Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Welcome Home"

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
So said this lovely peach hybiscus to me this evening as I returned home.

My first experience with hybiscus was in China back in 1981. They are still just as lovely.

I Hate To Say I Told You SO.....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Okay, I really LOVE to be proven right in the public record! Remember when I posted about Senator Craig's "Brokeback Mountain ways" on this blog back on 17 OCT 2006? And from the lingering trail of evidence...I was a real late comer to this party, even back then.

So Larry is just another GOP [Gay Old Party] hypocrit! My how they love their gays! And they're everywhere these days.

Clearly I got no problem with being gay. So my problem is with the GOP members of my tribe who in this day of revolution, evolution, and enlightenment remain poster children for the self-loathing, ego-retarded, socio-psychosexuallypathic house. If there ever was a reason to vote them off our island, Larry Craig silences the debate.

Good riddence you "nasty, naughty little boy." And blow, Larry blow; it's about to be all that's left to you!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"The Way I See It #241'

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Is what was printed on the side of the paper cup holding my morning coffee from Starbucks. It was a testimonial by Joe Cristina, Founder of the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.

AIDS has orphaned, the quote stated, over 13 million children. It went on to assert that over 600,000 children are infected by AIDS each year. That got me to thinking. And doing the math....

Every day 1,643 children are infected with AIDS

Every hour 69 children are infected with AIDS

Every minute at least ONE child is infected with aids.... (with two children being infected every tenth minute.)


Joe Cristina ends his quote with this: "What are you doing to help?"

My Quilting Ways #01

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
A new friend who'd heard that I quilt asked me about how I'd gotten started. Hmmmm... That made me think for a second; because sometimes the "how" gets usurped by the "what" and "why"!

This is a photo I just found of part of my first quilt.

THE WHAT: It's a giant word search puzzle with 588 arrayed letters. I appliquéd each letter to each block by hand. I coordinated the fabrics so that the same two fabrics were used in each letter. The puzzle contains the names of 70 classical music composers. And like any good word search puzzle they appear forward or backward, horizontally, vertically and diagonally. The top row contains the title of the quilt:


And the squares that do not house a letter with a composer's name contain a poem (when strung together) to bless the quilt's recipients. To distinguish this puzzle within a puzzle, I reversed the fabrics used for letter and background.

THE WHY: I made this as a gift to my dearest friend and his wife on the occasion of their wedding. My friend is a musician and a music teacher. Both he and his wife are avid puzzle players. And while I'd never made a quilt before, it seemed to make sense at the time! And by and large that experience has formed the basis for my quilting ways. I make quilts for people I love. I make quilts because I love to work with fabric.

But as to THE HOW?--God only knows!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

An Important Decision

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
That probably passed below most of your radar screens.....

"Longshore Union Grants Same-Sex Pension Rights"

The longtime partner of a San Francisco-area longshore union worker has been granted rights to his partner's pension in what legal advocates Thursday called a "huge" and precedent-setting step toward LGBT retirement equality.

Marvin Burrows and William Swenor of Hayward, Calif., had been together for 51 years when Swenor died suddenly in March 2005. Burrows' claim to Swenor's pension was initially rejected by the the Industrial Employers and Distributors Association and Warehouse Union (ILWU), to which Swenor had belonged for 35 years.

After more than two years of talks, the ILWU's Local 6 renegotiated its contract to provide registered domestic partners with the same pension benefits as spouses.

The local agreed to make this change retroactive to March 1, 2005, enabling Burrows, now 71, and anyone else in the same situation to receive his deceased partner's pension benefits. Covered are about 5,500 warehouse and distribution workers in Northern California. (The longshoremen themselves are covered under another contract, to be renegotiated next year, union spokesman John Showalter told

Though the fight was a long one, the union should be commended, said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represented Burrows in the action settled out of court.

"It is still pretty unusual, even in California, even in the Bay Area, to confer same-sex pension benefits, and one of the hardest issues to make significant progress on," Minter told "Employers are much quicker to add health benefits (for LGBTs) than pension or retirement benefits."

This is because while some states, like California, grant degrees of partner rights, state laws are trumped by ERISA, the federal retirement law.

