Saturday, July 31, 2010
Gibson stands 7 feet tall when he is upright. That's taller than most humans.
It was tall enough to land the 3-year-old a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Gibson's owner has had Great Danes for more than 20 years, and says she's never seen anything like him.
There was no word on how much he eats.
Gibson was officially named the world's tallest dog on Tuesday.
Greatest Dane - Now a Guinness record holder, Gibson retains his roots as a therapy dog
Gibson shows off his chops at the Meadow View Manor nursing home recently. Sandy Hall, Gibson's owner, brings the dog to the facility regularly. At 43 inches high at the shoulders, the dog has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest Great Dane.
This detail shot shows just how big a paw Gibson has.
Some of them stood, the weight of their bodies bolstered by the steel walkers beside their feet.
Some of them sat in wheelchairs, their eyes as big as gauze pads.
They scanned the glass doors recently looking out from Meadow View Manor, waiting for their own brush with fame.
"As soon as they hear Gibson's coming, they gather around the front door," said Maureen Betancourt, the activities director at the Grass Valley nursing home. "He's developed quite a following."
The world's tallest dog, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, Gibson stands 43 inches high at the shoulders.
As soon as Gibson padded in, followed by owner Sandy Hall, the small knot of white-haired men and women peeled back the years, erupting into cheers and clapping as if they'd just been visited by Artie Shaw.
Gibson and Sandy Hall call it a day as a Meadow View Manor nursing homeresident, left, escorts them down the hall.
Nurses clamored around the bookshelf-sized pooch, snapping photos with their cell phones.
The Grass Valley Great Dane obliged the masses like a modern-day rock star, lifting his front paw to shake hands, plant raspberries on ladies' cheeks, even plopping his 160-pound frame into 92-year-old Ruth Eddy's lap.
"He's always friendly to me. He gave me a kiss and almost took out half my cheek," Eddy cackled, patting the dog's football-sized head.
About the only thing Gibson didn't do was sign autographs. Seems nobody had a pen handy.
Since his birth three years ago, Gibson's climb to superstardom has been as fast as his growth rate.
Wherever Gibson goes, the residents will follow. Mitch Berry, left, comes out of his room for a quick visit.
In the past year, the Harlequin Great Dane has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," barked on the "Mark and Brian" nationally syndicated radio program and been a guest on several Sacramento-area news programs.
He's also been the featured attraction at various fund-raisers supporting the building of the Golden Empire Humane Society's no-kill animal shelter on Rough and Ready Highway.
Told they were standing next to history on a recent Wednesday, visitors to Meadow View Manor dropped their jaws at the sight of Gibson the Great Dane.
"That's insane," said Eric Martin, delivering office supplies to the convalescent home Wednesday.
One little girl, walking up to Gibson in the parking lot, said he looked like a horse.
Gibson takes a seat in 92-year-old Ruth Eddy's lap during a recent visit.
"That's OK, Gibson," Hall cooed, patting Gibson's shoulders and adjusting the collar that a dog-food outlet has paid him to wear. "You've been called a lot worse."
Before Gibson became famous, Hall had him certified as a therapy dog for hospital patients.
Hall never figured Gibson would be larger than life. In fact, the dog's mother can stand upright in between Gibson's legs, Hall said.
Gibson eats eight to 10 cups of dry dog food a day, supplemented by lightly cooked hamburger and chicken. On special days, the Sicilian-bred Hall gives her pal bits of cheese pizza and linguini.
"I keep all that stuff in the freezer for him," said Hall, who worked in the home health field and moonlighted as a jazz guitarist in San Jose before moving to Nevada County a few years ago and starting a dog-breeding business.
The diet fortifies Gibson after long road trips either in a rented stretch limousine or in the back seat of Hall's 1961 Ford Falcon, where the dog's head bobs out one window, his tail the other.
Gibson enjoys a belly rub given by a Meadow View Manor resident during the Great Dane's visit to the facility recently.
He needs a new ride, his owner said. Pronto.
And so, Sandy Hall left Meadow View Manor gently imploring Gibson's fans to spread the word.
Bring your wallets, because Gibson's ready for his close-up.
The librarian looks up and calmly remarks - "So, you're the one who took our phone book..."
She walks into the car dealership and, as it just so happens, gets the owner himself. He asks her what kind of car she wants and she replies, "Well, sonny, I can't remember the name exactly, but it has something to do with hate or anger." The owner replies, "Well, let's see Oh yes, you want a Plymouth Fury! We have a couple on the lot. What color do you prefer?"
The lady has some trouble explaining the exact color to him, so she reaches into her shopping bag, takes out an ear of corn, strips down the shucks and says, "I want this color sonny." To which Nathan replies, "Ma'am I'm sorry, but we don't have any in this color. Could I show you a nice blue one?"
No son, I want this color. But ma'am, they didn't make that color! Maybe a cherry red one would suit you? says the owner, obviously worried about losing a sale. By this time, the old lady gets mad, and starts throwing things at the owner, thereby chasing him out of the office and into the lot. One of the salesmen, coming into the office from the back door, notices the disruption and asks the secretary what the old woman was so upset about.
Ok, ready for it?????
The secretary replies, "Apparently, Hale hath no Fury like the woman's corn!"
