Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring "Break" From My Gardens #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Having started my Spring Break officially today (and just a little earlier than I had originally planned--thanks to my ex- And that's an endearing caveat!), I have come to believe that this is the most beautiful Spring I've ever experienced in my 13 years here.

Por ejemplo, it's the first year that my tulip magnolia has flourished in blooms unhindered by a late blast of cold air and bitter frost.

The image accompanying this post is of the blossoms of the wild ginger planted many years ago in the lower corner of my backyard. The blooms arrive suddenly and seem to quickly disappear. Mounds of lime green Hellebores dance in the breeze above them. Their arrival a celebration.

Random Quote #64

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
“Love all. Trust a few. Do harm to none.”

~ William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

[The sculpture is from Shakespeare's tomb in Westminister Abby in London and recalls my trip there in November 2001]

Friday, March 30, 2007

Internet Sex Stats 2006-2007

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
According to a recently pubished survey, in 2006, $5,480,084.16 was being spent on the internet every hour to access pornography.

In Europe alone 28,000 people are surfing the porno sites every second, on average.

And of all the people surfing the web in a given day, 42.7% of them visit at least one pornographic site. This traffic generates more income in a given day from these sites than the combined totals income generated by Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, and Apple all together!

Where does this pornography come from? Here are the top ten countries:

1. The United States
2. Brazil
3. The Netherlands
4. Spain
5 Japan
6 Russia
7 Germany
8. The United Kingdom
9 Canada
10. Australia

What I'm Watching #72

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
As my Spring break approaches, I am again in the video mood. And I have seen an utterly amazing film. "Shortbus" by John Cameron Mitchell; the man behind "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Shortbus is a quirky film about an eclectic and troubled group of individuals who find their way to an avant guard private club in New York City called...."Shortbus". Their interactions are authentic, intriguing, metamorphic, and filled with all kinds of hot, explicit, amazing sex. And not a single act comes off as gratuitous. Raunchy, sensual, erotic...SURE, but over the top? No.

It's a melding of sex and psychology, and physiology, and history, and need....and, well: HUMANITY.

This is an utterly wonderful movie. Period. Kudus to everyone involved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What I'm Watching #71

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This recently remastered and re-released in DVD format film of the Franco Zeffirelli masterpiece, "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" is a loose retelling of the early life of St. Francis of Assisi. It is a masterpiece owing to the pure genius of the Italian director. Throughout this 1973 cult classic, the viewer is confronted with visual metaphors, archetypal images, and a soundtrack that personifies all the naiveté and tender happiness of the humble saint of the poor. Even its imperfections contribute to this films irresistible ambiance. It will always shine with five stars in my heart.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Random Quote #63

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong in the broken places...."

~ Ernest Hemingway, 1899 - 1961

Monday, March 26, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #71

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin L. Sebban, 29, of South Amboy, N.J.; assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died March 17 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit.

"Soldier From New Jersey Killed By Roadside Bomb In Iraq"

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A soldier from New Jersey based in North Carolina was killed in Iraq over the weekend when an improvised bomb exploded near his unit, the Department of Defense said.

Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin L. Sebban, 29, of South Amboy, N.J., died March 17 of wounds suffered in the city of Baqubah, northeast of Baghdad.

He was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“Benjamin was a very kind, thoughtful and courageous man who loved his family, loved the Army, and loved being a soldier. We are extremely proud of his bravery and his service to his country. He was a hero who will be sorely missed by all of us,” his family said in a statement released by the Army.

According to his family, Sebban was born in Tunisia, North Africa, as a U.S. citizen and moved to South Amboy with his mother at age 4. He graduated from East Brunswick Vocational High School in New Jersey and Word of Life Bible College in Schroon Lake, New York.

Art I'm Wishing I Was Seeing #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
D.C. based artist Sam Gilliam has a retrospective currently at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston. There's a wonderful article in the April issue of Art In America.