"Some employers are under the impression that DOMA (the federal Defense of Marriage Act) prevents them from offering same-sex benefits; it does not," Minter said. "It prevents the government from doing so, but not private employers.

"So we sent a demand letter on Marvin's behalf, saying that at a minimum, this was the right thing to do."

Going without benefits devastated Burrows financially, and he lost the home he and Swenor had shared for decades. He had thought he would get them based on California's domestic-partner law. The couple also married in San Francisco in 2004, though their nuptials, like thousands of others', were tossed out by the courts.

The pair met in high school in Flint, Mich., in 1953; Burrows was 15, Swenor two years older.

"We knew it was special even at that age," Burrows told the Advocate in February.

When Burrows' father kicked him out for being gay, he moved in with Swenor and his mother the following year.

"I found that there was a support group without our knowing what to call it," Burrows told a Michigan oral history project. "Many gay and straight friends gave us teenagers a place to meet, party and just have safe fun."

But seeking greater acceptance, the couple moved to the Bay Area in 1966. They became active in gay senior causes; Burrows is seniors outreach director for Marriage Equality USA.

"Finally our community is being recognized, and my 51 years with Bill will mean something to others, not just me," Burrows said in a statement Thursday. "I know Bill is smiling down on me today."

This Old House #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Inspite of the heat, C. & A. got the southern exposure of the sun room's frame up on Friday. Looking at it from inside the porch now really helps me to see the space that will replace the former sunporch. Still lots of sun, but it will be a "room" --solid, insulated, more useful as a living space.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Got Milk?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa

What I'm Listening To #29

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Josh Groban performs in both English and Italian. His voice is rich and full and operatic. And on evenings like this when both the clouds and the very air around you seem to be closer, Josh is the kind of singer that can make what is limited feel cozy and comforting.

Ah, the power of music.....

Congressional Campaign 2008.01

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Dropped my first contribution today for the 2008 Congressional Campaigns. Sent a c-note to Larry Kissell in North Carolina's 8th US House Congressional district. He's primed to replace a Republican Bush "rubber stamp" multi-millionaire Mill Owner. Larry teaches high school social studies. We must increase our margins. Larry is a great place to start.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What I'm Watching #101

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
A new "century" starts with a film from the Philippines. "The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros" is the captivating story of the youngest son in a male-centric family of theives and "players" in a Manila slum, i.e. Maxi's coming of age. It's poignant, tender, violent, and complex as a story. As a film, it's wonderfully composed.

You enter a world not your own, you meet and follow the lives of characters who are both good and bad, you see both the best we have to offer one another and the worst; and in the end Maxi survives to pursue what we hope is a better tomorrow.

What more could you ask for in a film?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What I'm Watching #100

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Have I really shared 100 movies on this blog? Wow, where does our time go? This latest is another film from the Mexican director, Julián Hernández.

Let me start by saying that it's simply brilliant.

Hernández crafts an experience in the process of telling a story that demands and rewards your undivided attention. If this cat doesn't win the oscar for best foreign film soon, well; there is no god.

He's just that good.

The story of two young men who meet and fall in love is just the bones to this movie's heart and soul. I should imagine any actor feeling completely blessed to be working with Hernández, and it shows in the integrity and innocence of the performances: Especially Fernando Arroyo and Miguel Angel Hoppe.

In a world full of movies; "Broken Sky" is a work of art.

Random Quote #78

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"The price good people pay for their indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

~ Plato, 428 BCE – 347 BCE

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What I'm Watching #99

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Keillers Park" is a film from Sweden in Swedish with English subtitles. Swedish is a beautiful language. Keillers Park is a tightly crafted film.

It's the story of a man, Peter, who randomly meets the sprite-like Nassim. Nassim, an Algerian gay refugee, awakens in Peter a realization of his deeper sexual-self; an epiphany that leads him to forsake his wife, his job, his very inheritance for the love of Nassim.

And then he is awoken from a drunken stupor by a violent police raid on his apartment and dragged into custody accused of Nassim's murder. The film actually begins with this scene and plays out the details through flashbacks incited by his police interrogators' questions. With each lapse into the past, Peter comes closer and closer to the bitter truth.

