Friday, March 04, 2011

That Dancing Thing

In May last year I started to take ballroom dancing lessons. Years ago, when swing was having something of a revival, I took a couple of group lessons and really enjoyed it. When I was in Ashburn I toyed with the idea of picking up lessons again but never got around to it. After a nice big fail trying to dance at a wedding I decided to pick it up again. The person I was dating at the time enjoyed dancing so that was a motivation as well, truth be told.

It turns out I have something of an aptitude to it. Either that or my teachers are blowing smoke up my ass. Either way, I have been having fun doing it. My background in music really helps as it allows me to pick out the beat and understand phrasing. Sometimes the phrasing thing is annoying during group classes because everyone else starts and I'm waiting for the beginning of the phrase.

Anyway I have mixed feelings about this and it comes from my own crap. On one hand, the ladies like to dance so that is a bonus. On the other, and this is stupid but I can't get it out of my head, dancing isn't exactly a manly pursuit. Man, I feel like such a sell out putting voice to this but there is is in my head none the less. I probably just need to grow up. What is the point of this blog if I'm not honest though, right?

So each week I go through these doubts of wanting to pursue it. It is a cultural thing, no doubt. But it is holding me back from embracing it more. Boo cultural prejudices. I'll grow out of it eventually.

Moving on. The school I go to, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, is a world wide dealio that has been around forever. I pay up the butt for it but with the rate I get private lessons, up to four group classes a week, and two big ass dance practice party things each week. Last month I decided to throw myself more into the dance thing. I end up doing some 3 to 6 hours of class/practice a week. Nuts.

Meh, running out of steam on this post. The nutshell is I'm really starting to enjoy it as I get more confident. Good times.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Love and Caffeinated Beverages

Been awhile since I posted. I used to blog quite a bit because it filled a need in my life. With the advent of Facebook I've gotten away from this since Facebook filled that need to a degree. But over time I've found that I still need a forum for ranting in more than a single paragraph so might as well crank up this Wurlitzer once more.

Before I get into love I'd like to say a few words about caffeinated beverages. They are the devil. More to the point, they are the devil that most be embraced. I don't want to rely on caffeine to be productive yet when I have it I'm like super productive man doing the work of 10 Ryans. So since I don't drink a lot of it I have little tolerance for it; just a little hits me like a truck. Additionally, I don't like the taste of coffee. I drink mochas when I have anything at all which is just chocolate in a cup with some coffee in there somewhere. Finally, if I have too much my heart lets me know about it by palpating and such. If you have never experienced palpitations they suck.

I tell you all that to tell you this. I am slowly drinking a bit more each week. I hope not to get to a point where I have to have my pot a day in order to function at all. Rather I am trying to use it strategically. I fear that will just be my gateway into becoming another automaton in the coffee addicted world in which we live.

Right, so, love. A relationship I had for about 8 months or so ended really on New Year's day, although it didn't really end formally until a few weeks after. I do not regret the relationship at all. It expanded my world and was fun pretending to live a lifestyle I couldn't afford once a month or so. The relationship was long distance which poses a lot of unique challenges. Chief among those is the times when we were together had a lot of pressure to be perfect and when it wasn't the problems were just magnified. I think what ultimately happened is that both fell in love with a conception of who we each were and the potential of what the relationship could be rather than the reality of it. It had been clear to me from the beginning that as long as we talked through issues we would be alright but if we ever got to a point where we didn't talk that would be it. In the end our undoing was when we stopped talking and working through problems after New Years.

So from what seemed to be a very strong and solid relationship to single again quite abruptly was, well, pretty shitty. That we never talked on the phone and ended up ending it through IM I am torn about. On one side I think had we talked on the phone we might still be together and I'm not sure that would have been a good thing in the end. On the other side that we just gave up rather trying to work it out really goes against who I am and what I believe in when it comes to relationships. It was not from a lack of trying but both sides need to want to work through things. Can't really force healing.

I think about the differences between long and short distance relationships and one of the conclusions I come to is that if I were to ever enter into a long term relationship again it would be key to spend at least a week together in the beginning to really get to know each other. A vacation together up front would be nice but even just one party or the other hanging around for a week while the other does their day-to-day thing would work. It is all about forming a more accurate image of who each of us are rather than an idealized image that is critical. When idealized images meet reality it is quite a shock, as I found out. Once you get to know each other better then it is just a matter of constant communication and willingness to talk about the differences in expectations and reality when they come up. That is true regardless of distance, with friends and lovers a like. Always and forever, communication is the key.

