Friday, May 27, 2005

Award for the Most Creative Complaint About Same-Sex Marriage

Award for the Most Creative Complaint About Same-Sex Marriage

Jesse at Pandagon effectively attacks a ridiculous article by someone named David R. Usher claiming that same-sex marriage is a feminist plot designed to snatch control of children away from men, while somehow forcing the men to pay for it.

I think this is my favorite quote from the article:
In terms of economics, same-sex marriage creates three unequal classes of marriages. Marriages by two women have six sources of income -- the incomes of two women, two sets of child support (with hidden alimony), and two sets of welfare entitlements. Heterosexual marriages only have two incomes. Marriages between two men are likely to be paying child support and hidden alimony.
Um, OK. Somehow I have been terribly cheated. My lesbian relationship has exactly ONE income -- mine. Granted, we have no children, so I guess we don't fit into his odd little world.

Some good friends of ours, however, do have two children they adopted. The biological fathers of those children do not pay any child support or "hidden alimony", seeing as they signed away their parental rights when the children were born. That couple also has ONE income, since one of the women stays home to take care of the kids.

At any rate, this one is so strange that it seems almost silly to respond to it. Jesse summed it up pretty well with this comment:
In a society where gay men were allowed to marry other men rather than duck into straight marriages in order to seem "normal", why would they be paying child support or "hidden" alimony? I hate to be the one to break this out, but when you don't stick your sperm rod into someone's baby hole, it's really hard to think of any outcome which would result in you paying child support. In much the same way, a lesbian who legally obtains donor sperm (which negates any right the donor has to a legal claim of parenthood for the child) cannot actually get child support or alimony from anyone.
Exactly. There are of course cases in which the sperm doner is some the couple knows and he might have some sort of parenting role, but in that case it is usually a mutually-agreed on arrangement.

Regarding the odd comments on welfare, Jesse also points out that this notion that heterosexual married families can't get welfare is also false. I don't have any direct experience in with the welfare issue myself. Somewhere around my house (probably packed up in a box in the garage) I have an old copy of A Legal Guide For Lesbian & Gay Couples. I recall reading a discussion of legal issues if you were living with a welfare recipient, and it made it pretty clear that the income of an "unrelated adult female" living in the house certainly could be considered when calculating welfare benefits. Women don't get welfare because they are women. They get welfare based on their income (or lack therof).

Furthermore, by his own definitions here, a heterosexual marriage could have extra income as well...if a divorced woman with children remarries, the father of her children is still going to be paying child support. So this hypothetical family will have three sources of income, plus possibly welfare as well.

Mr. Usher also makes this interesting observation:
Marriages involving two women have full parental rights and control of children by presumption of women’s sexual birth function. Heterosexual marriages also have full parental rights and control of children. Marriages involving two men are unlikely to have children. When they do, the men are unlikely to have any substantive parental rights, if any at all.
It is touching that Mr. Usher is so concerned about the legal protection for the children of gay male couples. Oddly enough, adoption laws exist to ensure that parents have parental rights for their children, and these laws can work just fine for all sorts of families, provided the religious right doesn't succeed in stripping them away.

Although I don't know for certain, I suspect Trey and his partner (see Daddy, Papa, and Me) both have legal rights to their adorable daughter Emma. If anything, same sex marriage would increase the legal protection of their family, not distract from it.

Like I said, I feel somewhat silly taking the time to respond to this one. Alas, I could not help myself.

This is too funny

I work in the software industry (although I'm not a developer), so I can relate to this post from A Secular Franciscan Life.

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail Update

The baby rabbits we found the other day appear to be doing well. Their mother must be coming into the yard to feed them when we're not looking. I did see a rabbit dashing across the alley the other evening. It looked like she came from the general vicinity of my back fence.

This picture isn't great, but you can see that they now have some fur.
Baby Rabbits Growing Up

One of the bunnies decided to pose for the camera here:
Baby Rabbit Looking Around

We have reached an understanding with Cricket. She is still allowed in the backyard when supervised. If she approaches the rabbit nest, we shoo her away from it. So far this seems to be working, although I don't think Cricket is very happy about it.

I am assuming that the mother rabbit won't be concerned about the scent of dogs in the backyard, seeing as that scent was all over the place before she decided to have her babies there in the first place.

Chicago Cubs

Took a vacation day yesterday. Went to see the Chicago Cubs play (lose to) the Colorado Rockies. This was Laura's first visit to Wrigley Field.