For my first foray into Swedish films, this one was very pleasing in all of the aspects that make a film enjoyable: Writing, Acting, Directing, and Cinematography. If you like murder mysteries, and don't mind reading subtitles!, you'll probably enjoy this film -- well, unless you don't want to see a gay relationship portrayed unapologetically in a movie. You've been warned, fair enough?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #95

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Sgt. Scott L. Kirkpatrick, 26, of Reston, Va.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Aug. 11 from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Arab Jabour, Iraq.

"Slam Poet-Turned-Sergeant Is Killed"

Scott Kirkpatrick kept a collection of all the rocks and bricks that were thrown at him during his first tour of duty in Iraq. He had joined the Army 2 1/2 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, hoping to go to Afghanistan and do his part to halt the terrorist threat.

Instead, he was deployed to Iraq, where he was among five soldiers killed Saturday in Arab Jabour, a haven for Sunni insurgents southeast of Baghdad. In the deadliest attack against U.S. troops this month, a sniper shot one soldier and lured the others into a house rigged to explode.

Scott Kirkpatrick was among five U.S. soldiers killed Saturday.

Although Kirkpatrick, 26, had made the transformation from sensitive poet to a "rock hard" soldier, he retained his humor and artistic sensibilities. The rocks hurled at his head, usually by children who moments before had been laughing and joking with him, "piqued his ironic sense of humor," said his uncle Roy Deppa, 59, of Montgomery County [Maryland].

Army life was not something Kirkpatrick had considered while growing up in Frederick and parts of Virginia, his uncle said. As a teenager, Kirkpatrick's main interests were poetry, writing and acting.

He was an accomplished slam poet who traveled throughout the country to perform "modern, competitive type, in-your-face, streetwise sort of poetry," Deppa said.

His nephew had a way of telling stories that made his family burst into laughter -- especially when he was the punch line. He had a way of writing poetry that moved his uncle.

But Sept. 11 "affected him, and he just wanted to make a difference," said Kirkpatrick's cousin Suzy Quintavalle, 37, of Mount Airy. In a blog item, she came across a posting from a friend that noted Kirkpatrick's need "to make the difference from the inside out."

He temporarily left behind his longtime girlfriend, Christy Blasingame, for Army training in Georgia. But before leaving for Iraq with the Third Infantry Division in January 2005, Kirkpatrick proposed. The couple married during a leave in his first tour, and they spent more than a year together in Georgia before he left on his second tour May 11, his wife's 29th birthday.

His military career was a successful one: He had been promoted to sergeant and aspired to a career in intelligence services, Deppa said.

"I remember his father going back to the base and looking at his kid, the counterculture poet in an Army uniform in the faces of his privates, yelling at them," Deppa said. "It was just this transformation."

When Kirkpatrick obtained Internet access in the Green Zone last week, he told his father, Ed Kirkpatrick of Dickerson in Montgomery, that he was starting to consider a teaching career.

"I can only conjecture that being on the ground in Iraq maybe changed his mind about wanting to do that permanently," he said. "I think he learned a lot about himself in the Army. I think he realized that he was a lot stronger and a lot more self-sufficient than he realized."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Evangelicals...Jesus weeps.....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
This is a story about a guy who seems as quaffed by the "Queer Eye" guys as anyone they ever laid hands on. A guy who's photo could easily rival any in the encyclopedia with the entry "Metro-sexual". A guy who claims to be a "Christian" pastor. A guy who agreed to hold a funeral in his Mega-church for a veteran of the Iraq War, until he crumpled after learning that this American Patriot and Hero was gay.

"Treat one another with the same spirit that you experience in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 2:5. Apparently Gary just doesn't have time to read the Bible, I mean, really: You have have no idea how hard it is maintian ones immaculately groomed facial hair, baby-Jesus-soft skin, and Gates-of-Pearly-White teeth!

"Gary's Conundrum, Expanded"

Many evangelicals consider Pastor Joel Osteen to be a modern-day Billy Graham. Like Graham, Osteen is incredibly popular. He heads the Lakewood Church, the world’s largest megachurch, and is the author of the bestselling power-of-positive-thinking-esque “Your Best Life Now” book series. And like Graham, Osteen tends to focus on positive messages rather than on GOP ideology disguised as theology — particularly the hatred and fear of gay people — that has become an endemic trait of today’s Christian church.

