The power of not giving up

We are all familiar with the famous quote attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.” Those sage words of advice have served many people well over the years, but for me, I prefer one of Churchill’s similar, but lesser known quotes:

“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”

I learned the real value in living by those words last year when I got something most people never get – a second chance at a life that was taken away from.

I got a little story for you Ags …  Continue reading

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I’ll have a venti Pike Place with room for equality, please.

Today is Starbucks Appreciation Day, a sort-of response to Chick-fil-A Appreciation day, which I wrote about at length previously.  The general idea is to reward Starbucks for being a pro-marriage equality company, unlike the afore-mentioned chicken joint.

One thing I’ve tried to do lately on Facebook is highlight companies like Home Depot, Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, and others that are supportive of GLBT equality.  With the way the culture war seems to be dragging on, I find myself making a conscious effort more often to spend my money at places that are going to put some of it back into the community in various ways.  In many ways, this indirect support goes farther than my own activism in the community because it helps allow major corporations with high brand recognition and respect to raise awareness of equality on a national scale in a very positive way.  It’s hard to criticize positive, family-friendly messages such as Home Depot offering childrens workshops, even though some folks still manage to do so.   Continue reading

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Eating chicken for all the wrong reasons

Over the last twelve years I have had the opportunity to do a lot of media about various issues facing the GLBT community, but I never imagined I would do more media about the ongoing Chick-fil-A debate than any other issue.  Even the monumental achievement of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell failed to rate as high in concentrated, intense media interest as Chick-fil-A.  As media coverage progressed it became clear that the reason for that interest was due to the misrepresentation of the issue by the media and others.

I had been looking forward to an appearance on Geraldo At Large Sunday night where I was scheduled to go head-to-head against former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee about this whole issue, but due to the unfortunate shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the segment did not happen.  I also received a lengthy email from a conservative doctor accusing the GLBT community of engaging in religious persecution over this whole thing.  Both of those things have convinced me to write about it more fully here.   Continue reading

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So maybe this won’t be so easy after all

The tough part is always getting off the ground, and so far, we’ve been a little slow on the liftoff.  Since the foundation is a bit out of my league and there are a number of specific detail drawings I will need to submit to the City, I decided it would be prudent to consider hiring an architect to take care of all of it for us.  I also figured an architect might be able to look at more creative ways of designing the space to meet our needs.  What I discovered is that apparently architects are not interested in doing residential additions like ours.  I applaud their honesty in not wasting my time by getting to the point that our job is too small to be worth their time, but it doesn’t really get me anywhere.

Looks like I will continue to channel everything Mr. Stevenson taught me back at Norco High about residential architecture, and I will refer to the City standard detail drawings for some extra Houston-specific help.  Standard details should be good enough to get me a foundation that will pass muster for permitting.  I am, quite literally, back to the drawing board.

The other fun thing I’ve learned is that builders don’t seem to be all that interested in this kind of work, either.  The one builder who responded and came by to assess the project called it “a nuisance” job because it’s so small.  At least he’s still interested in bidding the job once I get him some foundation details.

At this point, I suppose I’m open to recommendations from friends for builders and architects.

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The biggest home improvement project I’ve ever undertaken

Yikes!  I can’t believe it’s been six months since my last post.  Seriously – I don’t know how those prolific bloggers do it.

This is the inaugural post for what should be many more related to the next big step in my world of home improvement.  A number of people enjoy my regular Facebook posts and photo galleries of various home improvement projects, so I wanted to share our next upcoming project and the wonderful journey it will no doubt be.  Up until now, we’ve done relatively small projects like renovating the bathroom (in three phases), cosmetic repairs and improvements, and replacement of exterior siding.  The next logical step is new construction, right? Continue reading

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Leaving the GOP: My Journey to the Democratic Party

I have to give credit to prominent Houston Republican Ed Hubbard for inspiring me to write this (you’ll understand why later).  I’ve told this story countless times, but figured it was time to put it to writing.  Redefining myself politically was an interesting journey and forced me to really evaluate the things that are important in my life and where they fit in political terms.  It’s a lengthy read, but I hope readers enjoy it.

