Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket…(continued)
Seriously starting to consider consulting with a lawyer about State Farm Insurance and Scott Garvey, the agent(s) that’s been screwing around with me.
1) I got a letter from the Maryland Insurance Administration concerning my protest of their rate hike on my policy, for damage to my car while it was parked in front of my house, that was caused by a neighbor. State Farm (you may recall) said they were raising my rate because they had to pay out. Yes, because I chose to work the claim through them rather than the other agency I did not trust. But they got their money back from the other agency, including my deductable. So the MD Insurance Administration apparently got them to agree to roll it back and refund the extra.
Well, it’s been two months and not only have I not seen a refund, the next six month bill came last week and it is Even More than the previous one. So soon I will be sending another letter to the MD Insurance Administration, basically telling them that State Farm is giving them the finger.
2) Whilst shopping for another insurance carrier, I discover that State Farm posted my claim to the Lexus-Nexus database as an “accident” claim rather than a “comprehensive” claim. That’s significant because “accident” raises the rates other agencies will quote me. But since the car was parked when it happened it should have been posted as “comprehensive”. So I’ve been given a number to call Lexus-Nexus and now I have to challenge that too. Which of course I will.
Enough of this crap and you get the sense that it isn’t merely bureaucratic clusterfuck, it’s policy and the company really is predatory by nature.
[Update…] Even allowing that I’m being quoted higher prices because State Farm posted my claim as an “accident”, the prices I’m being quoted for the same coverage are still Hundreds of dollars less over a six month term.
The German government has announced it will overturn the convictions of tens of thousands of gay men jailed before homosexuality was decriminalized.
“The historic convictions are wrong. They are deeply hurtful to human dignity,” said Justice Minister Heiko Maas. “We cannot completely completely undo these outrages of the rule of law, but we want to rehabilitate the victims.”
More than 50,000 gay men were convicted between 1946 and 1969, when homosexuality was decriminalized in both East and West Germany. Those men “should no longer have to live with the stain of a criminal record,” says Maas.
Some years ago, shortly after it was dedicated, I went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to sit in on a series of lectures spread out over three days concerning the history of the persecution of homosexuals during the Third Reich. By then I’d already learned some of that history via a few books I’d found at Deacon Maccubbin’s Lambda Rising bookstore, and various articles in the gay press, and already the size and scope of how our history had been suppressed was stunning me. The lectures at the USHMM added to my understanding of the events surrounding the pink triangles, and more importantly, gave me their context in the greater turmoil that gripped Germany then.
The presenter was a young German scholar who had been studying the persecution of gays during that period. He had shown us several video interviews he’d made of camp survivors who’d worn the pink triangle, and said that as they aged it was important to get as much on the record as soon as possible. But he said, many of the men were still too ashamed or too closeted and were very reluctant to talk. After the war they had not been freed, but made to serve out the prison terms imposed on them by the Fascists, who had themselves rewritten many of the Wiemar Republic laws to make them harsher. Those criminal records had followed them for the rest of their lives he said, making it difficult for them to find work and places to live. And Germany kept their sodomy laws on the books…East Germany until 1957, and West Germany until 1969. So had any of these men been arrested again during that time they would have been facing repeat offender penalties.
So during one of the question and answer periods I asked him if there was any effort being made back in Germany to erase their records so they wouldn’t have it hanging over them anymore.
He almost laughed and said it didn’t matter since they were so old now. The implication being the only reason for doing so would be to make it easier for them to have sex. Well that raised my hackles a tad and raising my voice I said it was a matter of simple human dignity to take the criminal record off them and especially so if you didn’t think the Nazis had any right doing that to them in the first place. He dismissed me in the way Germans do to Ausländer who obviously don’t understand How Things Are Done, saying that there was no such effort being made at that time and there are more importing issues to concern ourselves with.
So anyway…they’re finally getting around to it. At some point it might be nice for the United States to get around to apologizing too, for not doing the decent thing back then and just letting those survivors of the Holocaust go free, even if they did happen to be homosexual.
Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.