Last week, however, Osteen’s brother-in-law and rival, Rev. Gary Simons, who is head of his own megachurch, the High Point Church in Arlington, Texas, made national news when he abruptly canceled the funeral of a Gulf War veteran after he discovered that the vet was gay:
“We did decline to host the service - not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle,” Simons told The Associated Press. “Had we known it on the day they first spoke about it - yes, we would have declined then. It’s not that we didn’t love the family.”


“Even though we could not condone that lifestyle, we went above and beyond for the family through many acts of love and kindness,” Simons said.

How did Simons show “love and kindness” to the family of the deceased? By equating their loved one with a murderer:

The pastor said that he could imagine a similar situation involving a different sin. Perhaps a mother who is a member of the church loses a son who is a thief or murderer, Mr. Simons said. The church would surely volunteer to hold a service, he said.

“But I don’t think the mother would submit photos of her son murdering someone,” he said. “That’s a red light going off.”

And then, having proved he is totally unprincipled, at least as it comes to Jesus’ message of love and inclusiveness especially for society’s outcasts, Simons sums up: “Can you hold the event and condone the sin and compromise our principles? We can’t.”

What about the sins of hatred and bigotry, Gary?

The Lakewood Church was founded by John Osteen, the late father of Joel and Gary Simon’s wife, April. According to this unverified account, after the senior Osteen died in 1999, Simons, who was then Lakewood’s youth minister, assumed he would become the next leader of the church, but was passed over in favor of Joel, who had spent 17 years producing the television broadcast of his father’s sermons but who had no experience on stage.

The unverified source says that upon Joel’s ascension, Simons “threw a temper tantrum” and left Lakewood to form the High Point Church, which the source says grew very quickly with funding that was obtained under mysterious circumstances.

Whatever the true story is, eight years after leaving Lakewood, Gary Simons is finally getting the sort of national attention he craves. Unfortunately, unlike his much more famous brother-in-law, he’s more likely to be compared to the late-hater Jerry Falwell than the sainted Billy Graham.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What I'm Watching #98

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The director/writer of this film, Todd Stephens, describes it as both the gay "American Pie," and the "gayest film he could make!" Well, I never saw "American Pie," but I still got the joke were the protagonist of this film tried to end his virgin ways with a Queche Lorraine instead of an apple pie! Trés Bien!

The film is full of other movie references, has a fun, fun cast, including our hero's mom (lipsynka) and dad (Scott Thompson); his super fem friend's mom (Stephanie McVay), the erotic dancer (Darryl Stephens); and his Russian exchange S&M teacher (Graham Norton), and well, is just funny!..... and erotic.

The four principle players are also clearly having a great time making the movie. The only down side was the token butch lesbian, Muffler, who just seemed to annoy....but maybe that was the point. (?!)

Well done a gay way.

This Old House #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The reframing of the sun porch continues.. . .

And my appreciation for my carpenters grows with each day, too!

I am planning several electrical upgrades in conjunction with this restoration. My neighbor gave me the contact info of an electrician that he used. The result was an estimate for the work of $4,850.00. After mentioning this to my carpenters, Mr. A. suggested another electrician with whom he had worked. For the same work, he bid a total of $2,500.00. Like, DUH. Contractors are all over the place, it's the buyers who always have to be weary: Caviat Emptor Maximus!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Water Conservation: A Memoir

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Being that the immediate Washington, D.C. area is experiencing a bit of a drought, perhaps it's time to explore ways to "save water"!

But seriously, I haven't seen a shower like this since I was in Junior High School (1972-1975). And NOTHING about those "wonder years" intimidated me more than taking daily showers with my compatriots. First off, being gay presented a whole lot of embarrassing possibilities. And secondly, I came from a very body prudish family. We did not show off our private bits! I didn't have brothers, and my father was in his fifties and decidedly conservative.