Here are some quotes:

~ Gilliam is best known for his draped or otherwise unconventionally suspended paintings, considered by many to be a major contribution to the history of American formalism.

~ Gilliam, as an African American artist, has throughout his career been criticized by some for not choosing race and identity as his subjects. However complicated his response to those issues may be, one thing seems clear: Gilliam's choices should be as unrestricted as those of any other artist of any ethnic background.

I was first introduced to his works at The Kreeger Museum in Northwest D.C. and, of course, the Corcoran Gallery across from the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. It's a great article, check it out.

What I'm Listening To #22

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Calamus: The Splendour Of Al-Andalus - Arab-Andalusian Music of the 12th to the 15th centuries.

The title says it all. But I will add Exquisite, Ethereal, and Enchanting....err, and Excellent, of course!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Random Quote #62

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Patriotism is supporting your country all of the time, and your government when it deserves it."

~ Samuel Longhorn Clemens [a.k.a. Mark Twain]
1835 - 1910

Friday, March 23, 2007

Blast From The Past

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
After promo'ing "God, Inc." on Wednesday, I ran across an old yearbook from college and this image of me playing the Devil in a production of the "Screwtape Letters". The play's a fair adaptation of C. S. Lewis' story. And well, it was a Hell of a lot of fun! If only I was 23 again!

Acadamia Optogenderia

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The image is from my favorite French blog: "L'Homme Est Un Concept" and it is the result of a study undertaken by the Online Journalism Review. The story goes that the study was designed to track the areas of interest in images viewed on the internet. This one shows the results of both men and women when viewing a clip of baseball player George Brett. Women (on the right) focus nearly exclusively on his head/face, while men (on the left) divide their attention between his head and

Curious, n'est pas?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Middle Ages.....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Well, I can remember to write '07 on my checks now.....

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Recommended Web Viewing

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The world of web video is getting more and more sophisticated, entertaining, and--well, interesting! Entrepreneurs vying for attention need to step back when Francis Stokes shows up, cause he's got something really good going on. It's called "God, Inc." And it's sort of like "The Office" for the spiritually enlightened. Fundamentalists be warned!

To date there are six episodes to be found on YouTube or at They present a motley crew of office workers toiling away in the hereafter for those of us yet to pass. It's funny, irreverent, insightful, and well played by a cadre of talented actors.

Kudu's Francis, and when's the next episode coming out? I ask you as I drink my evening tea from a porcupotimus cup and maneuver my mouse on a porcupotimus mouse pad.....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What I'm Watching #70

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A morality tale/Fairy tale called "Sissy Frenchfry". It's an independent short about a high school where everyone is valued, an outcast's Utopia. Until one day a new kid shows up, Brody McDody, and he's disgusted and bewildered by the status quo. Backed my corrupt corporate interests (his father), he uses his charm to create a constituency by appealing to key individuals at West Beach High's basest instincts. Soon, all the misfits are disenfranchised by the mob mentality created by this interloper. And yet, in the last hour before all is lost, the courage of our hero, Sissy Frenchfry, saves the day.

This is 30 minutes of delightful filmmaking. The role of the Principal whose surname is Principle is played by Emmy Award winning actor Leslie Jordan, a.k.a. "Beverly Leslie" from Will & Grace. And the title role is played by a charming actor, Steven Mayhew. You'll really enjoy this one. It's clearly a metaphor for our present political woes, but also offers delightful and hilarious surprises, like when the cheerleaders break into their salute to Indian American Heritage Week a la Ballywood! Very cleaver and very endearing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What I'm Watching #69

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
It's a documentary. "Irene Williams: Queen of Lincoln Road". My ex- clued me into it, and it's marvelous. You can find it distributed on "Available Men: 7 Hilarious & Sexy Gay Short Films!" Although I would suggest that this particular one is neither hilarious nor sexy.... It, just like our beloved Marie (his grandmother, my dearest friend) who's unique personality prompted his enthusiastic endorsement, is simply and profoundly sweet.

