Minivan Man

I just returned from a 5 day family camping adventure in Yosemite.  It was my first time and it was great.  It’s amazing how much preparation is required for a trip like this, and I pride myself on trip prep.  From maps to check lists, I rarely find myself needing anything during a vacation.  I am happy to report this trip was as successful as any of my trips.  Thankfully we did not trade in our 10 year old Toyota 4Runner for a more economical car because the amount of gear and food we packed would never have fit into a Prius.  After this trip, we agreed that keeping it is the best way to save money.  We have no car payment, the insurance is relatively low, and it is a Toyota – practically maintenance free (knock on wood).

Although I am seeing more compact and economy cars on the road in and around L.A., I did not see many in Yosemite.  The SUV is not only handy, it is treasured.  I happen to love my 4Runner because it not only serves well for big trips, but it is still cool looking.  Part truck and part utility, slender yet rugged, and gets fairly decent mileage, it performed beyond expectations.  Plus, anyone looks cool in an SUV.  Can’t say the same for the minivan.

Ah, the minivan.  There were plenty of minivans on the road in Yosemite Valley.   Packed high with baggage, gear, and kids, the minivan is a streamlined dream.  It’s low enough to the ground so the little ones can get themselves in and out with pure pride that they needed no help from their parents.  Judging from some of the minivans I saw, they looked quite comfortable, like rolling living rooms.  TVs popped out from the ceiling, chairs swivel around, some had tables in the middle where everyone could play games or have meals.  Who wouldn’t love one of these ultimate family machines?

Exit the driver.  He is familiar to everyone – he’s got the ball cap on, the polo shirt, khaki cargo shorts, and Teva sandals.  He’s dad.  His shoulders are a tad slumped and he walks with a tired saunter.  His wife shouts impatient instructions to do something like grab the diaper bag.  He does so, but reluctantly.  

The minivan has stripped him of his masculinity.  There is nothing tough or rugged about a minivan, and certainly nothing manly about it.  It doesn’t even have an ounce of adventure anywhere on it.  Its status is below the wood paneled station wagon from National Lampoon’s Vacation.  Sure, he tries to outfit it with rooftop luggage racks, tying things with bungee cords and such but you can’t hide it even if you drove it into your tent.   He avoids parking next to the SUVs out of pure embarrassment, but envies them from afar.  He’s lost control and his position in the family is no more than driver and mommy’s little helper.  The minivan is a female object.  When dad is driving, he might as well be standing in line at the super market to buy tampons and Midol.  He’s a sucker.   He probably doesn’t even know how he got to this spot.  It was the day you agreed to buy a minivan, only you didn’t know it at the time and may not know it now!  You just know how pathetic you feel every time you get behind the wheel.  It’s worse when your wife wants to drive because now you have to sit in the dreaded passenger seat.  You look oversized and uncomfortable.  And what’s worse, your wife actually looks good behind the wheel.  That’s because the minivan IS a woman’s car, or more of a glorified station wagon.  No matter how they market them or how many SUV-like features they try to lure you with, it’s still a minivan and looks nothing like an SUV.

Come on and fight for your manhood!  Do not give into the minivan.  KILL IT!  Get your SUV and get your balls back!  You know where they are…

…in the glove box of your minivan. 










Lazy in Los Feliz

I’m having a great day and don’t feel like blogging about anything too serious, like Russia and Georgia, or John Edwards, VEEP contenders and the like.  I’m keeping it light just for today. 

My Sunday began with a hike Griffith Park.  The first trail would’ve lead up to Beacon Hill but because of the heat, we wimped out and headed back down.  Just as we were exiting the trail, we noticed a different, shadier and flatter trail.  As we headed down, we passed a family with a stroller, so it was further confirmation that this would be easy.  It was, however, rather eerie.  This trail wound through heavily burned areas from the May 2007 fire here.  Nothing but skeletal remains of what were probably once beautiful trees.  Some fencing surrounded off-limit areas that looked like complete wastelands, or a cemetery for the dead trees and brush.  It was a very sad place.  Up around one bend we noticed a couple of structures.  I have overactive imagination and all I could see was Michael Myers coming straight for us.  We quickly decided to end our day hike and head back for home for breakfast!

Healthy Breakfast Tacos:

  1. egg whites or egg beaters
  2. reduced-fat shredded cheese
  3. salsa
  4. avocado (about 1/2 per person for 2-3 tacos)
  5. turkey bacon or sausage
  6. taco-size tortillas

Scramble your eggs (add anything YOU might want like tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc).  Heat tortillas (I use white corn tortillas for that great corn flavor) by placing 4 in between 2 moistened paper towels in microwave at :45 – 1:00 minute.   I make my own, very simple salsa, by combining tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, salt/pepper to taste, in my mini food processor.   Cook up your bacon or sausage and arrange all ingredients into your warmed tortillas.  Enjoy!  I will get nutritional information added later this week.  Overall it’s fairly low in calories, great way to start your day, and quick to make. 