Friday, July 30, 2010
by: Jenn Ruddy
Ten years ago, the gay bar in Saskatoon was one of few places where queers could go to meet one another and comfortably be themselves. Today, it's more acceptable to be openly queer at straight establishments than it used to be, says Skipp Anderson, owner of Saskatoon's newest gay bar, 302 Lounge and Discothèque.
"I met my last boyfriend buying groceries," he says. "It's not like the old days when [the gay bar was] the only place you met people."
With so many queers frequenting straight bars and restaurants nowadays, Anderson will open an inclusive gay nightclub and lounge on Aug 6 that offers the same services as Saskatoon's straight hangouts.
For years, Diva's has been the only gay bar in Saskatoon, but it doesn't have a food menu. In 2004, a gay lounge called Headquarters opened, but it lasted for only a few years.
"My goal is to offer the same atmosphere and quality of food and service as the other high-end lounges, so they [queers] have a choice," says Anderson.
His theory? If given an option, queers will choose 302 over places like Earl's.
"Unless I'm going to Toronto or Vancouver, you never get the same services that a straight bar would have," says Anderson. "You don't have waiters, you don't have shooter people, you don't have a kitchen. It's always baffled me. I'm like, 'why?' Gay bars are rockin'. They're always full. Why don't they ever have the same services?"
Saskatoon's first gay bar, Numbers, opened 30 years ago on 22nd Street. It changed its name to Diva's in the early '90s and moved to where it is now, the historical Avenue Building on 3rd Ave and 21st Street. Kelly Faber, general manager and owner of Diva's, has been with the bar for almost 29 years.
"I got hired as a bouncer a month before I turned 16, which was illegal, but it was a different time back then," says Faber.
When Numbers opened, it was licensed as a private club, so staff could regulate who entered. Diva's has retained this. In order to get in, you have to hold a membership, which can be purchased for $25 a year, or be accompanied by a member. Faber says the club sells about 300 memberships a year. The entrance to Diva's is in an alley and to get into the club, you have to be buzzed in by a bouncer.
"It was a safety thing back then," says Faber. "It's nice to have it still in place."
But Anderson says times are changing and that you won't need a membership to get into 302.
"Ten years ago, it was very hush, hush. People had a lot of trouble coming out so you'd go down those back alleys, you'd get buzzed in, because it was all about privacy. Nowadays, being gay isn't a big deal," he says.
Faber disagrees. She says it's true that some straight bars are more gay friendly than others, but some queers, especially the older crowd, still feel more comfortable in a gay bar and value the privacy that Diva's offers.
Faber welcomes 302 and hopes the two bars can work together. She wonders, though, why 302 will be a nightclub and not strictly a queer lounge, which she says is needed in Saskatoon.
"Why have another nightclub, because the community that doesn't go to the bar currently loses out," she says. "You've still got the over 35 group — their needs aren't being met."
Anderson says 302 will fill this gap by providing a broader range of entertainment, like dinner theatre nights and dance lessons. The space will be available for private bookings when the bar is closed from Sunday to Tuesday or if the queer community wants to hold public events, like acoustic music nights and poetry jams or lesbian dances, and so on.
"My goal is not to steal people or shut down Diva's," says Anderson. "It's to offer something new to the city."
The new bar is located in a 19th century warehouse at 302 Pacific Avenue. The space is 6,500 square feet with a capacity of 385 people and is being marketed to "upscale, urban and sophisticated men and women," according to its Facebook page. Anderson describes the design of the bar as "slick and modern." It has three in-house DJs and a dance floor.
The hall is almost entirely booked for the next six months, and the lounge is no longer taking reservations for its opening night in less than two weeks. 302 was originally scheduled to open in early July but was flooded with four inches of rainwater when Saskatoon was hit by a major storm. Aside from that, everything is going well.
"I have had amazing feedback," says Anderson. "I thought it was going to be mixed, but I have not heard one negative thing. Everyone is incredibly excited with our philosophy and the concept we're providing."
302 Lounge and Discotheque on Facebook
Diva's Private Club on Facebook
Your Guide, Ramon Johnson
Coming out is the process of personally accepting your sexuality and disclosing it to yourself, family, co-workers and friends. Coming out is different for every gay or bisexual person since there are varying degrees of sexuality (see Kinsey Scale) and the circumstances that surround our lifestyles differ.
Coming out is a confusing time for many people. Accepting your sexuality (or coming out to yourself) can bring about a number of fears. Will your family or friends stop loving you? Will you ever get married or have children? Will you be discrimated against or made fun of? These are all valid concerns mainly rooted in the fear of the unknown; which is why many referece coming out as being reborn. This is an opporunity for you to look introspectively and re-evalutate who you are and who you want to be.
Dear Love Doctor,
I will come right out and say it. I think I'm gay. The reason I think I'm gay is that there is this guy that I know at school and when he's around or looks at me, my throat gets all tight and I feel light-headed... almost like I'm going to upchuck. I don't get this feeling when I look at any of the girls. Does this for sure make me gay?