What Donald Trump has been doing is telling the base that it can order à la carte. He has, in effect, been telling aggrieved white men that they can feed their anger without being forced to swallow supply-side economics, too…
The truly interesting thing is how abruptly, how completely, the religious right became irrelevant in the Trump onslaught. Your gay and lesbian neighbors have questioned the sincerity of religious objections to gay equality for decades, and here I think is the proof in the pudding. It was, in the main, never about religious belief. Religion was just an excuse…something to wrap their bar stool prejudices in so they wouldn’t have to see a bigot staring back at them in the bathroom mirror. See it now. When it came time to choose between the religious fanatic and mount a grand crusade against Satan for the glory of god, or the fascist demagogue who gave them permission to glory in their cheapshit prejudices, the bulk of the voters ran immediately to the demagogue. And now the fundamentalist true believers suddenly find the pews are looking a tad empty.
There’s what was going on all this time. All that talk of a moral majority. All that talk of a Christian nation. All that talk about putting god back in the classroom, and in the seats of government. All those ten commandment monuments that sprang up all over the country in the years since Brown v. Board of Education…at the same time public swimming pools were being buried rather than let the colored kids swim there too. All those private Christian schools…with their prohibitions against interracial dating. I’ve no doubt that religious fervor moved a great many who gravitated to the republican party over the decades and felt nothing but contempt and scorn for the morals they saw in the world around them. But it is a peculiar sort of Christianity that has no charity either, toward the poor, the stranger, the outcast, and it was never a force in numbers. Not by itself.
It turns out that many who sat with them in the pews and sang the hymns and put some money in the plate had simply adopted the brand, for lack of anything else capable of preserving their self respect. We are not racists. We are not bigots. We are Christians. As soon as a messiah came to deliver them from that bondage they flocked to him in relief, without even a goodbye and thanks for all the grape juice and crackers.
There’s what was going on all that time. There’s what was going on.
Trying Something Different For A Coming Out Story Episode 20
It’s been slow going getting these episodes out. In part that’s because I have a job that uses up a lot of my daily reserves of concentration. In part it’s the roller coaster from hell I’ve been put on since I re-connected with the object of my affections back then. And truthfully, in part because I never really know exactly how I’m going to do an episode until I’ve finished it. Many of the episodes I’ve finished in the past few years have had bits tacked on the front and back, and some dialogue reworked, as I’ve come to understand the material better.
I want to try something different with episodes 20 and 21. Instead of doing all the pencils and inks and finishing up the entire episode before posting it. Hopefully it will seem like installments of a weekly (or semi weekly) comic strip until each episode is complete. I think given the scripts for these two episodes that’ll work.
The Last Clown Waves Goodbye To The Crowd, And The Darkness Outside The Circus Tent Deepens
On CNN Now…
Sources: John Kasich to drop out
Well…okay. Fine. As horrifying as the potential of a Trump presidency is, I feel this as a little tiny ray of light in the darkness. The corporate media kept presenting Kasich as a more sane breed of republican and that he is patently not. So good riddance!
But we’re not out of the woods. If anything now, the woods are closing in. President Trump… Stand in front of a mirror and say it while watching the fear in your eyes deepen. If Mrs Clinton can get enough of the disaffected republican vote to offset all the disaffected democrats who would rather shove a rusty ice pick in their ear than vote for her, we might not have to witness Donald Trump taking the oath of office next January. But at this moment in time I’m not at all sure that’s going to be enough. Mrs. Clinton’s supporters are still vastly misjudging the degree of antipathy toward her and the DNC in the grassroots, and I strongly suspect that’s at least partially due to cocooning. The disaffected are doing it too. And none of it is helpful. This nation…and the world…might be in for the sort of wild ride it hasn’t seen since the 1930s.
I’ve been what they used to call a Yellow Dog Democrat, ever since Connie Morella voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (signed in the dead of night by You Know Who!). And yet, if I had to choose between Ronald Reagan and Lyndon LaRouche, and it looked like LaRouche had a clear shot at winning it, god help me I’d have voted for Reagan. But then…I’m a cold war baby. I remember doing my duck and cover drills, and the sound the air raid sirens made at 11am on the first Saturday of the month when they were tested, to make sure they would be in working order at Armageddon o:clock.
