Friday, October 31, 2008

Gasoline Prices in Athens

I had to go to Jonesboro yesterday. The good news is that you can get to Jonesboro (just south of Atlanta in world famous Clayton County) without ever having to get on an Interstate. It was a beautiful day and all in all, a pleasant trip.

I filled up before I left Athens and paid $2.39 a gallon. Other than a couple of places in Athens, that was the highest price for gasoline I saw all day. In Conyers, gas was only $2.18 a gallon. Outside of Athens, the highest price I saw was $2.28 a gallon.

Gasoline prices are always higher in Athens. It's been that way for a long time, and I'd really like to know why. It doesn't matter which way you head out of Athens, within about 30 minutes you'll find gasoline that is at least ten cents cheaper on the gallon.

Maybe it's because we're a college town. I doubt that's the reason because other college towns don't seem to have the problem. Or perhaps it's because of football--the population nearly doubles here for home games and it would be tacky just to charge more on weekends. Whatever the reason, I'd be willing to bet that it's not because retailers here pay more than retailers elsewhere do for gasoline.

It just doesn't make any sense. There's no conceivable reason why we should have to pay so much more than folks elsewhere in Georgia. It's this kind of crap that makes me...

The Crotchety Old Man

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Credit Card Interest Rates

This week the Federal Reserve cut the interest rate it charges on loans to banks to one percent. At the same time, I received notice from my credit card company that they are raising the interest rate on cash advances and over-draft lines to 20.99 percent. Huh?

I do not know my exact credit score. But given the absence of any blemishes on my credit report, ample lines of available credit, and almost no non-mortgage debt, I'm confident that it is at least 720 or higher. So I'm not a sub-prime borrower.

Sounds like highway robbery to me. With mortgage and home equity lending under the microscope, the big lenders can't squeeze homeowners. So now they are looking at ways to rape credit card holders to keep quarterly profits high.

This is not a good time to owe money. Some, such as those who have been in their homes for a while without tapping into home equity or running up credit card balances, will get through the current credit crunch virtually unscathed. New homeowners, those who have taken out big home equity loans in the last few years, and anyone with a lot of credit card debt won't get off so easy.

Folks that are behind with their credit card payments and/or over the limit are going to get hit hard. They'll see interest rates well over 20%, and if they are over the limit, fees averaging more than $30 per month. It's a no-win situation with very few practical options.

The credit card industry pushed hard for bankruptcy reform and finally got their way with the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. The bill has cut bankruptcy rates in half here in Georgia, even as the foreclosure rate hits historic highs. Why doesn't the bankruptcy rate mirror the foreclosure rate? Because BAPCPA made it so much more expensive to file that those most in need simply cannot afford to do so.

I know you're thinking that's a good thing, and that the cause is credit card abuse. Wrong. The vast majority of bankruptcy cases are the result of medical expenses, job loss, or divorce. The good news is that an unintended consequence of BAPCPA is that credit card companies are getting less in bankruptcy cases than before the legislation was passed. Careful what you wish for.

Current industry practices are abusive and predatory. The result is that a lot of people are going to run into problems paying off their credit cards, or even paying down their balances. Good for the economy? I don't think so, and that is just another reason I'm...

The Crotchety Old Man

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Win-Win Situation

I keep hearing about Republicans that are threatening to move out of the country if Obama wins the election. I say go for it! That's the kind of change this country really needs. It's also what I call a true, win-win situation.

Several of us middle-aged liberals were talking about the election over the weekend. We're all cautiously optimistic about Obama's prospects. We talked about how we've been optimistic before only to get our hopes crushed. So this time around, we're all trying not to get our hopes up too much.

I wonder what percentage of radical Republican women are blond. I'm not sure why this might be but I have definitely noticed that there seem to be a lot of them. Makes me think of a joke... How many blonds does it take to win an election? I don't have an answer. If you do please comment!

I do know that if I wake up November 5th and learn that we're looking at four more years of Republicans in the White House, I may as well change my name to...

The Crotchety Old Man

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Road Hazards

I wonder how many people with a driver's license never really learned how to drive. I took a driver's education course in high school, and then took lessons from a driving school to help me get my license. I took another course to avoid a fine, and years later another for the insurance discount. That's not to say I'm the world's greatest driver, but I do know the rules of the road and how to drive defensively.