But like most things in life, the anticipation was worse than the experience. Even surrounded by naked peers, my adolescent psyche knew well enough to leave all erotic thoughts in storage for more private venues. I learned that being asked to do something uncomfortable is far easier when it's done in the context of a group dynamic. Doubtless I was not the only boy in the locker room who was either gay or uncomfortable with displaying his body to others. But we learned to accept the expectation and just do it.

In fact, within little time, it became a casual form of intimacy that acted to establish our sense of tribe. We were not herded off into the bush to be communally circumcised, but we none-the-less shared a ritual that others were not privy to. And it taught me that when life offers me something that I do not want to do, but which I have an expectation to do, I could do it. I can overcome my apprehensions. Furthermore, it taught me this lesson at a time in my life when fundamental life lessons are more easily learned and applied.

And I'll never forget that first gym class when because of my last name I had been assigned the first locker in the corner. The boy next to me stripped down with great enthusiasm (he had 4 older brothers), and for the first time in my life I saw an uncircumcised penis. I had never even heard of the procedure, let alone suspected that I had been rendered foreskin-less by it. You can't image my shock. All I could think of was that he had been in some unspeakable and horrible accident! Shortly there after, I found a male nude drawing by the great Northern Renaissance artist, Albrecht Dürer. The penile malady was identical to my classmate's, and somehow the discovery led me to the truth behind the mystery.

I'm given to understand that teens in the county where I teach are no longer compelled to take showers after P.E. in middle school. Had you asked my opinion of this in the summer of 1972, I would have breath a tremendous sigh of relief. But today I wonder how this policy will leave them wanting in ways that have nothing whatsoever to do with... say, personal hygiene or body odor...

What I'm Watching #97

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Tan Lines" is a low budget Australian film about a group of teenaged boys living in a dead end coastal town somewhere in the Land Downunder. It's summer time and the living is confusing. Especially for the main character, a mongrel of a kid named Midget Hollows who aimlessly wanders through the film and in and out of various sexual explorations on the way to discovering himself. (And NOT the actor on the cover of the DVD presented here)

At times amateuristic, awkward, and quirky; it still manages to keep one's interest to the ironic end. For a first feature film by an aspiring young director/writer, it holds it's own. Doesn't deserve any awards, but does present as a book that is worth reading, even if it is quickly laid upon the shelf to gather dust. Don't feel like you have to rush out and watch it, but if the opportunity presents itself, it's worth the 109 minutes.

Summer House Painting #7

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
...The full monte! Well, sort of. The verdant foliage obscures more of the place than I realized... But you get the idea.

Also the framing of my sunroom (far left) continues, as well.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #94

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Spc. Kareem R. Khan, 20, of Manahawkin, N.J. died Aug. 6 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.

“Stafford Soldier Killed In Iraq”

STAFFORD — When it came to a post high school career decision, there was nothing else that Kareem R. Khan wanted to do than join the Army.

Spurred by the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Khan, a 2005 graduate of Southern Regional High School, wanted to show that not all Muslims were fanatics and that many, like him, were willing to lay their lives down for their country, America, and fight in Iraq. He enrolled immediately after graduation, and was sent to Iraq in July 2006.

So when his father Feroze "Roy" Khan saw three soldiers walking up to his door on Monday, he knew what it meant.

U.S. Army Spc. Kareem Khan, 20, was killed with four others earlier this week when a blast destroyed a house he and members of his division, the Stryker Brigade Combat Team, were clearing in Baqoba, Iraq.

An interpreter and 12 soldiers were also injured in the explosion, according to Army officials.

"It's something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy," said Feroze Khan, 49, from his home in the Ocean Acres section of Manahawkin.

Kareem's faith in Islam is important now to his father and stepmother, Nisha Khan, because they want to make sure people in America know that Muslims like Kareem were willing to fight for their country.

"His Muslim faith did not make him not want to go, it never stopped him," said Feroze Khan."He looked at it that he's American and he has a job to do."

The last care package Nisha Khan, 40, sent her stepson included a necklace that had Kareem's name in Arabic, next to the word "Bismillah," which means praise to Allah.

In the Islamic tradition, last rites must be done within a few days, but Kareem's funeral at Arlington Cemetary is scheduled for Aug. 16. The family will perform traditional Islamic rites at home and have a full military burial.

