes with it. I find myself committing to too many social gatherings while work is busier than ever. Whatever free time I have, I've had to decide between sleep and recreation, and sadly, my recreation time is being reallocated for the time being.

But I'd like to take this time to wish you all a very Happy and Festive Holiday Season. I know that for many, it's crazy trying to find the right gift for people this time of year. And the stress of the holidays gets to be too much sometimes. But, aside from all the commercialization and chaos that often pervades this holiday season, I'd like to stop and take the time to truly remember what the spirit of the holidays is all about. It's about taking the time to be thankful for all the good things that have happened in your life, and it's about taking the time to let the people you love know how much you appreciate them and are thankful for having them in your life.

So, I'd like to thank you all for your support this year, and I'm truly honored and grateful to count you among friends. You're all a wonderful group of funny, smart, and incredibly caring and brave people. It's been a crazy year, and with your efforts and kindness, we survived, ready to face the new year with hope for better times to come. So thank you, for everything. And I want all of you to have a wonderful holiday season.

Now, I've put up on the side bar some old holiday posts to keep you entertained in the meantime. I've a few days after Xmas where I'll be free to roam the blogosphere once more. Until then, Happy Holidays to all, and Merry Xmas, everyone!!!

P.S. I know it's very, very, VERY late, but I'd like to send y'all some Holiday Greeting cards, so, when you've stopped laughing and shaking your head, feel free to send me a mailing address to eroswings AT if you want a Holiday card from me (and yes, the AT means @ in the email address). Last year, I emailed e cards instead. This year, I want to mail regular holiday cards. I know, it's late, but hey, just be happy that I spent the postage to let you know that I want to wish you a very Happy Holiday Season! So cheers!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Something to talk about

Sometimes, I wonder where common sense has gone, and how much things have changed. Take dinner parties, for example. When I was younger, I learned that the three topics never to bring up at dinner parties were religion, politics, and sex. It's always polite to talk about the weather and geography and the food. Either people haven't gotten this message or times have truly changed!

It started when my friend made a comment about how the weather was making her skin dry. I told her that I agreed with her, and that the dry, cold air was making my skin dry, too. Suddenly, my friend's elderly aunt--a former Hippie in her 60s--decided to join our conversation, stating, "Oh, you youngsters don't know the meaning of the word dry."

We paused to give her our attention. And I regretted it immediately when she continued, "At my age, everything's dry--my skin, my hair, even my vagina."

That's right. She said her vagina! At which point the other conversations going around the dinner table stopped, and everyone else started paying attention to what the old lady was saying, "I have several different moisturizers for my skin and sex is very uncomfortable with a dry vagina, so I have to use a lot of lubrication so I can enjoy it better."

That's right. She said she has to use a lot of lubrication! She continued, "When you get to be my age, after menopause, it's like a desert down there."

At this point, I imagined a vulture, circling the skies, looking out for dead and dying creatures on the desert floor that is this woman's vagina. Suffice it to say I kept my mouth shut for fear of what other tidbits this elderly lady might want to share. Now I know why they call it menopause. Because at that age, the things that these women say give men-a-pause! Whether it's hormonal changes altering behavior or these women just don't give a damn any more, I don't know.

Now, I may not read Miss Manners, but I'm pretty sure that dry vaginas are not topics one should discuss at dinner parties. It's a dinner party, not a gynecologists convention! This morning, after I met my friend for breakfast, she asked me to go shopping with her. I blame the fact that I'm not a morning person, that my brain was not fully functioning when I answered her question, "What do you think I should get my aunt for Christmas?"

To which I immediately replied, "A big bottle of lube!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where did November go?

It's hard to believe that it's the last month of the year again. Once again, time went by quickly. When I think about what I did last month, I draw blank. But I'm sure I did some very important things. And when I think about it some more, really concentrate, I start to remember what those things were.

It's no surprise that I went out and voted on Nov 2nd elections. They may not be as popular as the Presidential elections every four years, but they are important. And I want to be sure to cast my vote for the candidate I believe will do the best job of representing my interests and shaping the policies and laws that affect our lives and our future. Not all the candidates I voted for won, but some did, and I feel good knowing that I made a difference in some of these tight races. I like being able to vote. In some countries, they don't have this right; some people have to brave bullets and bombings and death threats to cast their votes in hope of a better life. The way I figure, if you don't vote or take part in the workings of your government, then you shouldn't complain when the government doesn't work they way you want it to work. Government only works when people participate.

Work has been getting hectic. Not only has the workload increased, but we've lost key members of our staff, including some supervisors! Not that I blame them. The work is hard. I find myself taking on more and more responsibilities, doing management level work without the compensation and in addition to my own workload. And when middle management tried to change my classification into an official supervisory role (without any increase in pay or compensation), I declined! Much to their dismay and shock!

I'm not taking up any more stress and demands on my time without the proper compensation and official change in responsibilities. I can't do two different, demanding jobs at the same time! I've no doubt some higher up thought it would be a good way to save money, but there is no way in hell am I putting myself on the line for that kind of stress and hazardous working conditions! And did I mention that the workers have organized themselves and have made remarkable gains in membership and power in their dealings with the big corporation? It's a stressful time at work, but I confess that I'm also excited to see the staff starting to band together to create solutions to serious problems that have long plagued the workforce and driven away other good staff to the competition.

Some people like working overtime, for the money, I suppose. But I don't. I'd rather have my free time, my weekends off to do the things that make me happy, the things that make life worth living. And no amount of money can ever replace the time I use to enjoy life. You can't ever have enough time...once it's gone, you can't replace it. Life is short. Live it as best you can; do the things that make you happy. Spend time with the people you love and the ones who make you laugh.

And it wouldn't be November without Thanksgiving, the holiday celebrated on the last Thursday and Friday of November. It's basically a holiday to gather with loved ones and give thanks for all the good things that've happened in the year and to remember to be grateful for all the things you have and for the loved ones still in your life. It is supposed to remember how those early English Pilgrims, fleeing religious persecution in England and seeking a new land to call home, were able to survive that first harsh year in the New World, thanks to the American Indians. Those Native Americans took pity on those starving strangers, who had lost almost half of their original number since their arrival. The American Indians taught the Pilgrims how to farm and fish and hunt, how to live and survive in the New World. And with their first bountiful harvest, they held a 3 day feast to celebrate their survival and friendship. Or so goes the school children version.

If those American Indians had foreseen that in a few years, those immigrant Europeans would start taking their lands and killing their people and extinguishing their culture, I doubt they would've been so helpful and kind to the invading hordes. But no good deed goes unpunished. And now we're left with the remnants of a once great people whose lands were taken by deceit and blood and forcibly relocated to the wastelands, far away from their homes. Now, they struggle to survive and they are not finding the kindness they once showed these starving strangers returned to them. History is myth created from facts chosen by the victors. I say, give the Indians back their lands! So they can build more casinos! I'm tired of taking the bus for hours to get to Louisiana to gamble! I'd rather spend more time gambling locally instead of taking the bus out of state! Support local businesses!

Seriously, though, they didn't have turkey that first Thanksgiving. Just like Christmas, the whole Thanksgiving traditions were born after years of different people adding different ideas to create the Thanksgiving we know and celebrate today. Sure, it's much different from the first one. After all, it took those Pilgrims and Indians 3 days to chomp down on that feast. These days, we can chow it all down in one evening and go shopping the next day! I did get a turkey for Thanksgiving--for free, actually. And as soon as I got it defrosted, I roasted it and called some friends over that Sunday, and served it up with some fried chicken, sweet cornbread, potato salad, corn, gravy, mac & cheese, and with peach cobbler as dessert.

For Thanksgiving that Thursday, I went to 3 different dinners, bringing wine wherever I went. I had a crate of white wine in my trunk! The first Thanksgiving meal was celebrated before noon with a deep fried turkey! It was perfect as the weather was a little cooler but still good enough for outdoors cooking! That turkey was moist, delicious, and spicy! Around 4 pm, I went to another Thanksgiving gathering, where we were served Turducken--turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken! It was delicious! And after playing some games with some friends, we went to the last Thanksgiving dinner of the day, held later that evening with a traditional roasted turkey, complete with sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, candied yams, and pumpkin pie. It was a wonderful feast! Heck, all three celebrations were tasty and fantastic.

There's a trick to eating this much food in one day, one that I've mastered over the years. You have to stick to the meat! Avoid fillers like vegetables and bread! Stick to the meat and you'll be able to eat as much as you want! And sample the dessert and decide if you want it. You can wrap it up and take it home to eat later!

