Thursday, December 21, 2017

Puerto Rico: The Fight For Survival + A Trip To See alt-J + OTM

Mural By Axel Void

Puerto Rico: The Fight For Survival

I had the honor of speaking with Loida again about the progress in Puerto Rico. For those of you who don't know Loida Cardona Velasquez, she is a project director at UT and all around bad @ss.  She is originally from Puerto Rico and she and i serve together on the United Way of Greater Knoxville Board of Directors.  She also serves as the media liaison for the East Tennessee For Puerto Rico group and has been my primary source for information about the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

When I called, Loida was home recuperating from surgery on her ankle, but was in otherwise good spirits. She reported to me that after 60 days, her brother now has electricity! She said she's able to speak to him regularly and that she no longer has to send him food.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

What I Do For A Living + The Truth About Net Neutrality

What I Do For A Living

I've been asked a million times what I do for a living.  I don't think i'm special in that regard. It's one of the most commonly asked questions when you're getting to know someone. In fact, based on my own experience, it's the most asked question i've ever been asked besides my name. 

And i get it, in America especially, this is particularly valuable information the answer to which tells you a lot about me and vice versa. It tells you what level of education i have received, how much money i make, how much time i have to make friends and so on. Of course this information is generalized and can oftentimes be completely inaccurate, but let us not digress. Point is, it is useful information for us to know about each other and we as Americans have decided it's okay to share.

As of late, for me it's a bit of a difficult question to answer however.  It used to be easy when i worked the standard 9 to 5 (more like 9 to 6 or 10 to 6 depending on the job) toiling away for the "man". For 2 years i worked as a store-level manager for Target right out of college, 7 years i worked in HR for the dreaded 21st Mortgage and for 3.5 years, i worked for AC Entertainment in Risk Management and HR. See, pretty simple, straight-forward sh!t. But now?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tax Cuts for Christmas? + An Interview With A Friend

Puerto Rico Interview With A Friend

On this Thanksgiving, I wanted to share my interview with a friend who has family in Puerto Rico.  Her family's experience is a reminder that we should be thankful for our blessings and remember those who are less fortunate.  Keep them all in your thoughts and prayers as you give thanks!

One of my greatest regrets this year and indeed of my life is missing my friend Liz's wedding in Puerto Rico this past July.  For financial and other reasons i just couldn't swing it, but in hindsight i should have tried harder.

Fortunately Liz is a forgiving soul and allowed me to ask her some questions about how her family in Puerto Rico was faring in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.  Here were her responses not quite verbatim:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Puerto Rico- The Crisis Continues & 2 Girls, 1 Boy AND Owning It: Parts 4 AND 5 Of My Coming Out Story

Puerto Rico- The Crisis Continues

Satellite Image Of Puerto Rico At Night Before and After Maria

I had the opportunity to speak with Loida Velasquez again about the progress being made in Puerto Rico and unfortunately the situation remains dire. She told me that she has been able to communicate with her younger brother with greater frequency, but that he has to travel some distance to charge his phone. He can get service where he is which is a big step forward, but still doesn't have electricity.

She said the last time she spoke with him, he asked for one thing, food. Think about that for one minute. Of all the things people need for survival, food and water are the barest of essentials and they don't have that. She said the grocery stores are all still closed because there's no electricity. She sent him 2 boxes of food and is sending him another. Puerto Ricans need food.

She also said that due to lack of electricity that the hospitals are failing. Here is a great article written by The Atlantic about the failing health care system in Puerto Rico. She also mentioned that the other thing they need in greater abundance are batteries (D batteries especially) and battery-operated devices such as lamps, fans and radios. To keep up with the relief effort, check out the group East Tennessee For Puerto Rico on Facebook.

One last thought about Puerto Rico... for now. The difficulties being faced by the people of Puerto Rico were predictable and it is for that reason that MORE leadership was needed there from Washington than in other hurricane stricken areas. The fact that they received less is a travesty and we should demand more of our elected leaders. Mr. President, if you think leadership is lacking in Puerto Rico, try providing some of your own because that's what REAL leaders do!

Part 4- 2 Girls, 1 Boy

If you haven't read the first, second and third installments of my coming out story, I encourage you to start from the beginning before continuing.  If you have read them, first of all thank you!  And secondly please proceed!

Prior to and after my decision to accept my own homosexuality, i spent time with a couple of different girls. Both of whom i worked with at different companies and one of whom i'm still close with to this day.

The first was a girl i'm certain my family would have approved of.  She was a sweet young lady with a big smile and more than a touch of sass.  She had dropped hints of interest in me prior to us going out and i eventually succumbed to her overtures.  I had to give it one last go at being straight.

She and i went out on a couple of dates and we kissed at one point. I felt nothing.  On our 2nd date, she told me that she had dated another guy during college who she thought was the one.  He turned out to be gay (go figure!) and she was heartbroken.  Needless to say, i didn't want to be her second heartbreak based on the same reason, but didn't ever tell her that.

That same night, we went back to her place and were watching "Final Destination" while she attempted to get a rise out of me. It wasn't working. What happened next seems even more unbelievable now than it did then.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

That Never Happened... My Coming Out Story Part 3

Throughout high school, i played a serious game of avoidance when it came to the question of my sexuality.  It was the nineties and while homosexuality was less taboo than before, it was still taboo.  It was the decade DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) became the official policy of the US military.  It was also the decade when DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) was enacted into law preventing the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages (and civil unions) in the same manner in which it recognized marriage between a man and a woman.

In my teens, i had definitely crushed on my fair share of guys, but never engaged any of them romantically.  I was content living in a state of denial and decided i would repress my sexual attraction towards guys until those attractions disappeared altogether which i assumed would happen eventually.  In the meantime, i immersed myself into some of my favorite things: politics and music.

At my high school i was one of only a select group of kids who could not only drive, but had their own car.  This came with certain privileges and the respect of my peers.  I used to drive my friends home or where ever and i was always the one listening to 70s R&B like Al Green and Earth, Wind and Fire in my car which made me one of the cool kids... despite the fact i was also a band dork!