High School Boy
Dear High School,
Well it may be so. But not necessarily. I am sorry to tell you this, but you may be experiencing your first crush on a member of the same sex. Just because you have a crush on a boy doesn't necessarily make you gay. Many boys and in fact men often have sexual fantasies about being with a member of their own sex, sexually. Some act on the desire, some don't. You don't say your age, but I would assume you to be 15 to 17. My advice to you, and you MUST be careful, is to see if this boy is also attracted to you. Tread carefully, especially if you don't have a anti-bullying rule at your school. Ask him to see a movie with you, get to know him and maybe he feels the way you do. Don't be disappointed if he doesn't, he may be all into girls. The other thing I want to mention is that you really may be doing what the experts call experimenting - again, neither indicative of your gayness, but rather healthy curiosity. You could always speak to the guidance counselor as many of them are now trained in dealing with homosexuality in the school place.
Hope this helps and happy experimenting!
The Love Doctor
--Send your questions about love to "The Love Doctor" directly from 'OZ' - The 'Other' Side of the Rainbow! I have added an email link that goes direct to The Love Doctor - this will enable quicker responses from him. You can do this by clicking on his picture in the sidebar and put your question in the email. This will ensure that The Love Doctor gets your question. The Love Doctor forwards his replies to me for posting consideration. Note: Due to the high volume of letters that The Love Doctor receives, not all letters will be posted on 'OZ' - but the Love Doctor will reply to every email. (so he says)
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Narcisse, Manitoba - NARCISSE GARTER SNAKE DENS NEAR INWOOD MANITOBA
The Narcisse Snake Pits are located six kilometers north of Narcisse, Manitoba. The dens are the winter home of tens of thousands of Red-sided Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis). These pits are the largest concentration in the world of this particular type of snake. Their winter dens are subterranean caverns formed by the area's water-worn limestone bedrock. In the spring, they come up from their dens to the snake pits, where they engage in mating rituals. Then they disperse into the nearby marshes for the summer.
The best time to visit the Narcisse Snake Pits is late April to early May, which is the mating season. Another good time to go is early September, when the snakes slither back down to their winter dens.
A married couple were asleep when the phone rang at 2 in the morning. The wife (undoubtedly blonde), picked up the phone, listened a moment and said "How should I know, that's 200 miles from here!" and hung up.
The husband said, "Who was that?" The wife said, "I don't know, some woman wanting to know if the coast is clear."
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Two blondes are walking down the street. One notices a compact on the sidewalk and leans down to pick it up. She opens it, looks in the mirror and says, "Hmm, this person looks familiar." The second blonde says, "Here, let me see!" So the first blonde hands her the compact. The second one looks in the mirror and says, "You dummy, it's me!"
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A blonde suspects her boyfriend of cheating on her, so she goes out and buys a gun. She goes to his apartment unexpectedly and when she opens the door she finds him in the arms of a redhead. Well, the blonde is really angry. She opens her purse to take out the gun, and as she does so, she is overcome with grief. She takes the gun and puts it to her head.
The boyfriend yells, "No, honey, don't do it!!!"
The blonde replies, "Shut up, you're next!"
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A blonde was bragging about her knowledge of state capitals.
She proudly says, "Go ahead, ask me, I know all of them."
A friend says, "OK, what's the capital of Wisconsin?"
The blonde replies, "Oh, that's easy: W."
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What did the blonde ask her doctor when he told her she was pregnant?
"Is it mine?"
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Bambi, a blonde in her fourth year as a UCLA freshman, sat in her US government class. The professor asked Bambi if she knew what Roe vs. Wade was about. Bambi pondered the question then finally said, "That was the decision George Washington had to make before he crossed the Delaware"
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Returning home from work, a blonde was shocked to find her house ransacked and burglarized. She telephoned the police at once and reported the crime. The police dispatcher broadcast the call on the radio, and a K-9 unit, patrolling nearby was the first to respond.
As the K-9 officer approached the house with his dog on a leash, the blonde ran out on the porch, shuddered at the sight of the cop and his dog, then sat down on the steps. Putting her face in her hands, she moaned,
"I come home to find all my possessions stolen. I call the police for help, and what do they do? They send me a BLIND policeman."
By Shamecca Harris, 365gay.com
Together with tour sponsor Virgin Mobile, Lady Gaga has reached out to homeless youth shelters who serve LGBT youth in a national campaign to attract volunteerism to an admirable cause.
The singer targeted organizations in 25 cities with a key focus on homeless LGBT youth. In exchange for an eight hours contribution to one of the selected shelters, some worthy Gaga fans will receive free tickets to her sold-out Monster Ball tour.
A group of diehard fans, kicked off the campaign Tuesday at Hollywood’s Covenant House in Los Angeles. Fourteen volunteers spent much of the day painting the common room the outreach center.
According to the Advocate, Covenant House is the only program of its kind in the city. The organization provides shelter, counseling medical services and career and financial advice to homeless youth.
“I’d say about 10% of our youth are LGBT,” said Sylvia LaMalfa, Associate Executive Director of Covenant House California. “It’s sad to say, but a disproportionately high number of youth are driven from their homes because they’re LGBT.”
Although free concert tickets were an added incentive, many of the day’s volunteers seemed invested in helping LGBT youth.
“If it wasn’t benefiting LGBT youth, I don’t know if we’d have been quite as eager to do this,” 18-year-old volunteer David told the Advocate. “But it’s important to us — and you get Lady Gaga tickets.”
My five-year old students are learning to read. Yesterday one of them pointed at a picture in a zoo book and said, "Look at this! It's a frickin' elephant!"
