Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Blogger Challenge

The other day David Dust issued a challenge to his fellow bloggers. He asked to post pics of our Thanksgiving meal. I have posted some pics. If you want to see additional pics, click here. In additional to liquor and wine, we had turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, green bean casserole, macaroni & cheese with white truffles and a slew of other side dishes and desserts. It was a fun time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dec. 1: World AIDS Day 2009

Next Tuesday, December 1, will mark the 21st Anniversary of World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day is important because it reminds people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.

December 1 is a day to increase awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education about HIV/AIDS. Events will be occurring around the nation. Locally there will be events on December 1 and on the days following World AIDS Day. For a listing of some of the events in Houston, visit World AIDS Day Houston.

There are two things happening that day that I would like to bring to your attention. The first is the Candelight Vigil that will occur in downtown Houston at Tranquility Park. This will begin at 5:30p.m. The agenda for the event can be found on the World AIDS Day Houston website under the events tab.

The second event is the free HIV testing that will occur at Legacy Community Health Services. Tests will take place at the location on Westheimer and the location on Lyons. If you haven't been tested in awhile, Tuesday would be a great day to do so. You owe it to yourself.

Lastly, I encourage you to wear a red ribbon on December 1. The ribbon is a symbol of our solidarity in the fight against HIV/AIDS and is also reminder of those who passed away.

If you want to know why World AIDS Day means so much me, read this post from 2007. I think it explains it all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Plans?

So what are you doing for Thanksgiving this year? I am going to stay in Houston and celebrate the day with friends. I asked what I could bring to dinner and I was told, "1.75 litres of Skyy vodka." I replied, "You don't want Kettle One?" "Skyy will do." was the reply. I can do that! Specs, here I come!
I'm going to blame tryptophan for my passing out at the table

Let Thanksgiving be a reminder to start your holiday season bender

Monday, November 23, 2009


Many of you know that I *heart* facebook! It has been a great way to keep up with people and to reconnect people.

After using it for awhile I realized that there is some fine lines that you have to walk if you your co-workers have friended you or if your relatives have friended you. From that though, I have learned about some of the privacy controls that can be enabled so that only certain people can see certain things about me.

I have also learned how to tag photos but more importantly, how to untag photos. I heard one time that the busiest time on facebook is on Monday morning when everyone is looking for pictures that were posted from events over the weekend...and they are untagging the photos. Which leads to this story:

Canada woman to fight insurance co. over Facebook

MONTREAL (AP) -- A Canadian woman on sick leave for depression said Monday she would fight an insurance company's decision to cut her benefits after her agent found photos on Facebook of her vacationing, at a bar and at a party.

Nathalie Blanchard said Monday she was diagnosed with major depression and was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits until payments dried up this fall.

When Blanchard called her insurance provider, Manulife, to find out why, she says she was told the Facebook photos showed she was able to work.

"If you have insurance, be careful. This is a major battle and it's not going to be easy," Blanchard, 29, said in a telephone interview from her home in Bromont Quebec.

She said her insurance agent described several pictures Blanchard posted on Facebook, including ones showing her having a good time at a Chippendales bar show, at her birthday party and on a holiday.

Blanchard said Manulife told her it was evidence she is no longer depressed.

Her lawyer, Tom Lavin, said Blanchard was wrongfully dismissed from her benefits, and she had the right to go on a sunny vacation.

"The issue for me is that they stopped her disability benefits without the proper medical recommendations. Her doctor recommended she go on vacation," he said.

Blanchard said she took three four-day trips when she was feeling especially low, on her psychiatrist's advice.

Manulife declined to comment on the case specifically but has said in a statement that "we would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on Web sites such as Facebook."

Still, Lavin said the issue raises concerns for anyone who expects their private life to remain so if they post personal information to social networking sites such as Facebook.

"It's good warning for people who use Facebook. It's not like being at home and writing in your diary. It's out there for the whole world to see," he said.

Blanchard's case will be before Quebec Superior Court Dec. 8.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

T-Mobile sucks!

I am pissed off! There. I said it!

