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Gwen’s Little Spot

The mental scribblings and daily doings of one transgender woman, writer, and activist, with content somehow deemed good enough to win a 2004 “Queery“ award.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Posted: 4:14:00 PM
“Holy Ralph Nader, Batman! This is no time to worry about safety!”

A package was waiting for me in the ol’ mailbox yesterday. In it were three DVDs, burnt for me by a friend of mine. One of them was a recent episode of Maury Povitch and the Gwen Araujo episode of Montel Williams. The other two were both the same, and contained unspeakable horrors.

I speak of Legends of the Superheroes.

The 1970s were an interesting time for television. We had high quality sitcoms like All In The Family, yet there were also variety shows of questionable quality like Shields and Yarnell.

Legends of the Superheroes is much closer to the latter than the former, with Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles as Batman and Robin (the latter looking rather ridiculous in his uniform), and joined by a quasi-Justice League cast of characters. There’s even Retired Man and Ghetto Man. Oh, and let’s not forget memorable work by Frank Gorshin, Charlie Callas, Ruth Buzzi, and, yes, even Ed McMahon.

It also features tons of rather outdated references that were probably not all that funny in 1979. Heck, the Schwarzenegger reference is probably funnier now. There’s also a fair amount of rather clunky attempts to make note of both women’s rights and African-Americans — even amongst some rather sexist and stereotyped gags.

Oh, and there’s also Mordru doing a song and dance number to a re-worked “That’s Entertainment.” It’s campier than a KOA.

I watched the whole thing. You see, it was like a really bad car crash, riveting in its awfulness. “The Roast” episode in particular is just, well, amazingly painful: and I say this as someone who liked KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, let alone The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. Hmn, that had KISS in it too. Maybe that’s where Legends of the Superheroes went wrong?

The only bright spot for me, in a way, was seeing an acquaintance of mine. Aleshia Brevard plays Giganta in both of these. She got two lines per episode, and didn’t even get to beat up the good guys in either of these. The other copy of the DVD is for her.

Of course, now I’ve more fodder to have a really bad bad movie night in the future.

Anyway... apropos of nothing, here’s a photo that my sister took of me on the Mad Tea Party (the teacups) at Disneyland.

Teacups!

Ya, it’s rather dorky. She also took it after I had gotten the cup going fast enough to make me feel rather queasy, so it’s no surprise that I’m not at my best. Like any good Sister, I retaliated by posting all the embarassing shots of her from the visit to her MySpace profile.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Posted: 5:56:00 PM
The accidental instructor

The kids liked me. The staff liked me. The feeling was, frankly, quite mutual.

I was supposed to just be “observing,” but ended up assisting with a few kids, and doing things not usually handled by “observers.” I believe the operative phrase was that I’d been “drafted.”

Everyone was asking if I’d be coming back, too.

So next up, fingerprinting and a required T.B. test. State (or is it Federal?) requirements for the position.

::blink::

I’m not sure — but it sounds like I’m soon will indeed working with developmentally disabled kids. Like, for money and everything.

How did this happen, exactly?

Cheers,
Gwen

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Posted: 12:15:00 PM

A Woman Snippets

• Gung Hay Fat Choy! I guess every dog will have his day this year, no?

• Yesterday was another appearance on GenderTalk. It may be my seventh or eight by now — honestly, I’ve lost count. I was a last-minute add into the show last night, as they had initially wanted Sylvia Guerrero (Gwen Araujo’s mom), and had asked me to ask her. Sylvia and I had a long phone conversation last night, and let me know she was not ready for such an interview, so GenderTalk had me on. This will at least explain why I may have sounded a bit on the harried side at times, as this was all planned very quickly.

• Yes, I still need to write down some of my feelings about the sentencing, beyond just the more technical details I presented yesterday. There are still things that need to be settled before that, however.

• I’m preparing for tomorrow’s fun. As previously mentioned, I will be observing at a school for developmentally disabled youth. This will potentially be a place of employ for yours truly, likely as an aide or substitute. More on this in the next few.

I’m actually really nervous about this. It is interesting, though, to actually be worried about my experience (or lack thereof), versus the ol’ trans issue (there is another transperson working there). Refreshing, in an odd way.

• Today, well, it’s beautiful out. Bon and I are sorely tempted to hop in Little Car and head out for a while, but we’re not yet sure what we would wish to do.

• Two great tastes that would taste great together: anyone know a way to wire things up so I can play my iPod though Little Car's speaker? It would not work with any sort of FM transmitter, given that there's only an AM radio in the car. I’ve thought of just running a headphone jack back to the leads on the speaker itself, but would worry about harming the iPod, the speaker, or both in the process.

• One of the pots in the backyard has pleasantly surprised us! The hemlock (conium maculatum) that never spouted last Spring has decided that 2006 will be the year for it. There’s two stout sprouts in the ol’ pot, with some very healthy secondary leaves.

Now if only the nightshade (atropa belladonna) had made it. Perhaps another year.

• This is the last Katherine Hepburn-related snippet post title. Now I’ll have to find another theme.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Posted: 7:32:00 PM
A kind of ending.

So, Gwen, what did you today?

Today was the sentencing in The People of the State of California vs. Jose A. Merel, Jason M. Cazares, and Michael W. Magidson, more commonly known as the Gwen Araujo murder trial. Here’s a couple notes from the day.

Unlike previous days, Merel and Magidson appeared in court in red Alameda County jumpsuits. There was always a bailiff behind them (and Cazares) while they were in the courtroom. This, plus the usual bailiffs in the courtroom made for a sizable presence. I assume this is standard, though it was a bit on the intimidating side.

There was also plenty of media present, including all local stations (including, for the first time, KQED) and the usual assortment of newspaper folk.

First up, Merel and Magidson’s lawyers — William DuBois and Michael Thorman, respectively — did motion for a new trial for their clients, based on an issue with the jury instruction language for manslaughter. This was very much a last-ditch effort, and was quickly shot down by Judge Sheppard.

This was followed by some quibbling over the parole report, largely over language that the parole reporter used regarding the change of rehabilitation of Merel and Magidson. At this time, the judge agreed to strike (amongst others) a sentence in both Merel and Magidson’s parole report indicating that they were not likely candidates for rehabilitation, and do not show remorse. More on this in a moment.

Eleven members of the family spoke, though some of them spoke through Gloria Allred (she read the statement on behalf of Sylvia’s sons, and one for Paula Sandoval, an Aunt) or Sylvia Guerrero (in addition to her own, she read David Guerrero’s statement. David is one of Gwen’s uncles). These were very heartfelt statements, and I don’t think anyone in the courtroom had a dry eye during them.

Notable quotes:

Sylvia Guerrero (Gwen’s mom), “Gwen deserved the right to live her life. To grow up into a woman, to love, to succeed, to fail and to get back up again just like all of the rest of us”

Lupe Downing (one of Gwen’s aunts), “Someday when they [the defendants] become real men... they’ll ask for forgiveness.”

Imelda Guerrereo (another aunt), “I hate them [the defendants] all, because they took her — and I hate them because of what they did to my family.”

Magidson was the first to be sentenced. Thorman spoke, indicating that this was a unique case. Indeed, he said that he was unable to find any information on any cases similar to this one. I can think of an URL that he clearly didn’t stop by — unless he was lying, of course.

Magidson then addressed the court, during which he said, “This case was based on lies . . . lies by the witnesses, by the defendants and perpetuated by the prosecution.” In short, he was totally unrepentant. He also read a letter he received by someone who claimed to be gay, and to be interested in civil rights — and totally supported Magidson against the “sexual deception” he faced.

Judge Harry R. Sheppard was totally unimpressed by Magidson’s statement, saying, “You have not show to me at all that you are sorry.” As expected (CA law mandates the sentence) Magidson was given a mandatory 15 to life second degree murder conviction. The judge did not grant Magidson with time served (1201 days), largely because of his lack of remorse.

