Thursday, June 30, 2005

Would you do THIS for $10K? (click here)

My answer is NO!

Now I gotta learn spanish...

Spain OKs Gay Marriage, Defying Opponents

By MAR ROMAN, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, June 30, 2005

(06-30) 09:20 PDT MADRID, Spain (AP) --

Parliament legalized gay marriage Thursday, defying conservatives and clergy who opposed making traditionally Roman Catholic Spain the third country to allow same-sex unions nationwide. Jubilant gay activists blew kisses to lawmakers after the vote.

The measure passed the 350-seat Congress of Deputies by a vote of 187-147. The bill, part of the ruling Socialists' aggressive agenda for social reform, also lets gay couples adopt children and inherit each others' property.

The bill is now law. The Senate, where conservatives hold the largest number of seats, rejected the bill last week. But it is an advisory body and final say on legislation rests with the Congress of Deputies.

Opposition conservatives said they will consider challenging the law before Spain's highest tribunal, the Constitutional Court.

The Spanish Bishops Conference criticized the new law and urged resistance to it. The group said the bill, along with another passed Wednesday making it easier for Spaniards to divorce, mean that "marriage, understood as the union of a man and a woman, is no longer provided for in our laws."

"It is necessary to oppose these unfair laws through all legitimate means," the bishops said, apparently alluding to a previous call for town hall officials who oppose gay marriage to refuse to preside at such ceremonies.

After the final tally was announced, gay and lesbian activists watching from the spectator section of the ornate chamber cried, cheered, hugged, waved to lawmakers and blew them kisses.

Several members of the conservative opposition Popular Party, which was vehemently opposed to the bill, shouted: "This is a disgrace." Those in favor stood and clapped.

The Netherlands and Belgium are the only other two countries that allow gay marriage nationwide. Canada's House of Commons passed legislation Tuesday that would legalize gay marriage; its Senate is expected to pass the bill into law by the end of July.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero noted this in debate before the vote.

"We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality," he told the chamber.

Zapatero said the reform of Spanish legal code simply adds one dry paragraph of legalese but means much more.

He called it "a small change in wording that means an immense change in the lives of thousands of citizens. We are not legislating, ladies and gentlemen, for remote unknown people. We are expanding opportunities for the happiness of our neighbors, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives."

Zapatero lacks a majority in the chamber but got help from small regional-based parties that tend to be his allies.

Spanish gay couples can get married as soon as the law is published in the official government registry. This could come as early as Friday, or within two weeks at the latest, parliament's press office said.

Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy said after the vote that Zapatero has deeply divided Spain and should have sought a consensus in parliament that recognized same-sex unions but didn't call them marriage. Rajoy said that if the vast majority of countries in the world don't accept gay marriage, including some run by Socialists, there must be a reason.

"I think the prime minister has committed a grave act of irresponsibility," Rajoy told reporters.

Beatriz Gimeno, a longtime leader of the gay rights movement in Spain, held back tears as she hugged her partner Boti after the vote.

"It is a historic day for the world's homosexuals. We have been fighting for many years," Gimeno said. "Now comes the hardest part, which is changing society's mentality."

The gay marriage bill was the boldest and most divisive initiative of the liberal social agenda Zapatero has embarked on since taking office in April 2004. Parliament overhauled Spain's 25-year-old divorce law Wednesday by letting couples end their marriage without a mandatory separation or having to state a reason, as required under the old law.

He has also pushed through legislation allowing stem-cell research and wants to loosen Spain's restrictive abortion law.

The Roman Catholic Church, which held much sway over the government just a generation ago when Gen. Francisco Franco was in power, had adamantly opposed gay marriage. In its first display of anti-government activism in 20 years, it endorsed a June 18 rally in which hundreds of thousands marched through Madrid in opposition to the bill. Some 20 bishops took part in the June 18 rally.

On Wednesday, a Catholic lay group called the Spanish Family Forum presented lawmakers with a petition bearing 600,000 signatures as a last-minute protest.

Late last year, the spokesman for the Spanish Bishops Conference, Antonio Martinez Camino said that allowing gay marriage was like "imposing a virus on society — something false that will have negative consequences for social life."

Despite the street protests in Madrid and elsewhere and the petition drive, polls suggest Spaniards supported gay marriage.

A survey released in May by pollster Instituto Opina said 62 percent of Spaniards support the government's action on this issue, and 30 percent oppose it. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. But surveys show Spaniards about evenly split over whether gay couples should be allowed to adopt children.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Late Night Tuesday

Why do I do this to myself? Why get tickets for a concert on a weeknight? Sure the doors open at 7:30, the show starts at 8... but the headliner didn't get on stage until after 10:30. I had hopes that it wouldn't be a very late night. Oh well. Jane was a good sport (she only took a short nap.