Sunday night my personal Blackberry stopped working. The track ball which is the part of the phone that gives it its functionality stopped working. It only scrolls sideways. So, I can't read text messages. And my phone is stuck on silent so I have no idea if someone calls.

I called T-Mobile on Monday and was told that the replacement device would be shipped on Monday. I was told to call back in a couple of days and get a UPS tracking number. So I did and I was told that it had shipped and to go to UPS and put in my cell number and that would be my tracking number.

So, while I was on the phone I did and it didn't work. The customer service rep. tried and couldn't get it to work. She said the tracking system must be down but she assured me the device had been shipped and to check back with UPS. And I did.

And it didn't work. So I called back this morning and spoke with someone else and was told the device still hasn't left the warehouse and she has no idea when it will. OK, why was I told it HAD shipped?

They offered me a $20 plastic replacement phone as an interim solution. Uh, why not an interim Blackberry? Once you've had a Blackberry you never go back!

I told the last person I spoke with that they need to retrain their customer service reps. I told her that the worse thing to do is set high expectations and give out bad information to customers.

T-Mobile, you suck!

Monday, November 16, 2009

That's not a very Christian thing to do!

It was just a matter of time before the hate mongers came out of the closet to make an attempt to derail Annise Parker's bid for being Mayor of the City of Houston.

Houston is the 4th largest city in the United States. Annise Parker IS the most qualified candidate for the job. So why should the fact that she is a lesbian have anything to do with her ability to run a city?

If you want to find out more about Annise, click here. There is also a link on her website to make a contribution. We need as much help as possible to make sure the bigotsChristians don't keep her from becoming mayor. And just in case you're wondering, I am practicing Catholic and do NOT consider myself a hate monging Christian. Just sayin'!

Ministers, conservatives work for Parker's defeat
Group opposes a lesbian in office
Nov. 13, 2009, 9:29PM

A cluster of socially conservative Houstonians is planning a campaign to discourage voters from choosing City Controller Annise Parker in the December mayoral runoff because she is a lesbian, according to multiple ministers and conservatives involved in the effort.

The group is motivated by concerns about a “gay takeover” of City Hall, given that two other candidates in the five remaining City Council races are also openly gay, as well as national interest driven by the possibility that Houston could become the first major U.S. city to elect an openly gay woman.

Another primary concern is that Parker or other elected officials would seek to overturn a 2001 city charter amendment that prohibits the city from providing benefits to the domestic partners of gay and lesbian employees.

“The bottom line is that we didn't pick the battle, she did, when she made her agenda and sexual preference a central part of her campaign,” said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, numbering more than 200 senior pastors in the Greater Houston area. “National gay and lesbian activists see this as a historic opportunity. The reality is that's because they're promoting an agenda which we believe to be contrary to the concerns of the community and destructive to the family.”

Welch said he had “no doubt” there would be numerous independent advocacy efforts urging voters not to choose Parker, most of which would involve mail.

Locke courting right wing
Parker's opponent, former City Attorney Gene Locke, strongly distanced himself from a previous anti-gay attack against her that ultimately proved to have been a hoax. But he has made recent efforts to court some of the staunch social conservatives who are either actively planning on attacking Parker's sexuality or strongly considering it.

He appeared at the Pastor Council's annual gala last Friday and was encouraged several times by State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, a featured speaker, to stand for conservative values.

Locke has also met with and sought the endorsement of Dr. Steven Hotze, a longtime local kingmaker in conservative politics and author of the Straight Slate in 1985, a coterie of eight City Council candidates he recruited who ran on an anti-gay platform.

The slate was formed to oppose eight incumbents who supported measures aimed at protecting homosexuals from discrimination in city government. The measures were resoundingly repealed by the voters in a referendum, but none of the eight council members lost their seats.

Republican consultant Allen Blakemore, a longtime Hotze associate who spoke on his behalf, said he is considering mailing out a slate of endorsed runoff candidates, and Parker's sexuality is a “key factor” in his decision.

Hotze is concerned about the national fundraising and strong efforts of Houston's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Caucus on behalf of Parker and other council candidates, Blakemore said.