That's a lot more than I can say for many of the drivers here in Athens. So today I want to hit some of the basics for those of you that have not had the benefit of all my education.

Turn signals. There is a device on the steering column (usually). When you push it down or up, it turns on flashing lights on the outside of your car that let others know where in the hell you're going. It's wise to turn the signal on far enough from the turn to be meaningful, but not so far that folks think you just left it on the last time you turned. Newsflash: You're also supposed to use a turn signal when you change lanes.

Headlights. When it's raining, you're required by Georgia Law to drive with your headlights on. This is not so much so that you can see better. The purpose is so that I can see you better. On a cloudy day with fog and rain, it's hard for some of us to see past the hood ornament on our car. Having your head lights on makes you much more visible and that prevents me from running head on into you.

Weaving. Driving on four-lane highways is not like a driving game on Playstation or X-Box or Wii. The fact that you pass everyone and bounce back and forth from one lane to the other (aka weaving) does not mean you are an excellent driver. Contrary to what you may think, the rest of us are not honking at you to express admiration of your driving skill. It's not a race, and being out front does not make you the winner. In most cases, you're not going to get wherever you're going any faster than the rest of us.

Tail-gating. I'm not talking about the big party before a football game. I'm talking about following someone so closely that I can't see your grill (and I ain't talking teeth) in my rear-view mirror. When you pull up on my bumper like that, I automatically slow down to just below the speed limit, just to piss you off. Go ahead and hit me. I've got good insurance.

Speed Limits. The rectangular white signs on the side of the road with a two-digit number on them indicate the MAXIMUM speed allowed on that particular road. Maximum Speed, for the language impaired, means the fastest you can go. Those of you from Oglethorpe County need to know that doesn't mean go as fast as you can go. It means go as fast as you can go but no faster than the number posted--such as 45. Those of you from Oconee County should know that going a lot slower than the speed limit is also a problem.

Hope this little lesson has been helpful. Sharing the roads with people that lack this knowledge is one of the things that makes me....

The Crotchety Old Man

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Gay.Com Still Sucks

Now that we've had a few weeks to explore and use the new, I find little reason to change my view that it sucks. Apparently, I'm not alone. The main topic of conversation in the few rooms I visit, next to politics, is how much people hate the new In fact, I'd say we haven't seen such a flop since New Coke.

The number of users in the rooms I frequent at any one time is significantly less than what it was before the launch. I'm guessing this is in part the result of non-paying members only being able to be in one room at a time. I suspect, however, that it's at least partially due to a serious decline in visitors. At least here in Athens, Manhunt is now the cruise site of choice. To be fair, Manhunt had already eclipsed prior to the launch so the new is not entirely to blame.

I've always used Gayboi's chat client. It was the only way to prevent the adbots that plagued from harassing me. I guess you could say that integrating a botguard into is an improvement. But it's an improvement that comes with a few negatives.

When using the chat client, if someone made a comment in the room, I could easily find the profile for that person. All you had to do was click on the list of folks in the room and type the first letter of the screenname. Quick and easy. Now you have to scroll down a list that at least on my computer, bounces around a lot in an annoying way.

Another feature I liked was the ability to view all the pictures of those in a particular room. That is no longer possible on the new I will say that it's a bit of a plus for nonpaying members to be able to view up to 3 pictures in a profile compared with only the main picture with the old software.

I also liked being able to see who was in a room before I actually entered it. If that's still possible, I can't figure out how to do it. Instead I find myself popping in to nearly empty rooms and then exiting to find a room with at least a few people in it that chat.

I don't like the way biolines are handled with the new, either. In the past if you clicked on the screenname you could see whatever they put on their bioline. Now only a truncated version of the bioline appears, and you have to scroll over it in just the right way to see the rest.

The good news is that I use exclusively for entertainment purposes. With the new, I find I spend considerably less time in the chatrooms than I did before, and I guess that's a good thing. It gives me more time to blog!

The Crotchety Old Man

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blogging Success!

I'm so excited! I checked my AdSense account today. Low and behold, I've earned $2.73!!! Now I just need $97.27 more and I'll get my first check. At the rate I'm going, I expect I'll get that first check around this time next year.