The opening act was Youth Group. I enjoyed them and bought their CD. They are English or Australian - cute accents, funny hair. Their sound reminds me of The Ocean Blue.

The co-headliner / second act... Blanche was a pleasant suprise. They rocked the house with slide guitar & a banjo and you gotta love a band with a chick drummer. It's not often you find a goth roots fusion band from lovely Detroit, MI. The male lead singer looked like the love child of Jeke Gyllenhaal and Lyle Lovett. The female lead singer looked & dressed exactly like this. I think I'll get their album off iTunes today.

The Ditty Bops played for only 45 minutes, bummer. They also played mostly new songs, another bummer. But they were cute & perky and kept inviting their chubby childhood friend, Kenny, onstage to dance.

If you ever get a chance to catch a show at The Great American Music Hall I recommend it. A beautiful building.

So I'm now at work after a short night's sleep. Tonight another meeting to plan for the mission trip to Idaho later this summer. Let's hope it's short & to the point so I can catch some zzzzzzs.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Greener Choices

I was reading one of my favorite magazines and learned of a free Consumer Reports website to help one make more eco friendly choices. CHECK IT OUT

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Save Public Broadcasting

Where would you be without Seasame Street? Julia Childs? Garrison Keillor? This Old House? Yan Can Cook? Mr Rogers? Car Talk? Terry Gross? Nova? National Geographic?

You know that email petition that keeps circulating about how Congress is slashing funding for NPR and PBS? Well, now it's actually true. (Really. Check at the bottom if you don't believe me.) This time, it's for real: Save NPR and PBS

Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS:

A House panel has voted to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.

The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year—$100 million—and end funding altogether within two years. The loss could kill beloved children's shows like "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur," and "Postcards from Buster." Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.

Already, 300,000 people have signed the petition. Can you help us reach 400,000 signatures today?


P.S. Read the Washington Post report on the threat to NPR and PBS at:

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fainting Goats

Watch the video. I need to get me one!

East Coast cont...

We arrived in White Plains mid-afternoon and I got to meet Mason (he's quite tiny). Thank God for air conditioning because humidity sucks and we spent three days inside holding the wee baby, catching up on daytime TV, the life of the Chucheloes and reeeelaaaaxing. Our only trip outside of the house so Jane could teach Fred how to make rub. He did a good job.

Best of White Plains: doing nothing and that's OK!

Philadelphia in a day. More humidity! Our host took us to dinner. It was great fun and if you've never had a 73yr old petite lady challenge you to drink you should go visit Peggy.

Best of Philly: cats cats cats (7 to be exact)

Silver Spring (aka burbs of Wash. DC) to visit Jenny & Joe. They are living the American dream - a house & baby on the way. If only all these friends didn't have to move to the right side of the country to do it.
We missed going here to have lunch and hear him speak because Jane thought it was on Friday. Woops.

After making amends with June for missing the Thursday lunch date on Friday we wandered DC proper. We saw:
Jane's Idol
Telous Latrec
Sarah's Pilgimage

Saturday we shopped at Eastern Market and returned home for a BBQ (Joe calls it a cook-out) and many hours of discussion on politics. I guess that's what you do when you hang out with DCers.

Best of DC/MD: If one person orders a vodka tonic and the other orders vodka on the rocks and both drinks arrive in the same size glass with same volumn of liquid... who gets the better deal?

Thanks to all of our hosts. The trip was great. We'll be back... muwahahahaha!

No News?

Why am I just hearing about this? Am I really so out of the loop?

Monday, June 13, 2005

East Coast Fun

Things we did... people we saw... stuff from our East Coast travels:
We began the trip waking up at 4AM to make the earliest flight to JFK. Rented a sexy car for the 5 hour drive to our first stop.

Highlights from Vermont:
The Livingson's & Pearl
Local Pub

Best of VT: Squirrely Pearl the goat footed sheep dog and her family.

Highlights from Saratoga Springs
Bartending read Jane's account for more details.
BBQ & Bocci by moonlight
A walk through the city ending with another refresher
After dinner we hit The Racino. Jane won on the slots and we both won a few $ on the ponies.

Best of Saratoga Springs: midnight bocce (with blinking lighted balls)

Next up... White Plains to DC! More tomorrow...

He Beat It

Not guilty for the king of pop or just enough reasonable doubt to get off....

New Post

I'm home from vacation and will post some highlights as soon as I dig through the pile on my desk. I think I'll need a vacation tonight after all the stuff in my "in-box"... oy.