I wrote up a nice post on this last night with lots of pictures. Then I didn't like the way the larger sized pictures messed up the layout of my blog, so I removed it. Then Laura went and posted on this today. So, I will just point you over to her blog for the pictures.

Here are a few pictures that Laura didn't include in her post.

It is not a Cubs game without fans dressed in blue paint.
Fans in Blue Paint

The field from our seats.
Someone is playing baseball in the distance

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail!

I worked from home today to handle transportation for Laura's doctor visit. So, I was sitting upstairs in my office, working away, when I heard Laura downstairs yelling at Cricket, "What are you digging at? Get in here!"

Then she called me to come downstairs.

We have a sliding glass door that goes out to the backyard. Just next to this is a small picnic table. "Look at where she was digging," Laura said.

There was a shallow hole in the ground under the table. I had actually noticed a while back and filled it in, but apparently...something...had dug it back up. And there was something moving around in there...small, gray, mostly buried under the dead grass and gray fur.

I used a stick to move aside the grass and discovered a nest of small mammals that we assume to be...BUNNIES!
Baby Rabbits In My Backyard
(They're hard to see in the small version - click the picture for the full size one).

They looked way too big to be baby mice or rats. Laura called animal control and described the nest, and they confirmed that they are likely rabbits. They also noted that bunnies like to make their nests in "the dumbest places." I can't argue with that. You would think that a rabbit would notice the scent of dogs in the backyard and would realize that building a nest so close to potential predators is a bad idea. Under the bushes in the front yard would have been a better place.

I can't figure out when Mama Rabbit showed up and gave birth, though. I just mowed the lawn on Sunday morning, so it seems likely that I would have noticed them then. Last night I sent Cricket out into the backyard and she just stood around, very near the table, and never noticed anything. Perhaps they were born last night.

We have seen rabbits in the neighborhood, but I've never noticed one in my backyard before. Incidentally, we have a six-foot high wooden fence. There are a few small gaps by the gate, but they are too small for anything large to get through. Apparently pregnant rabbits can squeeze through a very small opening!

I couldn't really tell how many there are in the nest -- once we confirmed that they were NOT mice, I didn't want to disturb them any further. According to animal control, they should start moving around in a couple weeks and then they will leave. In the meantime, Cricket won't be spending much time in the backyard!

Here's another shot...the front one definitely has a bunny shape to it.

Baby Rabbits In My Backyard II

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Today is Laura's birthday.

Her fears that God likes Chicago better than Montana seem to be unfounded. After a rather iffy beginning this morning, the weather cleared off and no thunderstorms developed. According to the realtor, we had great traffic for our open house. Lots of interest and positive comments. So, we shall see what happens. Anyone looking for a great house in Aurora, IL?

I think Laura had a good birthday, despite a bit too much of the in-laws yesterday. We went out for breakfast, dropped the dogs off at my parents' house, then went to a noon showing of Revenge of the Sith. It is a little odd going to a movie so soon after breakfast, but we managed to eat popcorn anyway. Enjoyed the movie. Now, of course, I'm wishing we had the original movies on DVDs. Our VCR doesn't work, and it doesn't matter anyway because all the videotapes are packed up. Oh well.

Then we had dinner with a good friend at a Mexican place (great guacamole and margaritas) and coffee back at home.

This is shaping up to be a very busy week. On Tuesday Laura is going to the doctor to see about the headache problem. On Thursday, I'm taking a vacation day and we're going to see the Cubs play the Rockies. In nearly 10 years in Chicago, Laura has never been to Wrigley field, so we had to squeeze in a game this year!

Then next weekend we're riding in Bike the Drive. We had planned to stay overnight downtown, but it looks like the dogsitter will fall through, so we'll be leaving the house at 4 AM instead. Hopefully next Sunday's weather will be good!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

But If We Let Jim Visit Steve in the Hospital, Bob and Sue in the Next Town Will Have to Get Divorced!

Jason at Positive Liberty recounts news from Maryland -- the governor is caving into pressure to veto a bill called the Medical Decision Making Act. This bill would grant some very limited rights to same-sex couples. From the Washington Post:
Modeled after laws in California, Hawaii and other states, the legislation would have granted nearly a dozen rights to unmarried partners who register with the state. Among those: the right to be treated as an immediate family member during hospital visits, to make health care decisions for incapacitated partners and to have private visits in nursing homes.
Jason points out how this affects him personally -- seeing as he lives in MD and his biological family does not recognize his relationship with his partner.