Parker has tread carefully in her candidacy for mayor, stressing frequently that she is running not as a gay candidate but as a qualified city official who's won election six times. In a televised debate last month, she voiced “no current plans” to revisit the city charter amendment if elected, although she said the city will need to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees “at some point.”

Parker campaign manager Adam Harris said Locke's overtures to Hotze and others represented a “desperate and extreme act.”

“Houston deserves real leadership, not someone who will cut a deal with anyone and go to any extreme” to be elected, Harris said.

Locke spokeswoman Kim Devlin said he has met with “thousands of people” and promised from the outset of his campaign to be “mayor for every Houstonian … no matter their political party or their ideology.”

“Annise Parker is letting Houstonians in on her true character by leveling these highly incendiary, baseless and ridiculous attacks,” said Devlin.

Same-sex benefits key
Former Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Paul Bettencourt, another Republican close to Hotze, said that if Locke wishes to unite a strong African-American base with social conservatives, they will need his assurance that he will not seek to overturn the charter amendment.

Responding to the same debate question as Parker last month, Locke said same-sex benefits allow governments and businesses “a competitive advantage” and said he “would favor that,” although it would not be the first thing on his plate.

“That's not going to motivate us to come out and vote for somebody,” Bettencourt said of social conservatives. “You cannot get the positive good conservative turnout if you're trying to undo charter amendments. It's a line drawn in the sand. You just can't have it both ways.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

What have you done today... make you feel proud?

The other night at Illuminations Project, Kimberly Anne O'Neil performed to Heather's Small Proud. It got me to thinking, is there one thing (big or small) that you can do to make yourself feel proud? It doesn't have to be something big or overt. It can be a random act of kindness that makes you feel proud. Think about it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Does every party have to have a theme?"

That was the question posed to me and Kevin one afternoon as we sipped Margaritas outside on an October Wednesday afternoon. And we replied, "Well yes. Otherwise it is just a party."

Yesterday, Krewe of Olympus-Texas had a brunch as a fundraiser. It wasn't just any brunch. It was Kicked Up A Notch...a Latin brunch.

If you want to see more photos, click here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Every $1 helps

The email below was forwarded to me. I think it clearly speaks to the reason why Houstonians and non-Houstonians should contribute to Annise Parker's campaign for Mayor of Houston.

A group of my friends have been longtime supporters of Annise Parker. I am very proud of Ben and Jim who have worked in her campaign office, walked blocks handing out flyers, worked polling places on the day of the election, and worked the phones asking for contributions. After reading the letter below, if you would like to contribute and help make history, click here.

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Michael Gonzalez"
Subject: Why I owe Annise $5,000

I hope this email finds you well. I miss home and I miss you! But I need to get something off my chest...

Although we woke up this morning with a bigger House majority than we went to bed with last night, the news from Maine was pretty devastating. I have always thought that leaving the rights of the minority to a plebiscite is itself an outrageous miscarriage of justice. We would still have poll taxes, bans on interracial marriage, and segregated schools if those things were left to mob rule.

But from here in Washington, DC there was another great story of hope. My friend Annise Parker received more votes for Mayor of my great home town of Houston than anyone else. Think about it - a city with almost TWICE the population of Maine!

That news simply made it impossible for me to have a single discouraging thought today on the Maine Equality results. And it has everyone here in DC and around the country talking. Well, I am glad they are talking but as they say... talk is cheap!

I saw manifested what I have always known to be true of this great Texas city: in Houston, you are judged by your merits. By what you have accomplished and what you are capable of. And you don't need a patron or a machine or great wealth. If you are up to the task and prove your worth, Houston will give you a chance. And that is what the voters said loud and clear yesterday.
Richard and I cannot vote for Annise because we are registered to vote here in DC. But we can do our part. That is why we are giving $5,000 to her campaign.

I've had gay and straight friends come up to me and tell me they support Annise because she has the most competent, ethical, list of accomplishments in public service that we have seen for Mayor in a long time. And that nobody is better prepared than her to meet the big expectations for a Mayor after the great record of Bill White.

