Home Too

I’m home — in San Jose. Weird to call it home, but I realized this past week that is is. Very strange, the feelings of homesickness that were threatening to overwhelm me, but then once I went back to DC those feelings shifted to being homesick for California. Of course, I could just be one of those people who always wants to be in a different place than he currently is.
It was pretty chilly when I got back, putting the lie to my description of San Jose as warmer than DC; still, there was no snow — except, of course, for the mountains surrounding the Santa Clara Valley. The Lick Observatory (pictured above from yesterday) and the Diablo mountain range are blanketed at the top third, when I look at them I feel like I’m in Colorado. It’ll be short-lived, I’m sure, but pretty.
With all the comparisons I’ve been making between DC and the Bay Area in the last week, the Bay Area has won hands down. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this tidbit: in Virginia, the gas was running about $2.20 per gallon. Here in California, it’s $3.00 per gallon. $3.25 if you want premium. Virginia wins hands-down on that one.

Nice place to visit, but wouldn’t want to live here

Have I officially become a Californian? My friend Jennie told me when I left that it takes about two years to really settle into a new place; she may have been right.
When I planned this trip back to DC, I was really looking forward to coming home, mostly because I missed my family and friends. That part held true, and it is great to see everyone… but the rest of the experience is really shocking. Three things have convinced me that my life in San Jose, as frustrating and expensive as it is, is to be preferred over life in the DC area.
One: Friendliness. For the most part, the people I have encountered here, from airline personnel to the front desk clerk of the hotel, are just unfriendly. I knew this when I lived here, so that’s no shock — but I always assumed that everyone was like that. But the people I encounter on a daily basis back in the Bay Area are far more friendly. They themselves believe that it’s not true, but it is.
Two: Traffic. Oh. My. God. The traffic in the DC area, which of course I have always complained about, is worse. The drivers themselves are horribly selfish and aggressive, and rush hours never stop. Returning to my hotel one night I found myself on interstate 66 at 8pm on Thursday. And it was at a standstill. I have to allow an extra half-hour to get anywhere, at any time. Back in the Bay Area, the traffic is far less contentious — although Californians believe that it is worse.
Three: The weather. I have to admit that yesterday’s snow storm was beautiful and I enjoyed it. Sara and I spent a good hour driving at 15mph down the interstate (all the while trying to stay out of the way of the aforementioned aggressive drivers speeding and skidding on the untreated, snow-covered roads). It was quiet and beautiful, and I did find myself homesick for a snow morning at home with hot chocolate, the unnatural quiet of the snow covered neighborhoods… but dammit, it is cold. The brutal wind that feels like acid eating away your face and ears; the gray, gray days. As I write this, it is 49° back in San Jose, 31° here in DC. That 18 degrees makes a huge difference, and I can’t wait to get back to the Mediterranean climate of the South Bay. Yet, Bay Area residents believe that a little rain is bad.
So, I guess that I am now a Californian. It’s not paradise, it’s expensive, and the job market is not so hot. But it must be good: someone told me the other day that I look unstressed… I may have finally learned that a more relaxing quality of life is preferable to a more stable life in a more stressful place.

I hate travelling

Here I am, back home in the DC Metro Area. Things change: I tuned in to WAMU but they weren’t playing “All Things Considered” at 4:30pm anymore. I couldn’t find WTOP, late of 1500AM.

Notes from the trip: The woman sitting in the window seat of my row was innocently reading the paper in her meager 3-square-foot space, when the guy in front of her reclined his seat so far back that he was resting his head in her lap. She asked the flight attendant if she could move to another seat — there were multiple free seats in front of us. “Oh, no,” he replied. “Those are Economy Plus seats. That’s an upgrade.” He went on to explain that no, she couldn’t just pay for the upgrade now, it can only be done at the counter. I pointed out to him that we were in flight and those empty seats were no longer going to generate any revenue, that they were now worthless and he should just let her sit there. He was very rude at that point and the case was closed. Or so I thought. No, he then went to the front of the plane and conferred with the Purser, who then got on the PA and announced to the entire plane that we passengers were to stay in our assigned seats and that we were forbidden from changing seats, especially to the Economy Plus seats. Personally, I found this move to be humiliating and repugnant. Boo, United Airlines.

There is still snow in piles here, and when I entered the Comfort Inn in Herndon I noted that the handicapped spaces were nicely cleared. But, as I pointed out to the desk clerk, it doesn’t help to clear the spaces then pile the snow in the wheelchair ramp. She said that they weren’t finished and that the snow would be cleared out of the ramp soon… I went to my room and unpacked, then came out… to see a wheelchair van in the spot and people trying to figure out how to get the wheelchair up on the sidewalk since the ramp was blocked.

Oh, and there are no batteries in the TV remote for this room. I’m just saying.

Meanwhile, just a few hours after I left, there was a small earthquake near my house. And just yesterday I had been joking with neighbors about what to do if there was an earthquake while I was gone…

A Harry Situation

You know by now that I can find connections in almost anything — so I can’t help but wonder if there is any connection between tomorrow’s planned announcement of the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, and the earlier in the week story about Prince Harry being scheduled for deployment to Iraq by the end of the month?
Can you imagine anything inflaming the British public’s anti-war stance more than the wounding — or death — of Diana’s second son and the third in line for the throne?
And is anyone else laughing at the spin from the White House, claiming that the Brits are withdrawing because the situation has improved so much that the Iraqis can take over for them? I split a gut at that one.