My Evening

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I am certain that when my days find their journey's end, and I look back upon the joys and regrets of an unremarkable life, one of the constants that has long brought me time and again to that inner sense of self and sanctuary will have been poetry. It's power to transcend all the minutia of existence and bring me to places of revelation, of belonging, of understanding in a world too burdened by mediocrity, isolation, and confusion is and will always be a profound gift.

And tonight I once again traveled to the University of Maryland to experience a long beloved poet, Li-Young Lee, share his intimate, amazing humanity. The son of Chinese immigrant/refugees from Indonesian cultural purges his story is rife with political implications, yet tender with the presence of family. Having never actually met Mr. Lee before, it was his persona that most captivated me and on some unconscious yet visceral level affirmed the bond that first drew me to his oeuvre. And tonight, he was both understated and somehow larger than life; like a naked child before an indifferent world.

He did not read any of his previously published work, which seemed to represent a gift -- an affirmation of his desire to grow and move into new rooms of discovery. And after reviewing my collection of his poetry books, my disappointment was fleeting. The me who embraced those poems lived in a world far, far away. It was a world that he was an important part of, but a world that no longer exists. Tonight was like a baptism that left his poems still precious to me, but in a new way.


Look at the birds. Even flying
is born

out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, open

at either end of day.
The work of wings

was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every falling thing.

~ Li-Young Lee, 1957-

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #70

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
“Another New Father Killed In Iraq”

JESSUP — Lance Cpl. Dennis J. Veater, 20, was due home March 21 to plan his wedding with his fiancee and bond with his 14-month-old son.

His family is now planning his funeral.

Veater died Friday from wounds he sustained while on a Marine combat mission in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, according to a press release issued from the U.S. Department of Defense.

A 2004 graduate of Abington Heights, he was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s Marine Wing Support Squadron 472, Marine Wing Support Group 47, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing at Wyoming in Luzerne County.

His fiancee, Angalene Snipes, 21, was preparing Friday for a day of dress fittings with her bridal party for the couple’s wedding, which was scheduled for May 26, when three Marines showed up at her home along 1004 Spring St., Jessup.

“I said I’d never date someone from the military. I said I wouldn’t, and I ended up falling in love,” Snipes said while cradling their son, Dominick.

The couple met during their freshman year at Penn State Worthington Scranton in 2004. Their calculus tutoring sessions and English project meetings turned into five-hour conversations at Perkins, over coffee, turkey club sandwiches and bacon cheeseburgers, which they always shared.

The day before Veater left for boot camp, the couple found out Snipes was pregnant with Dominick.

“Oh, he was estatic,” Snipes said of her fiance.

He proposed Christmas morning that year, just days before Dominick’s birth on Jan. 6. He always told her, “Love is friendship on fire.”

Snipes said Vance hoped to work at a local jail and support his family so she could be a stay-at-home mom.

“His family was his life. We were his life,” she said.

“He loved his family, loved his country,” said his father Donald Veater of Clarks Summit, a retired Marine sergeant major.

Veater, who has a twin brother, was the youngest of six children and the only one to enlist in the Marines.

Born in a military fort just south of Washington, D.C., Veater traveled the world with his family and lived in Japan for five years while his father was assigned there. Donald Veater said he is “absolutely” proud of his son and glad he would have the opportunity “to expand his knowledge of the world.”

“He expected he would be going to Iraq ... You can’t be a Marine and not go help your buddies,” Donald Veater said.

Snipes said her fiance, who worked at Elan Gardens in Clarks Summit, always relished in helping others.

“I just knew he was meant for great things,” she said.

Snipes talked to Veater shortly before he died.

“The last time he called, he was laughing,” she said.

She plans to tell Dominick about his wonderful, hands-on father who would change him and burp him. Before he left for Iraq, Veater recorded a video for his son.