After taking a nap to rest from the day of stuffing myself, I was dragged to the stores before midnight. Not because the stores were open, but because my friend wanted to be among the first to enter the stores when they opened at 5 am! We were fourth and fifth in line! It's a commercial tradition that's unfortunately become a part of the Thanksgiving tradition. It's called Black Friday, when stores slash their prices for a few hours to encourage customers to come shop for the holidays. It was freakin cold! We took turns making coffee runs and restroom breaks as we huddled against the wall. Luckily, this year, it was more organized, because the workers handed out tickets that allowed us to buy certain desirable merchandise on special sale. And the tickets were handed out according to line order. Was it worth freezing my ass off for hours, waiting to enter a store that I had no intention of purchasing an item from? Well, yeah, if only to see the look of joy on my friend's face.

She wanted several expensive electronic items--a large screen tv and a new laptop--that were on special sale just for a few hours, and they could only be purchased with a special ticket. So I used my ticket to get her that large screen tv on sale--she paid me after, of course. And as cold as it was huddling outside along wall, sitting on hard concrete, sipping hot coffee and dreading having to make another restroom break because all that coffee made me just want to pee, I had a good time.

We laughed; we talked; we shared a camaraderie with the others in line; everyone seemed excited and happy. I have to say it's the first Black Friday that I've been to in over ten years, where I actually enjoyed myself. I didn't experience any of the hustle and rudeness and mayhem usually associated with these sales. That was a nice change. And even when we hit the other stores that opened later, we were still able to find some good deals on great merchandise.

Would I do it again? Probably not on my own, because really, I didn't think I needed anything that was on sale. Still, if a friend wants me to go with them, I probably would go along, if only for the company and help them get what they want. Sure, it's time for giving, but it is the season where we do hope we get what we want.

And what do I want? The same thing every beauty pageant winner wants: World Peace! (and Harmony!). Here's to hoping we make the most of this holiday season, and may we find it full of good cheer, good company, and good friends.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Festivities

I've been very busy lately taking part in the Fall festivities. When I was younger and in grade school, fall semester was my favorite semester because we used to get so many days off from school to celebrate the holidays. And it was also the season when we got to eat delicious seasonal holiday foods.

Two weekends ago, I was at the Texas State Fair, the biggest state fair in all of the US, in operation since 1886! Most people go to the fair to see Big Tex, the worlds biggest cowboy--he wears a size 70 boot! He'll greet you and tell you about the day's events and schedule. Others go to ride the Texas Star, the largest Ferris wheel in the entire continent, at a height of 212 ft (64.6m), 21 stories high. You can see an incredible view of the city of Dallas on a clear day and as far away as the Fort Worth city skyline, 45 miles away. It lights up red and white and blue at night. As for me, I went to the Texas State Fair for the food.

As XL points out, the Texas State Fair is "the place for things on a stick and/or deep fried!" And he's right! This is the place where the corny dog made its worldwide debut!

Known as a corn dog outside of Texas, this heavenly creation is a delicious hot dog on a stick, dipped in batter and fried to a brown, crispy bun!

Goes great with mustard or ketchup and even some mayo! For the adventurous, try it with some chili. And those with finer tastes might want to dip it in some Ranch or Thousand Island dressing. Mmmm...delicious!

The Texas State Fair was also the launching pad for another famous treat enjoyed by movie goers and one of the staples of mall food courts, the nachos!

This inspired creation is a combination of crispy nachos chips topped with melted cheese and jalapenos! I like mine simple like that, with maybe a dollop of sour cream and avocado. Other like to pile on the beans and chili and salsa.

With such an illustrious history of serving up such delectable, spectacular fine fair cuisine, you better believe that I was making that pilgrimage to the mecca of deep fried food and tasty things on a stick!

Every year, a competition is held to decide the best food at the fair. Two categories up for grabs this year was the Most Creative and the Best Tasting. I only regret that I wasn't able to attend last year, when the Fried Butter--that's right, Fried Butter!--was chosen as last year's winner.

But this year's top ten finalists were fantastic. Among them was Fried Beer--yes, fried beer!; Fried S'mores Pop Tart; and Fried Club Salad--because all salads taste better when they're fried! Go here for a description the amazing ten finalists. I made sure to sample every one of these delicious treats!

And the Fried Beer won for Most creative. It was creative! Beer in a pretzel dough deep fried! And the beer stays liquid and tastes like beer. Me? I'd rather have my beer cold, but hey, that's some genius creation putting beer in a pretzel!

My favorites were these three:

3. The Deep Fried Frozen Margarita! You need to show proof of age to legally eat this treat! Margarita ingredients are fried in a funnel cake, spritz with lime and served in a salt rimmed margarita glass!

2. The Fried Chocolate! A mini candy bar is stuffed in a brownie, dipped in chocolate cake batter, then deep fried and served with powdered sugar, cherry sauce, and chocolate whipped cream.

1. My favorite and winner of the Tastiest Award: The Texas Fried Frito Pie!


XL has an outstanding recipe for making Frito Pie. Learn it! Make it! Love it!

The inspired creators of the Texas Fried Frito Pie took a great dish and transformed it into ambrosia! Food fit for the gods! All the exciting flavors of the Frito pie in a crunchy, deep fried shell! Heaven! Just an amazing taste! That food definitely deserved the top prize.

Sure they had other fun stuff to do at the Texas State Fair, like the shows and exhibitions, seeing all those performers doing fantastic tricks and watching those animals. And yes, they had rides and other carnival/fair games. But me, I stuck to the food map and hunted down those delicious, tasty treats that can only be found during the fair and when the carnival comes to town.

After a weekend of stuffing myself with those morsels, I spent the next weekend just laying on the beach, enjoying the sun for a little while longer before it gets cold. You could say I was recovering from the previous weekend's glutton fest. But I didn't spend all weekend just lazying about the beach.

I actually took time to do some volunteer work for Breast Cancer Awareness. I even got a pink T shirt from the event. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I've posted about this before, and I think that every month, if not every day, should be about Breast Cancer Awareness. So ladies (and gentlemen), take care of those breasts and do your monthly breast self exams, or have a friend help out

On a side note, I'm sure I've mentioned before that when I was younger, I wanted to be a background dancer for Janet Jackson. She had awesome music videos and dance moves back then. Then this cover pic came out and I thought, forget background dancer, I wanna be the guy who holds her boobs for foto shoots! Where do I apply for that job?

Anyway, there's only one big festive event left for October, and it's a big one, one of my faves: Halloween!!!

When I was a child, I loved Halloween, and mostly for the candy! Who doesn't like getting free candy just by dressing up and knocking on someone's door and saying, "Trick or Treat!" And I still like eating the candy! Every weekend this month, I'd buy two bags of candy, only to start eating them before the week is out. Now I've bought four bags and kept them out of sight, so I won't be tempted to eat through them like I did the last four bags of candy.

Nowadays, I look forward to dressing up on Halloween more than eating the candy. Oh, don't get me wrong, I still like eating the candy. But now I have a blast coming up with Halloween costumes. I have a blast making up my own costumes and being inspired by whatever is going on in the world. This year, I had a few choice ones to decide on.

Some friends wanted to go as a group and be vampires. I was excited! Until I found out that they wanted to go as those Twilight vampires, complete with the bushy eyebrows, the hair gel, and possibly glitter, angst, and douche bagginess. No thank you, I'd've much rather gone as a True Blood Vampire, dressed up just like this

It's a great look! Scary, sexy and it promotes Breast Cancer Awareness, by reminding people to do their monthly breast self exams, or get a helping hand (or two) from a friend (or two).

Since my friends still wanted to go dressed up as Twilight vampires, I decided to look for other options. I thought about getting a blond wig, putting on my jean jacket and dressing up as Canada's latest atrocity singing sensation, Justin Bieber!

I even had the dance moves and the lip syncing down.

But then I was watching the news and I had an epiphany! The perfect costume! This year I'm going as a Chilean miner, one of the 33 successfully rescued. I'm going as the one who has the wife and the mistress!

I've got a helmet, and I'm attaching a light on it. I've even got old raggedly clothes and old boots to wear with it. All I need now is the make up to make my face look dirty, like the mine caved in. I even have two friends lined up to dress as the wife and the mistress. It's going to be another fun Halloween.