The most outrageous part of all this are these stories documenting several cases in which couples had all the "proper" paperwork (power of attorney, wills, etc.) and were still prevented from making medical decisions and visiting one another in the hospital.

I couldn't sleep last night after reading these stories. I am too full of anger. How dare total strangers interfere with private, legal contracts created between two people? What is the point of offering contacts such as power of attorney for health care if they can be ignored at the option of a stranger? If they have no teeth?

I have had numerous arguments with my republican parents over these issues. They claim to be on the socially liberal side and don't really have a problem with gay marriage, yet they keep electing people who do, so I can't quite figure that out. Whenever I get angry and point out abuses like this, I always hear the same story. "You can get legal documents. You can make a will. You can make sure that your wishes are respected."

Well, apparently not always.

In my opinion, any doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional who pushes aside these types of documents should be sued for all they are worth and should lose their license to practice. It is not up to a doctor or nurse to decide who my family is. If I have documents specifying that Laura is to have decision-making power for me, then they had better honor it. I am waiting for all the "you-have-other-legal-options" people to speak up in support of this lawsuit, brought by a man who was prevented from visiting his dying partner, despite having power of attorney and other documents. The people insisting that these sorts of documents are sufficient should stand behind their word.

I am thankful that Laura and I did not encounter these problems when she ended up in the hospital a few years ago with the pseudotumor. Of course, she was conscious the entire time and it never got to the "family only" point.

Jason closes his post with this comment, which pretty much sums up my bitterness and anger at this sort of thing:
The most charitable thing I can say is that I do hope heterosexuals are getting some benefit from all of this, because gays and lesbians are clearly suffering. Equality Maryland documents some even more egregious cases of real-life refusal here. Many of them happened despite the individuals having taken legal steps like executing a will or a power of attorney, steps that we are told make marriage rights unnecessary or redundant. How any of this helps strengthen the heterosexual family is beyond me. Do episodes like these really give comfort or reassurance to faltering heterosexual relationships? I simply can't believe it
As I said in the title of my post, apparently straight people are so completely stupid as to believe that causing heartbreak to total strangers in hospitals will keep their own pathetic families intact. I have no respect for anyone who believes such things.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Thanks to the existence of blogs, Laura has now rediscovered TWO friends from years ago. People she had completely lost track of.

Her explanation is here.

The most recent find, Jane wrote about it here, with more detail about their original friendship and why they lost touch. This was all long before I ever met Laura, so it is a rather interesting look into someone else's history.


Normally at this time of year we would be doing a bit more bicycling. Especially on a day like today, which has turned out beautiful in spite of the weather reports that called for rain.

But, since my house is for sale, we have certain limitations on what we do on the weekends. If someone wants to see the house, we need to be able to leash up the dogs and get them out of there so that they aren't in the way. So, even though we could bring Laura's cell phone on a ride, I'd worry that someone would call for a showing and we wouldn't be able to get back to gather up the dogs in time.

So, we've been taking the dogs on long walks on some of our favorite bike trails. A few weeks ago we went on the Fox River trail; today we walked on the Virgil Gilman trail. We drove over to a parking lot off Galena blvd to start and walked a ways past the Blackberry farm place shown on the map. The walk was just a little less than an hour.

Of course, since we took the precaution of bringing along the dogs and making the house look great for a one called. We're waiting to hear from our realtor about last week's showing and the one yesterday evening, which Laura wrote about here.

I took a bunch of pictures on our walk (of course), so here are a few highlights.

Starting point right off Galena blvd:
Virgil Gilman Trail - Galena road

Close up of some flowers:
Flowers along the path

Bridge crossing a stream. I don't really like bicycling over this particular bridge because it does sway a bit, but walking isn't too bad.
Bridge going over a stream

View of a stream from the bridge
Shot of the stream from the bridge

Flower closeups when Laura commandeered the camera
More flowers, further along

More flowers, photographed by Laura
Whole clump of blossoms

Sundial. It appears to be nearly noon.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Headache Worries