“He just wanted Dominick to look up to him and know what it means to be a good person,” she said.

Additional information on how Veater was killed could not be obtained Saturday.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Time To Pay Attention

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Even Sports Illustrated thinks so! Not a periodical that I often peruse, but hey, Global Warming is creating strange and wonderful bedfellows. You go SI!

Every voice is welcome in this chorus.

Iraqi Hotspots ~ February 2007

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Your Turn To Be Served

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
John Inman, may Light Perpetual shine upon you! Amen

Actor John Inman, popular for his memorably camp role of Mr. Humphries in the '70s sitcom "Are You Being Served?", died Thursday, March 8, 2007 in London. He was 71.

Inman died in St Mary's Hospital in Paddington after suffering a hepatitis A infection.

His character's catchphrase, "I'm free," and suggestive sexual humor made Inman a star, and he starred in more than 40 pantos -- traditional Yuletide family entertainments that include double entendres and male and female drag as well as lots of jokes for the kiddies.

Named BBC personality of the year and "Funniest Man On Television" by TVTimes in 1976, Inman remained popular long after the show ended in 1985. He went on to star in an Australian version of the show in the early 1980s, and also appeared on BBC's 2004 show "Revolver."

The show, about a stuffy department store staffed by lovable eccentrics, reached the United States in the late 1980s, where it became a cult hit.

When publicly questioned about his sexuality, Inman remained coy for many years, but admitted that he could be bisexual.

However, in late 2005, Inman made his sexuality public when he entered into a civil partnership with his partner of 33 years, Ron Lynch. Lynch is said to be "devastated" by his death.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What I'm Listening To #21

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
An album born out of a national tragedy, and a gift given to me in the crux of a personal tragedy: thus is Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising". And it's just as profound a work today as it was on the summer day back in 2002, when literally moments after my ex- moved his belongings out of 'our' home, a mutual friend from church showed up to comfort me and offer me this token of her concern.

Music accompanies out lives. I think most of the associations we hold with it are positive. But how much cooler is it when a profoundly negative one remains and grows ever more positive and hopeful? It seems like the essence of Springsteen's intention for this CD. And while my life's failures are not even fathomable compared to the failure of the twin towers of the World Trade Center....we each have built up within ourselves our own constructs of grandeur. And when they collapse, the internal pain is no less profound.

In this CD, Bruce extends and deepens his repertoire. There is always his raw and guttural vocals, but they are enhanced as he reaches new heights with his references to choral, symphonic, and gospel influences. It's a masterwork among the many which responded to the national tragedy of 9/11, and it is a personally profound response that addresses the reality of personal tragedies in all of our lives.

Our Latest American Hero #69

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Mar. 5 in Baqubah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit. Killed were: Army Pvt. Barry W. Mayo, 21, of Ecru, Miss. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Also killed with Pvt Mayo were: Army Spc. Blake Harris, 22, of Pueblo, Colo. and Army Spc. Ryan D. Russell, 20, of Elm City, N.C. 

"He Pretended The War Just Wasn't All That Bad"

Myrtle, Miss - Private Barry Wayne Mayo was killed in Baqubah, Iraq yesterday during combat operations. He only had a few more weeks in the military before he got out and planned to attend Ole Miss to study computers.

On Monday, his plans came to an end in Iraq, leaving his family in mourning. Private Mayo had just turned 21 a couple of weeks ago. He was lucky enough to spend his birthday with his family at their home in Myrtle, where they laughed, joked and celebrated.

Today, they're grieving. Mayo was killed in Iraq, days after returning. He joined the Army while still underage.

"He just up and told his Dad he was gonna join the Army, and he did," says his grandmother, Patricia Mayo of Myrtle.

By the time he turned 18, he found himself in Iraq as part of the First Cavalry out of Fort Hood, Texas. He had apparently seen plenty of action in Iraq, but wouldn't say a word to his family about it.