Ok! Not bad for a come back post. Maybe I'll keep the momentum going. Commenting here or on Facebook about this post will help. ;)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

All I Wanted Was To Watch A Movie

I went to see Iron Man 2 yesterday with my Dad and brother at a Cinema Draft House in the area. The place is old, was originally built way back in 1914 ( So we are sitting in our rather comfortable seats and this older gentlemen comes down in front and demands that everyone pay attention to him. He turns out to be the owner and then goes on to

1) Berate the audience for not filling up the entire theater
2) Explain why the American soccer team will never win the world cup and how our style is too wishy-washy
3) Clap for our troops and explain how he was one of the last cowboy helicopter pilots and did two tours in 'Nam.
4) Taught us the importance of know which eye is your dominant eye and how to determine it including yelling at everyone to put there hand up so we could find out
5) Gave us his theory on why older people can't see while driving at night and tips for fixing that situation
6) A history lesson on the theater, how much he paid for it, and that he is retiring soon

It had to be the single most surreal experience I have ever had at a movie theater. All I could do was thinking 'Am I going to have to go through this every time I come to this theater?'.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Adventures in Sailing! - TRYST

This post went pretty long. The last part of it is the best part if you want to skip around.

My first sail of the season took place this past Saturday aboard a 35-foot custom cruiser called the TRYST. The owner and captain of the boat bought her about a year ago after she circumnavigated the globe with her previous owners. The interior is beautiful, all dark wood that is probably a pain to keep clean. The exterior, in the words of his ex-gf, looks like a potato since it has a coach house (instead of a open cockpit) in the middle.

Originally the trip was going to be a 10 hour day sail from Grasonville, MD (just over the Bay Bridge) to Annapolis and back. It was cold, about 40 degrees, with a north wind blowing around 18 knots or so. We were all bundled up pretty tightly.

After we got out into the open I took the helm while the captain and one other tried to get the sails up. The headsail went up easy but the main was stuck. It took about 30 minutes or so to free it and series of 'perfectly executed technical maneuvers' that were neither perfectly executed nor very technical. Out of practice I am.

Once we had the sails up it was pretty smooth until we were going to turn the corner into the main part of the Bay. I wasn't paying any attention to the GPS chart plotter and instead just looking at markers. What I didn't see was that we were smack dab in the middle of some shallows. The depth fell to 5' or so pretty quick so we were in immediate danger of being stuck. Luckily we were able to avoid that particular awesome situation.

Then my best moment of ineptitude for the day happened. I wanted to tack and head toward Annapolis up the coast but the captain asked that I head towards the opposite shore first before we tacked. Tacking requires setting the sails differently and he wanted to keep it to a minimum if possible. Not being able to see the wind vane, how the sails were set, or feel the wind on my face it was hard to tell how close to he wind we were sailing. I assumed we were already pretty close so that turning any further north would cause us to tack so I kept us pointed in the direction we were heading in. Well, as it turns out I was wrong and we could have turned up into the wind something like 60 degrees more than we were. The net effect: we sailing south for 45 minutes rather than north west. So that was awesome.

After the course correction we sailed for another couple of hours. At this point we had been out on the water for 7 hours or so, 6 of those hours under sail, when the wind decided it was done. It dropped from its awesome 18 knots to like 5 knots or so, which isn't much for my 5000 pound Catalina, let alone a 21,000 pound boat like TRYST. We decided to fly this huge parachute like sail called a drifter. Drifters are a pain to set; lots of things can go wrong. I put on a life vest since I was going to be up at the bow pulling the sail out of the bag. One nice puff at the wrong time and over I'd go. We had to pull the sail out of the bag and restuff it since it had been put back incorrectly. Once that was done and everything was hooked up properly the sail come up pretty easily. Pretty straight-forward really.

Unfortunately, it didn't make a huge difference. At the piddly 3 knots of speed we were making we were 5 hours from anything. So after 30 minutes we made a decision to abandon going to Annapolis and instead head to Tangier Island back to the east under power. This required pulling the drifter down. It came down pretty easily luckily.

So the next few hours were pretty uneventful. We made it to Tangier around 4 pm and found a restaurant about 1/2 mile away from where we docked. Good food, looked like a cool place during the warmer months. We made it back to the boat after dark and started the 3 hours trip under power back to the dock. Our eta was about midnight. Originally, we were to be back at 9 pm.

After a somewhat eventful motoring involving mistaken lights, hard to find markers, and a car on a remote island that we argued about what it was for an hour, we were finally in the channel and could see the dock.