The Olympics are taking much of my television watching time, GO U.S.!  I have to admit, I am a Phelps Phan!

So that’s about it.  Stay tuned.  I’ve invited a close friend of mine to blog on Wednesdays so come back often. 

Warm regards.

Spiderman – Cash Only!

Grabbing for cash and asking for more

Grabbing for cash and asking for more

I was lucky to have survived this shot!

It’s Saturday in Hollywood.  My sister-in-laws are visiting from up north and they want to do the most touristy thing one can do when visiting SoCal…go to Hollywood.  I live here, I never really walked around so off we went.

Besides the unusually muggy weather and the typical crowds of visitors from all over, it wasn’t that bad.  These were the people I often passed while in my car, coming home from work, heading to the gym, going to dinner, or just passing through from one section of Hollywood to the other.  I always made fun of these people:  pale skin, crisp new shorts, and those awful Teva sandals over the bright white tube socks.  Some had fresh sunburns on their noses.  Some looked straight out of the Midwest with their slightly frightened expressions.

There are also the locals.  The ones who wear the big sunglasses and mismatched “I’m SO fashion” outfits, walking around as if they were somebody.  Chances are, over half these locals had some bit on a reality TV show or youtube video… I mean it’s Hollywood, who hasn’t?   Maybe it’s the guy in the loin cloth holding rubber snakes, or was it the lady dressed like a genie who gyrated her hips while tapping those little finger things that look like miniature cymbals.  I didn’t see the famous tin guy so maybe he had some luck and landed a gig at a birthday party.  Or maybe those four guys who were break dancing to no music.  There was also a little girl who sang quite well, but looked bored with the whole thing.  I don’t think any of these people had had their 15 minutes yet.

Except for Spiderman.  Now we all know Spiderman, comic book hero of yesteryear with revived attention in recent years on the big screen.  I think Spidey lost his job.  He’s out on Hollywood Blvd if you want to drop by and say hi.  But you’d better have some cash!  In typical tourist fashion, I have to admit, I did have my camera with me.  I KNOW I KNOW!  I live here, but still… I said I had never really walked around my own town.  So out my camera comes and BAM!!!!  No smile.  No fancy web work.  No posing.  Instead,  a request for money.  It wasn’t even friendly.  Wait, it wasn’t even a request!   It was more like – you took my picture now pay for it – no please, no pleasantries.  As seen in this shot, Spidey IS taking money from another passerby and I am pretty sure he was using her as an example of how it’s done. 

So I walked away and let it go.  Except Spidey wouldn’t.  While waiting to cross the street, I could hear him talking to me… at least I’m pretty sure he was talking to me.  I think he said something like, tell your friends what a jerk I am but don’t forget to  tell them you didn’t pay me for that picture you took. 

Spidey wasn’t the first one to do this.  Remember the guy in the loin cloth?  I tried to take his picture and as soon as I had my lens up he was asking me not to take a picture unless I’d like to make a contribution.  REALLY?  So now I can’t even take pictures of these people without being harassed.  Here’s an idea:  get a real fucking job!   Last time I checked, I didn’t hire you so NO, I won’t pay you for this picture.  I can appreciate everyone trying to make a buck.  And I would’ve considered dropping a couple bucks his way if he wasn’t such a dick about the whole thing.  I had ones in my pocket for that reason.  Well Spiderman, I didn’t like your act, so I am not going to pay you.  You suck! 

Who died and made him Spiderman anyways?  Isn’t that trademark infringement or something illegal like that?

Same Sex Marriage-what does it matter to you?

Last week some friends visited me.  They brought their 11 year old child, who knew I was gay and just learned I was married.  Her parents asked her to congratulate us.  Then something odd happened.  This couple started to go on about the definition of marriage, explaining that marriage is a religious term.  They also went on to say that some churches who refuse to perform same-sex marriages are facing losing their tax exemption status from the government and they DISAGREED with this saying it was wrong to punish the church! (I thought church and state were separated so how can the government make such an imposition?  Wait, I don’t even agree that churches should have tax exemption and should be paying taxes EQUALLY as the rest of the nation.  Don’t get me started).  Finally, they said that the REAL reason that people don’t want same sex marriage is that it will affect a host of things like social security, health care, family leave, you name it.  They couldn’t be more oblivious and I hope I made myself clear with them. 

