Friday, August 31, 2012

Russ Oestreich, 1965 - 2012 ~ RIP

Last evening I got an odd "friend" request from the wife of a man that was dear to me back in college. I debated whether or not to accept it, but did and then went to bed. This evening, I saw a post to her from someone else she knows, and it prompted me to go to her FB home page and explore. The results have left me profoundly sad and physically inert like so much silt settled to the bottom of some ancient river, the sounds of life muted by the density of the murky water.

From this impossible place, bear with me as I endeavor to tell you the story of my friend Russ O. I will try to be as honest as I can. The more astute among you will have honest questions. I have left no salient point out.

With every story there is a beginning and ours occurred in 1985 when Russ was a student at Asbury College (now University), and I had just returned from a year of teaching in Costa Rica. Upon returning, I renewed my friendships with a couple of men who I had been close to before embarking on my year abroad. One of these men was creating a discipleship group in the image of Christ and his apostles. In selecting his 12, we old friends were the core, and Russ was the last and youngest member to be invited to join. Together and separately we spent the next 3 years in each other's company. I actually participated in the weddings of 4 of the 13 men.

All the while I struggled with my own secret--(no secret now)--that I am gay. So to carry the metaphor out, I guess I was sort of the Judas of the group. At a point in 1989, I came out to the others. It was the most painful, fearful, vulnerable and inevitable thing I've ever done in my life. And I was treated in the moment kindly, but then rejected utterly and completely by all of them. All save one. Russ.

Russ is the one who told me how our then leader had instructed the other men to consider me "dead"...this from the first man (the leader) who ever kissed me!--and it was on a star filled night, and it wasn't a friendship peck on the cheek, but that's another story for another time...

My revelation came as the group had run its course. Members would within a year of my declaration be scattered across many states, but Russ remained to complete his education and our friendship found a new place from which to move forward.

I think it was in 1990 that he married his college girlfriend, Sharon. Later that year they moved to South Africa where he became the editor of a national Christian Magazine there. I had come to depend so much on his presence in my life emotionally that his departure was a jarring experience for me.

As a result, I actually travelled to South Africa and spent several weeks from late- November through December with he and Sharon. They were so kind to me--I was a hot mess of emotions and desires and ignorance of the world and my place in it. And even though I was older by 5 years or so, Russ was a rock.

Therefore, in the near term we continued our friendship. When his mother-in-law died suddenly, I joined them to help with organizing her estate--nothing major, but I still have a handful of artifacts that they gave to me out of appreciation, shells from a trip she'd taken to Fiji, a piece of petrified wood.

And all throughout the years I maintained a pedestrian and faithful communication between us; mostly in the form of holiday cards and poems written on the back of postcards. I always imagined that at some point Russ and I would revisit those years and process them more soundly.

Flash back to this evening.

The news on Sharon's FB page was about Russ. On July 25th he committed suicide. It was about that time that I sent him another notecard with poems and well wishes for a productive school year. (He was a public school teacher.) I guess getting that note prompted Sharon to send me a friend request, so that I could learn of Russ' untimely passing into ancestry.

As a young man in college, Russ had a fine and beautiful body. I envied it for its perfection and effortlessness of form. He was always first to smile, first to chuckle and ready with a silly thought to denude a tense moment. He wore thick glasses, which I can now appreciate, and was lost without them. He had the most delicate and beautiful well-formed small hands. As I type this, I can almost still imagine their gentle touch in mine.... fingers to palm, fingers on my wrist, the porcelain smoothness of his skin.

In my ears rings the words... why why why

This is a card that Russ sent to me from South Africa back in 1991. He's pressed local flowers in it. I framed it with them and in the 20 plus years they've faded. I don't remember what he said in the card, I honestly don't think I can open it now.