I suppose fall is still a fun time of year. Truth be told, I still much prefer summer because I get to spend time hiking or being at the beach. But there's a magic and fun that makes the fall festivities a wonderful time. I like it, and I hope you get a chance to enjoy the fall festivities, too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Discovery and Change

It's Columbus Day today in America. It's the day dedicated to remembering Christopher Columbus landing in the New World on 12 Oct 1492, in the Bahamas. Coincidentally, it's also Thanksgiving Day for Canadians, so Happy Thanksgiving, Canadians! Enjoy your sweet pickled beaver and roasted moose!

When I was younger, Columbus Day was a federal holiday--still is; except back then, there was no school and banks were closed. Now, it's up to individual states how to celebrate the day of discovery. I liked being off from school, because it meant an extended weekend holiday and there were only four days of school left in the week. I never gave much thought to Columbus Day, other than wonder what life was like aboard the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria--and wouldn't it have been better if the Santa Maria was named something that rhymed with the first two, like the Quinta or the Hasta La Vista?

As I grew older, I was surprised to discover that some people actually protest against Columbus Day. I thought to myself, Good gawd! Who doesn't want a day off? Seriously? I was curious and started to do some research. Suffice it to say it was an eye opening experience. While everyone agrees that Columbus' discovery was a momentous event that changed the world, it's the impact of that change that's being challenged and debated.

I was in high school, in my late teens, and until I started researching, it never occurred to me that Columbus' discovery marked the beginning of some of the darkest chapters in human history. I never thought about how Columbus and the Europeans would see the New World as a resource, including the people, whom they considered inferior. I never thought about how the indigenous people of the Americas were subjected to slavery, slaughtered if they resisted European conquests, and were wiped out from the diseases and the destruction the Europeans brought with them. They don't tell you about this stuff in classes when you're making drawings of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

And they certainly don't tell you about how these native peoples were forced to labor in dangerous mines for gold and silver to fuel European conquests and religious wars. Not to mention how this was beginning of the global slavery of an entire race of people from another continent, kidnapped and forced to work in dangerous, difficult conditions.

The truth is, Christopher Columbus was a horrible man. He enslaved the natives, sold their children into sexual slavery, and butchered them for resisting. And these were the honest, kind natives who helped salvaged the Santa Maria when it was shipwrecked. Within 50 years, these native people were extinct, exterminated by Columbus with the blessings of royalty and the compliance of the Church. It was genocide. And when there were no more natives to enslave, an entire new race of people were kidnapped and forced from the African continent. And the slave trading of the African peoples would flourish for the next four hundred years, their dehumanization would last well into this millineum.

It was the beginning of the end for the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The Europeans not only brought soldiers to subjugate the natives, they also brought their priests to wipe out the natives beliefs and ideology. For the next five hundred years, the accomplishments of the indigenous peoples, their history, and their very way of life would be exterminated and erased systematically by the immigrant Europeans bent on conquest.

It's kind of ironic how the American Thanksgiving was basically a day created by those Pilgrims to share with the American Indians their harvest, to thank the Indians for helping them survive in the harsh new world. The Native Americans taught these immigrants how to farm, and fish, and hunt in the new environment. Perhaps if the American Indians had foreseen the destruction those Pilgrims and their descendants would bring, they would've left those Europeans to starve and die. But they did not know that their kindness and mercy upon these foreigners would lead to the destruction of the Native American peoples and their way of life.

I suppose it's easier to look back in hindsight and see the mistakes that were made and the failures of the past. The truth is, those people did what they thought was right, what they thought was the norm for their time. We're doing the same. But times change, thankfully. We live and learn for the most part. And I'd like to think we've made some strides since those dark days. We've abolished slavery and women have been granted the right to vote. The history books are being rewritten as the achievements and legacy of the indigenous people are now being recognized and given their due. The surviving natives have embraced their culture and stand with pride. In some parts of the Americas, including the US, Columbus Day has been renamed and celebrated as a day dedicated to the native Americans. In other places, it's dedicated to the multicultural heritage of the Americas.

Everyone agrees that Columbus making contact with the New World was a global event that changed not only the course of human history and development, but has changed the world as we know it. Species crossed into new environments; landscapes were razed and reconstructed in the race to obtain resources; groups of people and animals and plants were wiped out from new diseases and war and the changing geopolitical and natural environment.

We still have some ways to go to improve the lives of not just the native peoples, but the people of the Americas as a whole. But out of the clash of the Old World and the New World, a new people was born out of the mixture of cultures and ideas. We've forged an identity of our own. And though we may speak many different languages and have many different ideas, one thing still remains, these lands are our home, and we all share a responsibility not only to care for these lands, but for all the peoples who live upon it.

I'm not sure how we should celebrate Columbus Day. I'd still rather have the day off. I support celebrating it as a day to remember the indigenous people of the Americas. But I also think that Columbus' achievement should also be remembered. After all, this was an event that changed the course of human history. And maybe that's what Columbus Day should be about. It should be about change. Whether or not that change is positive is up to the people who live in these times. After all, change only happens when people take action. And I'd like to think that Columbus Day is a day to remind us to take action and to do our part to learn from mistakes of the past; to do the right thing; and make the world a much better place for all of us: the immigrants, the natives, and all those who've come to call this place home.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

C U Next Tuesday

I was checking out blogs this morning when I came across MJ's blog. There, I learned some terribly sad news. It seems that one of our fellow, beloved bloggers has passed on. I was shocked and stunned at the news. I turned off the computer for a few hours, trying to take in this information. And when I logged back on, I was hoping it was a dream; but it wasn't; the sad realization finally set in. Piggy of Tazzy and Piggy, has passed on.

The first time I became aware of Piggy was on SNICKS blog. It was many years ago, and SNICKS was the first blog I actually read. I was looking for Fleetwood Mac songs to download from the internet, and during one of those searches, I stumbled on SNICKS blog--named after music legend and Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks. SNICKS no longer has a blog, as he's now a contributor to the AFTER ELTON pop culture website.

From SNICKS blog, I clicked on a link to Maidink, who no longer maintains a blog as well. But such is life. All things have a beginning and an end. And it was on Maidink's blog that I really started to notice Piggy. Every now and then, some rude, hilarious poster named Piggy would post something insulting but funny. And from Maidink, I made my way over to MJ and IDV and CP. And it was mostly at MJ's and IDV's that I saw a lot of Piggy and sometimes Tazzy.

What I remember most about Piggy was his welcoming spirit. He treated everyone with the same rudeness and fondness and mischievous spirit. I loved his posts about his travels (and the rude and hilarious pics that often accompanied them). I followed his adventures to the Smunts, SID, Connie and Tatas, and to IDV. I also loved his appreciation and enthusiasm for rollercoasters and theme parks. I, too, love rollercoasters and theme parks, and I can totally relate to the sense of joy and fun and excitement he felt every time he rode a rollercoaster and visited a theme park.

But what I remember most about Piggy was that underneath the rude, complaining, diva behavior, there lay a big heart, full of love and passion. Every now and then, he'd post something truly heartfelt and personal on his blog (and the many incarnations of his blogs). I remember being moved by his story about how music saved his life. He was depressed, and he hadn't come out yet, struggling with his identity, feeling stuck between what society had expected of him and who he truly was. I was moved by his story about how music kept him going, and how finding Tazzy gave him a new lease on life, gave him a reason to keep on living and enjoying every day.

And I remember being so proud of him for taking part in a protest for civil rights for gays and lesbians. He complained about the rain, about the lack of support from fellow gay men who rather cruised the bars and parks instead of standing up for their rights, to be treated as equal people under the law. And as much as he made fun of lesbians, he acknowledged that it was these women who stood with him in the rain, trying to make the world more just, a better place for them and everyone else. He had a passion for doing the right thing, even when on the surface he acted selfish and ungrateful. And for all the blustering, the whining, and the rudeness he projected, he could not hide his generous spirit, his passion for equality, and his love for his family and friends.

Piggy used to be fond of saying CUNT on the blogs he visited. It was like his signature style to call people cunts, especially people he was close to and called his friends. It won't be the same, not seeing him call anyone a cunt on the blogosphere anymore. It was a term of endearment from him. RuPaul has another use for the word cunt. On his show, Drag Race, RuPaul uses the term CUNT to emphasis the qualities that make a truly great, fabulous drag queen. A true star is someone with Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent. And Piggy was one of the brightest stars in the blogosphere night sky.