I took a deep breath, then asked..."What did you call it?"
"It's a frickin' elephant! It says so on the picture!"
And so it does...
Hooked on phonics! Ain't it wonderful? Now that's funny, I don't care who you are.
FOR THOSE WHO LOVE THE PHILOSOPHY OF AMBIGUITY, AS WELL AS THE IDIOSYNCRASIES OF ENGLISH:
1. DON'T SWEAT THE PETTY THINGS AND DON'T PET THE SWEATY THINGS.
2. ONE TEQUILA, TWO TEQUILA, THREE TEQUILA, FLOOR.
3. ATHEISM IS A NON-PROPHET ORGANIZATION.
4. IF MAN EVOLVED FROM MONKEYS AND APES, WHY DO WE STILL HAVE MONKEYS AND APES?
5. THE MAIN REASON THAT SANTA IS SO JOLLY IS BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHERE ALL THE BAD GIRLS LIVE.
6. I WENT TO A BOOKSTORE AND ASKED THE SALESWOMAN, "WHERE'S THE SELF- HELP SECTION?" SHE SAID IF SHE TOLD ME, IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE.
7. WHAT IF THERE WERE NO HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS?
8. IF A DEAF CHILD SIGNS SWEAR WORDS, DOES HIS MOTHER WASH HIS HANDS WITH SOAP?
9. IF SOMEONE WITH MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES THREATENS TO KILL HIMSELF, IS IT CONSIDERED A HOSTAGE SITUATION?
10. IS THERE ANOTHER WORD FOR SYNONYM?
11. WHERE DO FOREST RANGERS GO TO "GET AWAY FROM IT ALL?"
12. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU SEE AN ENDANGERED ANIMAL EATING AN ENDANGERED PLANT?
13. IF A PARSLEY FARMER IS SUED, CAN THEY GARNISH HIS WAGES?
14. WOULD A FLY WITHOUT WINGS BE CALLED A WALK?
15. WHY DO THEY LOCK PETROL STATION BATHROOMS? ARE THEY AFRAID SOMEONE WILL CLEAN THEM?
16. IF A TURTLE DOESN'T HAVE A SHELL, IS HE HOMELESS OR NAKED?
17. CAN VEGETARIANS EAT ANIMAL CRACKERS?
18. IF THE POLICE ARREST A MIME, DO THEY TELL HIM HE HAS THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT?
19. WHY DO THEY PUT BRAILLE ON THE DRIVE-THROUGH BANK MACHINES?
20. HOW DO THEY GET DEER TO CROSS THE ROAD ONLY AT THOSE YELLOW ROAD SIGNS?
21. WHAT WAS THE BEST THING BEFORE SLICED BREAD?
22. ONE NICE THING ABOUT EGOTISTS: THEY DON'T TALK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.
23. DOES THE LITTLE MERMAID WEAR AN ALGEBRA?
24. DO INFANTS ENJOY INFANCY AS MUCH AS ADULTS ENJOY ADULTERY?
25. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE A CIVIL WAR?
26. IF ONE SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMER DROWNS, DO THE REST DROWN TOO?
27. IF YOU ATE BOTH PASTA AND ANTIPASTO, WOULD YOU STILL BE HUNGRY?
28. IF YOU TRY TO FAIL, AND SUCCEED, WHICH HAVE YOU DONE?
29. WHOSE CRUEL IDEA WAS IT FOR THE WORD 'LISP' TO HAVE 'S' IN IT?
30. WHY ARE HEMORRHOIDS CALLED "HEMORRHOIDS" INSTEAD OF "ASSTEROIDS"?
31. WHY IS IT CALLED TOURIST SEASON IF WE CAN'T SHOOT AT THEM?
32. WHY IS THERE AN EXPIRATION DATE ON SOUR CREAM?
33. IF YOU SPIN AN ORIENTAL PERSON IN A CIRCLE THREE TIMES, DO THEY BECOME DISORIENTED?
34. CAN AN ATHEIST GET INSURANCE AGAINST ACTS OF GOD?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
COLORADO - Hours after admitting that his sexual liason with a male prostitute was a "massage gone awry," Ted Haggard has admitted he is again feeling Gay urges.
"What can I say," said Haggard. "I over-repented and shot straight past being straight."
Haggard, who gets paid to tell people how they are supposed to act, was forced to resign nearly four years ago as president of the politically powerful National Association of Evangelicals and to step down from the megachurch he founded, after admitting that he had bought methamphetamine from, and had a sexual encounter with a gay prostitute.
This time around, Haggard said it was a trip to a steam bath gone horribly wrong.
"I'm just minding my heterosexual business having a steam and then all hell broke loose," said Haggard. "Then all of a sudden I'm doing meth and having sex with a dude named Chuck. I blame the steam."
Haggard recently started a new church in his backyard and has built his congregation to more than 200 in just two months.
"Tiger Woods needs to golf. Michael Vick needs to be playing football," said Haggard, who also admitted to electrocuting a puppy during a "trip to a dog park gone awry."
While this latest setback threatens his non-stop attempt to tell Gays and Lesbians they are going to Hell, Haggard said he feels like he's ready to give it all one more shot.
"I need to be leading a church," said Haggard. "I'm hoping that this time around, I repent the exact right amount to be heterosexual."