"He just didn't talk much about stories. He didn't elaborate about anything going on over there....and didn't want you asking him anything like that," explains Mayo.

His grandmother could see Iraq had taken its toll on Barry.  She says her grandson insisted on putting the best face on the situation.

"He pretended like it just wasn't all that bad," says Mayo. "...we knew better."

Private Mayo's Grandfather says Barry didn't like 'good-byes'. In fact, he would never tell his Grandfather good-bye. It was always "See you later." His Grandmother says he would never be the one to hang up the phone. She always had do it.

His family got the news Monday from visiting military officers.

"It's just bad. I mean it's not my grandchild it's somebody else's child or somebody else's grandchild. War is never good," says Mrs.Mayo.

Some in the family have now changed their minds about the war and just want it to end so no one else has to die.  They also want people to know Private Barry Mayo served his country well.

" a brave soldier who went to war for our Country, and to remember his happiness that he had," says his grandmother.

Funeral arrangements for Private Barry Mayo are incomplete at this time.  The Army doesn't expect to have his body back to his family for at least a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What I'm Watching #68/A Limited Slice Of My Ambitious Life

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
What did you do Monday evening? Clip your toenails? Change Kitty's litter? Watch paint dry? I envy you!

I went to the University of Maryland to watch the regional debute of a new independent film, "Limits to Ambition," sponsored by the LGBT Studies Program under the leadership of Professor M's class on queer cinema. The evening began in a sparsely filled room in the basement of the main library. There was a side table with light refreshments generously provided for the event. The filmmaker (Associate Professor of writing at the U of M, and in this project Writer, Director, and Lead Actor) was also present. A documentary on the women's music festival scene was quietly playing in the background. All appeared to be set for an interesting experience.

At 7 PM, Prof M introduced filmmaker P and they bantered briefly, pontificating upon the place of this work in the pantheon of Gay Cinema and the filmmaker on his raison d'etre. The answers didn't fit the questions...oh blessed hindsight, forever 20/20 in a 20/200 world!

And then the film began......

There are times in our lives when we are faced with such a sense of disconnect that our senses step back and leave us to fend on some purely feral and visceral plain of existance. It's as if a chair we feel that we securely occupy is unexpectedly tossed backwards, and bracing ourselves for the floor, we are instead greeted by open space. Launched, we find ourselves falling like Alice in the rabbit's hole. It doesn't have to be more than a moment's revelation, yet there we are, beyond where we just were and scrambling to make meaning.

In the company of my host, my ex-, Mr. W., that means humor. Our chemistry drives us to laugh where others might choose to cry or scream. We fall back upon shared memories and clichés which hold a world of meaning and symbolism. To the stranger, we probably look foolish. The code remains ours alone.

At one point I referenced the Dr. Katz episode where Ben is utterly humiliated by his dad at open-mike night and then his date, his father's secretary, comments that watching it was painful, like chewing on a cold sore; the good kind of pain.....

Thus we exchanged emails later that evening as we processed the experience. Here are some excerpts:

MY EX-: i was chompin' on the coldsore so hard, i think i bit a hole in my cheek! LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

ME: Okay, it was surreal. It REALLY was like chewing on a cold sore....until I realized that it was all a controlled study arranged by the department of Queer Psychology! I mean, why didn't I see it? It was SO obvious. How could any professor in her right mind, watch that film, and then offer it to others with a straight face (no pun intended) to an academic audience as signifying anything other than pathetic, raw, inane cinema? And to do it with the film maker present? WOW -- What sheer asininity, OR unrepentant "cajones" OR.... ta ta ta! What an ingenious way to research the limits of the GLBT cinematic sensibility! Bravo!