Have to say that the technology AdSense uses to scan the contents of my blog to select appropriate ads needs some work. I wrote about the crappy parents up the street from me, and now see a couple of ads to help you become a better parent. No doubt the last sentence will keep those ads active for a while.

I was happy to see an ad for pet waste stations and bags and another for flushable pet waste bags. That's not where I want to go, but at least it's in the ball park of what I've written about.

There are several ads about theme parties. I'm not sure what I've written about to get them. The good news is that Ann Coulter's ad and others for the Republican National Committee no longer appear.

Take a few minutes to click on some of these ads. What have you got to lose? It might mean I get a check before this time next year, but it's not going to make me rich by any means.


The Somewhat Less Crotchety Old Man

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Silver Lining on the Stock Market

Yeah, the stock market is not doing that well. A lot of people have seen the value of their investment portfolios decline by tens of thousands of dollars. The loss in value is gut wrenching.

For the vast majority of investors, the absolute worst thing you could do would be to convert your stock holdings to cash. As long as you hold on to your stocks and mutual funds, you haven't lost anything...yet. Sell in a down market and you lock in the losses.

That's not much reason for hope. For some of us, the current downturn does have a silver lining. If you have more than ten years until you expect to retire and you're still investing, you may find that the current downturn will be a good thing.

The monthly contributions you're making toward your retirement are buying a lot more than they did a year ago. When the market turns around...and it will own more shares than you would have without the decline. That's dollar-cost-averaging in action. With regular contributions, your money buys less when the market is up, and more when the market is down.

That's what I'm holding on to as I watch the value of my portfolio drop. I'm still contributing each month, and those contributions are going into primarily stocks and large cap mutual funds. I have at least twelve more years to go before I can retire, and that's plenty of time for the market to turn around. When it does, I'll end up with a lot more in my portfolio than I would have had without the current downturn.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ho's with Rich Husbands

Have you seen Real Housewives of Atlanta yet? They ought to rename the show Real Ho's of Atlanta. I don't think I've ever seen such a trashy collection of women. They've all got tons of money. Far as I can tell, it's because they married guys who have recently come in to a lot of money.

Kim, the sole white chic in the group, is the worst. She's totally deluded. She's a 29 year-old overweight chain smoker who dreams of becoming a country music singer. Her best moment so far was when she stripped down in a parking lot to put her party dress on. She's got a rich boyfriend who prefers to remain anonymous. I bet he's married.

Sheree is the next worse. She's in the middle of divorcing her rich husband, who she's going to take for everything he's worth so she can live as well or better as she did when they were married. She's got some idea that she's the hottest thing going. Her ex-husband has wisely opted out of the show, too.

Just found out that NeNe, the wild one, grew up right here in Athens. She's at least entertaining, and seems to see the other ho's...err...housewives for exactly what they are. She married a real estate developer who looks to be quite a bit older than she is.

DeShawn married a pro athlete. They have a brand new enormous house in Alpharetta, and she's in the process of hiring the staff. She needs the staff because she doesn't have a clue about how to get things done. She tries.

Lisa is my favorite. She has 5,000 different career aspirations and is following them all. She's also married to a pro athlete--a football player--but they seem to have a good marriage.

Now I happen to know that there is a lot of real money in Atlanta. I also know that a real southern lady would never consider being on a show like this. In fact, it's the fact that all these women are fish out of water that makes the show so interesting. I'm just glad that I don't live in Atlanta so that I'm free of the embarrassment residents must feel when they see this show.

Wonder how much money they're getting for doing the show? Plenty, I'm sure. Just another reason I'm...

The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Athens Restaurant Reviews

Reviews of local restaurants have been appearing in the Athens paper about once a week for the last couple of months. By and large I think this is a good thing. Athens has a lot of privately owned restaurants, and many of them are quite good if not excellent.

I have two primary beefs with these reviews. First, I hardly see that his twelve years of experience waiting tables qualifies him to critique restaurants. I waited tables many years ago as a way to make ends meet while I was in school. The "professional" waiters were generally those that drank too much to finish school and/or get a real job. I realize that things have changed a bit since then. Even so, I'd find these reviews to be more credible if they were maybe from a line cook rather than a waiter. The ability to recite specials and carry food from the kitchen to the table hardly qualifies one to be a food critic.

