Monday, May 28, 2007

Honor and Thanks for all our troops on Memorial Day

Today we honor not only our brave troops who serve our country at all times, but those who have lost their lives defending what we stand for.

Regardless of our feeling about the current war in Iraq, this day is to honor those from all wars who have performed their duties and lost their lives doing so. I'm proud of every single one of them, and mourn the fact that so many have died doing their jobs.

My Dad was in World War II, and while he didn't see actual combat (he was part of an engineering squadron), he witnessed many bombings during his flights. Somewhere I have pictures that he took of bombs being dropped in France and Belgium. It always seemed to be so distant to see those pictures; surreal, maybe even unreal.

As a veteran, he had a military funeral when he died in October 2005, with a flag-draped coffin, a lone soldier playing Taps, and the flag folded and presented to my brothers and me. It was touching seeing these soldiers taking this task so seriously, spending time to celebrate a war veteran's life, and how graciously and respectfully they folded the flag and presented it to us. Surprisingly, we were all solemn but fairly unemotional as the trumpeter played Taps ... but watching them respectfully fold our flag, and the words they spoke to us when they presented it to us - that's when my brothers and I started crying. It truly seemed to be an honor to them to do this for a fellow soldier.

I can't imagine having to witness such a funeral for someone who dies in combat, usually at a young age and leaving a young family behind. But they have all died doing what they believed in, and I'm thankful for that in the very least.

And in my video-mode of late, an appropriate video of Ray Charles' "America the Beautiful" - which, in my modest opinion, should be our national anthem. "God done shed His grace on thee".

Bless them all.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

More music

Somehow I got onto a gospel kick. And I have a day off.

Deal, kids.

Anyone in the U.S. who is of "my age" will remember Star Search. Sort of a 1980's low-tech version of American Idol, with different categories such as vocalists and fashion models (yes, seriously - there was a Star Search Spokesmodel category ... I ain't always proud of the 80's, but we did what we could ... ). The first Male Vocalist winner was Sam Harris, who was a bit of an anomaly - white boy, sang Motown, eventually confirmed what everyone knew by coming out as gay. I admit to owning a few of his albums back in the 80's (he is cute, after all), but really didn't like his over-the-top versions, preferring his voice when he remained more subtle. But, I gained more and more respect for him later on, when he started performing in (and winning many awards for his roles in) Broadway shows - and when he came out.

This video was done the week after September 11. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show singing "Precious Lord" and "You'll Never Walk Alone". The boy has talent. And knowing that we all remember what that time was like, you'll understand how breathtaking this was back then.

Worth watching.

You cannot NOT be moved by this voice

Now, we all know that Matterdays is not a religious person ... however, there's no way that I can imagine to not be moved by Ms. Mahalia Jackson. A powerhouse of a voice, hands down. And her rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" is, in my humble opinion, the definitive recording of this song. Awe-inducing, and tear-inducing. Always.

This is from 1961.

I remember many years ago, seeing and hearing her sing in the funeral scene of "Imitation of Life" (another of my favorite sob-inducing movies that hit me hard). I think that was the first time I had actually seen her. Hooked for life. You will be, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New blog alert

If you're a dog lover, check out this site.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Relief at last ...

Your ambulance ride was not pre-approved ... DENIED!


I'm it ...

My friend Michael tagged me for this meme ...

The rules are:

* Post a similar post like this one and add a link back to the person who tagged you.
* List down 5 reasons why you blog about the things you blog on your blog.
* Choose your 5 tag ‘victims’ and tag them nicely :)
* Write a comment on their blog letting them know that you tagged them.

Five reasons why I blog about the things on my blog:

5. I've always loved writing and kept journals when I was younger, so this is a creative/personal outlet for me.

4. I have strong opinions on a lot of things, but I also love to learn from other people - so it's a perfect way to give-and-take and learn from others through their comments and e-mails.

3. I'm a vain, self-centered person and love the attention it brings me.

2. It's a pretty cool way to "meet" really good people from all over the world, and experience where and how they live (kinda like travelling, but cheaper).

1. Although I know it's only virtual, it's a small step toward immortality - a legacy of sorts. A documentation of my life. I wish I had this kind of insight about my parents, and their parents, etc. Hopefully, someday, someone will be glad to be able to read what I wrote.

So, I will now tag ...