As a child sits in the man’s shopping cart looking on, the woman complains about how she is paying for his food with her tax money.
“You know, I put in 50-60 hour weeks… trying to provide for my family,” the man says, although some of his words are unclear.
“You’re not providing for it, I am,” the woman snaps back. “The government is.”
The grim joke here is the government is also providing for this woman. As the article notes, she’s shopping at WalMart. Many of their workers need food stamps and other assistance because WalMart won’t pay a living wage. Without a doubt she’s shopping there, perhaps for the convenience if it’s a nearby store, but most likely for the Every Day Low Low Prices….stuff that costs less so she doesn’t have to spend more. I’d have told her the rest of us are supporting her too. But I don’t shop there.
The man suggests she complain to her lawmaker or vote Republican.
“Oh, trust me, I am not a bleeding heart fucking liberal,” the woman answers.
I’m shocked, shocked. No lady, you’re a typical American of a particular type that likes to have their cake and eat it too at the expense of someone else. If your household is making enough you don’t need assistance then you can afford to shop somewhere they pay their employees enough they don’t have to go on public assistance. That poor man and his kid have fewer choices than you do. They need the low cost of goods and assistance even then to buy them. You just want the cheap goods the rest of us taxpayers are making possible by providing WalMart employees public assistance.
So who’s really the freeloader? It’s you lady. It’s you.
According to Google, today is Teacher’s Day. I want to thank a few. Not the ones whose class I sat in though the ones who took an interest and kept the fire burning within me have my eternal gratitude. Frank Moran…my art teacher in high school, and one of the best teachers a kid could have. Marvin Watts, my college English teacher who encouraged me to write because he said I did it well if I put my mind to it. Don Poole, my jr. high science teacher, who encouraged my curiosity about the mechanical universe. I have the life I do today in large measure because of the interest they took in me when I was a kid. But today I want to also thank others, who lit the fire within from a distance.
…and…I hesitate to say this because her work is so relentlessly dark, but…Diane Arbus.
These were the ones who showed me what the camera could do. Plowden is the one probably closest to my heart, but the others are pretty close too. There are other masters of the art whose work I have loved very much, and found inspiring…Ansel Adams being probably the grand master of the form. But those four, Plowden, Frank, Bourke-White and Arbus, shone a light within which I could see myself. Which is what teachers do.
The article is about an Ambien user who crashed her car, she says while sleep driving on Ambien. It’s not a difficult defence for some of us who have encountered Ambien’s little side effect to accept. The comments on this article wherever it is shared, by folks who have had the experience of sleep walking under it, are very very creepy, even if nothing serious came of it. Or maybe especially so.
There are so many stories about this drug’s sleep walking side effect I think it really needs to be taken off the market until that’s understood better. Not everyone sleep walks under it. But the stories of people who have are so widespread it’s disturbing that the drug is still being widely prescribed for sleep problems. I have my own story, and it’s the only time in my life I’ve been petrified scared.
I was having really bad trouble sleeping…it later turned out to be diet related…and I was prescribed Ambien. The doctor I was seeing at the time assured me it wasn’t addictive. Well it was addictive as all hell but that’s another matter. What scared me was the time I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of ice tea.
I’ve made my own sweet ice tea the same way ever since I was a young teenager. The process starts with boiling water in the kettle and then pouring the boiling water into a container that already has a measured amount of sweetener in it. The sweetener is dissolved immediately. Then several tea bags are dipped into the water to steep. The trick is to let the tea cool down at room temperature, to room temperature, before putting it into the fridge to chill. If you put it in too soon it turns bitter.
So one day I’m walking into the kitchen to get a glass of ice tea. I’m still having trouble sleeping well despite the Ambien, and what is more my head is staying a bit fuzzy all day long which is worrying me. I’m getting forgetful (more than usual) and I’m starting to seriously worry if there is something wrong with my head. So this is my state of mind when I open the fridge to get some ice tea…and I see the kettle in there.