The second beef I have is that he currently waits tables at 5 & 10--Athens most pretentious restaurant. We've gone a couple of times for special occasions and have always left disappointed and hungry. I see all the time where the chef at 5 & 10 has won this award or that award for his culinary skills. He must reserve those skills for competitions because they certainly are not apparent with any of the meals we've been served at his establishment.

We've also never been pleased with anything we've eaten at Momma's Boy. For some reason, the food snobs around Athens rave about this place which I believe, has ties to 5 & 10. I just don't see it.

We really like Knuckleheads which unfortunately, didn't last very long. The good news is that the site is now home to Jot'em Downs which has the best pork ribs I have ever eaten. This is an expansion from the tiny place they had on Whitehall Road, so I'm optimistic that they will last a bit longer than Knuckleheads did.

I like Harry Bisset's on the West End, too. The contemporary atmosphere and easy parking are big pluses. It's also nice that I don't have to fight my way through a crowded bar chocked full of aging drunk frat boys. Together those factors make it a much more attractive option to me than the downtown location.

When company comes to town and we want to impress them with Athens, we always go to The Last Resort. I've heard the food snobs complain about the menu being outdated and tired. Perhaps. But I prefer to think this is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in action. I've never been disappointed with anything I've ordered.

There are lots of other decent places in town to grab a bite to eat. Maybe I'll write about some of them on down the road. After all, I did wait tables for nearly 12 years. Guess that makes me a food critic as well as....

The Crotchety Old Man

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Parents of the Year

The people that live up the street from me have to be the worst parents I've ever encountered. They are not abusive or neglectful. It's kind of hard to explain exactly what the problem is. Let me recount for you some of the things we've seen from them since they went forth and multiplied.

The first time I saw them was at a neighborhood association picnic several years ago. The little darling was maybe two, and running hither and yon with his sippy cup. At some point, Dad asked the little tyke if he wanted more beer in his sippy cup. There wasn't any beer in the cup--this was just Dad being cute and letting the little darling feel like they were kindred spirits. Start em young I say.

Several weeks later, they had junior out while they were working in the yard. It was fall clean-up time and they were stuffing leaves down a chipper shredder. Junior was playing in the outflow like it was falling snow.

Starting to get the picture?

A year or two later, Mom and Junior would ride their bicycles to the bottom of the street. As Junior was not really able to ride back up the hill to the house, Dad would follow along in the family auto. Once they reached the bottom of the hill, Junior would put his bike in the car and hop in Dad's lap for the ride back home. Like that's not enough, they would race Mom, with Junior hanging out the driver's side window yelling that he was going to win. Yup. Real winners. This was a daily occurrence for weeks on end.

I came home from work several weeks ago and found Mom and Junior camped out in my next door neighbor's yard. They were sitting under a tree on a blanket, and Mom was reading a book to him. How sweet!

A few weeks later, I came home and found Mom, Junior, and a herd of little children tromping through my garden. Not my lawn, my garden. So being the Crotchety Old Man that I am, I went out to see what was going on. Mom-of-the-Year informed me that they were just collecting caterpillars from the parsley plants in my garden. Interestingly, the parsley plants are not visible from the road. But what really chapped my ass was when she told me that she'd given them permission to collect caterpillars from the parsley plants in my yard. I was shocked speechless--which isn't something that happens to me very often.

That kid is in for a rude awakening. He's going to grow up believing the world is his oyster, and any pearls he finds are his for the taking. They have a dog now, and of course, they don't pick up after it. I guess they're entitled to leave dog poop wherever they like, too. It's people like them that keep this blog alive...

The Crotchety Old Man

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Beginnings

Fall is for planting, and that makes me think of new beginnings. I've spent the last few weekends tinkering around in the yard planting bulbs, winter annuals (violas, snapdragons, and dianthus), and new shrubs with a thought toward a new and improved garden next year. I get excited about next year's garden about this time every year.

We cut down all the foundation plantings around the house this weekend. The builder picked them up at Lowe's one afternoon I'm sure. They looked nice when I bought the house ten years ago. In the last few years they've grown to the point of completely obscuring the front of the house. So it was time for a change.