A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack.
"Miss Whack, I'd like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday."
Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name. The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it's okay, he knows the bank manager.
Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.
The frog says, "Sure. I have this," and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.
Very confused, Patty explains that she'll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.
She finds the manager and says, " There's a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral."
She holds up the tiny pink elephant. "I mean, what in the world is this?"
(you're gonna love this)
The bank manager looks back at her and says...
"It's a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan, His old man is a Rolling Stone."
Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.
There is no fast food.
Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of "pretend" bills with not enough money.
In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.
Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time.
Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment. He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care (weekend, evening, on a holiday or right when they're about to leave for vacation). He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.
Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times.
The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.
There is only one TV between them, and a remote with dead batteries.
Each father will be required to know all of the words to every stupid song that comes on TV and the name of each and every character on cartoons.
The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, which they will apply to themselves either while driving or making three lunches.
Each man will have to make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla and one marker; and get a 4 year old to eat a serving of peas.
Each man must adorn himself with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep his nails polished and eyebrows groomed. The men must try to get through each day without snot, spit-up or barf on their clothing.
During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.
They must try to explain what a tampon is for when the 6-yr old boy finds it in the purse.
They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.
Each will need to read a book and then pray with the children each night without falling asleep, and then feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair each morning by 7:00.
They must leave the home with no food on their face or clothes.
They must clean up after their sick children at 2:00 a.m. and then spend the remainder of the day tending to that child and waiting on them hand and foot until they are better.
They must have a loving, age appropriate reply to, "You're not the boss of me".
A test will be given at the end of the six weeks,and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name.
Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up.
The kids vote them off the island based on performance.
The last man wins only if . . . he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice. If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years ...eventually earning the right to be called Mother!
After you get done laughing, send this to as many females as you think will get a kick out of it and as many men as you think can handle it
Freemasonry is administratively organized into Grand Lodges (or sometimes Orients) that each govern a particular jurisdiction made up of subordinate (or constituent) Lodges. Grand Lodges recognize each other through a process of landmarks and regularity. There are also appendant bodies, which are organizations related to the main branch of Freemasonry, but with their own independent administration.
Freemasons define Freemasonry as "a system of morality," using the metaphors of operative stonemasons' tools and implements, against the allegorical backdrop of the building of King Solomon's Temple, to convey what is most generally defined as "a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
While Freemasonry has often been called a "secret society," it is more correct to say that it is an esoteric society, in that certain aspects are private. From many quarters, Freemasons have stated that Freemasonry has, in the 21st century, become less a secret society and more of a "society with secrets." The private aspects of modern Freemasonry are the modes of recognition amongst members and particular elements within the ritual.
There have been many disclosures and exposés dating as far back as the eighteenth century. These often lack the proper context for true understanding of the content, may be outdated for various reasons, or could be outright hoaxes on the part of the author, as in the case of the Taxil hoax.
Grand Lodges and Grand Orients are independent and sovereign bodies that govern Masonry in a given country, state, or geographical area (termed a jurisdiction). There is no single overarching governing body that presides over world-wide Freemasonry; connections between different jurisdictions depend solely on mutual recognition. There are two major branches of Freemasonry: "regular" Grand Lodges that are recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and "liberal" or irregular Grand Orients that are recognized by the Grand Orient de France. Irregular also encompasses any other Masonic group not recognized by the UGLE. However, the usage of "Lodge" versus "Orient" alone is not an indicator of regularity.
Regularity is a constitutional mechanism by which Grand Lodges or Grand Orients give one another mutual recognition. This recognition allows formal interaction at the Grand Lodge level, and gives individual Freemasons the opportunity to attend meetings at Lodges in other recognized jurisdictions. Conversely, regularity proscribes interaction with Lodges that are irregular. A Mason who visits an irregular Lodge may have his membership suspended for a time, or he may be expelled. For this reason, all Grand Lodges maintain lists of other jurisdictions and lodges they consider regular.
Grand Lodges that afford mutual recognition and allow intervisitation are said to be in amity. As far as the UGLE is concerned, regularity is predicated upon a number of landmarks, set down in the UGLE Constitution and the Constitutions of those Grand Lodges with which they are in amity. Even within this definition there are some variations with the quantity and content of the Landmarks from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Other Masonic groups organise differently.
The Masonic Lodge
A Lodge (often termed a Private Lodge or Constituent Lodge in Masonic constitutions) is the basic organizational unit of Freemasonry. Every new Lodge must be warranted by a Grand Lodge, but is subject to its direction only in enforcing the published Constitution of the jurisdiction. A Lodge must hold full meetings regularly at published dates and places. It will elect, initiate and promote its own members and officers; it will own, occupy or share premises; and will normally build up a collection of minutes, records and equipment. Like any other organization it will have formal business, annual general meetings (AGMs), charity funds, committees, reports, bank accounts and tax returns, and so forth.
A man can only be initiated, or made a Mason, in a Lodge, of which he may well remain a subscribing member for life. A Master Mason is generally entitled to visit any Lodge meeting under any jurisdiction in amity with his own, and a Lodge may well offer hospitality to such a visitor after the formal meeting. He is first usually required to check the regularity of that Lodge, and must be able to satisfy that Lodge of his own regularity; and he may be refused admission if adjudged likely to disrupt the harmony of the Lodge. If he wishes to visit the same Lodge repeatedly, he may be expected to join it, and pay a membership subscription.