Scott at Scootersville
Kevin at actorschmactor
CondoBlogger at This New Condo
Scott at Scott In Iowa
LSL at Long Story Longer

(I actually wanted to tag a few more people, but the rules said only five ... I'll get the rest of you another time ... you're welcome ... )

P.S. I'm a dork, but not a technologically-gifted dork. Whoever can tell me how to hyperlink when posting a comment on someone else's blog, I will write a post (including pictures, if you want) about any topic you like. Within reason, of course.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Scott took the weekend off, so we had a Matterweekend - always a nice surprise. Seattle is in the usual "gorgeous sunny warm days until the weekend when it's gray and wet" cycle it loves to throw at us this time of year. But yesterday the weather held enough for us to go to the University District Street Fair for a few hours, up by the University of Washington. It's your typical street fair, with the same food and music and vendors as every other street fair throughout the season, but it's the first street fair of the season and is pretty fun - and about the only time during the entire year that I enjoy going to that neighborhood (normally way too crowded and skater-punkish for my tastes). Of course, after an hour or two, every vendor booth looked the same; I'm sure the only categories available on the vendor applications were "nature photographer", "locally-made scented soaps and candles", "Pacific Northwest Native American art/fabrics/carvings", and "true Indian-print dresses, carpets and shawls." I had to look up past the vendor tents to get my bearings, since I couldn't tell anymore if I was on 40th or 50th Street. But still, fun. We ran into our unbelievably cool friend Jody (who is building a house in Bali and will be retiring there in a few years, although she's close to our age and looks younger than me), and I got to eat Polish sausage with sauerkraut and onions. Scott would never let me do that at home.

Today it's grey and wet and we're supposed to get hail and thunderstorms, so we're hanging out in the hood. Scott's playing Neverwinter Nights on his computer after helping me get the house cleaned, the doggies are outside wondering how to get back inside (although Kali is having a ball catching water drops coming down from the deck above her), and it's nice to be relaxing a little before going back to The Grind.

A few thoughts about the new job, since you're all dying to hear:
  • I am still wildly crazy about the new job. Perfect, perfect fit, and I'm constantly encouraged by various people from all over the firm telling me how glad they are that I'm back and that someone is taking care of some things that had been neglected. One of the other managers told me (again) the other day how nice it is to know that I'm taking care of things and she doesn't have to worry about stuff falling through the cracks.
  • I am, however, having instances of wanting to bang my head against the desk for extended periods of time. The majority of the staff that report to me (whom I'm supposed to be mentoring/team-building) have been with the firm for many, many years, and are ... umm, reluctant to embrace change, to put it nicely. My patience is already wearing thin, and I may soon be changing from "yes I'm your boss but I'm championing your cause" to "if you don't want my shoe prints all OVER your face you best shape it up, gurrrll". Don't MAKE me go all Julia Sugarbaker on yo ass.
  • I am, however, jazzed about being someone who's actually in charge of looking at The Big Picture. SO SO SO SO SO the place I've wanted to be in. This is comfortable, but in a cool, challenging way.
  • I drove to work for the first time last Thursday. Then I did it again on Friday. I'm addicted. I get to work in half the time I would get there on the bus, I don't have to wait for a bus that's stuck in traffic, I don't have to stand up for two miles pressed up against, umm, "natural-smelling" types who just smoked a pack and a half of Marlboro Reds three seconds before they got on. I love my car and I want to drive it. But I feel guilty about the carbon footprint I'm leaving. Please - make me feel better while supporting my love of driving.

That's all for now. Off to finish laundry, get the steak marinating for the burritos I'm making for dinner, and relax as much as I can before tomorrow's 5:20 a.m. alarm treat. Have a great night ...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cool cool cool music Part IV

Okay, I'll stop after this post, if y'all want ... temporarily. Maybe I'll make this a weekly post, 'cause I can find a LOT of cool music to post ...

I mentioned earlier that Lizz Wright reminded me in her delivery of Eva Cassidy. Eva was virtually unknown except for around the Washington, DC area; she died of cancer in 1996 when she was 33 years old. Figure skater Michelle Kwan used this song in her 2002 Olympics routine, which brought a lot of attention to Eva and her rendition of "Fields of Gold", originally made popular by Sting.

Unfortunately there is no real video of Eva's performance of this song. The closest I've found is a compilation video of Eva performing live at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. Don't watch it for the video, but rather just to hear her sing. It's raw, emotional, simple, and stunning. I can never get enough of listening to her voice. So tragic that she died so young ...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cool cool cool music Part III

I just can't stop ...