He also kept some language that Magidson’s lawyer had earlier had redacted from the parole report, indicating that Magidson was unrepentant. This will make it all the harder for him in front of a parole board in 15 years.

Aside: 15-to-life means that in 15 years, Magidson (and Merel) will be given a parole hearing. They will also get parole hearings at regular intervals after this. It is extremely unlikely that they will be getting past a parole board, given the visibility of this crime, coupled with the severity of the crime — to quote Judge Sheppard, “a brutal beating of a vulnerable victim.” That Magidson showed no remorse for his part in this crime will only serve to assure that he will remain behind bars for a very long time — more than likely the rest of his life.

Next, William DuBois (again, Merel’s lawyer) spoke. This was unremarkable, save that even this far into the case, he still managed to mispronounce Gwen Araujo (pronounced “Ar-RAW-Hoe”) as Gwen “Arroyo”). You would think he’d had that down by now.

Merel also addressed the court prior to sentencing. Unlike Magidson, he expressed his remorse and sorrow over his actions.

Merel was given a mandatory 15 to life second degree murder conviction. Unlike Magidson, he was given credit for the 1200 days he has served.

After Merel and Magidson were sentenced and remanded into custody, they were taken from the courtroom by the bailiffs, and put back to lockup. At this time, the court address the last bits of business, regarding Jason Cazares.

Cazares has his lawyer, J. Tony Serra, speak on his behalf. The judge did make it clear that he was an “active participant in this crime.”

As agreed to in a plea deal roughly a month ago, Cazares pled No Contest, and was given a mid-term voluntary manslaughter conviction. This too was less 626 days served and 93 days of custody credits, for a total of 719 days off of that.

Cazares had also asked to have his remand date delayed until March, in order to see the birth of his child. This was granted. He will be remanded into custody on March 30th. No, I’m not happy about this.

I should also add that Judge Sheppard left the door open for future civil litigation on all three of the defendants. It will remain to be seen if the family pursues such.

More here eventually on my personal feelings at this stage of things, if I can manage to vocalise them.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Posted: 1:12:00 AM
Friday Fun!

Here’s an extra big helping of Friday links, just to make up for the lack of ‘em last week.

To begin, it’s a very special asshat. This goes out to Hollywood, for its continued focus on sequels — don’t even get me started on remakes of 1970s and 1980s television shows. Way to milk a concept, guys.

Now then, onto the fun stuff!

Be a man. Be a Klug-man!
The XXX pogo stick! (NSFW)
The Lego knitting machine! (QuickTime required)
Some very scary kids — and an astro weenie ball variant!
The In-N-Out 100 x 100 burger!
This simply could not have been an accident.
I swear, there is a fetish site for everything.
One hundred things we didn’t know this time last year.
Man In Space With Sounds. Best space music album... ever!
Learn how to blow your own meat whistle!
Garfield is at his best when totally randomised.
I will never look at Revenge of the Sith the same again.
The horror that is Little Marcy.
Use Photoshop to make Lichenstein-style pop art!
The wonders of Floridian mug shots.
Poke the bunny! (Shockwave required)
Prove your strength: rip a phone book in half!
Bollywood meets the 1960s rock ‘n’ roll film. (MPG player required)
Penises + birds = uh... fine art? (NSFW)
Cthulhu Cthookies!
...and you thought Pat Robertson sounded crazy on-camera? (Windows Media required)
Apparently, I’ll be beaten to death by a prosthetic leg.
The best of Google Video. (Flash required)
This is a place I’d love to stay at.
Potter Puppet Pals! (Flash required)
That must have made for an interesting traffic jam.
Sex dolls and Polaroids: two great tastes that, uh... strike that. (NSFW)
These have got to be the geekiest — and coolest — shelves ever.
The “God Warrior” goes commercial.
DIY Twinkies.
This T-shirt so totally rocks!
365 days of stuffed... animals?
Cosmic Encounter goes online! (Flash required)
Clothing you can play with a tape head!
Legos, Mythbusters, and web comics come together as one.
Let’s not be a boob about this. (NSFW)

::Whew:: What a list! I think that more than makes up for last weeks lack of links. Enjoy your weekend!

Cheers,
Gwen

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Posted: 4:47:00 PM
101 little facts about yours truly.

My sister recently wrote a 101 facts about Megan post over on MySpace. In response, here’s mine. Some of these I’ve mentioned here before, but hey — 101 facts is a lot to come up with!

It’s a long one again, too. Apologies to my LiveJournal readers!

1. I have a “L” shaped scar on my left foot, caused when a broken, metal curtain rod fell into my foot. I have used to to remember right from left.

2. Another permanent scar is hidden in my left eyebrow, and comes from one of my mom’s cats, Lacey.

3. I own two copies of The Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band album. One is autographed.

4. I have worn jewelry since I was 7 or so, usually a ring; I stopped wearing a necklace with any regularity when I grew my hair out.

5. I always misspell the word “general.” It ends up with a “d” after the “n.”

6. I did not initially want Idgie to be part of our family.

7. My favourite breakfast is eggs benedict, followed closely by bagels, lox, and cream cheese.

8. I prefer to spell using the Queen’s english, and have been known to pronounce words using their British pronunciations.

9. I got in serious trouble in the 7th grade for using my own “font” on my schoolwork.

10. I used to wear nothing but concert shirts, and favoured my Night Ranger, Styx, and Journey ones.

11. I have a fondness for hot, spicy food. Particularly Cajun.

12. I can be very anxious in many social situations, but do what I can to mask it.

13. The first vinyl record I ever bought was Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon — because the store did not have it on cassette.

14. I have never see Titanic.

15. Bon and I met in college: we we in the same graphic design course, and started to collaborate on projects.

16. The largest piece of art I ever painted was a 10’ tall jester, on the bottom of a swimming pool.

17. I’ve never deleted friends who have died from my address book.

18. I have only ever owned 1964 Ramblers, in gold with white roofs.

19. I used to wear an Illuminati pin to school just to annoy a teacher of mine.

20. I first learned to programme BASIC using a TRS-80 MC-10.

21. I often cry at movies.

22. In 2004, I was deemed a “vagina warrior” — and had the award to prove it.

23. I have only ever seriously dated one person, and am now married to said person.

24. I find it difficult to give a simple “yes or no” answer to a question.

25. I rode out the Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 by holding onto a bus stop sign.

26. I always listen to train whistles, and can often tell you if it’s a passenger or freight trail by sound.

27. As a kid, my favourite toys were Legos. I’m still fond of them. Lego still sends me their catalogs, too.

28. My mom was not allowed to ride Pirates of the Caribbean the year it opened at Disneyland, because she was pregnant with me. She reminded me of this fact often when I was young.

29. I’m a sucker for Coca-Cola, but will take a Green River or a Dublin Dr. Pepper over a Coke.

30. I did not see Star Wars until its 1978 re-release, and I did not see The Empire Strikes Back until the late 1980s — after I saw Return of the Jedi.

31. I am a lifetime member in The Bionic Woman fan club and The Banana Splits fan club.

32. I became a fan of Queen in 1977, right after first hearing “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions” on K-WEST. They remain my favourite group.

33. My mom and I used to fight over the length of my hair: she would take me to a hair salon as soon as it hit my collar, and would make sure it was cut short. I would always argue for it to be longer.

34. I have three pre-1950s copies of The Works of Shakespeare. Each is slightly different. I have only read one of these three.

35. My favourite Star Trek television series was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I did not like Star Trek: Enterprise, and barely tolerated Star Trek: Voyager.

36. The first major purchase I ever made on my own was my skateboard. It cost $105.99.

37. I proposed to Bon on the Skyway to Tomorrowland at Disneyland.

38. I used to be rather hirsute, but today I can’t grow enough hair on my legs to even justify shaving them.

39. I was accidently served alcohol in a restaurant when I was 13. They thought I was of legal age.

40. I never smiled showing my teeth until after my transition.

41. I first learned to drive in a 1963 Dodge Dart (with a push-button transmission). This might explain my choice of cars today.