The main reason people oppose same sex marriage is religious based.  Maybe the use of the term marriage is religious based, but what other word is there?  Millions have gotten married and not all were performed in churches or religious institutions.  So, what do you call those marriages?  If it’s a term you are bitching about, find another word that everyone will accept and let’s move on.  Yes, we’ve heard of civil unions, but when asked, what do you say?  I am civilly union-ed with so and so?  Is that even correct?  The fact is, the word marriage is used in a general sense. 

In California, the ban on same-sex marriage was lifted and deemed discriminatory.  Yay for the gays!  Bad for the straights.  But why?  Tell me what the problem is?  I have YET to come across an acceptable position besides the “it’s wrong” or “the bible says so” or “it’s disgusting.”  NEWSFLASH:  Not everyone follows the bible, it is NOT the only book in town, don’t be so ignorant of other religions that exist in our country, and who gave you the right to JUDGE?  That’s right, WHO gave you the right to pass judgment on people YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW!  A whole helluva nerve you all have!

So you don’t like same-sex marriage… and you can’t really articulate why in any intelligent fashion except to lean on your religion.  But what will you gain if gays can’t marry?  What is it that you are losing if gays marry?   No one has given me an answer to this.  Because no one can find a reason that doesn’t sound discriminatory!  So you want to take something away from me, but you get nothing out of it? 

If anyone caught the show “30 Days” where this very religious lady who was against gay couples adopting children stayed with a gay couple who had adopted 2 or 3 kids, this show would be a good example of this.  She was absolutely against gays adopting.  She admitted she liked this gay couple and admitted that they not only provided a loving, safe and secure home, but that they were doing a great job raising these kids, but she still did not believe in gay adoption!  So she was asked why she should be allowed to vote on something that would cause this couple to lose their children, asked what she was gaining by doing this… and she had no answer. 

A few days later, I spent some time with different friends.  Friends who not only supported me and my wife through this legal battle, but vowed to vote against this measure that would amend the California constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.  I asked them why.  They said because it had no bearing on their life, there should be no inequality in this day and age, and besides, they loved us.  I know some people who think they are my friends and say they respect me and wife and love us dearly as friends, BUT do not agree with gay marriage.  How can someone expect to be someone’s friend who does not agree that they should be equal?  NEWSFLASH:  You are not my friends and shame on you for thinking you can have it all. 

Sometimes it’s a tad embarrassing how the U.S. touts our freedoms and equality around the world, yet we are here today discussing the rights of human beings to enjoy equal opportunities.  I can only imagine what it was like when black people or women could not vote.  Or what about interracial marriage?  WOW, what a controversy THAT was.  We got over that, so why not this? 

WHAT DOES IT MATTER TO YOU?   And why do YOU think you should have a say in equality for U.S. citizens?

Mitt Romney’s $45 million “gift”

Wow – so you loan yourself $45 million for your presidential campaign, lose the nomination, and then file to call the self loan a “contribution.”  I didn’t even know that was legal.  Unfair competition?   Wasn’t it Ross Perot who also self-loaned his campaign over $60 million? 

Great timing for Romney since he’s jockeying for the big VEEP tap on the McCain ticket.  How ironic since McCain was behind campaign finance reform.   Now McCain seems to be overlooking that and praising Mitt for his support.  Perhaps McCain sees dollar signs for himself and an opportunity.  Of course he does!  Mitt Romney had some high approval ratings there for a while – even if it was the entire Mormon population.  Plus he’s a whole lot younger, not to mention more handsome, than McCain.  He needs some fresh meat closer to Obama’s age.  And what about the charm factor?  McCain is about as charming as sand in your panties.  Maybe it is worth the $45 million.

It all comes down to getting elected and what it’s going to take.  The true colors will be revealed as we move toward the general election.  Obama is touring overseas to exercise his foreign policy chops.  Iraq leader Nouri Maliki recently said he supported Obama’s timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq – 16 months.  Obama quickly took advantage and put out a statement to this effect.  Maliki followed by saying this was not necessarily an endorsement for the presidential candidate, that it was Americans’ business who was chosen as president.  Ha, I think that’s funny.  Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience has got him running around looking for ways to gain approval.   Have you seen the pictures?   Obama is over there kissing the troops asses all while looking like a deer in headlights.  He doesn’t know what the fuck he is doing and it’s funny!  I wish I could find the picture of him with the troops.  One is talking to Obama one-on-one but Obama seems to be looking over his shoulder – guess the soldier was boring him?  Sure looked like it!

Obama is grabbing at straws and will be bitten in the butt by this, just wait and see.   This is not the student council Barry.