Jul 222012
 

Visiting the North Pole was a trip that I’ve wanted to take since I discovered a few years ago that people could actually go there.  It wasn’t a travel goal that I had for decades and that required multiple trips to achieve like visiting all seven continents.

I currently have two travel goals.  One is to see all the species of penguins and I’m about halfway done with that.  The other is to plunge into all five oceans of the world.  At the North Pole I was able to check off the Arctic Ocean.

The water temperature was -1° Celsius but that’s what makes it a polar plunge!  I loved it!  Unlike when I jumped into the Southern Ocean in Antarctica, the air temperature at the North Pole was a little above freezing.  Downright balmy and comfortable after they give you a shot of vodka when you get out!

I just have the Indian Ocean left.  On the ship I met a wonderful fellow from Perth, Australia, who invited us down to visit.  Perth is on the Indian Ocean…

Ballooning at the North Pole

Ballooning at the North Pole

 Posted by at 10:15 pm

North Pole 1

 Travel  Comments Off
Jul 152012
 

Greetings, friends.  My partner and I just returned from the North Pole!  It was a spectacular trip that can truly be described as a ‘trip of a lifetime’!  Standing on the top of the planet was a thrilling experience.

The trip started in Helsinki, Finland.  We then flew to Murmank, Russia, where we experienced Russian bureaucracy first hand.  It’s all about jobs there.  If four people can do the job of one, then three more people are not unemployed.  It’s no wonder vodka is so popular.

In Murmansk we boarded the nuclear icebreaker 50 Years of Victory which took us directly to the North Pole.  We have a picture of the GPS reading 90° 00.000’.  Because the Arctic ice cap is not anchored to land, it’s constantly flowing on the Arctic Ocean so even though we stopped the ship, our latitude changed after a few minutes.

We had a barbecue at the North Pole and also went on a tethered balloon flight.  I get vertigo so I was pretty nervous but I did it!  We spent almost a full day at the North Pole before heading south.  On the way back we stopped at Franz Josef Land for a day and a half and then headed back to Murmansk.

North Pole Barbecue

North Pole Barbecue

 Posted by at 9:34 pm
Jun 172012
 

As I write this, the prosecution has finished presenting its case in the Jerry Sandusky trial and the defense is about to start.  I find this case abhorrent.  Jerry Sandusky was a popular coach and influential person in the Penn State system.  He is accused of 51 counts of sexually molesting young boys that he met through his charity, Second Mile.

There are so many things in this case that I find repugnant.  The first is that he targeted at-risk young boys under the guise of a charitable organization that was supposed to specifically help them.  Reprehensible.

Another thing that I find despicable is that he used his power, position and money to entrap the boys.  He gave them things they could never have afforded or had the opportunity to get without him.  That kept them coming back to him.  He used his power and influence to protect himself so that he would not be accused of criminal activity and the victims would have no voice.  Disgusting!

News stations like CNN are reporting that one of the defense stratagems might be to claim that he has histrionic personality disorder, which causes people to act emotionally and dramatically so as to draw attention to them.  Ridiculous.  If that were true, he should have sought treatment.  It’s also no excuse for that sort of behavior.  The boys were still assaulted and molested.

 Posted by at 6:47 pm

RIP Ray Bradbury

 Authors, Musings  Comments Off
Jun 072012
 

Ray Bradbury, one of my favorite authors and a man whose writing has influenced mine passed away yesterday.  He wrote science fiction, horror, and mystery and can be considered one of the prominent authors who brought science fiction into mainstream reading.  I hope to do the same for gay fiction!

Bradbury, however, resisted the moniker of science fiction writer.  The following is one of my favorite quotes.  “First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time — because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”  I love the analogy to Greek mythology, one of my favorite subjects growing up.

This radio broadcast of Bradbury’s story, Mars is Heaven, was recommended by someone in one of my Yahoo groups.  It is incredible and I urge you to take half an hour and listen: http://www.tangentonline.com/old-time-radio/1783-mars-is-heaven-ray-bradbury

 Posted by at 8:39 pm

Memorial Day Grill Out

 Food, Recipes  Comments Off
May 272012
 

Greetings readers! I hope you are having a great Memorial Day weekend. This year, my partner and I are trying a new style of hot dog. Nothing beats a great grilled wienie surrounded by a scrumptious bun.

We like to taste regional flavors. There’s so much diversity across our country. This year we’re trying Seattle Hot Dogs. They sound really good. Who’s going to try them with me?