42. I am a member of the International Banana Club, and hold the titles UFB, MB, and PHB.

43. My favourite colour is green, and I have an inordinate number of shirts in that colour.

44. I was the “king” of two middle school dances.

45. Bon asked me out on our first date, not the other way around. We saw Scrooged, then navigated Old Town Pasadena by flipping a nickel: heads for left turns, tails for rights.

46. I’m a sucker for a good pun.

47. I own hundreds of hand-painted lead figurines, for use in Dungeons and Dragons.

48. I am a chronic nail-biter, but I’m not nearly as bad now as I was as a kid.

49. I have a mild case of tinnitus that comes and goes. I’ve had it since I was a kid, thanks to a toy gun.

50. There is really no musical genre or style that I cannot get something out of it.

51. At a Marillion concert in the mid 1980s, I shared a rum and a coke with Fish, their then lead singer. A few minutes later, I handed him a cucumber.

52. I tend to write my columns late in the evening, and rarely remember them in the morning.

53. I have a Bavarian Illuminati membership card in my wallet.

54. I consider the proverbial glass to be entirely full: half with air, and half with liquid.

55. I am a big fan of mid-century design and style, particularly polynesian pop and populuxe/googie.

56. In the early 1970s, I had enough “Mr. Bill” t-shirts to last me for two weeks without a repeat. I’m not proud.

57. I can still sing the “Pete Ellis Dodge” song. That is, the Southern California version.

58. I take ten pills every day.

59. I own a sword, a bayonet, a dagger, and a Sgian Dubh. I also have two blades reserved for religious use.

60. I have a fondness for carnivorous/poisonous/unusual plants.

61. I’m a sinister southpaw.

62. I took piano lessons for several years when I was young, and I hope to get back into that at some point.

63. I was in the “gifted” program at my middle school.

64. I can usually tell you the name and plot of any classic Twilight Zone episode within the first minute of the show.

65. Few video games hold my interest, but I could play S.T.U.N. Runner and Crazy Taxi for hours.

66. I learned how to write in Futhark runes in high school, mainly to write diary entries. Mercifully, none of these survive.

67. One of my favourite movies of all time is A Clockwork Orange. I also love The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and His Girl Friday.

68. When I was young, I got busted for shoplifting. That was the last time I tried to do something like that.

69. I really don’t like to talk on the telephone, especially if I don’t know the person I have to talk to. I can also be somewhat standoffish with IM conversations if I don’t know a person. I am not at all the same way with e-mail, however.

70. I love road trips, and hope to do a long one at some point — like Route 66 or something akin to it. Of course, this would be in Little Car.

71. While in college, I fell and sprained both of my ankles at the same time: I still completed my school day, then took the bus home as usual. The next day I was on crutches.

72. I’ve worn eyeglasses since I was 11 years old.

73. I’m a sucker for vinyl records.

74. I’ve read both Robert Anton Wilson’s Schrödinger’s Cat and Stephen King’s The Stand three times.

75. I’ve never been a big fan of coffee.

76. I taught myself to hand-code HTML in 1995, and published my first website before I even had a computer that could view it on the World Wide Web.

77. My sister and I are sixteen years apart in age.

78. I used to preform in a handbell choir, and stood right next to Bon.

79. Whenever I have henna paste available, I will do henna tattoos. Usually on my left ankle.

80. There is always a hawk eye (a black tiger eye stone) on my person.

81. I speak fluent feline: just ask Idgie.

82. I can recite the VIN, the paint and upholstery code, and the model number from Little Car. I can also still recite just about every phone number I’ve had in my life.

83. I have met many celebrities in my life, yet I hyperventilated when I saw Brian May in public. It probably didn’t help that I’d just gotten off Space Mountain at Disneyland.

84. I have been impaneled three times, but I’ve only once served on a jury.

85. I sold Hot Wheels to help pay for my genital reassignment surgery.

86. At the weddings of friends, I have been an usher, a best man, and a matron of honor. Not, however, at the same time.

87. Though not currently assembled, I have a full-sized, cardboard droideca (assassin droid) from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

88. I can be seen in a Night Ranger concert video from 1985, but I’m not telling where.

89. I have trespassed onto a defunct Nike missile base, and have even gone into the silo on the property.

90. I pick up accents very easily, and this skill has embarrassed me on a few occasions.

91. I start near every day by reading several comics, including Zippy The Pinhead, Ozy and Millie, Mutts, and For Better or For Worse.

92. I had my first gray hair in high school.

93. Bon and I married in full costume at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

94. When I was very young, I used to “play hooky” from Sunday school.

95. I once received a $100.00 tip from a customer back in my Kinko’s days. That was more than the cost of his entire order.

96. I was always told that my mom was listening to Simon and Garfunkle’s “El Condor Pasa” when she was in labour with me, but the song came out three years after I was born.

97. I expected that I would be dead by 35. I also expected that I would never marry. I was wrong on both counts.

98. I love Autumn, particularly October days when it is still sunny and largely clear, but there is a crispness in the air and a rustling in the leaves.

99. I have, unfortunately, never learned to sew or to knit.

100. I did not ride a real roller coaster until I was a senior in high school.

101. On the day of our wedding, Bon gave me an origami crane: it was the thousandth she gave me.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Posted: 10:23:00 AM
IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth

So now that I’ve finished my Victim Impact Statement, I’m ghost-writing a VIS for one of the members of the family. An interesting thing to do, that — and given that she gave all the content (by phone), it was that much easier to write than my own VIS.

Only two days until this thing is done now, or at least reaches a somewhat messy state of completion. It’ll never be done, of course.

One more quick note: on Monday of next week, I’ll be doing an observation at a special education school here in the East Bay. Keep your fingers crossed, as working at said school could become a regular gig.

More soon.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Posted: 2:03:00 PM
The hardest button to button

The following was given to the Alameda, CA District Attorney’s office, and will be given to Judge Harry R. Sheppard. It will also be part of the permanent record of the murderers of Gwen Amber Rose Araujo.

Judge Sheppard,

My name is Gwen Smith and, while I am not a member of the immediate family, I was asked by the District Attorney’s office to write a letter in regards to The People of the State of California vs. Jose A. Merel, Jason M. Cazares, and Michael W. Magidson.

I am a transgender woman, and founded the Remembering Our Dead project and the Transgender Day of Remembrance — both focused on the issue of anti-transgender violence. It was this work that sparked my interest in this case. It has become much more to me over the course of the last three years. I have been present throughout both trials as well as the preliminary hearing in this case. I was also present at Gwen Araujo’s funeral.

I am sure that Gwen’s family can tell you how the loss of Gwen has hurt them. I know that I have seen much of what this family has gone through, and I know the sorrow they have faced can never be fully erased. I also know that Gwen’s murder sent chills throughout the transgender community — the “family” I belong to.

I am glad that Jose Merel and Michael Magidson will not be walking the streets that I walk, at least for fifteen years and, hopefully, much longer. I know that I am not alone in saying that I’ll feel much safer knowing that they are behind bars, and I hope they remain so for a very long time. Every year that Michael Magidson and Jose Merel remain behind bars is, to me, a further sign that anti-transgender violence will not be tolerated in this state. It sends a message to the next person or persons who might think of doing what these men did on October 3, 2002, in Newark, California.

I am sorry, though, that it is likely that Jason Cazares will serve a much shorter sentence. I feel that the time he will serve — while better than letting him free — is still far less than he should be serving.

I am also appalled that Jason Cazares — even with such a short sentence awaiting him — wants to further delay things. I can appreciate that he wants to be there for the birth of a child, but I fail to feel compassion for this man given that the family of Gwen Araujo will not be able to see her grow and flourish. Indeed, Jason Cazares is in no position to be asking for special favors, and should start serving his sentence at the same time as the others involved in this crime.

Further, it appeared to me that Jaron Nabors — while being pivotal in providing information that led to these convictions — was likely not as truthful as he should have been. While his testimony was key, I do wish that he too would be serving a much longer sentence: what he did was only manslaughter thanks to his plea deal. In reality, he was equal to his partners in this murder, and should be equal in accountability.