"Hopefully Allah will understand," said Nisha Khan.

"A good kid'

Though his father "spoiled him rotten," according to both his dad and stepmom, Kareem was always a polite teenager, who respected his elders.

"For a teenager, he was a very obedient child," said Nisha Khan.

Feroze Khan's favorite memory is when Kareem used to wake up at 5 a.m. on weekends to accompany his dad at work at a local marina.

"Not many kids would get up at 5 a.m.," said Feroze Khan.

Though he was fit and in shape, Kareem preferred to watch, rather than play, football with his dad, cheering on the Dallas Cowboys during Sunday afternoon or Monday night games, while muching on popcorn.

He also used to challenge his little stepsister Aliya, 11, to video games.

Nisha Khan said the two would spend hours sprawled out on the living room floor and sometimes Kareem would try to show Aliya how to do certain moves, and ended up taking over the controller.

"He's really funny," said Aliya. "We used to play video games and sometimes we would play with my birds."

Aliya said she looked up to her stepbrother and she was "really happy," when he came with her to school and talked to her class at Southern Regional Intermediate School during his leave last September. Later, he came with her to the school book fair.

"I was proud," she said.

Kareem was a "total goofball," said Feroze Khan. The family used to send two large bags of Starbursts in his care packages, because Kareem would pick out all the orange ones and leave the rest for his Army buddies.

He was also a big fan of Disneyworld, as was the entire family. The family would take at least one trip to Disneyworld every year, and the living room and dining room of the family's split-level home is filled with souvenirs from those trips, like a wall hanging of Cinderella, figurines of Mickey Mouse and Disney-themed snow globes.

Kareem was so crazy about Disneyworld that when he had a two-day leave following his graduation from Fort Benning, Ga., he had a backpack full of clothes stashed in the bush, so the family could immediately drive to Florida.

As a freshman at Southern Regional High School, Khan enrolled in the district's Air Force Junior ROTC program. During his one year in the program, he proved himself to be solid student and citizen, said Col. Michael Mestemaker.

"He was a good kid. He did whatever we asked of him," he said.

Stafford Mayor Carl Block said his "heart goes out of the family. We have been very pro-veteran in the past, and we'll surely follow this up immediately" by planning an official memorial for Khan.

Congressman Jim Saxton received word of Khan's death through Army officials on Thursday and released a statement lamenting the loss of the 20-year-old's life.

"I express my deepest regrets for the family of Specialist Khan. His service to the Army and the 2nd Infantry Division is truly honorable. It's a sad loss for us all," he said.

"So much promise'

Khan was sent to Iraq in July 2006, after spending a year at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Wash. He came home for two weeks in September 2006 and was supposed to be home permanently last month, but his tour was extended through the end of September 2007.

At the end of his tour, Kareem was considering re-enlisting or going to medical school. He worked with a medic unit when he first got to Iraq, said Feroze Khan, and liked what they did.

When he came home to visit, he was happy to stay at home, even asking his mother, who lives in Maryland, to come up to New Jersey to visit.

"He has so much promise, he could've done anything with himself," said Joe Hawk, 42, of the Bayville section of Berkeley Township, who Feroze Khan described as a very special friend of the family.

Hawk said he saw Kareem grow from a 10-year-old boy into a man.

"When he joined, his dad was devastated," said Hawk, "but I told him you can't fault him for that. His father raised him to give, and he gave his life."

Nisha Khan said seeing the soldier come to tell of Kareem's death was like nothing she's ever experienced.

"You see it in the movies, but you wouldn't know the emptiness of seeing them in your driveway," said Nisha Khan, who said in her grief, she blindly hit out at those bringing the news. "He promised me he'd come home," she said, as Aliya held her mother close to comfort her.

"His dad is devastated," said Hawk. "Kareem was his life. A father shouldn't bury his child."

The most important thing to know, Nisha Khan said, is that Kareem lived up to the meaning of his name.

"Most excellent," she said.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Summer House Painting #6

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Finished the front door and frame and mounted a new storm door. I'm really liking the overall effect.