His Obituary in the local paper:

Russell S. Oestreich

Russell Scott Oestreich, age 46, Town of Menasha, died on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. Russell was born on October 11, 1965 to Russell George and Mary (Krier). He was a 1984 graduate of Neenah High School and 1988 graduate of Asbury University, Wilmore, KY. Russ was united in marriage to Sharon Munger on June 10, 1989. He is survived by his wife, Sharon; two sons: Ian and Eli; his father, Russell G. Oestreich; his mother, Mary Doran and her husband, Leonard Doran; his sister, Heidi Frank; his grandmother, Genevieve Krier; his aunt, Kathryn (Dick) Peterson; his uncle, Jim (Wendy) Krier; his nieces and nephews: Courtney and Sarah Susor, Brenna and Nathan Frank, and Travis (Barb) Warren. He was preceded in death by his sisters: Tracy Warren and Jodi Susor. A visitation will be held Friday, July 27, 2012 from 4 - 6 PM at Congregational United Church of Christ, 1511 Nicolet Blvd., Neenah, WI. A memorial service will take place at 6 PM with a time of fellowship and refreshments following. Thank you for honoring the family's request that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to the family's scholarship fund.

Earth Postage Stamps--Peacemaker Series #99

My next to last citizen of the Earth to be honored is Carl Sagan.

One more to go. This enterprise began over a year ago now with a stamp dedicated to Bob Marley.

Law & Order Quilt Design

Here is the random episode of Law and Order with it's 6 more prominent guest actors. Pamela stood out for me from an earlier episode in which she portrayed the wife of a man murdered by their son. And she looked so much like my mother! Scott's best performance in the series was as a realtor who killed for the Mob in his spare time--I also discovered in this that he was Gay and is dead: A happy/sad discovery.

Extending their performances to the other episodes that they acted in and then the other actors in those episodes creates this image.

Which I can extrapolate into this design. What do you think?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Earth Postage Stamps--Peacemaker Series #98

Many will not know of this peacemaker, so here's a brief bio.

Iqbal Masih (اقبال مسیح) (b. 1982 - April 16, 1995), was a young Pakistani Christian boy who was forced into bonded labour in a carpet factory at the age of four, became an international figurehead for the Bonded Labour Liberation Front at the age of 10 after he escaped from servitude, and was murdered with a 12 gauge shotgun at the age of 12.

Water Hyacinth In 4 Views

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Today's Sermon

In Answer

In these quiet years growing calmer,
Lacking knowledge of the world’s affairs,
I stop worrying how things will turn out.
My quiet mind makes no subtle plans.
Returning to the woods I love
A pine-tree breeze rustles in my robes.
Mountain moonlight fills the lute’s bowl,
Shows up what learning I have left.
If you ask what makes us rich or poor
Hear the Fisherman’s voice float to shore.

~ Wang Wei, 699 - 759 C.E.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Earth Postage Stamps--Peacemaker Series #97

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Coming Week ~ August 26th to September 1st

New Glee Blood!

Gleeks the four new cast members have been chosen...

Clockwise from upper left: Melissa Benoit will play "Marley," Becca Tobin will play "Kitty" a Cheerios member, Jacob Artist will play "Jake Puckerman" (Noah's little half-brother), and Dean Geyer will play "Brody Weston" who will be Rachel's new love interest.

Count von Count ~ RIP

Today's Blog page is brought to you by the number 78.... Jerry Nelson, passed into ancestry on this past Thursday, at the age of 78.

Ecce Sloth (?)

The recent story of an 80 year old woman's attempt to restore a priceless church fresco in Spain has received a lot of attention for it's "well-intentioned" perpetrator's lack of artistic ability. Well, I don't know. A dear friend pointed out to me today that she might have had an artistic statement in mind afterall. She might actually have been paying homage to the children's book illustrator Eric Carl and his seminal work, "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," Said the Sloth. We are so quick to jump to conclusions.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


White-Privilege: In the past several years, my school district (Mont- gomery County Public Schools of Maryland) has embarked on a system-wide exploration of our (the teachers, support staff, administrators) views on race. One of the avenues of exploration has been around the concept of white-privilege. It's not something I ever gave any thought to--which would be the very definition of white privilege! As a gay man who can easy pass for straight, I understand discrimination from a rather self-selected point of very. Because I choose NOT to hide, I have experienced homophobia, but I certainly don't have to. I because I don't always where a T-shirt announcing my sexual orientation, 90% of the time my interactions are untainted by the possible bigotry of others.