To close, thank you, Judge Sheppard, for your work in presiding over a very difficult case not once, but twice. I applaud your wisdom and judgment.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Posted: 3:26:00 PM
Quality Snippets

• I did something today I’ve never done before, or at least never done without a good reason. I penned my next Transmissions column early. Just so much to talk about, and I had to get it down on (cyber) paper. You’ll see it on Thursday of next week.

I’ve actually been on a bit of a writing streak as of late, and have been pleased with my last couple columns. This is good, given that there were some I did in 2005 that I felt were, shall we say, “phoned in.”

Bon and I bugged out of the house yesterday, because it was a simply beautiful day. We spent some time at Contra Loma Park, tossin’ around the old frisbee. It was fun, if a tad on the windy side.

Panorama

I did this panorama shot while there, just for kicks. Unfortunately, the original is, well, quite large. Hence the pee-wee version on this page. Enough for colour, I suppose.

• We also took advantage of a close-out sale at a local video rental place. They’re totally going out of business so, well, your loss is their gain. We made out with a copy of Clerks, Big Fish, and the piece d’resistance, the “Extra Weird Sampler” from Something Weird Video.

This is a collection of scores of trailers from some very, very bad flicks. Most of it is schlocky 1970s pr0n, like Wham-Bam-Thank You, Spaceman and Dracula The Dirty Old Man, but one will also find teensploitation (Teenage Gang Debs), biker chicks (She-Devils On Wheels), and bad monster movies a-plenty (Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, Mighty Gorga) — and because they are trailers, you don’t have to sit through all of these flicks. Handy! I think this viddy might become the background of some future party.

• The end of this week is no party: I’ll be at the Hayward Hall of Justice for what may be the last time in court for the Gwen Araujo case. Sentencing day is nigh. My victim impact statement is in, and I’ll be on the phone tonight with a member of the family, helping them craft their letter (amongst other things).

• Here’s some more photos, this time of the fragile things that were in my luggage.

Booty!

These came via my mom. The first and third items are vases, with the former made in 1963. I particularly wanted one of these, which will fit some redecorating I have in mind for the future. It’s also in really good shape, with its earrings, necklace, and such.

The tile is one of six I was given, though one of those is broken into four pieces. No idea on the date or anything on them, but they belonged to my grandmother.

The other head appears 40s-esque to me. This one was my mom’s, and before that her mom’s, and, yes, before that, her mom’s. A family heirloom, passed through the women of the family. I always am touched by things like that.

I haven’t shot anything of the Get Smart lunch box, though. Sorry.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Posted: 4:31:00 PM
You can never go home again

Settle in: this will be a long one. There’s a lot of photos, too, though I’ve done what I could to keep them to a manageable size. My apologies to those on LiveJournal who are reading the feed: I’d cut-tag this post if I could.

Monday: Clearing the tubes
Antioch, California to Azusa, California


“DON’T TOUCH MY BAG!”

I couldn’t believe I had to yell at another passenger. Then again, I could not believe that she actually picked up and moved my bag out of her way on the rack in the AirBART bus. No-one handles another person’s bags on the way to the airport — and to do it just to kick it out of your way? Just wrong.

This was the start of the trip, really. Sure, I’d already made it from home to the BART station in Pittsburg, then through two different BART trains to even end up on AirBART, but this was really when things went from a simple commute into a trip.

I’d been somewhat resistant to this trip: I couldn’t afford it, of course, but I also wasn’t all that sure I wanted to be there. There is a certain comfort in being 400 miles away from one’s family. It provides a certain insular quality from the day-to-day drama that typically surrounds a person’s relationships with their relatives.

More than this, I’ve other things I would have rather been doing than going down to Southern California right now. I’ve got many things on my plate, and this is not one of them. But I had to go: I had to see my endocrinologist and get a check-up, so that he’d continue to authorise my prescription.

Idgie wants to go

AirBART — upon which another rider actually thought they could manhandle my luggage — dropped me at the terminal, and I made my way to the first of two planes for the day. It was a CRJ50, a regional jet consisting of about 50 cramped seats, two jet engines, and no overhead space to speak up. My bag was checked to LAX, and I shoehorned myself into a seat for what proved to be a rather uninteresting flight.

Things got far more interesting, however, at LAX. Our next plane — a teensy EMB120 turbo prop — required maintenance on the tarmac. This delayed our 15 minute flight from Los Angeles to Ontario for about 40 minutes.

Eventually, hours after it all started, I found myself in Azusa, in the old day bed in my father’s old home office space, which for two years in the early 1990s was my bedroom. It isn’t home, though. Home has long since shifted northward, in the arms of my lover, alongside my feline, and within the San Francisco Bay Area. The house in Azusa was only a way station, a roof over my head for the duration of the visit.

Tuesday: Ass fuel
Azusa, California to Anaheim, California — and back


I had initially planned this to be the day to achieve my primary objective. I’d drop my mom off at her work (which included a possible meet-up with one of her coworkers, who wanted to meet my mom’s Transgender Activist Daughter), then head downtown in the late morning, for an early afternoon visit with my doctor, then head back to my folks’ place, maybe take my mom and sis out to dinner — or just grab my sis and hit one of L.A.’s fine tiki bars.

That plan died about two weeks before the trip, when the doctor had to reschedule from Tuesday to the morning of Thursday. My mom was also sick for much of the trip, and stayed in bed. It just wasn’t going to work out the way I’d initially hoped.

My sister had a plan. We’d planned to hit Disneyland on Wednesday — but why not just make it Tuesday and Wednesday instead. We could take our time that way, and with a father to sign me in (and a sister with her own Disneyland employee card), it would cost nothing to leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy. That was a price I could afford.

Megan goofs around

I should note that my sister was with me for much of the trip. It gives her a chance to get away from home and catch up with me, and it gives me a chance to hang out with her. It’s nice to have someone down there I can just enjoy the company of, and just do whatever. I’m glad we have the relationship that we have: it could have been far worse.

Of course, Megan and I couldn’t just go straight there. First stop was Omaña’s, a taco stand that I made it through my late high school and early college years on. Some of the best tacos to be found, with a killer hot sauce. It was Omaña’s that made me eat hot food in the first place.

Then it was off to stop #2: Oceanic Arts. This is the one-stop tiki shopping experience, as seen on Huell Howser’s Visiting and The Brini Maxwell Show. You’ll find everything from the cheapest plastic leis to the largest freestanding tikis, and simply everything in-between.

Oceanic Arts

There is always a lot to see there. One of my favourite places is the cases of memorabilia. Not for sale, those rows of beautiful, vintage mugs and paraphernalia. There’s a sampling in that middle photo, above. I’d get into a lot of trouble in this store if I could — so it’s probably good that I can’t.

At the park, dad met up with us, signed me in, and showed us around his workplace. He’s based out of Main Street Station, but rides the thin steel of the Disneyland Railroad. He was off that day, though, and accompanied up for a brief while.

The park was lightly crowded that day, with most rides — everything but The Matterhorn and Peter Pan’s Flight — being around a 5 minute wait. We hit just about everything there was to hit: the aforementioned Disneyland Railroad, Haunted Mansion Holiday (its last day ‘til it closed to become just the Haunted Mansion again), Splash Mountain, the Disney Gallery, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, The Jungle Cruise (where the off-load CM called Megs and I “Little Princess”), Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Star Tours, Space Mountain, Matterhorn, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Disneyland’s First 50 Magical Years. Oh yes, and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Me and Pele!

The Enchanted Tiki Room went under a major refurb last year. They actually rebuilt most of the attraction, and it looks and sounds better than I have ever seen it. For just the smallest example, compare the above photo with this one from 2003. Much nicer now!

This actually applies to a lot of the park. Everything seems to have gotten a fresh coat of magic. The rides all looked great, most (those that weren’t being refurbed or “re-imagineered”) were operating, they al looked great, there was a lot more street entertainment and characters than I’ve seen in ages, and just about every cast member had taken an extra dose of “happy pills” that morning. It was a good thing, because things felt like, well, Disneyland.