Flight Preparation

I hate the evening before I travel. Wandering around the house, wondering if I packed everything; obsessing about how insanely unbearable it will be to be trapped in an airport then an airplane for something like 7 hours or so; insomnia before a flight and the absence of my dog.
As much as I want to be, I am not a traveller.

Barbara Gittings

Barbara Gittings, 75, one of the earliest activists to push the U.S. government to provide gay men and lesbians with equal rights, died Feb. 18 at an assisted living center in Kennett Square, Pa. She had breast cancer.

In 1965, Ms. Gittings and several gay men and lesbians were the first to hold demonstrations outside the White House for equal rights for homosexuals. She later played a key role in the American Psychiatric Association’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973.

“Gay people didn’t have a face until Barbara started demonstrating in 1965,” said Mark Segal, publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. “Up until that point, no gay face had been seen in the newspaper, on television or in the movies.”

Her involvement in the gay rights movement started in the 1950s, when she helped form the New York City chapter of the early lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis.

Around the same time, Ms. Gittings became estranged from her family, which did not approve of her championing of gay rights, Segal said.

Ms. Gittings headed the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force to attract more attention to gay literature and urge libraries to provide more information on sexuality and gay issues.

William Kelley, a Chicago lawyer who first attended a national gay rights gathering with Ms. Gittings in the 1960s, said he remembered her saying that when she was young, she had to look in the encyclopedia to find out more about her sexuality. “It was her thought that libraries should be encouraged to offer more information to people about sexuality,” he said.

Ms. Gittings also was an editor of the lesbian journal the Ladder in the mid-1960s.

In Ms. Gittings’s lifetime, she saw a change in the perception of the gay rights movement. In the 1960s, she picketed in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July. In 2005, she attended a ceremony at which the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission placed a historical marker recognizing the gay rights struggle across the street from Independence Hall.

Ms. Gittings was born in Vienna, Austria, where her father worked as a U.S. diplomat. She was raised in Delaware.

Survivors include her partner of 46 years, Kay Lahusen, and a sister.

[By Adam Satariano, Bloomberg News Service]

The studio goes dark

That didn’t take as long as I expected: “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” is being yanked off the air after tonight’s episode; pundits speculate that it won’t return.

The Day After pill

Oh, boy. Can’t wait to see what happens when people read this over their Monday morning coffee.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party’s conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.
“I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned,” the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.
McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who “strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench.”

I can’t fathom why anyone would entertain the notion of voting for McCain; a sad assessment considering how attractive a candidate he was eight years ago. After the Bush cabal beat him up disgracefully, McCain then suddenly embraced Bush — not just figuratively, but literally in a now uncomfortably odd photograph.
McCain abandoned whatever self-respect he may have had at that point, and has licked Bush’s boots at every opportunity. He’s compromised his principles so much that he is, frankly, no longer “maverick, independent” John McCain. Instead, he is now a name attached to a product of the RNC, a product that — after careful focus group research — is being molded into an extreme right flavor of the sort that is obviously no longer attractive to the electorate.
Idiocy. Pure and simple.
Say hello to the abortive end (pun intended) of the embryonic McCain campaign.
[Read a pretty good list of McCain flip-flops here.]

[Update, Monday morning: this story doesn't seem to be on the front page of The Washington Post, and a story about his campaign appearance on A4 doesn't mention this anti-choice statement. In fact, it doesn't seem to be on the front page of any major newspapers (or their websites) this morning. Isn't that interesting? Liberal media, indeed.]

Spring is coming, I promise

Wow, there’s something to be said for the power of weather. Today in San Jose it got into the 70s, right now it’s 71°. I have my front door open and fresh air is flooding the house; I took my shirts to the cleaners and whizzed along the street with the top down and the sun in my eyes.
And damned if it hasn’t made me feel better, emotionally at least.
Of course, if I wanted to be my usual, Eeyore-like, pessimistic self, I’d point out that the temps will be falling back down over the weekend, and then on Wednesday I’m heading to DC where it is currently 24°.
Which will serve as a reminder of why I picked San Jose to move to.

Music Power

Oh, today’s kids and their loud, weird music. I feel like such a fogey. And the way you know you’re old is that the music you listened to in high school is now vintage, classic, and nostalgic. When your era returns as hip in an unhip way, you know you’re ancient.
I’m watching “Pop Up Video” repeats on VH1; it’s worth noting that the videos I’m watching — just saw Blondie’s “Rapture” — used to air on MTV. (Yes, kids, when I was young MTV used to show music videos all day.)
Last week I was making a few CDs to listen to in the car, and made one that was all music from the 80s and 90s; to add a bit of authenticity I dropped in some jingles from WAVA, my radio station of choice back then.
I don’t know if it was nostalgia, homesickness, or a combination of both — but when the Jam jingle singers belted out “The fifty-thousand watt music machine… WAVA!” my eyes started to mist, and I found myself contemplating all the events that brought me from listening to Culture Club and Wham! on WAVA/Arlington, to listening to Morning Edition on KQED/San Francisco. And I couldn’t quite figure out what happened.

Two Weird Things

1: Nobody except me stops for school buses here in San Jose, despite the blinking lights and the stop sign that pops out from the side.
2: Swallowing a cough drop accidentally is very disconcerting.

Jobs is in the details

Things I like about Mac OS X, part 58: unexpected details.

Such as the weather widget, which I just now consulted to find out what the weather is like at my Dad’s house. I marvel at the design of this because I didn’t have to read anything… it was immediately apparent what the weather was in Fairfax the instant it opened.