Now my dilemma is selecting new plants. The front of the house is on the north side, so the area gets almost no direct sunlight. I could work around that easy enough. The other problem is that there are two large windows that start about 24 inches above ground level. That means that whatever I plant in front of them should be no more than say 36 inches tall at maturity.

I'm definitely going to find room for at least one tea olive. I already have a group of five tea olives planted on the east side of the house. Maybe I'll find a different variety so I won't feel like I'm going overboard.

I'm also thinking about white camellias. The house is red brick with white trim, so I think that a nice cultivar of a japonicus type would look nice--assuming it gets enough sun to bloom. They aren't fragrant (or not that I've noticed) so I wouldn't have to worry about a scent clashing with the tea olives.

Tea olives and camellias would have to go in the few spots that are not in front of a window. For beneath the windows I'm thinking about some variety of daphne. I'm not sure how well they do here in the deep south, and suspect they need more sun than they would be likely to get here. But I may give them a shot just the same.

Working in the garden chills me out a lot. I haven't been pissed about anything for a few days. That doesn't change the fact that I am, as always,

The Crotchety Old Man

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Partisan Politics

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of partisan politics. The Democrats and Republicans have come to stand for little more than opposition to each other. It's all about the next election instead of solving real problems. And if you don't think there are real problems that need solutions, you're just not paying attention.

I wonder how different things would be in Washington and across the country if we had more than two viable political parties. By viable, I mean with a realistic chance of winning a presidential election. Would be nice to see states in more colors than just red or blue--and purple doesn't count since it's used to describe a state that's equal parts red and blue.

The Democrats and Republicans are so firmly entrenched that we're not likely to ever see a third party--much less a fourth, fifth, and sixth party--rise to national prominence. They control the debates, which is why we don't see candidates from other than those two parties included. They also control the purse strings of campaigns. Just look at the small print on the ads currently running for McCain. The Republican National Committee pays for most of those ads.

Big donors (you can define that however you like, but I'm thinking big corporations) also like things the way they are. With just two parties in play, it's easy enough to cover all the bases by throwing donations both ways. That's why special interests tend to get what they want no matter who gets elected.

You might try to argue that Independents represent a third viable party. Frankly, you might as well call them "other" or "none of the above." I suspect that most people who register as Independents are mostly disgusted with the other two parties. The biggest accomplishment of the Independents so far has been to pull votes from major party candidates. So much for President Gore.

Would be great if we had parties that actually stood for something. The Green Party has tried to make a go of issue politics. They lost any chance at credibility by putting Cynthia "Psycho" McKinney at the top of their ticket. I doubt she'll pick up a single vote in Georgia from anyone outside of her family. We all know she's crazy. The Libertarians are out there, too--way out there.

With more parties in the mix, getting re-elected would require more than just not pissing people off. Elected officials would actually have to get something done. Imagine that. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time in my lifetime. And that's yet another reason I'm...

The Crotchety Old Man

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gay Republicans

I've never really understood how it's possible to be both gay and Republican. I know I'm old school gay. Sorta. I'm not what you'd call artsy, or fashionable either for that matter. Even so, I have never voted for a Republican presidential candidate. I could, in theory. I just haven't had a reason to do so up to (and including) now.

I read an article a while back suggesting that the presence of gay Republicans is a good thing. It's a sign that being gay has become so accepted that even uptight conservatives are able to come out. Maybe that's it.

I know we sure have a lot of them here in Georgia. The chat rooms are full of them. I like the one who calls himself Cute_Republican. Of course he doesn't have a picture in his profile. In fact, most of the guys that are advocating for McCain and Palin in the chat rooms don't have pictures in their profiles. Interesting.

I've always lived in a red state. Even before we talked about red and blue states, I lived where Republicans ruled the political landscape. Just another reasons I'm...

The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Liberal Language Issue

My mother (see Liberal with a Twist posting) said the biggest difference between the conservative talk shows she once listened to and the liberal talk shows she now listens to all the time is the language. I learned how to cuss from my mother, so it's not like she's a total prude. She said that she often hears expressions that make her blush--and that's saying something.