It was, as you could guess from that rather lengthy list, a very long day. We were dead tired when we left the park for the night, and discovered that even the stupidest jokes would crack us up. I won’t go into details here, but we had quite a few off-colour laughs (the section titles of this entry reflect some of the odder moments) that evening before heading back to the house. We had to recharge for the next day.

Wednesday: Malaise Sauce
Azusa, California to Anaheim, California — and back, part deux.


It wasn’t Summer, but it was repeats. We headed back into the car and — after a brief stop at the gas station that I know better as the vacant lot I bought little car in — went back to Disneyland. This day, dad was working, and met us at the gate in his full conductor uniform.

Dad in Uniform

We were fairly tired, and not ready to put in the same hours as the previous day. Still, we managed to take a spin on the Mad Tea Party (the teacups), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, It’s A Small World (fresh back from the removal of its holiday trappings), and Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin. We also stopped in at Disney’s California Adventure for a ride on the new Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sully to the Rescue ride and a viewing of the Turtle Talk with Crush show in the Animation building. Of course, we also rode the Disneyland Railroad again, with my dad now serving as conductor on the C.K. Holliday. He is very much enjoying himself, and living his dream.

We also caught the rededication ceremony that morning, and the flag retreat that evening. We were actually there about a half-hour before the former, which gave us a chance to goof around at the podium.

Your benevolent dictator

When we were over at Disney’s California Adventure, a friend of mine from the world of Disney fandom gave a call, wanting to meet up back in Disneyland. Back we went, grabbing lunch with him at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port, then back on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and finishing up on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh before calling it a day.

It wasn’t until we were on the escalator back to the car that I realised that we'’d forgotten the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I also forgot entirely about Soarin’ Over California. Poo.

Back at at my folks’ place, there was some drama: a relative is trying to sell the house out from under my parents, so I had to help deal with that issue. There was also some time spent between my sister and I, having far more serious discussions than the japes and jests of the night before.

We also watched a part of American Idol — which will be an upcoming column, methinks. They had a person trying out who was clearly gender variant. More on that at some future point.

Thursday: You beat two trees
Azusa, California to Los Angeles, California, then back to Antioch, California


The last day. I got up early — a trend throughout this entire visit — got Megan to school, then hit the road. A late morning visit with my doctor on the Westside of Los Angeles means swimming upstream with all the other fishes making the long trek into the metropolitan L.A. area.

I did find, however, that I had a little spare time, and made a quick side trip. Exiting the Pomona Freeway at Santa Anita Avenue, I took a little trek through my old neighborhood, chronicling some of the places of my youth. These might be part of a future series in this very weblog — we shall see.

All was well — if slightly soaked in nostalgia — until I hit my old street. I drove up, realizing as I hit the mid-point of the street, that I’d gone right past the house I’d grown up in. I had to turn around, and read the street numbers in order to find it: so much has changed in fifteen years that there was little left in the way of landmarks.

1442 Millet

There’s now a fence out front, and the front yard is all but replaced with concrete. It’s all a different colour, and other cosmetic changes have been made to the front of the property. The big front picture window and the porch light were still there — and the two windows on the right still looked the same. That was where my room was. Still — it was not my home: that only exists in memories.

I made it to my doctor’s office with plenty of time to spare, which meant a lengthy stay in the waiting room, watching the other tall women (and one short man) who came through the room. I busied myself with a copy of the new Rolling Stone, only to find a lengthy article detailing recent developments with Laurenca Wachowski. It just seemed all that more apt to read in that waiting room.

My health turns out to be fine. I have not gained a single pound since I last visited the doctor. Unfortunately, I’ve also not lost a single pound. Still, I’m in fine health, and seem to be okay with the dosages I’m on. Nevertheless, we’re bringing them down a bit. This is a good thing.

Finally, my primary objective complete, I made my way to the folks’ house and collected my goods. My bag was a lot heavier than when I arrived, now full of collectible items that my mom wanted me to have: some antique tiles, a couple head-shaped vases, and even my old Get Smart lunch box. This also meant my bags were now full of very fragile things — a concern given that the bags get checked on these little planes. The heads became an item that I held on the plane ride.

The bags await home

At 10:00 p.m. last night, I was home, back in my lover’s waiting arms.

It’s good to be back.

Epilogue

There are many details I opted to skip over from my notes on the trip, much of which deal with issues of family. I do want to add one small thing, though.

I don’t know if it is the same for other transsexuals, or if it’s a universal issue with people who have grown and changed from the person they were as a kid, but it’s always a weird thing to be back in places that reflect a different person than you were today.

I spent the last few days sleeping next to a photo of a young me, hanging out the side of a steam engine. When I’d open the door of the room I was staying in, I’d be face to face with a photo of me and my parents from the early 1980s, with me in my then fully-bearded glory.

At the same time, I was still the person I am today, and the language in the house reflected that. Of course, my sister relates to me as her sister, and has for years. I treasure her friendship, and had a blast. Especially Tuesday night.

My dad is still trying, but was fine while I was there. He even gave me a string of beads to wear from one of the faux Mardi Gras moments in New Orleans Square. This is not something he would have done a few years back.

My mom has been one of the biggest changes. She calls me Gwen, with no hesitation. She referred to me as Megan’s sister a couple times, which made me happy.

On the way to the airport, though, she did cry for a moment or two, when she admitted that she still does have some trouble from time to time, and that there are still people she can not seem to discuss me with. Still, given where she was just a handful of years ago, this is no big issue.

I guess it shows that, with time, all things can come to pass. I seem to be their daughter now, at least for the most part. For that, I’m glad.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Posted: 12:29:00 PM
Jiggety Jig

So ya, I’m back home. Being home is good. It was a rather exhausting trip. In a good way, mostly, but still exhausting. I’ll be posting a full report and some pix a bit later.

For better or worse, I certainly came back with some writing grist. A couple columns, for sure.

I also don’t have much of a Friday link list — a few, but not many. I also have a few that were sent my way that I need to actually look at first. I’ve also got some chores to attend to that need to come first. Ergo, no Friday links this week. Sorry.

So more soon, as soon as I can.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Posted: 4:37:00 PM
“She packed my bags last night pre-flight...”

I’ll be off for Los Angeles tomorrow, and am trying to clear my desk today. The Victim Impact Statement is finished and ready, though one friend of mine is taking a look over it just in case, my bag is about half-packed, and I’m starting to work on my column — an attempt to get it out the door before the wee hours like usual. Besides, I’m too tired after last night’s galavanting about.

I also helped Bon with maintenance on her iBook today, adding in the RAM chip that [info]jaquiregina so kindly gifted Bon with, then upgrading her computer from MAC OS 9.0, to 9.1, then, 9.2.1, and finally 9.2.2. Eventually we're going to upgrade her hard drive to something larger than 3.2 GB, then get a new battery to replace her long-dead one. Then — OS X.

Everything on her Mac seems to have taken to the upgrading well, and things are quicker and stable. Took a while to figure out how to burn a CD on it, though.

Be excellent to each other, and they’ll be more here soon. I’ll try to post at least something while I’m down there. If not, well, I’ll just give the full update when I return.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Posted: 11:18:00 AM
Cosmic Encounter

It was 1:30 a.m. Pacific time when everyone in the house — all the humans, anyway — took a quick hike. We wanted up through the suburban streets of this part of Antioch, bundled against the chilled, night air, and walked up to a nearby hilltop. We then sat down in the middle of the walking trail, faced North (well, slightly to the Northwest), and waited.

Just around 1:56, our roomie and I noted a slight reddish flicker near Cassiopeia. We assumed it was just the twinkling of a faint star, but a second or two later, eagle-eyed Bon spotted a small, reddish spot hustling across the sky though Cephus, and coming from where we’d spotted that early flicker.