I've totally loved Diana Krall for years. A couple of years back, I took Scott to a concert of hers, I think it was a Valentine's Day gift (although that usually meant seeing Diane Schurr at Jazz Alley). I was so so so into this concert, and I know Scott enjoyed it ... but I'll let him pick the next gift.

She. Is. Awesome.

Cool cool cool music Part II

Continuing with Lizz Wright from yesterday's post, as I'm getting more into her ... here she performs "Amazing Grace" live; mellow, but I really enjoyed this. Maybe because I had a long day, it's about 80 degrees out, and collapsing with a glass of wine and hearing this helped me breathe out all my stress from the day ...

Her voice and styling reminds me of a somewhat deeper/richer-voiced Eva Cassidy (I'll post something of hers, too, if y'all aren't familiar with her ... )

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cool cool cool music

This is one of my favorite songs, and I love hearing different people interpret it.

Total length of the video is 6'38" ... the first few minutes are all drums (which I'm into), but definitely stay and listen to her voice. In love with it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

May 12 of 12

12 of 12 is here!!! It snuck up on me this month, mostly because I started my new job this past Monday. It was a long week, but the new job is a perfect fit - so far, at least.

To see the other 12 of 12 entries for May, click here.

Now, for my 12 of 12 ... mine are always pretty boring. And this month is no different - it's Saturday, but Scott is working and there are chores to do. So, another month of pictures from around the house. I promise to be more creative next month - really ...

When items go on clearance, Scott tends to buy things with his employee discount. Last night he brought home 10 place settings of Nate Berkus dinnerware. They're sitting in the front hall until we figure out what to do with them. (Yes, we could put them in the cabinets - but we're not sure yet what to do with the other two sets of dishes that are already in there ... )

Here's one of the settings - you can't tell in the picture, but the light-colored parts are a really pale blue. Cool, eh?

Outside to cut the grass. First, of course Kali has left a mess on the back porch to clean up. She likes to drag everything she can find up on the deck, and then destroy it. I don't even know where half the stuff comes from.

Lupine is starting to bloom ...

... and so is the Golden Chain tree.

I think this shot has been in every 12 of 12 I've done. Kinda cool to see the progression of the seasons, though, with all the plants filling in. Oh, and that desert of dirt at the bottom left will go away, once we get some paving stones - and some energy - so we can put in a small patio.

FINALLY planted the geraniums we got at least a week ago.

A cool picture of the sky.

Kali looking a little sleepy. Destroying things is hard work.

Matterdays, tired from working outside, and having a beer. (And I'm wearing a ballcap - that's not my hair).

Hunter stretching his thumbs. (No, really - he has thumbs).

Once in a while, just to prove we're gay, we watch things like "Fiddler On the Roof".


The theme for May's Bonus Picture is "Dreamscapes". I'm using this picture for a few reasons:

  1. I thought the sky looked sort of ethereal ... dream-like.

  2. This plane is landing, but it will be taking off again. That sort of ebb-and-flow, always-a-new-beginning rhythm is comforting. I'm sure there's something you could read into that involving dreams.

  3. I frequently have dreams involving planes - sometimes practically this exact image. Unfortunately, they aren't good dreams, but we'll leave it at that.

(I almost used the dream sequence from "Fiddler On the Roof" for my bonus picture ... I decided on the "inspirational poster" route rather than showtunes ... )

Happy 12 of 12! And Happy Mother's Day if it applies to you. :)

Friday, May 11, 2007

How do you answer?

I just got home from work and read this e-mail from my cousin Jo:

Dear Matt,

I had a close friend today send me an email asking for prayers. She has a young friend, a girl who is 20, who apparently is in love with a guy who thinks he is gay. The girl and my friend both say that God doesn't make people gay; that it is a choice. I feel like banging my head on a wall, because how do you deal with people like that? The guy is dealing with enough as he tries to figure out his sexual orientation. And of course he isn't "saved," a term that I am coming to dislike very much by people in other faiths who use it. So not only does he struggle with being gay, he struggles with God, because people tell him that God doesn't make gay people!

Would you ask your readers how they deal with this? I know it is impossible to change the minds of those in faith who see God as totally against gay people. It frustrates me to no end. How can they see a judgmental and unloving God towards one group of people? How do you and other gay people come to grips with your belief in God, and what on earth can be said to those people who insist that being gay is a choice?