I freaked. I thought, oh god I’m losing my mind, had to take the kettle out, set it down in the stove where it usually sits, walk into the living room and sit down on the sofa and wait until I stopped shaking.
For the next several weeks I watched my behavior closely to see if anything like it happened again. But I also did this: I started weaning myself off Ambien. It took about a month of my shaving the pills smaller and smaller until I could finally sleep without dropping one. Later…when I reconnected with a certain someone from my past, I started paying more attention to my weight and what I was eating and that solved the sleep problems. And shortly after that I started hearing stories about people on Ambien sleepwalking and made the connection to the kettle in the fridge.
I will Never touch sleeping pills again. Ever. No matter how bad the insomnia gets.
How To Draw Pictures Of Sexy Guys Wearing Glasses In 3 Easy Steps – Lesson 2
Continuing in our learning path, here’s another of our handy guides to drawing sexy guys. As Bach famously said, Playing the organ is simple…you just hit the keys at the right time and the instrument practically plays itself! Be assured that drawing is just as easy. Simply drag your pencil over the paper in the right places and you never go wrong!
Step 1: Start with a couple of circles for the glasses. In this lesson we will draw simple round frame glasses…
Step 2: Connect the circles together to form a frame. Add some lines for the temple pieces…
Step 3: Now add the rest of him…
Next: Drawing a distinction between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz!
Of all the commercial tributes to Prince, this IMO is the best…
Note that they didn’t put one of their current models in it, as if it were nothing more than cheap advertising. Look closely at that back window. Only one year had that split rear window and it was the first year of the new Stingray body style. That 1963 Corvette is legendary and highly prized by collectors. Check the prices they fetch when in good condition.
A neighbor in an apartment complex mom and I lived in bought a ’63 Vette…but not the coupe. His was a yellow convertible with chrome side exhaust (“lake”) pipes and mag wheels and I lusted after that car, as only a tween-age boy whose bedroom was full of model cars and hot rod magazines could. I knew the sound of it, and every time I heard that engine come to life I was out on the balcony like a shot, just to stand and watch it pull away, and arrogantly take charge of the the road.
The pleasures of adulthood are richer, but in their complexity not as pure. Little Red Corvette expresses it perfectly. I guess I should’ve closed my eyes, when you drove me to the place where your horses run free, ’cause I felt a little ill when I saw all the pictures of the jockeys that were there before me… I was much too young to have understood what Prince was singing about back in those days. But every time I hear that song it takes me back to that first early boyhood thrill at the sight of power and beauty combined.
My sleep/waking pattern is all hosed up. I’m getting up way, Way too early these days, taking brief brutal naps when I come home from work…brutal in the sense that they don’t bring any rest at all…then doing nothing around the house for a bit or taking a walk maybe and then back to bed way, Way too early. I think I see the problem. It’s interesting how a pall of existential gloom can settle in and rust your innards away all the while telling you that its not even there.
It’s not like I have a clinical depression…it’s never been nearly that bad. I follow people, some famous, who are open about enduring that and from everything I’ve learned from them I’m not even close to being in that category. But the stresses of life can still take their toll all the same. It’s worse I think, on creative minds like mine, because our thoughts get so distracted by that creative need, the insistent muse, that we forget to look elsewhere in our lives, and see how miserable we’ve allowed ourselves to become, strangely enough without even being aware of it. But the physical body still pays the price.
I have an amazingly good life all things considering. I did Not expect to have the life I do now when I was younger. And when an important piece of spirit gets yanked out from under me intellectually I just shrug it off. I’m not even trying to be brave about it, I really believe in all logic and reason that by now it doesn’t matter. But it does. It always does. My mind ignores it. It really does. My body feels it nonetheless.