What was this thing that dragged us out of the house in the cold of an early Sunday morning? That was the return of the Stardust capsule, which landed successfully with, perhaps, a thimbleful of cosmic debris suspended in aerogel.

We all watched it from then on, as it quickly — this whole thing took but a few seconds — descending, crossing through Cephus, then Draco, and finally into Hercules. We then descended as well, making our way off to bed, to dream of the stars.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Posted: 6:16:00 PM
Absolute power... feels kinda nice, really.

Two additional holiday packages arrived on our doorstep today, with hers and hers 512MB memory cards for Bon and I inside.

Because of this, my “About This Mac” screen now looks like this

About This Mac

It’s a hell of a lot more RAM than I’ve ever had in a computer. That makes sense, though, given that this computer also has a hell of a lot more drive space than I’ve ever had in a computer, and, well, just about everything else more than I’ve ever had in one, too.

This also takes Bon’s little clamshell iBook beyond what Apple said it could take when the computer came out, and gives her the new maximum for her little computer. This also takes the computer a step closer to it’s next big upgrade: a larger hard drive, so she too can install and use OS X.

A special thank you to [info]jaquiregina for the gifts. They’re wonderful, and most unexpected.

Oh, and yes, that does say 10.4.4 — I installed the new update yesterday.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Posted: 9:56:00 AM
Friday fun, super bonus iPod edition!

It’s Friday, and time for some end-of-the-week fun!

First off, it’s asshats. Let’s begin with this woman, who after a high speed chase, as well as firing a weapon at police officers is suing for having been shot by the cops. News flash for her: if you shoot at cops, it’s likely they’ll shoot back.

Then, and one that personally annoys, given my love of Dadaist art, it’s this person who got it in their mind that their art piece would be destroying another art piece: Fountain by Marcel Duchamp. I suspect that Duchamp himself might have laughed, though.

Now then, fun stuff. It’s another double list, with the first half dedicated to iPod links that I’ve used over the last few days with Dr. Theopolis, my iPod Mini.

What the pundits thought of the iPod in 2001.
A pretty complete “101,” courtesy of Apple.
How I put Remembering Our Dead on my Mini.
Now all I need is a brightly coloured wall to dance in front of.
BART supports the iPod!
Not at MacWorld Expo. Maybe at Good Vibrations? (NSFW)
I’ve only done a couple of these, — so far.
Can you use an iPod as a PDA? Well, I do.
Push my buttons, rub my click wheel. (Possibly NSFW)

Happy Trogday! (Flash required)
Make your own Sleeping Beauty Castle!
Some people have very selective interests. (Possibly NSFW)
Just how new are those new Vista features? (Flash required)
Now if only they had the rest of Tortura available! (Ads NSFW)
Too much sun, and it’ll be a slick willie! (NSFW)
A great photo that tells all you need to know about cat tongues.
Now this is a serious Beatles obsession!
Punk rock + children’s TV = Pancake Mountain.
Not an iPod link, just some good music to grab.
Comic break: Encounter Her. (Some NSFW)
Barris Kustoms put wheels on damned near anything.

A big list, with all the iPod goodies in there. Enjoy your weekend!

Cheers,
Gwen

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Posted: 4:47:00 PM
I am an enigma wrapped in a tortilla

Bon, as I’ve mentioned many a time, is a receiving manager at her local chain bookstore. This means she handles just about every book that comes into the store, takes care of customer orders, and also handles books being shipped out to customers. One of the lesser-known parts to all this is shipping books bought at her store for inmates in correctional facilities.

This morning, Bon mentioned to me a book that got shipped to an inmate. The book title is irrelevant: I didn’t ask. Who it was to was. It was going to Jose Merel, in the lockup in Alameda County. Those who’ve followed this ol’ weblog — or followed the Gwen Araujo murder case — know who I’m referring to

Yet again, this case touches me and my partner’s life.

I’m debating adding that to my Victim Impact Statement, but it may be too minor in scope compared to everything else I need to shoehorn in there. I’ll have to get that in the mail by the end of next week, so it can get to the District Attorney’s office in time to be distributed.

I keep rewriting and refining, as the permanence and importance of this particular document seems to overwhelm me. It will be pinned down soon, and I will be sharing it with a few very close friends for their input. Then, perhaps, I’ll put a copy of it on this very ‘blog. We shall see.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Posted: 7:33:00 PM
Pass me some of that Kool-Aid, wouldja?

It was MacWorld Expo day for me. I also had a full day of things planned while there, including two (free) seminars and meeting up with several friends of mine.

So I planned things out a bit. I packed up my bag, put MacWorld Expo information on the iPod, and otherwise got things together last night. I made it out the door on time this morning, and managed to shoehorn myself ever-so-perfectly into that space of time between when the reserved parking lot at the BART station goes free at 10:00 a.m. and the 10:02 a.m. train into San Francisco. I was feeling pretty lucky right about then, knowing that I’d scheduled — and executed — things just so perfectly. Too perfectly.

As my train crested the hill separating Bay Point from the Concord Naval Weapons Station, it dawned on me that the only absolutely mission critical item for the day — my Expo pass — was sitting in the office at home, in the very spot I placed it a month ago. It was there, of course, so that it would not be forgotten.

So I exited the train at my earliest opportunity, hopped the one back, and exited the station. I got back in the car, back home to get the pass and call [info]bearsir to reschedule, then went back to the station and into the City.

I got to Moscone Center, got my badge holder, then met up with Bear at our new location and time. We hung out for a while in a somewhat crowded and rather noisy dining area outside the exposition proper, and enjoyed each other’s company. Someday, Bear, we need to meet up in locales other than lobbies and such, methinks.

We eventually adjourned from our palaver, and I headed into the exhibition. First stop was the Aspyr booth, to see my friend Glenda. I also got a chance to play with Stubbs the Zombie for a bit, which was more than a little silly. After this, I wanted the various exhibits, where, I also ran across my friend Drago. We had an all-too-brief conversation in the middle of the action

I was impressed with the new Mac, though it was almost impossible to get close to any of them: the place was packed like I’ve not seen it before. This is a good sign if any that Apple is doing well. It is certainly a lot more encouraging than the 1997 MacWorld Expo, which was as upbeat as visiting a mortuary.

There were many nice things to see beyond just the Apple booth, mostly in the realm of iPod goodies. There was even a car stereo display, featuring (amongst others) an iPod equipped Lexus, Magnum, and Scion. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus thingy (where one could have gotten some serious freebies, so I’d heard) was also present, but was too mobbed with people to get anywhere close to it.

After a few hours of wandering through the crowds, I opted to make my way home. The trip back was uneventful.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Posted: 1:54:00 PM
Revenge of the bunny-suited masses

Programming note: the ol’ weblog is probably gonna be a little Apple Computer-centric this week, what with the new iPod and MacWorld Expo this week. Apologies in advance.

I wonder if I was the only one who laughed when the stock price for Apple — who released their first Intel-based Macintosh today — closed at $80.86?

If you don’t “get it,” be thankful.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to MacWorld Expo, not only to check out the new toys (though, I must admit, I’m pretty happy with what I got right now, thanks), but also meet up with several friends. The president of the local Rambler club will be there, as will a couple other friends of mine. Should be fun.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Posted: 10:20:00 PM
(In-) Law Breaking

I am pleasantly pleased to say that this was probably the most uneventful visit with the in-laws in, like, forever.

As previously mentioned, we did the gift exchange on Saturday. I talked about that in the previous entry.

On Sunday, we all got up relatively early and hit the road, heading out to the Isenberg Crane Reserve near Lodi, to spot some sandhill cranes — which we did. Lots of other waterfowl as well. We also tried to go to the Cosumnes River Preserve near Galt, but the roads in were flooded. We then had a huge lunch in Woodbridge (near Lodi) at a local Mexican place. Very tasty.

I expected at least some of the questions and such from the previous year at this point, at least as small talk. It didn’t happen. The conversation remained as pleasant as the meal. For that matter, there was no sense of “we’re trying to avoid conflict” from them.