I'm struck by the number of comments posted on Joe, My, God (my favorite blog) that include the F word. These are not nasty comments from dissenters. For the most part they tend to agree with JMGs positions. I like to think we liberals are more educated than our conservative counterparts--isn't that what makes us liberal? As such we should have no problem finding adjectives that convey outrage without offending. But frequent use of the F-word suggests that may not be the case.

I know Liberals don't own the F word. We have had a local controversy around a conservative bumper sticker: F*ck Obama. There have been a couple of letters to the editor in the local paper about how inappropriate it is, particularly when young children see it and ask what it means. In response, conservatives mention the F the President stickers that mimic the W stickers we've all grown so tired of seeing. It's apples and oranges to me.

Frequent use of the F word and other nasty rhetoric on the liberal blogs doesn't do us any favors. In fact, it makes us look like nasty versions of the Republican punditry that resort to name-calling absent any legitimate criticism. I think we can do better, and should.

The Crotchety Old Man

My Blogging Experiment...Continued

The first thing I do every morning is sign in to Google Analytics to see how many folks read my blog the day before. I'm not sure what most of the stuff in these reports means, but I'm pleased to see that I have around a dozen visits every day. Some days I have more--as many as 30--and other days I have less. But most the time I'm hitting right around 12 or 13.

One thing is clear--I need to find a better way to promote my blog. Posting the URL in my bioline and hanging out in chat rooms on has got me this far. Because of this strategy, however, my most popular posting is "New and Improved Gay.Com Sucks." My postings on other topics aren't nearly as popular. But that's ok, I'm doing this mostly for me anyway so I'll keep blogging gayly forward.

Gradually I've added some of the "gadgets" available from blogspot. I like the "labels" directory. Seems to me it makes it easier for my dozen readers to find the postings they most want to read.

I'm less satisfied with My Blog List. It's not about the blogs I'm following. The problem is that I've had a hard time finding blogs I want to follow. A lot of the gay blogs are too focused on porn. Most of the political gay blogs post more or less the same stuff. If you have some suggestions, I'd love to hear about them.

The other day I added AdSense. I was startled to see ads for Ann Coulter and the Republican National Committee appear. I don't think I'll be getting much revenue from them. In fact, given my huge following--the bored dozen--I'm not likely to get much revenue anyway. But the odds would improve if the ads were more relevant to my political views. It's not like I've been tight-lipped about them or anything.

If you're not familiar with AdSense, my revenue will keep accumulating until I make my first $100. Then they'll send me a check. I hope I live long enough. Anyone interested in starting a pool to guess the date I'll get my first check?

Thanks for reading, and tell your friends! I need all the help I can get. In the end, however, success might keep me from being...

The Crotchety Old Man

Monday, October 13, 2008

Liberal with a Twist

I don't have to look very far to hear liberal rhetoric that's as nasty as some of what I hear from the far right. My mother, God love her, is the liberal equivalent of extreme conservative pundits. Facts don't really impress her much, and they certainly don't get in the way of her opinions. For her politics is sport, and she is in it to win it.

She gets most of her information from talk radio. I got satellite radio for her a few years ago, so she could continue following the Kentucky Wildcats after she moved to Virginia. Up to that time she had to listen to conservative talk radio, which believe it or not, tended to keep her a little more balanced. Now she listens to liberal talk radio. So she's about as informed as FoxNews regulars, only in the opposite direction.

Since she gets most of her information from liberal talk radio, she has some rather interesting views. She doesn't believe we ever went to the moon--it was all staged in some Hollywood production studio. She's convinced "they" killed Kennedy. I should know who "they" are because I've heard about them enough, but I tend to tune her out when she waxes rabid. Today she told me that McCain jumping the supporter for saying Obama was Muslim was staged. Somehow, she saw it as a way for McCain to get the "Obama is Muslim" message out to the party faithful.

She despises anything Republican. But her favorite hobby is hating on Bush and/or Cheney. She adores Bill Clinton, and is one of those old white ladies that isn't entirely supportive of Barack Obama. She says: "I'm not racist, but there's something about him I don't like." Translation: She doesn't like him because he's black, but is too liberal to admit that's the problem. Fortunately, he picked a nice Catholic boy for his running mate so she's going to vote for him.