Well, sure. I agree. Not a single thing in that statement is untrue. And that is why she would have our vote if we still lived in Houston. And that is why we would give some money to her campaign or volunteer.

But as our good friend (and my old boss Chris Bell) reminded me, that is a good enough reason for everyone else to give BUT NOT FOR ME! The reason that we are making such a sacrifice and giving more money to her campaign than we have done for anybody EVER is because WE ARE A GAY FAMILY AND ANNISE PARKER REPRESENTS THE VERY BEST IN OUR COMMUNITY. And if she is ultimately elected Mayor in 5 short weeks, she will represent as chief executive the largest constituency of any LGBT person in the history of this country.

I'm 45 and Richard turned 50 this year. We are ready to stop leaving the future of our civil rights to the goodwill of a mob. Like everybody we know, we have done our part to advance LGBT civil rights. Although not nearly enough but we try. We get to see so many of our friends from Houston come to DC for the HRC National Dinner. It is wonderful to celebrate such a big event and see all this energy. Sometimes I have so much fun at that dinner that I think I am done for the year! Well, I am not - not by a long shot. It is my sincere hope that every single person that makes the trip every year and every single person that goes to the wonderful Houston HRC dinner and all the incredible and loyal LGBT donors that Chris always had are all doing everything they can for Annise right now. And if they haven't yet or haven't enough, I hope they understand that this is the moment.

Does Houston deserve a great Mayor that is competent and ethical and watches the taxes and spending and keeps our streets safe? Absolutely. Does the nation deserve a new leader that speaks to our greatness? You bet. Does the LGBT community have a duty to make sure that we do everything we can to make this possibility a reality? I believe that with all my heart.

Can everybody afford to give Annise $5,000? Certainly not. Richard and I can barely afford it and we will make sacrifices to do it (Bell, sorry buddy but you are getting a nice card for your 50th birthday). But my hope is that every LGBT person in Houston realizes that this moment will come and go in 5 short weeks. That we can make history here. And that if ex-pats like Richard and I appreciate this moment and are willing to stretch further than we ever have before, other LGBT people can too. And should. This isn't your regular race. Annise isn't your regular LGBT-friendly candidate. This is history. And even from 1,208 miles away, we wouldn't miss it for the world!

Chris, thanks for whacking me over the head with the obvious. I hope others seize the moment too...

John Michael Gonzalez DC resident, Texan by the Grace of God...

Contribute to Annise Parker's campaign by clicking here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Carrie Prejean, just shut up and go home why don't you?

Many of you will remember that during the Miss U.S.A. Pageant, Miss California Carrie Prejean gave a VERY unpopular answer to a question about gay marriage. She claims that the subsequent firestorm was due to the fact that Miss High & Mighty 2009 Miss Holier Than Thou was being persecuted for her religious beliefs. She was on every talk show and news show defending herself.

Let me qualify all of this by saying that there are reasons I will never run for public office or participate in a beauty pageant. I also do my best to be non-judgemental. So let me continue...

The following story is from CNN. Interesting how it all played out. Following the CNN story is the TMZ story. Who knew that TMZ self-censored?

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- The sudden end to a legal battle between dethroned Miss California USA Carrie Prejean and pageant officials was prompted by the revelation of a "sex tape," according to a source familiar with the lawsuits' settlement.

Prejean was fired in June after lingerie-modeling photos of her emerged that pageant officials said were a breach of her contract. Prejean sued the pageant in August, arguing her firing was religious discrimination because of her opposition to same-sex marriage.

Pageant officials countersued last month, demanding their former beauty queen repay $5,200 in pageant money spent for her breast implants and give them all proceeds from a book she's written.

A settlement of both lawsuits was signed in New York Tuesday, but no details were made public. Lawyers and parties for each side were bound by a confidentiality pledge, according to the source.

The veil of secrecy was partially lifted Wednesday after celebrity gossip Web site TMZ reported the deal was sealed after pageant lawyers presented an "extremely graphic" home video involving Prejean.