Laura has been having bad headaches the last few weeks. This always worries me. Nearly six years ago, a bad bout of headaches caused her to be diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri, also known as Benign Intracranial Hypertension. Here's a succinct description from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS):
Pseudotumor cerebri literally means "false brain tumor." It is likely due to high pressure caused by the buildup or poor absorption of cerebrospinal fluid in the subarachnoid space surrounding the brain. The disorder is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50. Symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri, which include headache, nausea, vomiting, and pulsating intracranial noises, closely mimic symptoms of brain tumors.
Read a little further down the page about the prognosis: "may cause progressive, permanent visual loss in some patients. In some cases, pseudotumor cerebri recurs." [emphasis mine]

The first time she had pseudotumor was quite eventful, with two emergency room visits and one 3-day hospital stay, an MRI, two spinal taps, and several months on a drug (Diamox) that made her hands, feet, and lips tingle and made carbonated beverages taste "metallic." It was late summer in 1999. My memory of the whole thing is pretty hazy. The word "tumor" is pretty scary, even with that odd "pseudo" positioned in front of it. There were other words tossed about, like papilloedema, which I think refers to the swelling of the optic nerve. Apparently she had a pretty good case of it the first day she went to the Rush-Presbreytarian St. Luke's Eye Center. I recall Laura being somewhat exacerbated by a parade of ophthalmology interns coming into her examining room to look at her eyes.

The spinal taps (technically lumbar punctures) were very painful. The purpose is to drain out the excess fluid, but in Laura's case, both taps caused "low pressure headaches" -- the opposite of the original problem. The first time was the worst, because they did the tap in the emergency room right away. That brought us back to the emergency room the next day -- the headache was so bad it caused nausea and she couldn't keep down even water, so she became dehydrated.

Mostly I remember sitting around the emergency room on an uncomfortable molded plastic chair. Then, later, sitting in her hospital room in a somewhat more comfortable chair. Then, frequent visits back to see the neural-ophthalmologist for checkups. They checked for vision loss and papilloedema. Eventually the condition pretty much went away. She cut back on the drugs. Her visits to the Eye Center became less and less frequent, until they dropped to just once a year.

But she's having these headaches again, so she's starting to worry. Pseudotumor can come back. The Eye Center didn't have any regular appointments until July, but they agreed to squeeze her in the week after next so that they can check for papilloedema and ease our minds. Of course, if it isn't a recurrence of pseudotumor, then what in the heck has caused three weeks worth of headaches?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Where I've Been

This is a fun site - create a map showing states you've visited. Here's mine:

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Of course, I have to make it more complicated than it needs to be. What does "visited" mean? Went there and stayed for more than a day? Just drove through? After giving this way to much thought, I defined "visited" as "stayed overnight in" for the above map.

There were also a few I don't really remember, so I left them out. I'm pretty sure my family took a vacation to Colorodo and it probably involved staying overnight in a few other states on the way, but I'm not positive. When I was much older, we took a driving trip to Texas, but I don't remember which states we stopped in on the way and on the way home.

If I redefine "visited" to just "drove through" or "sat around in an airport for a while between flights", then I look a little more well-travelled:

Hmm, this version makes it look like I have something against Kansas. Can't really explain that one, seeing as I've apparently never been there!

Thanks to An Offering of Myself to the World for the link.

Ten Random Thoughts About Selling My House

1. It has been about 2 weeks since I put my house on the market. I am no longer startled by the sight of the For Sale sign in my front yard when driving home each night.

2. Within days of listing my house, I started receiving mail from real estate attorneys and moving companies. They must have some sort of auto-notify thing set up on the MLS.

3. Keeping things spotless every day is a pain. I am not a neat person. I used to think that maybe this process would teach us good habits that would continue in the new place. Maybe we would become neat freaks! Now I think the process will just make me messier when I can finally relax and not worry about strangers walking around my house.

4. Many of my favorite books are packed up in boxes in the garage, in our attempt to declutter before putting the house on the market. The good news is, it'll seem like getting a whole bunch of new books once we finally move and unpack. The bad news is, I miss my books!

5. Lots of people have stopped and picked up flyers from the little box out front. The people driving by in cars are more likely to be really potential buyers. The people on foot probably already live in the neighborhood. At any rate, it is really hard not to stare out the window at the people picking up the flyers!

6. Mother's Day is not a busy day in the real estate world. Dratted mothers! Distracting from the sale of my house!

7. I was never terribly concerned when other people's dogs pooped in my front yard. Now that I must keep it clean, I find it annoying! Pick up after your dogs, people! I pick up after mine!

8. It is rather creepy to think about total strangers walking around my house and making comments. I wish I could listen in on what they're saying! Perhaps I should enlist the neighbor kids to hang around the yard and spy on the potential buyers as they are leaving.