Freemasons correctly meet as a Lodge, not in a Lodge, although Masonic premises may be called Lodges or Temples ("of Philosophy and the Arts"). In many countries, Masonic Centre or Hall has replaced Temple to avoid arousing prejudice and suspicion. Several different Lodges, as well as other Masonic organisations, often use the same premises at different times.
Early Lodges often met in a tavern or any other convenient fixed place with a private room. According to Masonic tradition, the Lodge of medieval stonemasons was on the southern side of the building site, with the sun warming the stones during the day. The social Festive Board (or Social Board), part of the meeting is thus sometimes called the South.
Most Lodges consist of Freemasons living or working within a given town or neighbourhood. Other Lodges are composed of Masons with a particular shared interest, profession or background. Shared schools, universities, military units, Masonic appointments or degrees, arts, professions and hobbies have all been the qualifications for such Lodges. In some Lodges, the foundation and name may now be only of historic interest, as over time the membership evolves beyond that envisaged by its "founding brethren"; in others, the membership remains exclusive.
There are also specialist Lodges of Research, with membership drawn from Master Masons only, with interests in Masonic Research (of history, philosophy, etc.). Lodges of Research are fully warranted but, generally, do not initiate new candidates. Lodges of Instruction in UGLE may be warranted by any ordinary Lodge for the learning and rehearsal of Masonic Ritual.
Every Masonic Lodge elects certain officers to execute the necessary functions of the lodge's work. These are the Worshipful Master (essentially the lodge President), the Senior and Junior Wardens (Vice Presidents), the Secretary and the Treasurer. In addition to these elected officers, lodges will have various appointed officers such as Stewards, a Tyler, and a Chaplain appointed to lead a non-denominational prayer at the convocation of meetings or activities (often, but not necessarily, a clergyman). The specific offices and their functions vary between jurisdictions.
Many offices are replicated at Provincial and Grand Lodge levels, but with the addition of the word 'Grand' somewhere in the title. For example, where every lodge has a 'Junior Warden', each Grand Lodge has a 'Grand Junior Warden'. In addition there are a number of offices that exist only at the Grand Lodge level.
Ritual, symbolism, and morality
Masonic ritual makes use of the architectural symbolism of the tools of the medieval operative stonemason. Freemasons, as speculative masons (meaning philosophical building rather than actual building), use this symbolism to teach moral and ethical lessons of the principles of "Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth" — or as related in France: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".
Two of the principal symbols always found in a Lodge are the square and compasses. Some Lodges and rituals explain these symbols as lessons in conduct: for example, that Masons should "square their actions by the square of virtue" and to learn to "circumscribe their desires and keep their passions within due bounds toward all mankind". However, as Freemasonry is non-dogmatic, there is no general interpretation for these symbols (or any Masonic symbol) that is used by Freemasonry as a whole.
These moral lessons are communicated in performance of allegorical ritual. A candidate progresses through degrees gaining knowledge and understanding of himself, his relationship with others and his relationship with the Supreme Being (as per his own interpretation). While the philosophical aspects of Freemasonry tend to be discussed in Lodges of Instruction or Research, and sometimes informal groups, Freemasons, and others, frequently publish — to varying degrees of competence — studies that are available to the public. Any mason may speculate on the symbols and purpose of Freemasonry, and indeed all masons are required to some extent to speculate on masonic meaning as a condition of advancing through the degrees. It is well noted, however, that no one person "speaks" for the whole of Freemasonry.
The Volume of the Sacred Law is always displayed in an open Lodge. In English-speaking countries, this is frequently the King James Version of the Bible or another standard translation; there is no such thing as an exclusive "Masonic Bible". In many French Lodges, the Masonic Constitutions are used instead. Furthermore, a candidate is given his choice of religious text for his Obligation, according to his beliefs. UGLE alludes to similarities to legal practice in the UK, and to a common source with other oath taking processes. In Lodges with a membership of mixed religions it is common to find more than one sacred text displayed.
In keeping with the geometrical and architectural theme of Freemasonry, the Supreme Being is referred to in Masonic ritual by the titles of the Great Architect of the Universe, Grand Geometer or similar, to make clear that the reference is generic, and not tied to a particular religion's conception of God.
The three degrees of Craft or Blue Lodge Freemasonry are those of:
--Entered Apprentice — the degree of an Initiate, which makes one a Mason;
--Fellow Craft — an intermediate degree, involved with learning;
--Master Mason — the "third degree", a necessary for participation in most aspects of Masonry.
The degrees represent stages of personal development. No Freemason is told that there is only one meaning to the allegories; as a Freemason works through the degrees and studies their lessons, he interprets them for himself, his personal interpretation being bounded only by the Constitution within which he works. A common symbolic structure and universal archetypes provide a means for each Freemason to come to his own answers to life's important philosophical questions.
As previously stated, there is no degree of Craft Freemasonry higher than that of Master Mason. Although some Masonic bodies and orders have further degrees named with higher numbers, these degrees may be considered to be supplements to the Master Mason degree rather than promotions from it. An example is the Scottish Rite, conferring degrees numbered from 4° up to 33°. It is essential to be a Master Mason in order to qualify for these further degrees. They are administered on a parallel system to Craft or Blue Lodge Freemasonry; within each organization there is a system of offices, which confer rank within that degree or order alone.