A few days ago last week, I visited Piggy's blog, and I learned that he was in the hospital for pneumonia. I tried to leave a message for him to "Get Well Soon," but the message wouldn't go through. I figured I'd try again later. Now it seems that I'm too late, and I'm really sorry that I didn't find the time to let him know that I was thinking about him and wishing him well.

I remember the last entry that Piggy wrote that really moved me. It was about his journey home, to Scotland, to see his ailing father. He was on a train, his heart heavy and his mind full of conflict. He looked out a window and saw a small bird flying in the air. Suddenly, a large bird of prey swooped down and took out that small bird. He was shocked to see it happen. But then an elderly man sitting next to him made a comment. "Such is life," and suddenly it all made sense. He was able to spend some time with his father and was there to keep him company until his father passed on.

Such is life. We live, we die. And in between living and dying, we do the best we can with the time we are given. I enjoyed having Piggy visit my blog from time to time. And I enjoyed visiting his and watching him have fun on MJ's blog.

Piggy, you will be missed. You were one of a kind, and in the brief moments you were here on earth, you touched so many lives and made a lot of us smile. You've done your part to make this world a much better place. Tazzy, I wish you so much strength, and peace, and love at this time. To Piggy's family and friends, I wish you serenity and much love. And to Piggy, thank you for making me smile, for making me laugh, and for showing me that there really are some good people still left in this world. And so long as we keep doing our best, making each other laugh, and looking out for each other, we can make the world just a bit more wonderful, a little bit brighter, and a bit more beautiful each and every day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Coven

In case you didn't know, InexplicableDeVice and Tim are in the process of creating a new Coven, as three of their former members have left the astral/internet plane for more pressing matters on the ground. No one knows for sure what secrets the Coven holds and how its members are chosen. But secret footage has been leaked out!

People have mysteriously vanished in the course of capturing and secreting out this footage.

Behold, it's tall blond IDV interviewing buxom brunette CyberPete for a position in the Coven.

Warning: This footage is not for those of a delicate nature.

Did CP make it? Who else is going to join this new Coven? And was Kiss harmed in making of this footage? Let's hope not.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Running in the dark

It's been about two weeks since I was able to get back into running again before the sun rises. Heavy rains and a busy work schedule kept me from my usual running routine. I like to run in the early dark hours of the morning, because it's cool and quiet, less traffic on the roads, too. On really clear nights, I can see the moon and stars. Most times, I'm alone on the roads. Every now and then, some cyclists would pass by and there'd be the odd runners that cross my route. I've seen people running in pairs on some occasions, but I never see them again, at least not regularly when I run.

But there is one who did keep up with me, for at least part of my route. The first time I noticed him was three years ago, when I took a different route home. He kept up with me for about half a mile, then he took a different path while I continued on home. I'd see him maybe two to three times a week, always there to keep me company part of the way. He'd never be out when it rained, of course, but he was there enough for me to take notice of him when our paths merged for part of the way. We never really talked, but there was a natural ease that came with our company. We just happened to share the wide open spaces on our journey. And after a while, there was a familiarity there that I looked for when I was on the last leg of my run. I knew that I was almost home when he joined me on my route.

He was shorter than me, but he had a presence that made him seem bigger than he was. He exuded confidence and energy and serenity, focused on his route, just as I was. Over the course of three years, we never really spoke to each other, just a quick nod of acknowledgment, a simple greeting. There was a camaraderie that came with just us sharing the path for part of our journey. No matter how tired I was, having him join my path re-energized me and made me try even harder, dig deeper, will myself to keep going just a little bit longer. Perhaps we motivated each other, or at the very least, he inspired me to keep on going. If someone as small as he was could keep on going, then so could I.

I didn't realize how much I looked forward to his company, as I never really thought about him after my run. I mean, there were times when I thought that maybe I ought to invite him over for a drink, to introduce myself properly and get a chance to get to know each other better. But those thoughts were as fleeting as the leaves the wind blew past us on some nights, forgotten the moment they left my sight. As soon as I ended my run, I'd think about taking a shower and getting ready for the day. The rising sun would only remind me of the tasks that lay ahead and the work I needed to get done. The ethereal world of running in the dark would fade away, along with any thoughts I had during the night. It was like waking up from a dream, and I could not remember what the dream was.

Three weeks ago, I went running, and on the way home, it suddenly occurred to me that I had not seen my running companion. And when I got to the spot where he usually joined me, he wasn't there. Twice more that week I went running, but my companion was nowhere to be found. Then came two of weeks of heavy rain and a busy work schedule kept me from my running routine, and I forgot about my running companion.

This morning, though, on the way back home, I kept an eye out for my running companion, to see if he would join me again. But he wasn't there at the corner where he usually met me. I doubled back, did a loop and returned to the corner, hoping to see him there. But there was no sign of him anywhere. So I kept going forward, all by myself. I ran on until I made it home. Usually, after a good shower and getting ready for the day, I'd forget about my run and go over on my plans for the day. But this morning was different. This time, the morning sun didn't take away the thoughts I had during my run under the starry, dark night. This time, I felt like I woke up with a very vivid memory of my dreams.

I thought it odd that I had not seen my running companion in a while. Strange that I would miss the sight of his small frame, keeping pace with me, falling into cadence as we ran in the dark night. I've not seen him for two weeks now, and I started to worry about what could've happened to him. Strange how I somehow feel like maybe I should've tried harder to be more social and invited him over for a cool drink after a long run.

All week I've been trying to keep a lookout for him when I'm out running. In fact, I've been running a lot more than I usually do in the hopes of running into my companion again. But I've come to the sad realization that he might be gone. Perhaps he moved. And I'm hoping he moved to somewhere better. The truth is, I find myself missing his company. Which is kind of funny, considering that one of the joys of running for me is the solitude, just me and the wide open spaces, pounding the pavement in the cool dark night. It's not that I need the company or want someone to join me on my pre-dawn runs. No, that's not it. I like running by myself. I just didn't realize just how much I did enjoy having company on the run, even for a brief part of the way.

I'd like to think the my running companion has moved on to a better place, be it a new home or the next world. Wherever he is, I wish him well, and I'd like to thank him for his pleasant company on those dark nights. He was a good companion, and running with him on those cool, starlit nights gave me a glimpse of what ancient man must have felt when he had a companion join him on his journey into the wild, unknown world.

So, wherever you are running companion, I hope that you are well. You've been good company and you're an amazing little dog. I hope your owners realize just how lucky they are to have you. You truly are man's best friend, and our journey into the world has been made all the better for having you join us along the way.

Related Links:

 Mud and Puddles
 Running with the devil

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Wet and Dry Experiment

It all started about a month ago during a conversation with some coworkers. The topic of pets had come up, and while I don't have any pets, there are two stray cats that hang out at my apt building, specifically on my porch. They came with the apartment. Everyone in my building takes turns feeding them. And when I mentioned to the other coworkers that I fed the cats tuna from a can, one of them expressed shock and dismay, saying that cats can only be fed cat food. That led to a debate about dry cat food versus wet cat food and which one was better for the cats. Suffice it to say it was a very slow day at work when the hot topic of conversation was cat food.

Since we never did settle which was better for the cats, I decided to do a month long experiment to see which food the cats preferred--wet or dry. Mind you, I spent hours of research online and asking other cat owners which brand they'd recommend. Who knew that cat food came in all sorts of varieties?

For the first week, I bought a bag of dry cat food. For a whole week, I fed the cats dry cat food every day. Some days, they'd eat everything. Other days, they'd only eat half. I made notes of my findings. The next week, I tried out the canned wet food. Once again, there were days when the cats ate all the food; and then there were days when they ate about half. Interesting. Finally, today, I decided to mix the wet and dry cat food together, to see if the cats had a preference. The results? They ate everything. After comparing my notes and going over the data a few times, I came to the conclusion: Cats will eat anything when they're hungry.

Wet or dry, it doesn't matter. Cats have been eating lots of things for thousands of years--from rats to birds to fish to bugs. They certainly did well without commercial cat food. So as far as I'm concerned, the debate between wet food vs dry food is over. And that means when I run out of the dry and wet cat food, I'm feeding those stray cats some tuna and left over chicken and fish. They certainly seem to enjoy those morsels when I feed it to them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I was enjoying my weekend in Houston. I had big plans to go out on the town and spend some money buying some items to indulge myself. Among those items were two pairs of running shoes, top of the line, very expensive. When I buy running shoes, I usually get the reasonably priced models that last long, but don't have a lot of the flash and extras the expensive models claim to have. Most times, I justify not buying expensive running shoes, because I go through a good pair of running shoes just about every six months. And for the price of one expensive, flashy pair, I could get two to three regular, reputable running pairs.