I just want to cry, because I can't believe that people will tell someone that being gay is a choice, so God doesn't love them!

People really have no clue, do they? What about 'walk a mile in my shoes?" They just don't believe it. I think we need a national "adopt a gay for a day" day, just so people will realize what it is like to come to terms with your identity, and to try to live in a world filled with unacceptance.

Love you much, and Scott, too!


So, I'm putting the question out there: How would you answer this? I already replied to Jo with how I would usually answer, but the more opinions the better. (And I know, it can be tempting to respond with sarcasm, ridicule and put-downs, but I think I know my dear readers well enough to know you'll honestly try to give her some good advice).

Thanks, everyone.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A new blogger

I've added a new blog to my blogroll - Scootersville. Check him out when you get a chance. I'm in love with the guy.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Jobbie - Day One


Day one is done. Matterdays tired. So just some bullet points to recap:
  • My commute SUCKS. It's only about 3 miles, but the bus I have to take is about 7 blocks from my house, only runs to and from my neighborhood every 30 - 45 minutes, and takes me about 45 minutes each way. And the office is in an up-and-coming neighborhood with construction on every block ... so all the parking lots are full (no monthly spots open, difficult to find an open spot day-to-day). Blech.
  • Upside: the firm provides bus passes for free, which they didn't do in the past. (Damn - I'd already bought a pass for May ... )
  • More people recognized me (and came up and hugged me) than I thought would. I was told that the entire department practically gave a standing ovation when it was announced to them last week that I was returning. The one person working under me who I hadn't met (and I was told was a little unsure of getting a new boss) came up to me as she was leaving and told me how glad she was that I'm there.
  • The building was designed by the firm (it's an architectural firm) and I'd never been in it - they moved about 2 months after I left, although I had seen all the plans and had an idea what it would be like. It's very cool - and "green" - windows that open (there are lights that tell you when the temperature is okay to open the windows), blinds that automatically move throughout the day to reduce glare, rooftop spaces with native grasses growing, etc.
  • Downside: They got real creative with naming the conference rooms (and there are about 20 of them): all related to jazz songs/themes/composers. The two closest to my desk are "Misty" and "Time Out". People literally carry these little floor maps around with them (along with their key cards) so they can find the right conference rooms. It was suggested to me, having a musical background, that when I send out meeting requests, I attach a sound file that relates to where the meeting will be, and everyone will have to just figure it out. I think I like that.
  • Huge huge huge plus: the controller/assistant controller are totally making me know that they are treating me as an equal and a member of the management team. When we met this morning, they made it clear that I am in charge of my group - they will not be presiding over anything. I'm included in any meetings and calls that involve the rest of management. They took me out to lunch today, which in the past was unheard of if you weren't part of the "core team". I'm officially recognized as being at "that level".
  • In answer to CondoBlogger and Jo - probably no travel, or very little. Possibly a trip or two a year to Columbus, which I'm gonna push for - since that's a smaller office and the people there on my team feel kinda left out. But Jo - generally when you fly from Seattle to Columbus, you HAVE to go through Chicago ...

Good good start. I'm still excited. Tomorrow will be the first real meeting of my team, so we'll see what everyone brings to the table. I have some big ideas ...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Back to work ...

I mentioned in my April 12 of 12 post that I had been laid off of my new temporary-to-hire position after two months - and also, that I received a formal job offer from a firm that I was with for seven years up until about a year and a half ago. I accepted their offer and am starting my new position with them tomorrow.

My new role is as an accounting manager, with emphasis on building and mentoring one area of the department - about six people in both Seattle and in Columbus, Ohio. I'm replacing the previous manager, but the role is being tailored a bit to ensure the success of the department (the previous job description was a bit aggressive in its scope) and to concentrate on my strengths.

After my job-hunting disappointments of the past six months or so, this position is, of course, an ego boost. And more than that, it's exactly the kind of role that I've wanted to be in for a long time. Specifically, I

"will be responsible for supervising, training and mentoring staff, recommending and implementing best practices, and communicating with individuals both within and outside the firm regarding policy and process".

The offer letter also said,

"This highly-visible function is vital to the reputation and governance of the firm and the satisfaction of its employees, and we feel your experience and personal style will be instrumental in taking this area to a new level."

How could I not be excited and flattered? It took a lot of thinking on my part to be sure that I wasn't considering the position solely based on comfort level, but I know that's not the case. They've truly made great efforts and strides in building and focusing the department into something positive and proactive, and knowing the firm and the people already makes the learning curve easier - so I can dive into my new role sooner.