In learning about what white privilege is, and how I as a white man am privileged by it, this example resonated most clearly with me. One day while sharing a commute to work with an African American friend, he spoke of how when he finds himself in, say, a grocery store where he is the only black man he feel scrutinized in a way other non-African American customers are not. Where I live, I routinely shop at stores where I am the only white man (or there are two or three whites in a store with 40 other customers), and not ONLY do I NOT feel scrutinized by others, but I would not even THINK to THINK that I would--so that if, in fact, I am being's just wasted on me! THAT is white privilege.

I bring this up, because in trying to make sense of why so many good people ignore or make choices that bring harm to the rights of GLBT people, the only conscionable option I can think of is a version of white-privilege, that I will call straight-privilege. When you belong to the majority--and you are not mentally unhinged--it's just 1) easy to ignore the needs of the minority, 2) discount the power of the unhinged members of the majority who see eminent destruction at the hands of that minority in every opportunity to be equitable and even an unreasonable threat, and 3) just substitute their good-wishes for action in regards to supporting the rights of the minority. It's a milk toast, doesn't hurt me, can't really be "that" bad attitude. After all, "I" would never act like that...

The problem with it--or the chief problem with that way of thinking--in this present climate is that the unhinged fringe is slowly becoming the majority. Step by step they are transforming our nation from a haven of diversity where all people are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights, to a ideologically "gated-community" of the "privileged".

Show Me The Money

Where the dollars are flowing in this President- ial Election cycle....and where they are not.

presidential Race Map 2012 - #11

Monday, August 20, 2012

What I'm Watching #292

Just watched a wonderful film. "50/50" both taught me something and touched me at a very profound level. Every performance was pitch perfect; Angelica Huston, Anna Kendrick, even Seth Rogen (who I'm no particular fan of) and most especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I adore). If you haven't seen it, Netflix-it, Sweethearts--and thank me later!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Earth Postage Stamps--Peacemaker Series #96

The final 5 stamps in the series of 100 are being issued one at a time. A commemorative sheet of all 100 will follow.

Today's Sermon

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ by Wendell Berry, 1934 -

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Presidential Race Map 2012 - #10

Polls in Colorado this week seem to refute the recent weakness there, but Iowa slides into the Romney camp and Ohio softens for the Dems. Missouri softens for the Republicans.

Perhaps most interesting is the news out of Wisconsin where Dems still hold a lead of 4% points even after the initial bump of Ryan's selection as the Running mate of Romney.

Monday, August 13, 2012


The only olympic medal in Gymnastics at 2012 London won by a member of the Dutch Olympic team was a Gold medal won by Epke Zonderland on the Men's Horizontal Bar. Bravo, Epke!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

London Olympics Redux: Modern Pentathlon

The Pentathlon is a truly bizarre assemblage of 5 sports: Swimming, Shooting, Running, Fencing and Equestrian. Arguably the first of the modern "extreme sports" competitions and yet it's been part of the Olympics since 1912 Stockholm.

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

007gpo ~ Lithuania
007gpo ~ Czech Republic
004spo ~ Great Britain
004s ~ China
002bpo ~ Hungary
002b ~ Brazil

London Olympics Redux: Basketball

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

011g ~ United States
004spo ~ Spain
004spo ~ France
002bpo ~ Australia
002bpo ~ Russia

London Olympics Redux: Boxing

Boxing as a kid seemed like the domain of the United States, but in fact it was been anything but for a long time. We can take solace in winning 2 of the first 9 medals ever awarded to women in this sport at 2012 London.