I had been working a lot of overtime to cover for vacationing and resigned coworkers. So I told myself that I earned the right to indulge myself in something frivolous. I figured I would buy two pairs of the expensive running shoes and see how they compare to the regular ones I always get. It was a great time to shop too, as this weekend was the tax free weekend in Texas.

A tax free weekend is a weekend designated by the state of Texas where sales tax is suspended on clothing, school supplies, and other back to school items. The goal of the tax free weekend is to encourage shopping and make items a bit more affordable for working class families getting ready for school. A lot of discounts and big sales take place during the tax free weekend as the stores attempt to clear out their summer stock to make room for the fall and winter stock. It's a great time to go shopping for deals. You get a lot more for your money's worth.

I woke up late on Saturday morning and ventured out into the kitchen to grab something to eat. I was crashing at friend's place--the night before, I had stayed out late, partying with some friends. My friend was babysitting another friend's kids. I greeted them and made myself a toast and egg sandwich, listening to the kids talk excitedly about their finds from an early garage sale they went to this morning with my friend. The kids were showing off the clothes and shoes they had gotten a good deal on. The stuff was in pretty good condition. I couldn't help but smile at their eagerness and excitement, knowing that they made some great deals that morning, and I, too, was hoping to score some great merchandise later in the day when my friend and I would go shopping. I thought it was very nice of my friend to take the kids out to do some garage sale shopping, buying them stuff.

At noon, the mom showed up to pick up her kids. Her kids shared their excitement of their finds that morning, and the mom seemed pretty happy with what the kids found. She had worked early that morning, trying to pick up some overtime. I asked her if she was planning on taking advantage of the tax free weekend and get some back to school shopping done. She told me she wasn't. Her kids didn't need anything. They had all their school supplies ready and had enough clothes for the school year. They left for their home in another part of town as my friend and I got ready to do some shopping.

First, we did some clothes shopping. We found some great deals on shirts and jeans and pants. Then we hit the home stores and found some great accents and drapes and linen. They were on sale. Even better, my friend had coupons we used to get even more discounts on the sale items. We were on a shopping bliss high, having found so many great stuff for really great prices. The last place we stopped at was the store where I would buy two pairs of expensive running shoes.

The store was packed with loads of people taking advantage of the sales. But the section where the expensive running shoes were located was a bit sparse. There was no discount on the high end running shoes, but with the sales tax suspended, it was still a pretty good discount--never pay full price! I felt a little indulgent as the sales person fetched a few stunning looking pairs and I tried them out. My friend laughed and pointed out that she would never have imagined me buying expensive running shoes, much less wear those flashy shoes out. It wasn't my style--and she was right. I'm very practical and tend to stick with casual, clean looks. Being flashy was never my style--nor was showing off expensive gear.

Still, I enjoyed trying out the different pairs. They felt different. I wasn't sure if I liked them or not. I told myself that I probably just needed to break them in. We talked as I tried on different pairs, jumping up and down, walking down the aisle and back. I told my friend that it was very nice of her to take the kids out to the garage sales and buy stuff for them while their mom was at work. My friend told me it was the least she could do, seeing as how things were a little tight with the mom and her kids.

I stopped parading down the aisle long enough to sit down and talk with my friend. I was surprised to learn that the kids dad hadn't been paying child support all year. The mom was struggling to pay the bills. This month alone, my friend lent her rent money and told her not to pay her back for a while--at least until she can afford to without being homeless. The church had been kind enough to provide the kids with school supplies. And the extra shifts the mom was working would be enough to keep her afloat for a while, and her bills would be caught up.

I didn't know how to take the news. Truth was, I was kind of shocked. The kids were happy, like they had no clue how hard things were for them. The mom seemed totally at ease, showing no signs of stress. Maybe they were just really good at covering things up. I don't know, but I suddenly thought back to a time in my childhood, after my dad died.

Things were pretty rough for us back then. We didn't have a lot of money after my dad passed away. And my mom worked a lot of overtime to make ends meet. When we got our school supplies, we made sure to take care of them, that they would last the rest of the year. We didn't get any new clothes for school, because we all wore uniforms at the private school. I remember my two brothers and I asking our mom that we wanted to go to a public school instead. We knew that it was costing a lot of money for us to keep going to a private school. My mother agonized over our request. She wanted her three youngest to have the best education possible. It's why my father and she started us off in private school. But eventually, she relented after that year, and the following year, we started public school. They still had uniforms, but at least public school was free, and my mom didn't have to work so hard just to pay off tuition. And my brothers and I worked just as hard in public school as we did in private school. And it was kind of nice to see some neighborhood friends in the class for a change.

The few times we did get a new set of clothes, it was usually for a birthday or a special event. We cherished those clothes, especially since we had gotten so used to hand me downs. I didn't mind the hand me downs. They were actually in pretty good condition. Most of the stuff was too big for me, as I was a very skinny kid. But I loved it, especially in high school when the retro look was in, and everyone wanted to know where I got the bell bottom jeans from. Even better, when hip hop became popular, I was the kid who started the baggy clothes trend in high school. Not that it was my intention. It was just that my older brother had gotten too big for his clothes, so he passed them on to me. I just liked wearing them, because they felt roomy and comfortable. I had no idea that I was being credited as a style setter.

Thinking about those days in the past made me realize something. I sat down and took off the new pair of expensive running shoes I was thinking about buying. I placed them back on the shelves where they belonged. I put on my old shoes and took off with my friend to the other aisle. I grabbed a pair of the regular, reasonably priced ones. Ordinarily, I would've purchased two pairs. But I only needed one for now. My friend raised her eyebrow, and she asked me why I changed my mind. I told her, the other shoes just didn't fit right. I paid for my new shoes and still had enough money left over to buy two new pairs of the expensive shoes. But we went home to drop off the shopping and headed out to eat.

The next day, I took a drive up to see the mom and her kids. I've known them for a few years now. I knew about the shaky history with the dad and how he left them hanging. I knew how tough things had been for them since, but I just didn't know how hard they had gotten. I waited half an hour in the parking lot for them to return home. They were surprised to see me, and the kids were waving. I waved back. The mom walked up to my car and asked me how I was doing and what I was doing there. I handed her an envelope with what was left over of my new shoes money. I told her maybe she could take the kids out shoe shopping or something else. She opened the envelope, looked at me, and then came over and gave me a hug. Her eyes were watering up, like she was struggling not to cry. She thanked me and asked me to stay for dinner, but I told her that I needed to be somewhere else, so we said our good byes and I got back in car and drove back to my friend's place.

I didn't want to see the mom cry, because I was afraid that would make me cry. And I didn't want the kids to get upset. I wanted them to keep feeling happy and excited about school starting soon. However hard life got, I wanted them to know that there was still some good in this world, and life can still be pretty wonderful if you got love and good people and each other to help you through.

Later that night, my friend noticed that I was wearing my new, regular running shoes. She asked me how they fit. And I smiled and told her, they fit just right.

 Related Links:
Hope is a yellow dump truck
Holiday Dismay
Are you there, Santa? It's me
It's the Most Stressful Time of the Year
The thing about fathers
Best Laid Plans
Veterans Day Reflection

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Weekend Escape

I haven't had a chance to catch up with everyone this past week. Things are very busy at the moment. Work is getting hectic, as I find myself working overtime to cover coworkers on vacation--and those who've decided to quit and find something better suited to their talents and preferences. I find myself spending most of the week waking up, getting ready for work, work, then come home, shower, then sleep. Then repeat. The few days I've had off, I've used to catch up on sleep. Although, I did get a nice 3 day weekend last week.

I went to Houston Friday afternoon to meet up with one of my best friend's younger siblings. The younger sibling is doing missionary work near Houston, trying to save people's lives and bring them religion--just as my best friend did years ago as a missionary in Asia. Naturally, I had to go and visit my best friend's younger sibling, to show some support, and take them out to eat. And quite possibly, try and tempt this missionary to see if they're just as wild and fun as their older sibling, my best friend--one of the best people to party with and go out on an adventure with. Okay, so seriously, I just wanted to see how they were doing and see if they needed anything.