She was adamantly opposed to abortion for years but finally came around to pro-choice. She's still opposed to gay marriage, but that's more about the bad relationships I've had and how glad she is that I haven't had to pay alimony (see my post, Third Times the Charm for more on my ex's) or attorneys. She'd like to see me and my partner have the same rights as married couples, but that's mostly because she really likes my partner.

She's a hoot, and certainly keeps things interesting. Without her, you wouldn't be reading...

The Crotchety Old Man

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Biology and Gay Marriage

I read about a straight couple--the Galloways--that opposes gay marriage for "biological reasons." This argument revolves around marriage purely for procreation, with marriage between a man and a woman as the best way to raise children. Even though they are Christians, they refuse to use religion to defend their position.

They are not--emphasize not--bigots. Ha! The husband goes on to argue that he can't possibly be a bigot when he's looking out for society as a whole. They are just trying to protect "the foundation of society." I'm laughing so hard it hurts!

Watch for the Religious Right to jump on this like white on rice. Turns out the Galloways are childless, but not for lack of trying. Annul that marriage! What about couples that don't want children? This is a very slippery slope. Is this good news for transexuals?

And if biology becomes the determining factor, there's a lot of gray there. Are we going to require a chromosome check? You can only marry if between the two there is an XX and an XY? Turns out, nature isn't that neat and tidy.

If you ask me, we should prevent stupid people (like the Galloways) from marrying and having children. I'm not a bigot. I'm just trying to protect society.

The Crotchety Old Man

More Crap in Profiles

OK, I'll admit that three postings on this one inane topic are at least two too many. But I can't help myself. Every time I think I'm done, I see something else that I just have to write about.

I'm amazed that so many people put in their profiles that they are looking for someone clean. Is hygiene that much of a problem? I know some guys are into "aromas" -- and we ain't talking cologne. In fact, most that say they are into aromas are pretty specific that they are not into cologne. Same with deodorant.

Today I've noticed that all the guys who have "hot" in the screen name or who specify in their profile that they are hot, aren't. Unlike "clean" which may not be readily apparent online, hot can usually be discerned by the pics included in the profile. Of course, a lot of these guys don't use their own pics--but that's an entirely different issue.

A fair number of guys claim to give the best head in Georgia. That makes me laugh. If we were to conduct a national survey of gay men to find out who gives the best head, I predict that everyone would have one vote. I've yet to meet a gay man that didn't claim to give the best head. Loving what you do increases the chances that you do it well--but doesn't guarantee it.

More than anything, reading profiles helps me to appreciate that I'm not on the market. I feel the same way after a night out on the town. If I was single, even more than I already am I'd be...

The Crotchety Old Man

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Crap You Read in Gay Profiles

I've been browsing profiles on manhunt again. I only do it to read the profiles. At no time am I checking out the pictures...I promise. Unless it is to somehow verify the information contained in the profile.

News flash. A lot of these guys are not telling the truth. Some lie to conceal ugly truths. Others lie to conceal ugly. Some have very high opinions of themselves. Some have absolutely no self-respect. It's a mixed bag, for sure.

A lot of these guys lie about their age. Makes me laugh. I'm sure there are a few that can get away with it. But mostly, not. You get that many miles on ya it's gonna show.

You can specify your HIV status. That's great. I'm all for full disclosure. Just don't think for a minute that everyone claiming to be negative, is. Same with "STD-free--you be too". I hate to break it to you, but the individual most likely to lie about STD status is the one that's not STD-free.

What about the guys that provide a minimum amount of information? 31 and male. That could be anything. In general, the less information they have in their profile, the more they are trying to hide.

A picture is worth a thousand words. No pic? Probably seen recently on the nightly news robbing a convenience store. Just a pic of their penis? If that's their best feature... well... whatever floats your boat. Just a pic of their torso? That means they are ugly and not very well endowed. Just an ass pic? Ugly, little penis, and a pot belly.

Then there are the pictures taken from several miles away. Way off in the distance you can barely make out a little speck that might be a dude sitting on a rock in a big winter coat. At the other end of the spectrum are the extreme close-ups. One-eye winking at ya. Some of these pictures have been in profiles for decades.

The headline says it all. If it did, I could have stopped there. But then you wouldn't have known what I was talking about. So I guess maybe the headline doesn't say it all. It is what it is. It's crazy, and it keeps me...