Color is cool.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Jason Alexander Rocks!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

What I'm Watching #96

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Tarik El Hob" -- The Road To Love, is the tale of the awakening of Karim, a French-Algerian college student who undertakes a project for his sociology class only to discover a truer understanding of himself.

The project is a film that explores the experiences of gay Arabic men who have immigrated to France from nothern Africa. When Karim begins his project, he is living with Sehim, his girlfriend. During the project, he meets Farid, a gay Moroccan. In time his devotion to Farid surpasses and surplants Sehim. After Sehim leaves him to pursue his new infatuation, Farid takes him to Morocco on a weeklong vacation. It's seven days that transforms his life.

The film is played out with restrained sincerity. It's production values dabble with the amateur set time and again. Forget this and allow the characters to enter your heart and you'll find this film interesting. If you're gay, of a certain age (30-60) you'll related to Karim's dilemma.

Random Quote #77

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
“America has this understanding of Africans that plays like National Geographic: a bunch of Negroes with loincloths running around the plain fields of Africa chasing gazelles. Meanwhile, we have Africans and African-Americans, contemporary men, with great stories, great integrity, great heroes and nobody wants to see or hear about those African heroes and those African-American heroes. One day, I will be in a position to play those great human beings on-screen.”

~ Djimon Hounsou, 1964 -

(I just finished watching "Amistad" on TV. It's a truly American classic, and a story that everyone should know about. Mr. Hounsou plays the character, Cinque, and a web-search discovered this quote. May it come to fruition.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Summer House Painting #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The bay windows off of the living room and the guest room window with shutters. Greens and Oranges..... Oh my!

July Casualty Statistics

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
July is the first month since November of last year that we have not broken the century mark in monthly casualties in the War on Terrorism. And, again, I remind you that I am basing this solely on the casualty reports from the DoD with the caveat that I include casualties in all arenas (Afghanistan, Kuwait, the Philippines, Bahrain...wherever). For this reason my totals are higher than those reported in the popular media who has completely forgotten about the thousands of American troops still fighting in Afghanistan in particular.

The perspective of this total is found in two facts. First, July is typically a "slow" month for both US and Insurgent aggressions. The average daily temperature being above 105 F! Second, inspite of this fact, the activity this year in US casualties surpassed last year's total by 53 deaths, or approximately an increase in casualties of 220%!

And George-the-Lessor still claims that things are going well? With an approval rating lower than any President in the history of such things, one just wonders for whom this fiasco is going well....

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Summer House Painting #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Another pic from the painting transformation of my home.

The garage door is a classic wood paneled, hinged masterpiece from the 1940's, and I love to show off it's details. With five shades of paint (3 green/2 orange) the results are very Amish quilt-like.

Taken in the indirect light of the late afternoon, the photograph fails to project the paint's shiny patina, but it does give you a clear idea of my new color scheme--mulch bags not-with-standing.

This Old House #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
*click* "Houston, we are past the point of no return." *click*

The sun porch project continues, and today was the proverbial "crossing of the Rubicon" regarding it. Not only did C & A rip out the old "walls" (a series of aluminum screen doors screwed into 2 x 4's! back in the 1940's--see "This Old House #2" for a visual), but C and I went to Home Depot and ordered the new windows and door.

This was our second joint visit to HD, the first being a preliminary sort of a what's available and what will it cost. HD carries multiple lines of windows and doors, and some are clearly of a higher quality than others. When I think about this project, I don't think of it as something that will be replaced in the future, so I'm far more interested in the quality aspect of the materials. And that's why I decided to go with Anderson Window's series 400. The bottom line out of that first visit was a price tag amounting to $6,400.00. I was surprised, but I held my sticker shock in check and gave the stats to C to review and work with.

Now, here's where you know someone is worth their weight in fees. C took the stats and reviewed them item by item against possible changes. In the end, I spent $4,300.00 today for all of the windows and door; still Anderson series 400; with a little tweek here and a little tweek there in the particulars. They were things that no one would ever even notice in the final product. At one point, the sales person jokingly commented that we were “heading in the wrong direction”, after another change produced another decrees in price.

Cool, huh?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Random Quote #76

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to
the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of
peace and brotherhood can never become a reality....I believe that
unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 - 1968