If I remember correctly, missionaries are poor--and they're usually hungry after a long, hot day of knocking on doors and facing rejection and hostility. I met the younger sibling with his partner--that's missionary partner, as they send them out in pairs--and we went to a Mexican restaurant. Actually, it was a bar/restaurant. Sure, there were some guidelines that discourage the missionaries from going to bars, but given the choice between good food that someone was paying for or going to a bland fast food joint, the choice was obvious.

Just to be clear, I didn't suggest the Mexican bar restaurant to begin with. I was not familiar with the area. It was the missionaries who suggested the place, because someone they were talking to suggested it. They had no clue that it wasn't the sort of place missionaries frequent. The bar was packed, with the Friday night crowd with music and laughter in the air. Amid the crowd of casually dressed people, some showing more skin and tattoos than others, the missionaries stood out in their conservative clothing. I had to admit that I was curious about their reaction at going to a bar, but they handled it well.

At first, the sibling's partner seemed unsure, but my best friend's younger sibling pushed on ahead and adapted. It was a skill my best friend possessed--to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and make the best of it. I couldn't help but smile at the family resemblance. I was suddenly reminded of my best friend doing things that the church would certainly not recommend, but my friend has an adventurous spirit, as does the younger sibling. No one in the bar took notice when the missionaries and I started praying before eating the food. I didn't mind the the prayer. I used to do that when I was growing up.

We actually stayed at the bar a lot longer than we had planned, talking about everything and anything. We stayed out longer than the missionaries were supposed to. And I admit, a small part of me was curious. Since I had gotten the missionaries to go to a bar and stay out past curfew, I wondered, just how far would these two missionaries stray off the path? Not that I would intentionally tempt them. That would be wrong. Still, I wanted to let them know that if they were curious to try the off the beaten path, I'd be willing to accompany them on a short trip. Sometimes, you find the most interesting and fun and amazing things when you take a different road.

Saturday morning, I slept in til noon. I was woken up by a phone call from my best friend, joking if I was ready to be baptized or was I trying to corrupt the younger sibling? I had a late lunch with the missionaries again. I took them to lunch at a BBQ place outside their designated area. But hey, the food was good and they were hungry. I asked them to go to a baseball game later that evening, but they couldn't. They had people to minister to and other religious obligations to meet. Another long meal enjoyed with good food, good company, and lots of laughter, and we called it a day. They had appointments to keep. I told them that I'd be back in town soon to visit another friend in Houston, and I'd make sure to see them again when I come back. We parted on good terms with tentative plans for our next outing. They have a day off to do their own thing. I plan on taking them out on the town and showing them a good time--the church doesn't need to know what they do in their off time. Even Jesus liked to party and go places.

Later that evening, a few friends and I went to a baseball game between the Houston Astros and the Pittsburgh Pirates. We pigged out on hot dogs, nachos, ice cream, and drinks. It was an exciting game. And it was fun to get up and do the wave and shout cheers and do all the local chants the fans do to show their support for the teams. There was also much alcohol involved. The Pirates held the lead all the way up to the last two innings when the local team finally caught up and sunk those Pirates! Astros win! We screamed and celebrated wholeheartedly. And after maneuvering out of the gridlock traffic of people leaving the stadium, we went to a club to continue the celebrations. We stayed out late, talking, laughing, joking, dancing, and just doing silly things to make each other laugh. It felt good. We stayed til closing, then we hit a late night cafe, where we ate pancakes and sausages before going home to sleep.

Sunday morning, I slept in again to recover from the night before. Had a late brunch with other friends, then went to an impromptu pool party. It was hot. A friend had access to the local swimming pool, so we grabbed some food, some drinks, some music, and we headed over to the pool to cool off. Did some cannonball dives, played chicken fight in the pool,and played water polo. We made some attempts at synchronized swimming. Suffice it to say that we won't be making our debut at the London Olympics.

Later that evening, after a shower, a nap, and dinner, I got in the car and made the drive home after the sun had set. I made it home before midnight. I went right to sleep. It was a good weekend. It was exactly what I needed to relax from a long, stressful, busy work week. And I can't wait to do it all over again.

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars~Henry Van Dyke

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I've not been able to visit around the internet as much as I'd like. I've been very busy at work. Since it's summer, some of my colleagues have taken off for vacation, leaving their clients in my care. I find myself working long hours, late into the night, providing excellent service to these clients. Though, I confess that all these long hours and the intensive, personal attention dedicated to servicing these clients are starting to wear me out.

My thighs and shoulders are sore from being in positions that I normally don't use regularly. At least, not until the client asks for it specifically and pays for it. And it would be nice to wear my regular, comfortable clothes for a while, rather than dress up to meet the clients needs and expectations.

And while I like the extra money I'm making and the repeat customers who enjoy my work, often requesting my services several times a week, I'm ready for a few days off. Rather than spend my time pleasing clients, I'd like to take some time to do the things that please me, things that I enjoy and find great pleasure in. I can't wait for this week to be over. I'm due for some much needed rest and relaxation.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Water, water, everywhere

Two days ago, I awoke to the sound of a strange hissing noise. I didn't know what it was at first. I thought maybe I had left the sink water running. But when I stepped out of the bedroom and into the hallway, I got quite a shock as my feet stepped in cold water soaked carpet! The hallway carpet was wet!

I went into the bathroom, looking for the source of the water. Only, there was water on the bathroom floor, but it wasn't from the sink or shower tub. I tracked down the strange hissing noise to the small closet that held the water heater. And when I opened the door, there it was, the source of the water and hissing noise. The water heater had broken and was leaking water onto the floor. I couldn't figure out how to turn the water heater off, so I did the next best thing.

I picked up the phone and dialed the apt manager's office. I explained to her the nature of my problem. And within ten minutes, maintenance showed up and turned off the water heater by shutting off the power and draining the rest of the water through the tub. My 20 year old water heater had broken down.

I reached for a mop, but the maintenance man told me not to worry. They would clean up the mess and replace my water heater with a new one. For the next four hours, they shampooed, washed, and cleaned my carpet in addition to installing a new, energy efficient water heater. Then they put a huge dehumidifier and a large, industrial size fan to dry the carpets. I was told the machines would be in place for three days to ensure the carpets are dry and to prevent any mold and mildew from forming.

Now, I fall asleep to the hum of large machines in the dry air of my apt. It's better than dealing with the awful humidity outside after the summer thunderstorms pass on by. I'm really glad that I was home when the water heater broke down. I can't imagine how much worse the water damage might have been had I not been at home to catch it early on. And having great maintenance staff is one of the reasons why I like renting an apt. I can't imagine the hassle and drama I would've faced had I been on my own, left to deal with the mess. I wouldn't have a clue of where to even start, except panic that there was water, water everywhere and it was going to be expensive to fix and find out what's happening. Thank goodness for great apt maintenance staff.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thank you!

Thank you everyone for your support and your cooperation. All our efforts and hard work paid off. MJ's and Leni's missing comments have returned! And all their new comments are staying put, instead of being erased! We did it! Working with Blogger has paid off!

I want to thank every single one of you who took the time to spread the word, joined our campaign, and supported us over the past month. You took the time to make a difference. You made it possible to return Infomaniac after it was removed from blogspot. You participated and took time to join our group efforts to return the missing comments. Every step we took together in this long journey has finally resulted in achieving our goal: MJ's and Leni's comments have returned!

This whole month long struggle was more than just about returning some missing comments. It was about standing up and doing the right thing. In this day and age, we hear so much about the apathy and lack of caring that seems so prevalent in the world. They say people just don't care anymore, that we're selfish and all we do is complain. But they are wrong!

This whole experience proved that people still care! You've proven that there are still so many amazing, wonderful people in the world who choose to come together, form a community, and look out for each other. You've proven that the incredible power of a group of people working towards a common cause is alive and well. You took the time to bring about change! Your participation and support made it all possible! Together, we really did reach the stars and changed the fates!

Thank you so much for being strong, supportive, and for being with us throughout the whole campaign! You made it happen! You lent us your voice and your strength and made our group efforts even more powerful and successful! You were part of an amazing campaign, and you're part of an unbelievably wonderful and fantastic community of powerful people who bring about great change! You can take pride in your work and be proud of what you've done. You stood up for what's right and you came to the aid of people who needed your help. You made the difference. You made it happen. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for your support. Thank you so much for all your hard work!

And if I can ask you one more time for your participation. Please visit this thread here. (Right click on link and open in New Tab or New Window). And thank Nitecruzr, Gatsby, DarkUFO, and the entire Blogger Team for working hard to restore the missing comments and keeping the new comments from MJ and Leni from disappearing.