Please tell me I am correct in my insights..... Please restore my faith in the GLBT studies department at the U. of M...... (tongue firmly planted in my cheek)

MY EX-: it got worse--and more complex in its worse-ness! we couldn't help but laugh! i couldn't stay for the questions...OMG

(Regarding comments about the possible aftermath of going)

ME: Au contraire, mon ami. I don't think I am so traumatized that I have to fear Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I am just flabbergasted that anyone could believe that the reason that they didn't get into ANY gay and lesbian film festivals with this dog was anything other than that it was DOA! How preposterous of the professor to imply otherwise! (an implication made before the screening by Prof. M)

Bottomline: With the right group of friends, with a box or two of wine, with a full moon, with a certitude of eternal life -- you MIGHT just have enough time to waste, an incentive to watch and an ability to get a kick or two out of this film....but then you'd miss the paint drying!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #68

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Our latest American hero hits home. Jonathan D. Cadavero was last resident stateside of Takoma Park, Maryland, my city. He’s the fifth soldier from Maryland to die since New Years Day, placing my state in the company of 27 other states who YTD casualty totals in the war on terrorism have set them on a trajectory to surpass last year’s totals -- AND one of 19 in that group headed for all time annual totals, in several cases to surpass previous totals by double digit amounts. While far from a tight statistical analysis vis a vis particular states, it does say this much with confidence, 2007 has gotten off to a very deadly start. No wonder the Brits, Danes, Ukraines, Armenians, Italians, Poles, and Koreans are calling it quits.

And ironically, two days before his death, “The Army Times” published an article featuring Spc. Cadavero’s unit with quotes from the young man. Exerpts from that article appear after portions of the article published online from Spc. Cadavero’s alma mater, Columbia Union College’s online student newspaper.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Feb. 27 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. They were assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

One of those killed was Army Spc. Jonathan D. Cadavero, 24, of Takoma Park, Md. Along with Spc. Cadavero, Army Sgt. Richard A. Soukenka, 30, of Oceanside, Calif. and Army Cpl. Lorne E. Henry, Jr., 21, of Niagara Falls, N.Y. were also killed.

“Campus Mourns Loss Of Former Student”
Former CUC graduate Jonathan Cadevero died in Iraq

Sergeant Jonathan Cadavero, a 2004 graduate of Columbia Union College, died Tuesday, February 27, 2007, while serving as a medic in Iraq. He was killed by a roadside bomb while traveling with a convoy. He was 24. He is survived by sister Krista, a 2001 CUC graduate; mother Nadia; and father, David, who serves as the superintendent of schools for the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

The funeral service will be coordinated by the army and will be conducted in Monroe, NY. The burial service will be in Goshen, NY. The specific date of the service is to be determined as the Cadavero family has not yet been informed of any specific dates. Jonathan will be laid to rest in the military cemetery near the Cadavero's home.

CUC is providing free counseling for students, faculty, and staff. Students can make appointments to see school counselor Lauri Preston, Chaplain Otis Coutsoumpos, or professors Dr. Gladstone Gurubatham and Bogdan Scur.

The Columbia Union College family shares the Cadavero family's sorrow. Jonathan was a tremendous personality on CUC's campus. He was a cum laude graduate, a member of the Phi Eta Sigma academic honor society, Psi Chi psychology honor society, a member of the Dean's List every year, a favorite player on the basketball team, and a Who's Who nominee.

"There is no way to know the true depth of the family's grief, but our prayers for their strength and comfort ascend to God who does know, and who can bring healing," said Scott Steward, the school's spokesman. "Please keep the Cadavero family and Jonathan's friends and coworkers in your prayers."

Columbia Union College will hold a special remembrance service after students return from Spring Break. Further details will be made available as they are known.

Cadavero was recently featured in an Army Times article about his group's work in clearing IEDs (improvised explosive devices). [said article to follow.]


“Platoon Hunts IEDs In Iraq”
‘We’re making a difference’
Posted : Sunday Feb 25, 2007 18:41:53 EST

BAGHDAD — Sgt. Robinson Paulino stared intently through the thick windshield and at the camera mounted on the dashboard.