9. We are supposed to have our first open house this Sunday. I hope the weather is good, because we need to gather up the dogs and make ourselves scarce for the afternoon. We might go hiking in Starved Rock.

10. It has only been two weeks. I realize these things take time. That realization has not transformed me into a patient person. Sigh.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Don't miss this post

From John Scalzi.
Well, of course, these people don't own Jesus. He died for the sins of the whole world. Nor do they have a corner on the understanding of his words or his work. The Jesus I know and whose words I have read and striven to understand would not sign off on a much of the agenda of those who now parade Him around like a fetish, and in doing so have created this other Jesus, a vacuous, empty vessel for an uncharitable worldview.
I feel almost guilty quoting anything from this because the full post is so good. Just go read the whole thing: What My Jesus Would Do.

Mother's Day, Garage Sales, and Strangers Tromping Through Your House

My parents had a garage sale yesterday and today. Laura helped out yesterday (since she is currently unemployed). Today we both went over. My mom didn't sell much, but for some reason, we still had a nice time over there. Much of the afternoon was spent in helping them assemble this gazebo thing for the backyard. It was also entertaining to watch the dogs. Cricket did her part sitting in the garage guarding the stuff:
Cricket minding the

Bailey didn't like it much. He's not an outdoorsy dog and he really just wanted to go inside. He finally found a nice soft cushion, but drat! It was slippery!
Bailey is Tired

I couldn't resist taking a couple shots of these neat stone foxes my mom has. The "ground cover" plants are taking over, so the foxes are just sort of peaking out:
Fox in the ground cover
Fox in the ground cover II

Anyway, after we closed down the sale and finished the gazebo, we went out for an early dinner. That was my mother's day gift to my mom -- she doesn't really like going out to eat on the actual Mother's Day because it is too crowded.

I almost forgot the most important news. While we were sitting around in the garage, Laura's cell phone rang. It was the listing office -- someone wanted to see the house that afternoon! Our first showing since putting it on the market! I realize it is highly unlikely that the first person to look at it will buy it, but can always hope! At any rate, even if they don't make an offer, we could at least perhaps get some feedback as to what they didn't like, which could be useful in prepping the house for future showings. Besides, it has been maddening sitting around waiting for someone to show an interest, so just having a showing was nice.

Of course, I spent much of the afternoon stewing about the showing, wondering how long the people stayed and what they thought. Maddening. This process is just maddening.

Since both the dogs are pictured above, I wouldn't want to leave out the cat. While sitting here in my office this evening, Xena came upstairs and jumped up on the window sill. She can only do that when the window is open due to her large butt. Convenient to have the camera handy:
Xena in the Window

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Not a patient person

So, sitting around waiting for your house to sell isn't much fun. We wait for the phone to ring telling us someone wants a showing. When (so far) the call is someone else, we're disappointed.

I think sellers do open houses just to feel like they're doing something.

Some of the thoughts racing through my brain since we put the house on the market last week: Did we set the price too high? Did we pick the right realtor -- what the heck is she doing to earn that commission we're gonna pay? Did we pick the wrong time to sell -- maybe we shoulda sold last year, or next year, or not at all, get the idea.

I realize it has only been a week and I'm probably being rather silly. I know I should be patient. But still. It is not in my nature to be patient.

We actually have had a little activity. The For Sale sign has a little holder full of info fliers, and we went through a whole stack of them. Some were probably taken by nosy neighbors (I can't really criticize - I've done the same thing!), but I have hope for the ones taken by people driving by in cars. Especially the ones who then stopped down the street to see the models for our development -- my house should compete fairly well with the new ones on both availability, price, and location within the development.

Last night while eating dinner someone pulled up in a truck and grabbed a flier. A few minutes later they drove by again, very slowly. This gives me great hope that they were interested and just need to get around to calling the big phone number on the flier and scheduling a showing!

Someone from the realty office came by yesterday to take pictures for the virtual tour. I'm hoping that some good interior pictures available on the web will draw some people in as well. At the moment, the listing on our realtor's site has an exterior picture, but the listing doesn't, so people searching online might not see the picture. Hopefully that will be fixed soon as well.

When I originally posted about the house being for sale, we weren't yet out there on the Internet. Well, now we are - you can see my house on If you're looking for a house in the Chicago suburbs, I highly recommend mine! Please, come buy my house!!