Thank you everyone! You're truly an astounding and marvelous group of people!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Help us restore MJ's and Leni's missing comments by getting Blogger's attention

*Update: Thursday 15 July 2010 7:30 pm. Scroll to the end of the post please.

It's been two weeks since the surge got us a positive response from Blogger. Since then, Blogger has acknowledged that there is a problem with with Blogger automatically targeting and erasing MJ's and Leni's comments. And all old comments MJ and Leni have left on our blogs have been erased.

Since then, we've not heard anything else from Blogger, other than they are aware of the problem and working on it. Still, I've been monitoring the Blogger Help Forum for developments and I've learned something interesting. Blogger does acknowledge that there is a problem with MJ's and Leni's missing comments, and something needs to be done to prevent Blogger from erasing MJ's and Leni's new comments. However, they seem to classify this problem as a low priority!

So what does that mean? It means that we've made it on their "to do" list, but we're at the bottom. So, what course of action do we take now? Well, for one thing, we do need the Blogger team to solve this problem, so we've got to find a way to elevate the problem from low priority to high priority on their "to do" list. How do we do this effectively and keep their cooperation?

I've been thinking about this for a week now. And I've devised a two step strategy to help elevate this problem from low priority to high priority on the Blogger Team's to do list.
The first step is to start posting on the Forum at the thread that discusses the problem of MJ's and Leni's missing comments.

Starting Thursday, 15 July 2010 all through next week, to Wednesday, 21 July 2010, start posting at the forum thread to get the Blogger team's attention. The thread is here. (Right click on the link, then Open in New Tab or New Window to get to the thread and post your request).

Here's what we need to post. Feel free to edit these requests to fit your style:

1. Ask blogger what's being done to resolve the issue of all of MJ's and Leni's missing comments from our old blog posts. It has been a month since the comments disappeared on 12 June 2010.

2. Ask blogger what's being done to prevent the google/blogger bots from automatically targeting and erasing comments left by MJ and Leni using their Google/Blogger accounts. Why hasn't Blogger been able to stop the automatic erasure/censure of MJ's and Leni's new comments?

3. Ask blogger, what else is needed to solve this problem quickly and keep it from happening?

Then tell them we are looking forward to the Blogger team's response. Thank them for their assistance. Remember to be polite and respectful to them, so we can encourage their cooperation and their willingness to solve this problem quickly.

4. Please spread the word to let everyone know what we're doing starting Thursday 15 July 2010 til Wednesday 21 July 2010. The more people we have participating and posting requests at the thread, the more impact we'll have! The more of us who post there, the more power we'll wield in getting Blogger to respond quickly and effectively to our requests. There is a great power in numbers, and the greater our numbers, the greater our strength and power to bring about change!

The whole point of posting in the thread, is to get Blogger's attention so they can realize that this problem is not a low priority problem, but a big one. And by posting in the thread, we keep the issue visible and one of the first problems people see when they visit the help forum. All that attention will get us a response.

Remember, post in the thread to get Blogger's response.

After one week, and if by next Wednesday, 21 July 2010 that we don't get a response from Blogger, then we go on with part two of the strategy. A second surge!

We've all ready seen what the first surge did. All those multiple postings got Blogger's attention and we shook up the help forum to get some answers. They don't like it when multiple postings start showing up on the board, alarming the other bloggers and taking up most of the forum. All those multiple postings freak them out, which is why they asked us to cease and desist while they look into the problem. It's a heavy tactic that can cause chaos for the Blogger team, but it's one that's worked for us before. Hopefully, it won't come to that. But if it does, we do what we must to get to our goal: To restore MJ and Leni's missing comments and prevent their new ones from being automatically erased by Blogger.

So once again, I must ask for your help in this new strategy. Your cooperation and collaboration was successfully in getting Blogger's attention in the first place. And for that, I thank you so much for taking the time to work with us. You really made the difference. You are a truly astounding and genuine community who looks out for each other and comes together to protect and support one another.

Now, I call upon your strength and participation once more. Please spread the word. With your help, we can get Blogger to respond once again and help solve this problem. Apparently, until more people come forward and report that this is a problem, Blogger will not solve it any time soon. So please spread the word and join our efforts. The cease fire is off! We are back to posting requests on the Forum!

Remember, starting Thursday 15 July 2010 til Wednesday 21 July 2010, post here on the thread to request Blogger's help.

Ask blogger to restore MJ's and Leni's missing comments, and request that Blogger stop automatically targeting and erasing new comments left by MJ's and Leni using their Blogger accounts. Your cooperation and your support gives us incredible power to make things happen. Together, we can do amazing things. Together, we can reach the stars!

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.
~Nora Roberts

********Update 15 July 2010, Thursday 7:30 pm*********

Something is going on at Blogger. In the post below, two of MJ's comments have briefly reappeared. This one was posted on 1 Jul 2010 11:25 am, and it vanished on July 2, 2010 4:45 AM. But it reappeared on 15 July 2010 at 7:30 pm when I went on line:

Blogger MJ said...

Test comment using my regular Google/Blogger log-in/username/avatar.

Posted on July 1st, 2010 at approximately 11:25 AM.

July 1, 2010 1:25 PM

This other comment was:

Comment deleted

This post has been removed by the author.

July 5, 2010 8:39 AM

It was the first of two comments to which I replied:
Blogger eroswings said...

MJ, I'm copying this for evidence.

Comment deleted

This post has been removed by the author.

July 5, 2010 8:39 AM
Blogger MJ said...

Ooops...trying again.

Here I am with yet another test comment posted on July 5, 2010 at approximately 8:41 AM.

July 5, 2010 8:41 AM

I was over at Nitecruzr's blog and it seems that he's forwarded further evidence to Gatsby about what's happening to the comments being erased automatically by Blogger. I imagine after the weekend holiday, they'll start working soon on it and let us know what's going to happen. I'm hopeful we'll get a resolution soon.

July 5, 2010 10:00 AM

I take this as a positive sign that Blogger really is working on solving MJ's and Leni's missing comments problem, and Blogger is looking for ways to stop MJ's and Leni's new comments from disappearing! Great work, people! Your polite respectful requests at the Forum are having a great impact! Keep up the good work. As you can see, it's working! Fantastic job, everyone!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Help Restore MJ's and Leni's Missing Comments

***Update 1 July 2010, Thursday:

Cease fire! Cease fire! Cease fire!

Ladies and Gentlemen, our surge has worked fantastically! We've gotten the attention of someone who may be able to help resolve this issue. Thank you! Thank you! Your hard work and participation in this action has paid off! We are now in talks with someone who can help fix this problem.

For now, I'd like to ask you all to stand down for the time being. Do Not Post Any More Help Requests At the Blogger Help Forum for now. The person who's helping us is requesting that we hold off any more multiple posts for help in order to help diagnose the root of the problem of MJ's and Leni's disappearing comments. We've gotten their attention, and now they need to focus on the problem.

We can help them expedite solving the problem by letting them work with MJ and Leni and not be distracted by any more posts from our surge asking for their help. So, for now, please Do Not Post Any More Help Requests at the forum.

The Surge worked! We're now holding a cease fire to engage in talks to resolve the conflict. Well done everyone!

Stand by for further developments! I'll bring you the latest news as it happens!

Thank you! Thank you so much for your continued support! You people rock!!!

Click here to follow what's happened. But please stand by for now. We're in a cease fire, so no new posts for help at the forum for now. We don't want to start a flame war. We want to engage in productive dialogue and cooperate with the Blogger Help Forum to solve this problem. The talks at the forum are heading in a positive direction. And your patience and hard work and support is very much appreciated. You people are just spectacular and astounding! Thank you so much!

Original post dated Monday, June 28, 2010

In case you haven't noticed, there has been some serious issues with Blogger lately. On the morning of 12 June 2010, Saturday, it was discovered that Blogger had automatically deleted MJ's blog, Infomaniac, without warning or a reason. A day later, the same thing was done to Leni Qinan's blog, Escorita y Peligrosa.

MJ was blocked even from using her Gmail account, so she couldn't access her Gmail or contact Blogger to directly to find out what was going on. It was up to her blogging community to sound the alarm and come together to find out what had happened to MJ's blog. It was the united efforts of bloggers like you and me, working together, posting multiple requests at Blogger Forum to restore Infomaniac, that helped us get Infomaniac back online. Leni Quinan's blog was also returned. Thank you so much for your support and hard work in getting Infomaniac back. It only took us a weekend to get Infomaniac restored.