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

021gsb ~ Great Britain
018gsb ~ The Ukraine
017gsb ~ Russia
014gsbpo ~ Kazakhstan
014gsbpo ~ Ireland
014gb ~ Cuba
013gsb ~ China
009gbpo ~ United States
009gb ~ Japan
008sb ~ Italy
007sb ~ Brazil
006sb ~ Mongolia
004spo ~ Thailand
004spo ~ Korea (South Korea)
003b ~ Azerbaijan
002bpo ~ India
002bpo ~ Uzbekistan
002bpo ~ Bulgaria
002b ~ Tajikistan

London Olympics Redux: BMX & Mountain Bike

To extend the reach of the Cycling competition beyond either the Road or Track competitions the gen-X'er sports of Mountain Bike and BMX were added to the Olympics in recent years: 1996 Atlanta and 2008 Beijing.

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

009gb ~ Colombia
007gpo ~ France
007gpo ~ Latvia
007g ~ Czech Republic
004spo ~ Germany
004spo ~ Switzerland
004s ~ Australia (tie)
004s ~ New Zealand (tie)
002bpo ~ United States
002bpo ~ The Netherlands
002bpo ~ Italy

London Olympics Redux: Field Hockey

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

011gs ~ The Netherlands
007g ~ Germany
004s ~ Argentina
002b ~ Australia
002b ~ Great Britain

London Olympics Redux: Gymnastics ~ Rythmic

A visually beautiful sport, Rhythmic Gymnastics has been a part of the Olympics since 1984 Los Angeles.

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

015gs ~ Russia
006sb ~ Belarus
002b ~ Italy

London Olympics Redux: Handball

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

007gpo ~ Norway
007gpo ~ France
004spo ~ Sweden
004s ~ Montenegro
002bpo ~ Spain
002bpo ~ Croatia

London Olympics Redux: Taekwondo

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

013gs ~ Spain
013gsb ~ China
011gspo ~ Korea (South Korea)
011gspo ~ Turkey
009gbpo ~ Italy
009gbpo ~ Great Britain
007g ~ Argentina
006sb ~ France
004spo ~ Iran
004s ~ Gabon
003bpo ~ United States
003bpo ~ Russia
002bpo ~ Mexico
002bpo ~ Thailand
002bpo ~ Taiwan (ROC)
002bpo ~ Croatia
002bpo ~ Cuba
002bpo ~ Afghanistan
002bpo ~ Germany
002b ~ Colombia

London Olympics Redux: Track & Field

A sport once contested by the United States and the former Soviet bloc of nations lead by the formerEast Germany, today it is the one area of sport where the nations of the Caribbean and East Africa excel. Called Athletics by most of the rest of the world, it also offers the greatest number of competitions at the Olympics in 2012 London with 44.

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

075gsb ~ United States
052gsb ~ Russia
034gsb ~ Jamaica
025gsb ~ Great Britain
023gsb ~ Ethiopia
021gsb ~ Germany
020gsb ~ Kenya
013gs ~ Australia
012gb ~ China
011gspo ~ Poland
011gspo ~ Turkey
011gspo ~ France
011gs ~ Dominican Republic
011gb ~ Trinidad & Tobago
009gb ~ Czech Republic
007gpo ~ Belarus
007gpo ~ The Bahamas
007gpo ~ Croatia
007gpo ~ Hungary
007gpo ~ Kazakhstan
007gpo ~ Algeria
007gpo ~ Uganda
007g ~ Grenada
007sb ~ The Ukraine
007sb ~ Cuba
004spo ~ Slovenia
004spo ~ South Africa
004spo ~ New Zealand
004spo ~ Colombia
004spo ~ Tunisia
004s ~ Iran (tie)
004s ~ Botswana (tie)
004s ~ Guatemala (tie)
002bpo ~ Italy
002bpo ~ Estonia
002bpo ~ Morocco
002bpo ~ Canada
002bpo ~ Japan
002bpo ~ Finland
002bpo ~ Qatar
002b ~ Puerto Rico (tie)
002b ~ Bahrain (tie)

London Olympics Redux: Volleyball

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

011gs ~ Brazil
007g ~ Russia
004s ~ United States
002bpo ~ Italy
002b ~ Japan

London Olympics Redux: Water Polo

The butt of many a joke, Water Polo is a serious and exceedingly strenuous sport that we only ever hear of once every four years when the Olympics rolls around...