“We’re looking for pressure plates,” the 24-year-old said to the other soldiers in the vehicle.

When the soldiers were satisfied that there were no IEDs in the area, they relaxed a little.

But they don’t let their guard down for long. For these soldiers, of 1st Platoon, A Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, their job, every day, is to hunt for IEDs planted in the roads of southwest Baghdad. When they find one, they call an explosive ordnance disposal team to destroy the bomb.

“With IEDs, either we find them or they find us,” said Spc. Jonathan Cadavero, 24, the platoon medic. “By finding these IEDs, we take away [the enemy’s] primary means of killing soldiers.”

That objective is one of the most expensive and urgent coalition missions in Iraq. The homemade explosives, which range from crude to sophisticated, have accounted for 70 percent of the casualties suffered by U.S. forces. The Pentagon established the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force in 2004, first established as an Army team, and gave it more than $1 billion to find solutions.

The soldiers of 1st Platoon, along with soldiers from a sister platoon, are the risk-takers in the campaign to defeat IEDs. They go out almost every day to scan and search an area spanning about 500 square miles in southwest Baghdad for roadside bombs and other explosives.

In six months, the soldiers, who belong to 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, have found 172 IEDs in their area of operations. Of those, 62 had the chance to explode, and none of the soldiers suffered serious injuries.

Depending on the day, missions can last anywhere from five hours to 20 or more.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Cadavero said. “Yesterday we went to the power plant [and] nothing happened, but on the way back we had RPG fire, small arms. It’s Iraq, so you’ve got to expect the unexpected. Every time you leave the base, anything could happen. Route clearance can be boring, but it’s Iraq. It doesn’t stay boring for long.”

The enemy’s preferred method of attacking soldiers with IEDs can be frustrating, Cadavero said.

“We rarely see the face of our enemy,” he said. “This is the only way they can defeat us. Head on, we’d annihilate them.”

Valdez agreed, saying that it’s rare for the soldiers to see a triggerman or catch someone in the act of planting an IED.

“It’s like chasing ghosts,” he said.

But the soldiers know the enemy is always watching them.

“They seem like they’re going about their daily activities, but they’re always watching us,” Cadavero said.

The soldiers didn’t find anything on Sunday’s patrol, but Valdez was satisfied with their progress.

“We like this job,” he said. “We feel like we’re making a difference. In our Buffalo Armored Vehicle, we’re protected, we’re fine, but you have guys in Humvees ... and we’re here to keep them safe and make sure they make it home in one piece back to the states.”

What I'm Watching #67

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Queens is a comedy from Spain that traces the complicated intertwining of the lives of 3 gay couples and five of the young men's mothers, fathers, mother's lovers, father's lovers, and dog. It's funny and fun and a tad bit sappy. It's a mixture of the comedy found in "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" with that found in "Radio Days". The boys provide lots of eye candy, and actors playing the mom's represent some of the best the modern Spanish cinema has to offer.

In the accompanying featurette of the making of the movie, you hear the cast declare how much fun they had making the movie, and that's also part of it's charm. Thumbs up for Queens.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Gucci Gotcha!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
(from an AP article)

Some people will do anything to appear in the papers. But few have the audacity of a man in Switzerland, who conned one of the country's biggest media companies into publishing a two-page advertisement he created of himself posing semi-naked beside a bottle of Gucci perfume. The man, who claimed to represent the Italian fashion giant, called up the Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung last week to book the expensive color spread in Sunday's edition, a spokesman for the paper said.

Christoph Zimmer told The Associated Press today the man asked for the $49,100 bill to be sent to Gucci.

The Milan, Italy-based Gucci could not be reached for comment.

Zimmer said the paper fell for the scam because the call arrived too late for the advertising department to check whether it was genuine.

It wasn't the first time that the mysterious model — a dark, handsome man appearing to be in his late 20s — tried to sneak his way into the limelight.