On Tuesday, May 28, 1996, I remember walking into the Red Lion Inn in Ontario, California, to have my first experience with presidential politics.  I had no real idea of what to expect other than some Secret Service at the door and a long wait.  I got inside and was surprised when the crowd pushed me and several other young people up toward the front.  They wanted everyone to see that young people were eager to support then-72 year-old Bob Dole

I wasn’t really sure who I was going to support for president at that point, but the event was a just a couple of miles from my house and I went on over if for no other reason than to say I was there.  I still have the slip of paper Bob Dole signed for me that day to show for it.  Up to that point I had only voted once, in 1994, when I voted for Republican Pete Wilson for governor and Democrat Gray Davis for lieutenant governor.  Although I grew up with Republican parents, neither showed any real interest in politics, and neither voted regularly.  Unlike them, I always had an interest in public policy and government, so I knew I wanted to be informed and involved. 

Later that year I joined the US Air Force and left home.  I wasn’t all that impressed with Bill Clinton’s approach to national defense and what appeared to be a lack of support for members of the military.  When you’re a young airman taking home $513 a month, you tend to put a lot of weight on who is more likely to support the military.  And thus I began my life as a Republican.

Continue reading

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Thank God, it’s over (for now)

It all seems just a bit surreal that the election is finally over.  Well, the bulk is behind us, since there will be some runoffs, but I am pleased to be done with most of it.

What I found particularly interesting was what appeared to me to be an increased emphasis on the Houston GLBT Political Caucus by a number of organizations and candidates that we haven’t really experienced in a while.  What was so interesting was not that they were on an anti-GLBT bent, but rather that the Caucus was singled out by name on a lot of campaign literature, in emails, and on the stump.  In some cases, I was tossed in the mix by name as well.

Of course, there were the usual suspects you would expect this from – the social right wingers who are still holding on to Anita Bryant’s 1977 talking points and Dave “I’m running because I’m not a lesbian” Wilson, but an incumbent HISD trustee decided to join in on the mix in a last-ditch desperate attempt to scare votersContinue reading

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Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is Dead

Airman 1st Class Noel FreemanYesterday was indeed a joyous occasion for countless thousands of people across our nation as one of the worst pieces of legislation ever to regulate our Armed Forces was finally repealed. 

After 18 years and almost 15,000 discharges Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is dead.

I have fought the fight for repeal since my own discharge on December 20, 2000.  I’ve been to Washington to lobby Congress on many occasions, led a delegation from Texas to the halls of Capitol Hill, written untold dozens of letters and made hundreds of phone calls to make this day a reality.  Certainly, there is cause for me to celebrate.

Nonetheless, I didn’t really feel like celebrating.  I stayed home, away from the one “official” celebration at a local bar.  I was moved to tears when the Senate passed repeal because I knew the president would sign it, and I knew the clock was ticking toward repeal at that very moment, but in the end it was more depressing than anything.  Continue reading

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Does the ‘will of the voters’ have an expiration date?

The debate over the on-again, off-again red light cameras (RLC’s) here in Houston certainly has reached a boiling point, with Mayor Parker calling a vote of City Council to potentially do two things: 1.) accept a settlement agreement or pursue termination of the RLC contract with ATS in court; and 2.) repeal the ordinance that originally authorized the contract.  The Council meeting promises to be very exciting.

Despite the arguments on both sides of the RLC debate, I think there is something that gets lost in all of this – the fact that the election was improper in the first place.  Federal Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the election invalid because it violated a provision of the City Charter that requires citizens wishing to repeal an ordinance to submit a petition to do so within 30 days of the passage of the ordinance (petitioners waited more than 5 years), but that fact seemed to me to get completely glossed over in all the legal and political wrangling and public debate over whether the RLCs should be on or off, if they were for safety or revenue, and if the City did or did not breach the contract with ATS.

The crucial point here is that the voters sent a very clear message — in 1913. Continue reading

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We are the Aggies, the Aggies are we …

I was recently interviewed by Time Magazine for a piece examining the influence of Texas A&M on Governor Rick Perry ’72.  The author explained she was interested in writing a piece that helped to explain Texas A&M and the Aggie experience to a national audience, since it would appear A&M is (not surprisingly) getting kicked around a bit on the national stage.  She directly references this blog, so I thought I would take an opportunity to explain a little more in depth what it means to be an Aggie, or at least what it means to me.

We have a saying at A&M that from the outside you can’t understand it, and from the inside, you can’t explain it.  This is true on a lot of different levels, but I think it rings true at many schools rich with history and tradition.  The Corps of Cadets brings a unique perspective to those traditions and our University’s history that often does take a bit of explaining, however.  Appropriately, tomorrow happens to be FOW Sunday, the first day of Freshman Orientation Week, when new cadets will join the ranks of the Corps and will become part of 135 years of history and tradition. Continue reading

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