We eventually made our way home, where we had a couple hours of down time before meeting up again to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at the local theatre. There was a timing snafu — the film started an hour later than was hosted on the Web — which meant an early and brief supper before the film. None of us were ready to eat again after the big lunch.

A note or two about the film itself. A lot of folks got their knickers in a twist about Lewis’ use of relatively heavy-handed Christian themes in his works. Yes, these remain in the film as well. I was aware of them as I watched, certainly. This said, I did not let something as silly as worry about that interfere with my enjoyment of the film. It was good, it was fun: that is all that really matters to me. I digress.

After the film, we met at the back of Little Car and said our goodbyes. This included Bon’s mom telling me to take care of Bon — and her telling Bon to take care of me. This was a moment not lost on Bon nor I, and meant a lot to us.

Bon’s mom is always cordial with us, I should add. She has just has the difficulty of ending up between Bon and I, and Bon’s father. I do have my suspicion that she may have had a talk with Bon’s dad, I dunno. Never the less, things were definitely different.

Of course, I could nit-pick. I could mention that Bon’s dad did remain somewhat distant with me, and would not hug me, shake, my hand, whatever. He remained to the opposite side of me in all affairs. Yet these are minor and irrelevant in the larger picture, particularly when one compares them to previous years.

Indeed, there was remarkable little drama. Heck, I’ll admit it: I was looking for the drama. It just wasn’t there. For this, I’m very happy.

I hope this is a trend.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Posted: 12:23:00 AM
Yet another step into the 21st century.

iPod MiniThe in-laws stopped by tonight. We’ll be with them tomorrow as well.

While the visits are often challenging in places, I cannot fault their taste in holiday gifts. Bon and I now have hers and hers matching iPod Minis to our names (well, almost matching: mine is silver, Bon’s iPod is pink), as well as some jewelry, a new tiki for the Enchanted Tiki Bathroom, and some Old Navy and iTunes gift certificates.

I tell ya, between this iPod and the G4, I feel like someone gave me a flyin’ car. It amazes me that this little box has as much memory available (6GB) as the computer I was using no less than four months ago. I’ve transferred over my somewhat pared-down music list on the drive, and find I have only filled about 1.6 GBs Time to rip more of our CDs, I suppose.

I also love the PDA capabilities of this thing. It holds all my Address Book contacts and my iCal schedule, and has the ability to store notes. Currently, that includes a complete BART schedule and every case currently presented on the Remembering Our Dead website. The latter will be most handy for me to have in my hand.

Oh, and I’m a geek: my iPod is officially named “Dr. Theopolis.” It joins Clango, 790, and Marvin on the desktop as I type this. I still have to put Gypsy in there, too. Bon is a geek as well: her iPod is SPD-13, which is an even more obscure reference.

The in-laws were okay, all in all. It’s early in the visit, and we’ve noticed that things really get going on the long day. More on that as it develops, but so far, so good.

Other things happened tonight, mostly centering around a shooting not far from here, an incident that caused the local police to inform Bon and I to go back inside when we were starting an evening walk.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Posted: 12:58:00 PM
“...and this is why you never use a one-armed man to scare people.”

Long-time readers of this here weblog will recall that the annual post-holiday visit with Bon’s folks can be difficult. Well okay, they can be more than difficult, as a review of how it all went in 2004 and 2005 can attest to.

They drive up from Southern California on Saturday, and we will be with them for much of Sunday. We’ve been reminding each other that it is only for one day, and the rest of the year they’ll be 400 miles south of us.

I feel sorriest most for Bon: for me, they’re just the in-laws — for her, she has parents she loves, but that she doesn’t want to be around.

Anyway — we’ll have our fun in the week after. It’s MacWorld Expo time, [info]bearsir is hitting town, and we both can decompress after the weekend.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Posted: 10:22:00 AM
Friday Links ‘06!

Hey look, the first Friday links of el nuevo año!

What better way to start with the dropping of the asshat! I’d like to drop these two, who seemed to think that keeping their foster kids in cages was appropriate. I especially like that they’ve agreed to lose the cases if they can have the kids back.

Now then, some fun!

The best of the year, viral video style. (Video viewing software required)
“The same procedure as last year, madam?”
Never worry about soy sauce again!
Well, some of it’s weird, but some of it’s cool.
There’s a monster at the end of the link!
I want a cell phone that sounds “the chime of death”.
I hope my writing never appears here.
Time to get some gel pens.
Seen here before, but now in flash format. (Flash required)
Proof that there are websites about everything.
This alarm clock is pure evil.
Needlepoint meets mug-shots, hilarity ensues.
“This banana for you!” (QuickTime required)
Alcoholics Anonymous funny pages!
Andy Warhol would be proud.
These are some wicked good downloads.
Now these are some hot cookies! (NSFW)
I want my Flash TV! (QuickTime required)

...and there ya go! Make the first weekend of 2006 a good one!

Cheers,
Gwen

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Posted: 5:14:00 PM
Rolling for initiative

Back in high school and college, I was a part of a gaming group called the “RBG Gaming Society.” Twenty-five members strong at our peak, we’d meet with clockwork regularity every Friday night over at my friend B.K.’s mom’s house. Well, in all actuality, the garage of said house, which was a modestly converted rec room complete with pool table. It was on said table — dutifully covered with a vinyl cover — that we would roll our dice and move our lead figurines around on a dry-erase “battle mat.”

We did more than just the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons back in those days, game wise. We would break out board games like Civilization (before it was a computer programme), Risk, and Diplomacy, or deal out some blackjack, poker, or hearts. We did our share of Car Wars, Paranoia, Illuminati, Arkham Horror and others that are likely even more obscure. I won’t even attempt to explain the Clay-O-Rama games.

Oh, and we even used that pool table to play pool on from time to time.

It was more than just a bunch of geeks who got together to game. It was our clique, or social outlet. We were not the popular crowd. Indeed, most of us were considered just too different from the norm to really be accepted in with the jocks and cheerleaders — let alone the bland, young yuppies of the mid and late 1980s.

Yes, I’ve always been an outsider. Do try to be surprised by that.

Eventually, it became more than just the Friday night gaming session, as we would meet on Saturday for more of the same, or during the week to watch Twin Peaks, Moonlighting, L.A. Law, or whatever television du jour caught our collective interest.

Of course, we also took our act on the road from time to time. Off to theaters, ren faire, and concerts. Yes, we also did two or three gaming conventions each year, where we acted like we owned the place. We’d come in wearing our RBG Gaming Society jerseys and bandanas, stake out our spots, and — by the end of a long holiday weekend — come home with a ribbon or two for our efforts.

Then something happened. We grew up.

One by one, we finished our time in College, and entered the workforce. We started to date, then got married. We got our own apartments (which led to gaming in a front room or two, versus the old garage). Some of us moved out of the area. We stuck with it for a good long time, even into the earliest years of my transition.

Still, once B.K. moved out of state, and I moved to Northern California, well, it was done. We were two of the three founders of the group, and without us, there wasn’t really a group to be had.

That was about eight years ago.

Many of us have tried to keep in contact, but we all have our own lives now. Our common bond is harder to find, and we all have about a decade’s worth of time spent building our own lives. Some of the members cannot be found, not even with the all-powerful Google.

I have found some, however. One is on-air talent for a Christian radio station, and another works for an areospace firm. There’s a finance director for a major firm, a game programmer, and a phone rep. B.K. is the editor of a literary magazine.

The thing is, I know this because I’ve been in contact with most the above folks lately. Even with our lives having gone into different directions, even with each of us having our own lives,there really still is a bond that somehow was forged in a drafty garage in El Monte, California.

Someday, I would really like to sit down in a room with all these folks again. Pulling out the dice would not be necessary, but I’d love to see their faces again, and remember what it was like back when I was in my twenties, complete with a coat of nostalgia to wipe away the rough spots.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Posted: 1:15:00 PM
Snippets of the Year

• Judging from today’s Rose Parade, it is as wet in Southern California as it is up here. Nothing like watching flower petals and pepper seed dripping off the floats. Still, I was hoping to see a float featuring a birthday cake — oh no! Alas, they were on Colorado Boulevard, not in MacArthur Park.