The channel into the marina his boat resides in is very narrow and tricky. Compounded with the near impossible challenge of seeing day markers at night against a well lit shore line and you have a recipe for grounding. I was up on the bow trying to find a series of three markers that were very close together marking the narrowest part of the channel. The wind had picked up again so it was bitterly cold and the tide was coming in. We were able to pick out the markers and were between the three of them when I felt the engine cut out. The captain tried to restarting it several times but to no avail. We were adrift in the narrowest part of the channel being pushed towards a red day marker we had just passed.

We dropped the anchor to give us time to look at the engine and try to get it started. After checking the usual suspects the Captain decided we needed to get a tow back to the dock that we could fricken see a mile away, if that. However, before that we had a more immediate problem. It turns out the anchor, while it stopped us from drifting, was let out too far and now we were slowly swinging towards a marker. Two of us pulled the anchor in tighter to try to get the bow to clear the marker but in doing so we pulled it up too far to where it started to slip. The captain made the call to just pull the anchor up all the way so we would slip past the marker and just get stuck in the mud instead.

Well, we slipped past just fine. He called Tow Boat US - an adventure of its own - and we were told they would be there by 2 am. We all went down below to get warm and eat. Eventually we noticed we never did hit the mud and instead kept drifting further and further from the channel where the tow boat was going to look for us. So we set the anchor again and waited.

Eventually the tow boat showed up and took us back to the dock. By the time it was all done and over my 10 hour day sail to Annapolis turning into an 18 hour adventure to Tangier Island. While it certainly wasn't my brightest point in sailing, I learned a lot and had a good time with it. The group was a fun bunch and we had enjoyed each others company.

I also learned a few things, which is always good. The most reassuring thing was watching all the same crap that happens to me while docking, putting up sails, or just really anything was happening to a captain that had been sailing and building boats his entire life. Even experienced people crash into shit when docking. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The last unit in my childhood development class was on sexuality and puberty. It has been bringing up a lot of unresolved issues for me from that time period and this post is going to be used to process them. It is definitely going to be an instance of To Much Information so you should stop reading now.

Yeah, I didn't think you would stop.

Anyway, it may come as a surprise that I was much more socially conservative as a youngin than I am now. I think a lot of it had to do with my peer group, being of the more nerdy side of things. (BTW, I find it hysterical that my spell checker accepts nerdy as a proper word). As most (all) people I had all sorts of confusing thoughts and self-esteem issues in my early teens. Questions of identity and self-confidence problems. I don't recall really having any lady friends, not close ones anyway, until my late teens.

Discovering my Dads various videos and magazines as well as late night TV was how I dealt with the feelings of lust and such during those times. Ogling members of the opposite sex at school was also a common past time. One girl in particular, whom later became my first and longest relationship, I had a strong attraction to. My parents, particularly my mom, described puberty by going through a popular book aimed at children about to deal with these issues (can't remember the name of it right now) so I knew what was going on physically. Mom even strategically placed pamphlets here and there to be found and read that helped as well. I remember one in particular about negative self-talk that helped my awareness.

It wasn't until, I think, the summer between my sophomore and junior years at school that I started to date. The first girl I asked out turned out to be the longest relationship of my life (very very long) and had the most ramifications for both of us. As I mentioned earlier, I was insanely attracted to her. The roles were somewhat reversed, however. She had more experience dating and with sex than I did so I followed her lead in a lot of things. She initiated the first kiss, for example, on the way home from a trip to the Renaissance Faire in a van with my brother and step-sisters. I couldn't stop laughing. Something I'll never forget.

Not to dive too deep into her issues but something is relevant here. Due to things that happened to her she didn't feel sex was that special or really meant that much. Me, on the other hand, having these nice socially conservative views from god knows where didn't want to have sex until I was married. Go ahead, laugh it up. It was the dark ages of my life from a perspective point-of-view. Anyway, I kept declining her advances. We did a lot of stuff but stayed away from full on intercourse for over a year. My biggest concern was that I would change after wards and I wasn't sure I wanted to. I knew she had more experience than I did but I don't remember being all that jealous of it up to that point. It wasn't that big of a factor since we were in love.

So eventually I gave in and we decided to have sex on a New Year's eve, I guess in my Junior year assuming my memories of the time line are right. We did, it was great, and we proceeded to be a sexual couple from then on in. I was right, though. It did change me. And not all in awesome ways.

Because she had been taken advantage of so much in her past I didn't want to be 'that guy' so I never pushed for anything. It would always be from her lead. This led to problems later in our relationship and still makes it hard for me to be that initiator that our society generally looks for in intimate relationships. I just never learned it any other way. Once again, self-confidence thing.