So there. A little self-promoting and attention-whorism on my part, but hey - that's what I need tonight. Wish me luck, kids.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

File under "You've Got To Be Friggin' Kidding Me"

This is absolutely ridiculous.

Some people (such as the judge filing this lawsuit) just need to be slapped in the face.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The "Religious Right" and Hate: Is it Religious? Or Right?

I won't spend much time on this, but I've followed this recently and think it's important to know. I know that every partisan group of every kind - religious, political, whatever - uses whatever they can to support their opinions, but this is, I don't know, wrong? Having any organization that is supposedly promoting morality join hands with a hate group negates their message, in my opinion.

Response Number One: Hate Crime Laws

I posted the other day soliciting opinions regarding some current issues - basically, hate crime laws and gay marriage. I didn't get much feedback ... (I know, I've said it before, I get much more feedback when I post pretty pictures and write about myself ... ), but I mentioned that I would post some of my opinions as well.

I'll try to be relatively brief. No, really.

Hate crimes: Honestly, I'm not completely grounded in where I stand on this, which is why I was hoping to get others' opinions. Now, the way current hate crimes work, if a physical attack on another person is determined to be motivated by hatred or bigotry toward a protected group of members of our society (such as a certain race, religion, disability, etc.), then the crime is deemed a more serious offense when assigning punishment - mostly because the effect of the crime is not against only a single individual, but a larger group of citizens. The current debate is whether or not sexual orientation should be added to those groups currently protected under this legislation. My opinion? IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!! Why shouldn't gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people be protected this way? (And please, don't EVEN bring up the word "choice" in any dissenting views. That's an ignorant argument used almost exclusively by heterosexuals and self-hating "ex-gays" and bears little to no relevance to what I like to call Reality). Having someone screaming "I hate fags!" as he's bashing in my skull would be no different than me screaming "I hate Lutherans!" while bashing in a Lutheran's skull. The crime is against a group, with no thought of that individual as a human being - they just happen to be the representative of said group who was available to receive the brunt of the criminal's ignorance and bigotry. If the law is going to protect religious groups, than it is going to protect sexual minorities as well. That should, in a rational world, be the end of discussion.

So where is my indecisiveness about hate crime laws? Well, I've been reading a lot of opinions lately about this, and the one comment I received from Fantasy Writer Guy mentions the doubt that the increased punishment will make a difference, and that the increased burden on our already overwhelmed correctional institutions would need to be offset somehow. Good point. Would we decrease the punishment allowance for other crimes (I don't know - possession of marijuana)? And who would decide what crimes are a lesser evil than the hate crimes? Do we need hate crime legislation at all - meaning, is it really worth it? (Interesting post on this today by my friend KipEsquire). Does it deter other hate crimes? Does it actually make a potential skull-basher stop and think about his or her actions and bigotry? Does it gradually change and evolve the opinions of our society by educating us as a community about the wrongness of such hatred? Is hate crime legislation the proper way to do that?

Have I asked enough questions?


One last thought. Regarding the (mostly religious) right-wing opposition to adding sexual orientation to current hate crime laws: It does not curtail freedom of speech. It is not an attack on Christianity or any other religion. It is not an affront to morality. Read the actual legislation as it exists now. It is designed to protect everybody - including you. I don't want your right to talk about how much you hate me to be curtailed any more than I want my right to speak of my displeasure with you to be withdrawn. This isn't about that. It's about actual physical attacks and explicit threats of such. Don't turn and spin and distort it to be more than it is. Just don't.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Veto

Of course, this is not at all surprising. We all knew he was going to do it. However - Dubya's "my way or the highway" way of managing the country is getting old. No - it has been old for a long, long time.

The best idea I've heard is that Congress should now pass a bill on to The Decider that gives full funding, with no timeline. But - with definite benchmarks. And with funding only guaranteed for, say, two months. So that in two more months, The Decider will have to come back to Congress, asking for more money, and will have to show what progress his administration has made toward meeting those benchmarks.

I agree - The President is constitutionally the Commander In Chief, and Congress has no power to micromanage any war. But - Congress DOES control the pursestrings, and if The Decider refuses to listen to the majority of public opinion, it is Congress' duty to follow the will of the people. Bush's (or rather, Cheney's) theocracy has been pulling us down too long.