In some jurisdictions, especially those in continental Europe, Freemasons working through the degrees may be asked to prepare papers on related philosophical topics, and present these papers in open Lodge. There is an enormous bibliography of Masonic papers, magazines and publications ranging from fanciful abstractions which construct spiritual and moral lessons of varying value, through practical handbooks on organisation, management and ritual performance, to serious historical and philosophical papers entitled to academic respect.
Signs, grips and words
Freemasons use signs (gestures), grips or tokens (handshakes) and words to gain admission to meetings and identify legitimate visitors. There is no evidence that these modes of recognition were in use prior to the mid-1600s when speculative members were first admitted to Lodges. The easiest way to determine an operative Mason's qualification was the quality of his work.
From the early 18th century onwards, many exposés have been written claiming to reveal these signs, grips and passwords to the uninitiated. However, as Masonic scholar Christopher Hodapp states, since each Grand Lodge is free to create its own rituals, the signs, grips and passwords can and do differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Furthermore, historian John J. Robinson states that Grand Lodges can and do change their rituals frequently, updating the language used, adding or omitting sections. Therefore, any exposé is only valid for a particular jurisdiction at a particular time.
Obligations are those elements of ritual in which a candidate swears to protect the "secrets of Freemasonry", which are the various signs, tokens and words associated with recognition in each degree. In regular jurisdictions these obligations are sworn on the aforementioned Volume of the Sacred Law and in the witness of the Supreme Being and often with assurance that it is of the candidates own free will.
Details of the obligations vary; some versions are published while others are privately printed in books of coded text. Still other jurisdictions rely on oral transmission of ritual, and thus have no ritual books at all. Moreover, not all printed rituals are authentic — Leo Taxil's exposure is a proven hoax, and there are others.
The obligations are historically known amongst various sources critical of Freemasonry for their so-called "bloody penalties," an allusion to the apparent physical penalties associated with each degree. This leads to some descriptions of the Obligations as "Oaths". The corresponding text, with regard to the penalties, does not appear in authoritative, endorsed sources, following a decision "that all references to physical penalties be omitted from the obligations taken by Candidates in the three Degrees and by a Master Elect at his Installation but retained elsewhere in the respective ceremonies". The penalties are interpreted symbolically, and are not applied in actuality by a Lodge or by any other body of Masonry. The descriptive nature of the penalties alludes to how the candidate should feel about himself should he knowingly violate his obligation. Modern penalties may include suspension, expulsion or reprimand.
Whilst no single obligation is representative of Freemasonry as a whole, a number of common themes appear when considering a range of potential texts. Content which may appear in at least one of the three obligations includes: the candidate promises to act in a manner befitting a member of civilized society, promises to obey the law of his Supreme Being, promises to obey the law of his sovereign state, promises to attend his lodge if he is able, promises not to wrong, cheat nor defraud the Lodge or the brethren, and promise aid or charity to brethren and their families in times of need if it can be done without causing financial harm to himself.
A candidate for Freemasonry must apply to a lodge in his community, obtaining an introduction by asking an existing member, who then becomes the candidate's sponsor. In some jurisdictions, it is required that the petitioner ask three times, however this is becoming less prevalent. In other jurisdictions, more open advertising is utilized to inform potential candidates where to go for more information. Regardless of how a potential candidate receives his introduction to a Lodge, he must be freely elected by secret ballot in open Lodge. Members approving his candidacy will vote with "white balls" in the voting box. Adverse votes by "black balls" will exclude a candidate. The number of adverse votes necessary to reject a candidate, which in some jurisdictions is as few as one, is set out in the governing Constitution of the presiding Grand Lodge.
Generally, to be a regular Freemason, a candidate must:
* Be a man who comes of his own free will.
* Believe in a Supreme Being.
* Be at least the minimum age (18–25 years old depending on the jurisdiction).
* Be of sound mind and body (Lodges do not deny membership to a man because of a physical disability; this is largely a historical holdover, and if a potential candidate says there will be no problem, he will be taken at his word).
* Be of good morals, and of good reputation.
* Be free-born (or "born free", i.e. not born a slave or bondsman). As with the previous, this is entirely an historical anachronism, and can be interpreted in the same manner as it is in the context of being entitled to write a will. Some jurisdictions have removed this requirement.
* Have character references, as well as one or two references from current Masons, depending on jurisdiction.
Deviation from one or more of these requirements is generally the barometer of Masonic regularity or irregularity. However, an accepted deviation in some regular jurisdictions is to allow a Lewis (the son of a Mason), to be initiated earlier than the normal minimum age for that jurisdiction, although no earlier than the age of 18.
Some Grand Lodges in the United States have an additional residence requirement, candidates being expected to have lived within the jurisdiction for certain period of time, typically six months
Freemasonry explicitly and openly states that it is neither a religion nor a substitute for one. "There is no separate Masonic God", nor a separate proper name for a deity in any branch of Freemasonry.
Regular Freemasonry requires that its candidates believe in a Supreme Being, but the interpretation of the term is subject to the conscience of the candidate. This means that men from a wide range of faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Deism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism can and have become Masons.