So I’m down here in the art room of Casa del Garrett working on the next episode of A Coming Out Story, so early in the morning because that’s when my out of whack sleep patterns are now insisting I get up, and I know that if I don’t get Something done in the art room now when I have reserves of concentration for sure I won’t when I get home from work, because by then my concentration reserves for the day will be completely exhausted. I’ve done some sketching I needed to do. Fine. Something’s been accomplished. The process moves forward a tad. That’ll do for now. I’ll go back upstairs in a bit and make some sandwiches for work and then take a serene early morning stroll into the office. I love these early morning walks. It’s a pure pleasure of city life I can walk from home to my job. I have some tasks waiting for me that I am already anticipating the pleasure of working on. I love my job. That’s a rare and extremely lucky thing to be able to say in this or any age. I’ll get things done at the office, play my part in moving JWST forward a tad, and take an early lovely walk home. I have a Good life. Then I’ll get home and all my energy will simply evaporate. That isn’t normal. Logically I know this. But I know also that I will just spin my wheels thinking about it. So I don’t.
Something is terribly wrong deep down inside. I know what it is. I’ve known for decades now. I just have no idea how to fix it. I tell myself I’ve finally become use to the idea that this is how it will always be. It’s a new mantra. But there is no stable point in the spiral into the night. You just keep going. Not even being aware most of the time, where it is that you’re going.
Sketching in preparation for work on A Coming Out Story, episode 20. It begins another short story arc with me having been tasked by the student newspaper to cover one of our home games…and then I stumble into the object of my thoroughly confused affections and try to strike up a conversation. Little teenage geeks don’t do conversation well however, and especially while the butterflies in their stomach are fluttering up a storm…
I’ve been posing myself a bunch lately to get the posture of my figures right. I do that with the digital SLR on a tripod, and a remote shutter release with a long extension cable. Then I scroll through the images on the camera’s lcd display to find a good pose and work from there. It doesn’t matter that I’m no longer that lithe (scrawny) teenage boy I once was, all I need is to see how the anatomy works, how the hands and arms reach around to the camera, how the body stands while I’m busy with the camera, legs, torso, head, how the camera bag hangs off the shoulder. Once I can see it I can draw something that gets the look right.
I still have the camera I did most of my student newspaper and yearbook stuff with, but as it turns out I also still have that camera bag from back in the day. I’d almost forgotten how it was to have both the camera and that “gadget bag” with spare film, filters, flash, batteries, light meter, and several lenses, hoods and lens cleaner in it slung around me. It was Heavy! Nowadays when I’m a working photographer I have a smaller, lighter bag that just holds a few essential things because with the new DSLRs and modern zoom lenses you don’t really need much extra.
This next story arc is a lot funner than the last one…
A Coming Out Story: Intermission – The Business of Tacos
Finished (finally!) another installment of A Coming Out Story. This is an Intermission to separate the first part of the story, which I finished with Episode 19, and what’s to come.Some of you may have already seen this one when I posted a link to the finished inks last Thanksgiving. I’ve since added the texturing and shading, and tweaked the dialogue balloons a tad. The shading really makes the artwork pop out I think.
The next part coming up is where the object of my affections and I actually begin talking to each other, and circling around each other in an age when gay kids were getting fed horrible lies about themselves from every direction. First crushes are hard enough for kids to deal with. For gay kids back when me and “T.K.” (not his real name) it was especially difficult. The worst of it was in 1971-72 there was no way you could talk about it with anyone. So you pretty much had to stumble your way around, trying to figure out what was going on inside of you, and then what to you do about this crush you’re having. How can you tell if the object of your affections is feeling the same way. One false move could be a disaster…for both of you.
That said, it’s not like it was a complete and total nightmare for me either. Mostly it was a lot of confusion. I can look back on most of it now with a sense of humor. Hopefully I can put some of that into the story going forward. What’s coming next is a short story arc wherein I finally break the ice with the object of my affections, after being tagged by the student newspaper to cover one of our football games.
But first, I figured I’d toss out here a little intermission of sorts…just to give anyone who’s still hanging on to this tale a wee taste of what’s to come in the second part. Enjoy. And thanks so much for staying tuned!
This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.