TMZ Managing Editor Harvey Levin said during a webcast Wednesday that he obtained the Prejean video during the summer, but found it "too racy" to post on his site. He indicated Prejean was alone in the video.

The source with knowledge of the settlement talks told CNN those details were accurate.

Prejean's lawyer, Charles LiMandri, responded with a short statement issued through an employee at his law office. "It's a confidential settlement, and he can't discuss it," the statement said.

Several calls and e-mail to Prejean's publicist were not returned Wednesday.

Prejean's tell-all book hits bookstores next week, and she is scheduled for media interviews to promote it.

Pageant spokesman Kenn Henman said Tuesday the settlement means all lawsuit demands are dropped.

The pageant had claimed that the contract she signed when she entered their competition last year gave the pageant the rights to anything she wrote. The settlement ended that claim.

Pageant officials also dropped their attempt to be repaid for her breast enhancement, which was done before she represented California in the Miss USA competition, according to Henman.

Prejean, in exchange, withdrew her suit accusing the pageant of violating her privacy by confirming to reporters that her breasts were enhanced, Henman said.

"We are moving forward from the past and looking towards the crowning of two winners and the new look of the upcoming Miss California USA pageant, telecast live on November 22," pageant Executive Director Keith Lewis said Tuesday.

"We're back in the business of beauty," he told CNN.

There was nothing pretty about the public fight that began in April when Prejean, 22, stepped into controversy by declaring her opposition to same-sex marriage while answering a judge's question at the Miss USA pageant. Prejean finished as first runner-up.

While state and national pageant officials publicly supported her initially, their opinions eventually changed after she continued to make public statements about same-sex marriage.

She held onto her crown through May, despite a series of questionable photos that emerged on gossip Web sites. Those images showed a topless Prejean, photographed from behind.

She was dethroned in June by Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump amid growing complaints by state officials that she was uncooperative and not meeting her contractual obligations.

Prejean filed her lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court in August, claiming that her firing was religious discrimination because of her stand against same-sex marriage.

The pageant's countercomplaint said what it called Prejean's belligerent behavior, lack of cooperation and contract breaches caused her firing, not her opposition to same-sex marriage.

From TMZ:
We have more info on Carrie Prejean's abrupt about-face during the settlement negotiations with Miss California USA lawyers -- when they showed her the X-Rated version of Home Alone ... starring Carrie herself.

When the video started playing, Carrie's first reaction was "that's disgusting" ... and Carrie denied it was her.

Then, the camera angle changed ... and panned up to her face. She was caught red-handed ... so to speak.

Carrie was rendered speechless and immediately began talking with her lawyer. We're told it took about 15 seconds for Carrie to drop her $1 million dollar demand.

Read more

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Let's Hear It For The Girl

It's not often that a local race in Houston draws national attention but the election for Houston's next mayor made the national media put their eyes on Texas. To name a few, CNN and New York Times both did stories about Annise Parker.

Annise has the opportunity to become mayor of the 4th largest city in the United States. Yesterday, she received 31% of the vote which puts her in a December 12 run-off against former City Attorney Gene Locke.

Annise is the most qualified candidate to be be mayor. She served 6 years in an at-large council position and another 6 years as Controller for the City of Houston. If she wins on December 12, she will be the second woman to lead Houston and will be the first out lesbian as mayor of a major U.S. city.

To read the whole story about yesterday's election, read this story in today's Houston Chronicle.

To learn more about Annise Parker and to contribute to her campaign, click here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween 2009

It was sort of odd this year. Halloween was on a Saturday night and a people chunk of the peeps that I roll with were in New Orleans. Normally on a Saturday I can walk into a myriad of bars and know oodles of people; not this year.

Kevin and I ran around together on Saturday evening into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Jim & Ben joined us at one point.

Below are some photos and to see more, click here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

America's Next Top Pumpkin

I'm really trying to catch up with events of the past week. So, last Wednesday a friend of mine decided to have a pumpkin carving party modeled (pun intended) after America's Next Top Model. I do have have some friends with creative minds. ANTP was hosted by Not So Tyra.

Here are some photos. To see more, click here.