• Best line heard from Bob Eubanks during the parade coverage: “I’ve could never twirl my baton while wearing a rain slicker.” It was either a brilliant double entendré, or I have a dirty, dirty mind. Maybe a bit of both.

• Yes, it is still very wet here. We got a small respite last night, giving Bon and I just enough time to do our evening walk. Today, though, the sky has again opened up. I just keep reminding myself that it is supposed to be clearer and warmer later in the week, and curse myself for not having a full-spectrum lamp on the desk.

• At the suggestion of a friend of mine, I’ve started reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. It’s been better than I expected, though I do often have a hard time reading books about the art of writing. It’s just what I do, after all. Still, I do like discovering a bit of validation that my somewhat slip-shod manner of getting fingers to keyboard are not dissimilar to Ms. Lamott’s. I think, however, that that last sentence was a backhanded compliment to her.

• I got my first Transmissions column of the year out last night. Always a challenge when one is doing the ever-popular “end of the year retrospective” column. One might think those are easily cobbled together from the warty remains of the previous year’s pieces, in some sort of “I Love The Oughties” pastiche. No, it’s actually more difficult than that, because one actually has to make it sound like something cohesive and, frankly, worth bothering to read.

• Some might have thought that Bon’s schedule would have normalised in this post-holiday world, but not so: this week, she’s working 7:00 – 4:00, which sounds fine until you realise that’s 7:00 p.m., and yes, she’ll therefore be getting home just a couple hours before the sun hits the horizon. Gotta do those post-holiday returns, after all.

• For those who might be hitting Disneyland in the near future, and want to spot my dad: he is being promoted to Main Street Vehicles. You may see him running the Omnibus or Fire Truck in the near future, as well as conducting at Main St. Station. Again, look for Vern — and tell ‘em I sentcha.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Posted: 2:58:00 PM
Resolution #9

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t do resolutions. Well, I’ve not done one since 1978. That year, I resolved to stop thinking I was a girl. Clearly, it didn’t work. Besides, in many years, my year begins in Autumn, usually the say after Samhain — or at least on the 21st of November, when the Transgender Day of Remembrance is finished for the year.

Still, there is something to be said for the overall “clean slate” feeling that comes once the holiday season wraps up, when a brand-new, thick desk calendar takes up residence next to my pen and pencil cup, and when everyone starts putting the wrong year on their checks. It’s why I tend to plan out the next twelve months during the first of them, and will usually set some goals for myself in the upcoming calendar year. Ill also have some hopes of things that will come to pass in these twelve months, many f which require my involvement on one level or another. They aren’t resolutions, sure, but they’re close.

I have to say, though: looking back on the things I wanted to see happen in 2005, well, I do not have a stellar track record. I managed one item from a list of four, and it was probably the easiest of the bunch. I did better in 2004, though even then I did not get everything done — and one item from that list didn’t happen until last year. Nothing ever goes as planned, as Dennis De Young once sang.

This year, it breaks down like this:

– I want to drop some weight. It’s probably the most common item people speak of this time of year, especially after the excesses of the holidays. This is why you see all those weight loss commercials this time of year. This is one I’ve sort of started on a bit ago, and have already switched belt holes in the process. Of course, given that I’ve had largely the same figure for, oh, most of my life, well the process isn’t gonna be an easy one.

– I want to either get a lot more school speaking engagements going, get full time employment, or find some other avenue of bringing in enough money to allow us to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. Bookings haven’t been happening as of late — 2005 was very rough in that regard — and without them, well, we end up with a bit of a financial hole around here. So I’ll be looking for, well, just about anything. Thankfully, too, there is a definite possibility in the near future. We shall see.

– Like the last two years, I want to actually see movement toward getting the body work done on Little Car. This is something I would really like to see happen. It’s also something that will take quite a bit of a miracle to come to pass in the near future. We shall see, but I’m not holding my breath on this one.

– I want to continue to be here for Bon. To support her, to love her, and to help her weather the stuff she faces. I’d do that anyway, but it’s something that’s important to me, and something I had to say.

– I also want to continue to foster my established friendships. I’ve managed to reconnect with many old friends over the last couple of months, and I want to continue to do so within the year. This will also require me to be better with my correspondence, which is a long standing issue of mine.

– I’d like to do some “me work.” Over the last could years I’ve been so focused on projects and drama that, well, I feel like I’ve lost some of my center. I also feel I’ve let myself go a bit. I want to work on that. I think this will also be easier when our current roomie is off in her own place. This will give a bit more freedom in that regard.

– The last couple years I’ve mentioned wanting to do a book project. I’m not sure where I am with this thought. I’ve got a great possibility for one, but I’m actually not sure if I want to go forward with such. In this regard, I think I need to do a little work getting myself in a mindset where I can do such, or perhaps this is something I need to spend time evaluating and determining if it’s the right thing for me to pursue.

Mostly, I just hope for one thing: less drama, more comedy. The last couple of years — no, scratch that, the last several years — I’ve felt like I’ve had little time for me because I’ve been spending time lurching from one thing to the next. That doesn’t help anyone, least of all me.

Cheers,
Gwen

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Posted: 11:39:00 AM
Sturm und Drang

RainbowYesterday — while also being the last calendar year of 2005 — was Saturday. The usual provision run had to be made, in spite of it being the eve of twenty-ought-six. This also meant trying to avoid was all weather predictions said was to be a very, very dismal day.

Before we could really get started on our day, however, the wind kicked the extension cord that East BumbleFu¢k uses to siphon power from the next city over. In plain English, our power went out. I went ahead and got myself ready — doing my face with the aid of two candlepower — and released the garage door from its electrically-operated motor so we could get Little Car outside.

When we left, I should add, the sky was only mostly cloudy, and a deceptively beautiful rainbow held sway in the Northern sky. We hit our first stop, and did some shopping.

When we exited, the rain had begun. It looked to be okay, though we knew better: to the East was a large, black, wet looking sky. Rapidly approaching as that was, we knew we had to make a dash for it. Bon and I sprinted with our cart, tossed things in the trunk with lightning speed, and made our very wet way into Little Car. We did not hit the road immediately after, however. The winds wee throwing the rain nearly horizontal, and we also buffeting the car enough that it didn’t feel like it would be wise to take to the highways right at that moment. Such an opinion was confirmed when a shopping cart slammed into the back of the car (with enough force to shake the vehicle, but without enough to do any real damage to our heavy hunk o’ sheet metal) and the thunder and lightening began.

After about fifteen minutes, things cleared enough to where we could semi-safely hit the road in a somewhat drenched car. Off to grab a bit to eat, then hit the supermarket. We took to the relative warmth and convenience of Taco Bell, where we soon learned that it was one of the only locations in that center that actually still had power: the market was closed due to yet another own power outage. Defeated but unbowed, we headed back home to our still dark abode.

It wasn’t long after we got back that power was restored, at least to us. The sky also began the process of clearing, allowing us to go for a second try. The supermarket (and other parts of Antioch) was still dark, so we went to the other local one. On the plus side, it was the one we prefer that we ended up at: on the down side, my prescriptions are filled at the other one. No worries, though, I’ve got a bit of a cushion with what I have right now.

By the time we got home from the market, the darkened skies gave way to bright, beautiful sunshine. Now, after all the troubles of the morning, we had a yen to get out and about! Unfortunately, most of the New Year’s parties I’d heard of had cancelled in advance of this storm, there wasn’t anything going on at The Conga Lounge, and the Trader Vic’s in San Francisco was well out of our price range. We opted instead for a nice dinner out (yummy Italian food!), tossing on a flick (Barbarella), watching Dick Clark do what much be his final year counting it down (this seemed sad, no?), and otherwise finding our own ways of ringing in the new year (I’ll let you guess).

So now it’s 2006. Let’s hope this is a good’un.

Cheers,
Gwen

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