Seattle Hot Dogs

  • Hot dogs-split lengthwise, grilled
  • Buns
  • Cream cheese, softened
  • Yellow onion, slivered and grilled or sautéed

I like to sauté the onions with high heat and a little olive oil. The high heat chars them without turning them into French onion soup. You can toast or grill the buns if you want. I didn’t. Once everything ready, put a ¼ inch thick layer of cream cheese on one side of the bun, add a hot dog, pile onions on top, and enjoy!

 Posted by at 8:34 pm
May 212012
 

I watched part of the sentencing of Dharun Ravi who was convicted of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate, who then killed himself by jumping off New York’s George Washington Bridge.  Ravi was also convicted of various other charges encompassing trying to cover up his crime and avoiding repercussions.  See my earlier blog for my thoughts on the trial.

Unfortunately, I missed the hearing the Clementi statements.  I joined the live broadcast when Dharun Ravi’s mother was speaking.  “Dharun’s dreams have been shattered and he has been living in hell for the past twenty months…” she said.  She also made various other statements about how Dharun has been victimized by the media and has suffered for it.

I can’t help but feel that Dharun being victimized by the media is karma.  He victimized Tyler Clementi by using electronic media.  Not once did she speak about Dharun feeling bad, guilty, remorseful, or even apologetic for what happened.  She was more concerned about what happened to her son, not about what her son inflicted on another human being.

Ravi did not speak on his behalf.  At the end, I was left with the feeling that he still truly believes that his actions were not criminal.  I’m happy he got some jail time but am more pleased that the prosecutor is appealing for more jail time.

 Posted by at 9:30 pm
May 102012
 

In what I see as a stunning turn of events, President Obama has stated that he is in support of gay marriage.  I am really surprised.  In the past three years, I’ve felt that Obama was paying lip service to the issue of gay rights and marriage equality.  In truth, I felt he was personally against those things.

When the issue of DADT came up, I felt that he repealed it on September 20, 2011 only because his party, his supporters, and his constituents demanded it of a Democratic president.  His response to gay issues always seemed half-hearted and fake.

This time President Obama’s response seems genuine and heartfelt.  His statement that related the issue to his daughters’ classmates having same-sex parents and how those parents shouldn’t be treated differently in the eyes of the law is simple, powerful, and indisputable.  All people, regardless of race, gender, and sexual orientation are equal under the Constitution!

As someone on Twitter said so perfectly and I retweeted, it feels as though, with his support of gay marriage, Obama has become the true president that we elected three years ago!

 Posted by at 1:27 pm
May 052012
 

In honor of spring and the start of the farmer’s market, here’s a fun recipe.  Partner loved it because everything tastes better with bacon!

Ramps and Eggs with Bacon

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1/3 lb. ramps, cleaned and diced
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 10 large eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Cook bacon.  Chop about 1/3 of it into small pieces.  Set rest aside.
  2. Put ramps in a large frying pan with a little of the bacon grease.  Add water.  Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the water evaporates.
  3. Add a little more bacon grease.
  4. Add beaten eggs and chopped bacon.  Stir constantly until eggs are cooked.
  5. Serve with bacon and toast or biscuits.  Enjoy!
 Posted by at 6:32 pm

Ramps

 Food, Musings  Comments Off
Apr 282012
 

On another, farming-related note the previous Saturday was the first farmer’s market on the square. The Dane County Farmers’ Market is a summertime Saturday tradition in Madison.  It is quite possibly the country’s largest producer-only market and features a rotating variety of seasonal vegetables, flowers, and specialty products from approximately 150 vendors every time.  All of the items are produced in Wisconsin!

My partner and I went and I bought ramps!  Ramps are a very ephemeral crop harvested only in spring.  They have a strong garlic odor but taste like onions.  While ramps have been very popular in the upper Midwest and the central Appalachian Mountains for a very long time, they are now becoming popular in epicurean restaurants across the country.

 Posted by at 9:13 pm
Apr 222012
 

Serious gardening has started!  For the past three years I have worked at a CSA.  CSA stands for community supported agriculture and it’s very popular in our area of Wisconsin.

Most of the CSAs are organic and produce non-GMO vegetables.  I am a firm believer of the benefits of organic farming.  The way a CSA works is that you pay or work for your share of what the farm produces.  Payments are usually made at the beginning of the season.  Farms usually give their workers either a discount or the entire share for free.

I work two days a week and do a variety of tasks such as planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, weeding, and harvesting.  It’s hard work but lots of fun and it feels great to work with the land.  At the particular farm where I work, I get my share of organic veggies for free!

 

 Posted by at 4:32 pm