We were on and off for something like 15 years. The first break up was the worst because I didn't see it coming at felt extremely betrayed. That is an entirely different story but I never was able to get the trust and intimacy back I had that first time around. Jealousy became a HUGE issue for me, and rightfully so in some cases. In subsequent relationships it hasn't been an issue, thankfully. But I have grown A LOT from those years and have a much greater perspective than I did then.

Here is the thing that drives me nuts though. I'm reading the book and it goes on about how different family of origin issues can predict all kinds of things. And I keep making comparisons back to what I know about her family of origin problems and how it affected her sexuality and how those issues, in turn, had an affect in my development and then it just pissed me off. While there were a lot of good things about that relationship I feel that I did myself a great disservice by robbing myself of the experiences I could use now as I re-enter the dating pool. While most of my friends were getting experience with dating and developing those skills and confidences, I distinctly remember being glad it wasn't something I needed to worry about because I already took care of it. At the time it was a relief but it also played into what turned out to be the co-dependent nature of our relationship that made it so disastrous for us both. And now I'm fucked, to put it bluntly. I feel like I'm going through things now that I should have gone through in my late-teens, early 20s and it frustrates me to no end.

The other thing is that has to do with the true self versus familiar self that I talked about in previous posts. That relationship is the familiar self for me. For better or for worse it is my frame of reference. When I'm having a dip in self-confidence I begin to worry that I may never find certain unhealthy aspects of that relationship that I miss and crave but are not of the true me. It helps to remember that that is just familiar self stuff and bring it back into perspective and I usually can slide right by it now. So that is a good thing for sure.

Ultimately, however, a real, loving, intimate relationship is what closes the door on that old familiar self. If only I knew how to do that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Civil Rights and the Republican Party

One of the canards that get thrown around a lot when race starts to be talked about is that it was the Republican party that voted for the Civil Rights act against the Democratic party. The idea being that everything is exactly as it was and if the Republicans of the 60's voted for Civil Rights then that proves that Republicans of today are not who racists generally support. A similar argument is made regarding the Civil War.

This overlooks one important dynamic of that time. By signing the Civil Rights Act into law a mass migration of Democrats occurred. The so-called Dixiecrats (southern democrats) left the Democratic party and moved to the Republican party. It was these Dixiecrats that voted against the Civil Rights legislation. That changed the make-up of the two parties drastically. The nail was put into the coffin of what the Republican Party once stood for by Nixon and Reagen and the Southern Strategy. To this day, polling from the south compared to the rest of the country yields very different results. It really is remarkable.

In a nutshell, the Democratic and Republican parties had a realignment that put much of the Republican's support in the south where the majority of it remains today.

Here is a break down of the actual votes for the Civil Rights Act according to Republican votes from the north and the south and Democratic votes from the north and the south. Without any ambiguity it is obvious that it was the south, rather Republican or Democrat, that went against the Civil Rights legislation rather than the north. The realignment then happened. Arguing that it was the Republican party that brought in Civil Rights is very misleading and disingenuous when compared to today's political realities.

Votes are listed in Yeas-nays format.

The original House version:
Southern Democrats: 7-87 (7%-93%)
Southern Republicans: 0-10 (0%-100%)
Northern Democrats: 145-9 (94%-6%)
Northern Republicans: 138-24 (85%-15%)

The Senate version:
Southern Democrats: 1-20 (5%-95%) (
Southern Republicans: 0-1 (0%-100%)
Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98%-2%)
Northern Republicans: 27-5 (84%-16%) )

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snowmageddon Proves Global Warming Is Fake! Not.

This handy little graph shows the record highs, lows, and the ratio of highs to lows over the past 50 years. The 70's had, by far, the most record highs while the 2000s had just slightly more than the 50's and 60'. However, and here is the big eye opener, check out the record lows. Very few over the last 20 years and the ratio of highs to lows is just getting larger. What does it all mean?

Well first of all it is interesting to note that over Snowmageddon that some of the talking morons on TV claimed proves Global Warming is a hoax we didn't have a single record low. Second, in the 2000's there were nearly 15x more record highs than lows, 11x in the 90's. No other decades are anywhere near that unbalanced.

Additionally, while we may have had a cold snap in the northern hemisphere over the past few months the southern hemisphere has had record highs for the past few YEARS. In fact, some areas of the world are working on a 15 year drought. 15 years! Versus our two months. Yeah, wow. Global warming TOTALLY disapproved there.

So, in summary, can we please stop making ridiculous claims by observing local, short term trends about average, global weather? Really. What do people not understand about the words 'average', 'global', and 'trend'. Willfully ignorant, that is why.