According to the Zurich-based daily Blick, the man attempted to book concert venues by passing himself off as Puerto Rican singer Chayanne. The paper said it narrowly avoided also being conned, but was tipped of the hoax by record company Sony BMG, which represents Chayanne.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Living American Hero

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This is a message that Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva (ret.) sent out through the auspices of the Human Rights Campaign.

Dear Fellow Americans,

On March 21, 2003, my life changed forever.

Three hours into the Iraq War, I was in charge of 11 U.S. Marines on a logistical convoy when I stepped on an Iraqi landmine outside my Humvee vehicle and became the first American wounded in the Iraq War. The explosion was so powerful it blew me to the ground ten feet away and took off part of my right leg. I can still remember the ringing in my ears from the blast.

I spent months in rehabilitation where I was visited by President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. I was recognized by the military for my service and received a Purple Heart award. I was also interviewed by several major newspapers and magazines and I made numerous TV appearances, including on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Yet despite all the attention and focus on my life, today is the first time I have publicly talked about my sexuality in relation to my military service.

To be honest, each time I was commended on my courage, I couldn’t help but remember how scared I was that I would be found out as gay and kicked out of the military. I remember the fear I felt when people around me in the military started debating the new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy even before it became law. Still, my proudest moments during my 13 years in the military came when I would confide in one of my friends about my sexual orientation and they would still treat me with the same respect as before.

Although I’m no longer wearing the uniform of the U.S. Marine Corp, my mission continues to be protecting the rights and freedoms of all Americans. So as I begin my first day as national spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's efforts to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't tell," I'm excited to be joining Rep. Marty Meehan at a Capitol Hill press conference today to reintroduce the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation to repeal this broken and discriminatory policy. I will also join hundreds of HRC members from across the country on Capitol Hill this week to meet with congressional leaders during the Human Rights Campaign lobby day.

Join me today in fighting for the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by sending a message to your representative to become a cosponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (MREA).

Please, take action right now because my sacrifice was for the rights and freedoms of all our citizens and did not exclude GLBT Americans – especially the estimated 65,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans serving in the military who willingly and voluntarily risk their lives for our country.


Eric Alva
Marine Staff Sgt. (ret.)

P.S. Since Monday, HRC supporters have sent over 25,000 messages to congress about passing hate crimes legislation. Today, new legislation to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell is being introduced and we need your voice again.

Got Milk? OR Do You Just Fancy A Farmer?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Time for something whimsical. This from Times Online
January 24, 2007

"Fancy A Farmer?"

A group of lonely Welsh dairy farmers have put their photographs on milk bottles in a desperate bid to find a date.

Five single farmers have advertised their lonely hearts on bottles of Calon Wen organic milk.

Their pictures are accompanied by the slogan Fancy A Farmer?, and "Ffansi Ffarmwr?" in Welsh, along with a website address where potential love interests can find out more details.

The scheme was devised by Iwan Jones, a 30-year-old single farmer from Groes, near Denbigh, in north Wales.

Mr Jones, who is a director of Calon Wen - a co-operative of organic dairy farmers - said he came up with the idea for the rural matchmaking scheme after realising a significant number of Welsh farmers were single.

"The Welsh countryside is a great place to live, with stunning scenery, but it can be a hard place to find a date, as I’m finding out," he said.

"Calon Wen was founded to support family farmers but a quarter of our members are single, which was becoming a bit of a joke.

"We want to encourage farmers to consider on-line dating as a fun way of meeting people."

The project is jointly run between the Calon Wen milk company and, the billingual online dating agency, where interested people can discover how to meet the farmer of their dreams.

Mr Jones, who features on the milk bottles himself, lists his interests as "supporting Wrexham FC and listening to music".

He said: "It’s just a bit of a laugh really but if an attractive young lady contacts me I certainly won’t turn her away."

The project, which features three men and two women, is launched tomorrow on St Dwynwen’s Day which celebrates the Welsh patron saint of lovers.