However, a serious problem still remains. When Blogger took down both MJ's and Leni's blogs, they also erased all of their comments from the blogs they visited and their own blogs! Even worse, any new comments they leave on blogs, including their own, are automatically targeted and erased by Blogger!

I've contacted Blogger Forum once again to report this problem, and with your support and requests at the Forum, we got some reply. Unfortunately, the Blogger Team either misunderstood the problem or even worse, they don't care. It's been over a week now, and still, the Blogger Team has not adequately addressed our concerns about why MJ's and Leni's comments have not been restored to our blogs, and why their new comments, if they post under their Blogger/Gmail accounts, are systematically targeted and erased by Blogger within 24 hours.

This problem is more than just about missing comments. This is about our shared history and community. MJ's blog was a hub on Blogger, a place where adults from all over the world could come together and share a laugh, to forget our worries for a bit and just relax and unwind. It was the home of a large, international community of bloggers who came together to share ideas, humor, advice, and celebrate and support each other during tumultuous periods of life. This was a community that celebrated diversity. It was a place where all minorities and people of all walks of life were welcomed and embraced, a place where we built up a community that not only values wit and humor and compassion, we also embraced free speech and freedom and equality for all peoples.

MJ's and Leni's comments were more than just replies to our blog posts. They were personal correspondences. They were written proof of our support for one another. Some of these comments were heartfelt, personal notes of support during times of crisis, when we experienced hardship or personal loss. And we've certainly lost a number of our community who were dear to us. The erasure of MJ's and Leni's comments is an assault on our community and a violation and despicable desecration of the memory and honor of those in our community who've passed on.

The continued and targeted, automatic erasure of MJ's and Leni's new comments is an attack on free speech and the diversity and equality that this community (and Google supposedly) embraces and holds to be true. We cannot sit idly by and let Blogger continue to systematically target and erase MJ's and Leni's comments.

Sometimes, bad things happen, because we have no control over them. We try to pick up the pieces and move on. But sometimes, evil things happen, because we do nothing and let it happen. In the words of Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), who survived the atrocities and Nazi death camps of World War II:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

Do not let Blogger continue this evil act of automatically targeting and erasing comments! It is a violation of free speech and an unprovoked attack on an international community that embraces diversity, supports minorities, and advocates for freedom and equality for all people.

Join us in fighting against this vile and deplorable act by Blogger. Help us restore MJ's and Leni's missing comments and keep Blogger from automatically targeting and erasing their new comments as well.

I am proposing a change in our tactics to get Blogger's attention in resolving this matter.

Our strategy will be executed in three stages to obtain maximum effect. First, we will create a surge. I need all of you to make this work. We will post multiple requests at the Blogger Forum to get their attention.

Stage 1 is to set the time for the surge. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, the 30th of June, 2010. I want you to post a request on Blogger Forum to ask why MJ's and Leni's comments have disappeared from your blog and why new comments they leave using their Blogger usernames are being targeted and erased within 24 hours. Click on this Post a question link to post your request. (If you use Firefox, Right Click on link, then Open in New Tab; If you use Internet Explorer, Right Click on link, then Open in New Window. It'll make it easier to copy and paste the following info). Under Choose a category, click on Something is Broken and fill out the Your question box. Copy and Paste the info below if you'd like, and feel free to edit it to fit your style.

In fact, here's a template of what I'm posting at Blogger on Wednesday. Feel free to copy and paste this request when you go to Blogger Forum to post your request. Edit it as needed to fit your style.

Title/Question: Help! Blogger automatically targeting and erasing comments!

I am writing to report that Blogger is targeting comments from two of my readers and has erased all their old comments and continues to erase new comments they leave within 24 hours. Comments left by MJ of Infomaniac ( and Leni Qinan of Escritora y peligrosa ( have disappeared from our blogs (and theirs) since 12 June 2010 and new comments they leave using their Blogger/Gmail accounts are being systematically targeted and erased by Blogger within 24 hours. Why?

This problem has been reported before and yet no one appears to be looking into it to let us know that something is being done about it. Is this a virus? Or is this an intentional attack? Please let us know that Blogger is aware of this problem and is working on resolving this issue. It's a very disturbing thing to realize that Blogger is automatically singling out and targeting individuals to erase all their old comments and any new ones they leave. Please help fix this serious issue.

Thank you. We look forward to working with you in solving this problem.

Remember, the surge starts Wednesday, and I want everyone to keep posting a request at the Help Forum starting Wednesday and lasting all through next week, Tuesday, 6th of July, 2010. The goal of the surge is to get as many requests posted on the Blogger Forum as possible. The more requests we post, the more likely we'll get the Blogger Team's attention. The surge will only work when the Blogger Forum is suddenly flooded with multiple requests to restore the missing comments. There is power is numbers, and I need many, many, multiple requests at the Blogger Forum to catch the Blogger Team's attention.

So please, spread the word to all your readers to join us on Wednesday and start the week long surge at Blogger Forum to get their attenion.

Stage 2 is to click on this answer a few questions/feedback link and report your dissatisfaction with the Blogger Forum. (If you use Firefox, Right Click on link, then Open in New Tab; If you use Internet Explorer, Right Click on link, then Open in New Window). It's a short 5 question survey that asks for your satisfaction regarding the Blogger Help forum. The fifth question asks "What Blogger information were you looking for? "

It's a blank space where you will type how unhappy you are. Here's what I'm writing there, so feel free to copy and paste and edit to fit your style:

I am very unhappy and angry that Blogger is automatically targeting and erasing comments from certain bloggers, like MJ ( and Leni ( I want the old comments from MJ and Leni restored to my blog and their own, and I want the Blogger to stop erasing the new comments MJ and Leni leave when they use their Blogger/Gmail accounts. Their new comments are erased automatically by Blogger within 24 hours. No one from the Blogger Team seems to be aware (or cares ) that this problem has been going on since 12 June 2010. Please fix this problem. You either have a virus or you're intentionally erasing their comments, censoring free speech and attacking our diverse community that embraces minorities and equality for all people.

Remember, click on that feedback link and reply as many times as you can. You don't need to sign in to fill this survey out. The more negative feedback Blogger gets, the more likely they'll look into the matter. Remember, our numbers count, so make sure to join in the surge starting this Wednesday, 30th of June and continues on to Tuesday, 6th of July. The goal is to show a massive number of spikes or jumps in the requests for help and the negative feedback on the surveys. That will catch the Blogger Team's attention and help us get some answers as to why this problem of disappearing and erasing comments continues. The more of us who post at the Blogger Forum and feedback link, the more impact we'll have on getting the Blogger Team to help us resolve this disturbing matter.

Stage 3 is to get the word out. Email your friends or let your blog readers know what's happening and to join us in our surge. Please help us spread the word and join in our group action starting Wednesday 30 June 2010 to Tuesday 6 July 2010. And after you've posted your request on Blogger Forum, click on another person's help request to restore MJ's and Leni's comments to show your support and post there as well. Remember, the more of us who post multiple help requests and feedbacks to Blogger, the more likely we'll get their attention. We need your help to return the missing comments and stop Blogger from automatically erasing new comments that MJ and Leni leave on our posts.

Your participation is necessary to make this a success. There are all ready plans and movements to elevate the scale of our actions to include contacting Google headquarters at

Google, Inc
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: +1 650-253-0000
Fax: +1 650-253-0001

Leni has all ready contacted the Google head office. There are a bunch of other Google offices (one may be closer to you) that we will contact as well as part of our contingent plans after the week long surge. I've all ready started gathering information on government agencies and other organizations dedicated to free speech and equality for minorities and all people. I'm planning to reach out to them and the media to bring about public attention to what's going on at Blogger.

But the most important thing we can do right now is to spread the word about the surge starting Wednesday and for everyone to participate. Remember, the more of us who post at Blogger Forum and the feedback links, the more likely Blogger will have to take notice and step up to solve this problem. Your actions count, and I'm counting on you to take part in our community efforts to help our own. Your support has been invaluable in restoring MJ's blog, Infomaniac. And your continued support is necessary to return the missing comments from MJ and Leni. We need all of you to help us bring about a change that will rightfully restore the missing comments and ensure the continuation of free speech and diversity in blogging.

Please join our efforts. Please spread the word. The surge starts Wednesday, 30 June 2010. Remember, one person can change another; and two people can change the world. Imagine what all of us can do when we work together.

Thank you.