*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
I thought about the 30 year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a Blackberry that played music, took videos, pictures and communicated with Facebook and Twitter.
I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.
That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix, and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world. My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.
The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Bluetooth [it's red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it, and I got a little loud.
I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, "Re-calc-ul-ating". You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then when I would make a right turn instead, it was not good.
When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.
To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven't figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.
The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden "Paper or Plastic?" every time I check out just knocks me for a loop. I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused, but I never remember to take them in with me.
Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me "Paper or Plastic?", I just say, "Doesn't matter to me. I am bi-sacksual." Then it's their turn to stare at me with a blank look.
I was recently asked if I tweet. I answered, No, but I do toot a lot."
By Celeste Lavin, 365gay.com
The death toll from Sunday’s shooting at a party in Mexico that was organized by a gay group has now risen to 18 men and women.
A Mexican gay group on Facebook organized a birthday party in the northern city of Torreón that was advertised as open to all.
The party was met with violence when gunmen entered the event, blocked the exits, and without speaking, opened fire on the partygoers.
While many of the guests were gay and the event itself was organized by a gay group, the Mexican government said the incident was related to drug cartel violence rather than anti-gay hate crime, reports the LA Times.
It was reported as one of the highest single-incident death tolls since President Felipe Calderon initiated the drug war in 2006, which has claimed approximately 25,000 deaths over the last four years.
The Mexican federal government condemned the gunmen’s actions, calling the massacre a violent tactic used by organized crime to intimidate the populace.
Gun violence throughout Mexico, particularly the northern border states like Coahuila, which includes the city of Torreón, has increased since Calderon called a military offensive to address the drug war. Shootings in public spaces such as bars and clubs are now regular occurrences in regions dominated by drug cartels.
This is from LiveScience.com
Tease Your Brain
Whether crossword puzzles, sudokus and other brain teasers actually keep your brain in shape, has not been well-established. However, lack of education is a strong predictor of cognitive decline. The more you've tried to learn, the better you'll be at mental sit-ups in old age. The key may be tackling something new; the challenge of the unknown is likely more beneficial than putting together the same jigsaw puzzle over and over again.
Click here to go!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Click on the picture to goto his facebook fansite. Tons of homoerotic images available.
Producing art about his life and the lives of those around him is as natural to Walker as his first childhood drawings. As a gay man, Walker is acutely aware that he is living during a period of history that is both the best of times and the worst of times. There is more freedom and acceptance for gay men and women, while at the same time AIDS has devastated the gay population.
But Walker's paintings are not about gay people or homosexuality. He describes his art as being about love, hate, pain, joy, touch, communication, beauty, loneliness, attraction, hope, despair, life and death. His art includes universal themes regardless of race, gender, socio-economic class, culture or sexual orientation. However, his work is unique because he conveys these themes through the subjects in his paintings, young gay men. "Remove the gender of the painting's subjects and what we have is human relationships in general, and one's relationship to the world itself," he said. "As a homosexual I have been moved, educated, and inspired by works that deal with a heterosexual context. Why would I assume that a heterosexual would be incapable of appreciating work that speaks to common themes in life, as seen through my eyes as a gay man. If the heterosexual population is unable to do this, then the loss is theirs, not mine."
If Walker were an abstract painter or a landscape artist, he says his sexual orientation wouldn't matter. But since his paintings are about gay life, his sexual orientation becomes more important than his cultural background, age, or nationality.
The focus of his paintings often depict sadness and loneliness to reflect the reality that much of anyone's life is sad and lonely. Walker often portrays people in relationships as separate entities because that is the way he views them. He also uses a small and consistent palette of colours because he is comfortable with them and the colours provide the desired results. "Colour is very powerful and a little can go a long way if used effectively," he said. "Some colours are very exciting to me, while others are quite offensive. Painting flesh is very exciting because of the huge variations possible within a very small colour range."
Walker's artworks are very large, always measuring 36" by 48". He creates large paintings because he believes that a large image is more appealing than a smaller one. "Whether it's a television screen, cinema screen, or an image in a magazine, the size of the image connotes a degree of importance," he said. Walker said belonging to an oppressed minority group has been a driving force in creating his art. "Any minority wants and needs to find artistic voices that reflect their own personal situations, and, in doing so, validate and record their lives and cultures for themselves, and for the larger world," he said.
Walker said he experiences many small rewards during the creative process. "After hours of painting, I stand back and look at something that wasn't there before -- a hand, face, or piece of fabric will exist where there was once a blank canvas," he said.
As an artist, Walker said it's exciting to be working at a point in history where there is an audience ready to appreciate and consume his creations. "It is very rare to find success as an artist in your lifetime," he said. "My work will be around long after me, but seeing it affect people at the time that I am creating it is very rewarding."
In recent years Steve Walker's work has been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia and Key West.
The gay community of North America has responded very positively to Walker's art. "I am very aware of the appreciation from a group of people who recognize the time, energy and talent devoted to a body of work that speaks specifically to them but at the same time exists in the larger world that we all live in," he said.
* ho·mo·e·rot·ic ( hō ' mō-ĭ-rŏt ' ĭk ) adj. Of or concerning homosexual love and desire. Tending to arouse such desire.