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

007gpo ~ United States
007g ~ Croatia
004spo ~ Italy
004s ~ Spain
002bpo ~ Serbia
002bpo ~ Australia

London Olympics Redux: Wrestling

Introduced at the first Olympics 1896 Athens, Wrestling has been part of the games with the exception of 1900 Paris every since. ONce the stronghold of the former Soviet Union even today you can see how that part of the world still embraces this sport with medals going to Russia with prime dominance and then many of the former occupied republics: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, the Ukraine, Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Lithuania.

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

031gsb ~ Russia
022gsb ~ Iran
022gb ~ Japan
021gsb ~ Azerbaijan
012sb ~ Georgia
009gbpo ~ Uzbekistan
009gbpo ~ Cuba
007g ~ Korea (South Korea)
006sbpo ~ Hungary
006sbpo ~ Armenia
006sb ~ Canada
006sb ~ India
004spo ~ The Ukraine
004spo ~ Bulgaria
004spo ~ Egypt
004s ~ Estonia
004s ~ Puerto Rico
004b ~ Kazakhstan
003b ~ Sweden
002bpo ~ Turkey
002bpo ~ France
002bpo ~ Poland
002bpo ~ Colombia
002b ~ Lithuania
002bpo ~ PKR (North Korea)
002bpo ~ Mongolia
002b ~ Spain

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Homemade Bruschetta on oven toasted Baguette medallions and homemade Tabouli salad. Lite and snackable for a warm humid August evening.

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Coming Week ~ August 12th to August 18th

London Olympics Redux: Soccer

I'm going to step out onto a little limb here and suggest that in single team competitions at the 2012 London Olympics (Handball, Volleyball, Water Polo, Basketball, etc.) no two final competitions were as fraught with emotions nor hard fought to an amazing conclusion. For the women it was the opportunity for the United States to avenge its recent loss in world cup competition to Japan. The men's final pitted two teams that had never won Gold at the Olympics, world powerhouse Brazil against an upstart team from Mexico, whose closest opportunity for any medal in the sport came at 1968 Mexico City and they finished in 4th place just outside of the medal stand.

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

007gpo ~ United States
007g ~ Mexico
004gpo ~ Brazil
004s ~ Japan
002bpo ~ Canada
002b ~ Korea (South Korea)

London Olympics Redux: Canoe - Sprint

A point of personal privilege, as a kid growing up I loved to watch the "Kayakers," which for official purposes are called Canoes at the Olympics now. The sport is divided into two forms: Slolam and Sprint. Of those two the sprint form has been in the Olympics longer beginning at 1936 Berlin. Both forms were introduced at the two Olympics held in Germany, and though Germany is historically a powerhouse for the sport, the largest number of medals won in it by one nation goes to Hungary. 2012 London confirmed the pecking order for these two nations.

Olympic Dominance Index

~ 2012 London

023gsb ~ Hungary
022gsb ~ Germany
013gs ~ The Ukraine
010gb ~ Russia
008sb ~ Belarus
007gpo ~ Australia
007gpo ~ Great Britain
007gpo ~ Norway
007gpo ~ New Zealand
007sb ~ Canada
006s ~ Spain
004s ~ Portugal (tie)
004s ~ Lithuania (tie)
002bpo ~ China
002bpo ~ Poland
002bpo ~ Czech Republic
002bpo ~ South Africa