The Crotchety Old Man

Sore Losers

The anger of faithful Republicans is palpable, and out of control. The more negative the campaign gets, the farther behind McCain slips in the polls. At this point it looks like McCain is more likely to get a blow job from frosty Cindy McCain than to win the election.

Read John Dean's book, "Conservatives Without Conscience." I read "Worse than Watergate" first, which just pissed me off. The stuff the Bush gang does and gets by with is enough to make anyone mad. "Conservatives Without Conscience" scared me more than any Stephen King novel. It focuses on the psychological traits of many key leaders of the so-called conservative movement. To say that they are sore losers is an understatement.

The nasty rhetoric you hear on any given day from Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the conservative punditry has enraged and inflamed the masses. You hear it from the mobs at McCain/Palin rallies. The party faithful have been nasty enough when the Republicans were in control. Watch for things to get worse--much worse--now that they're facing the very real prospect of defeat on November 4.

And that really scares me. The hardcore rabble that continue to support Republicans are sore losers with guns. It really frightens me to think about what they might do. Anything is possible.

The Crotchety Old Man

Friday, October 10, 2008

Third Time's The Charm

I say in the 'about me' section that I have a great partner, and I do. I have been out for almost 30 years now, and have been in a long-term relationship for nearly all of that time. My current partner is the third one I've lived with, hence the title of this posting.

The first guy I lived with--Tom--was married when we met, which partially explains why married guys that fool around behind their wives' backs piss me off so much. We were the same age and had gone to the same high school, though I didn't really know him at the time. He chased me in a way we'd consider stalking today. I was young, dumb, and flattered by all the attention. We stayed together for almost 12 years, mostly because I was afraid I couldn't make it financially without him. Last I heard, he was living in a trailer in eastern Kentucky.

The second guy I lived with--Kevin-- swept me off my feet. Kevin, 8 years my junior, was one of those life of the party people that's the center of attention wherever he may be. He is 6'4" with the bluest eyes I think I've ever seen. The first year was great. Then we moved from DC to Georgia and things went downhill fast. We stayed together for five years, mostly because I could never prove that he was cheating with everyone we met. He insisted he wasn't until I turned on the log feature on the chat client and printed out contrary evidence.

Both Kevin and Tom moved in with me shortly after we met because they didn't have any place else to go. Word to the wise--if they don't have any place else to go, there's a good reason. You'd think I would have figured that out after Tom. I am and probably always will be a slow learner. Tom's wife found out about us and kicked him out a few weeks after we met. Kevin's roommate changed the locks one weekend while we were visiting my family back in Kentucky. Live and learn.

I met my current partner and the love of my life in a chat room on At the time, I was 44 and he was 22. I know what you're thinking, but it really wasn't that way. I was very aware that I was twice his age and swore we would never be more than friends. In fact, for the first two years of our friendship, we were constantly fixing each other up with more appropriate men. We'd get together 3 or 4 times a week and talk about all the things that were wrong with the guys we were going out with.

He knew I was "the one" a long time before I figured it out. As I said, I'm a slow learner. About two years in, he told me that if I really didn't want to be his partner, he was going to stop seeing me so he could find someone else. I agreed that was what he needed to do, and he stopped coming around.

Sometimes, a whopping dose of what you asked for is just the thing to help you realize that it's not what you want. Now I see that period as the time I almost blew the best thing that's ever happened to me. Fortunately, I came to my senses--in about a week.

He moved in with me on his 25th birthday. Counting the first two years, we've now been together almost seven years. Despite the 22 year age difference, we are remarkably alike. We were raised very much the same way and have nearly identical views on a wide range of subjects. We have the same general idea of what life is supposed to look like (which definitely was not the case with Tom or Kevin). Because we're so much alike, we rarely disagree and never fight.

If I had known a relationship could be this easy, I never would have put up with the stuff I lived with before. Of course, part of me thinks that I could never appreciate how good I have it today were it not for the crappy relationships of my past. I'm more than a little moody and truth be told, kinda high maintenance. I get pissy now and then for stupid things, and pout. He always knows exactly the right thing to do to get me out of my funk.

He's the finest person I know. He has impeccable taste, perfect southern manners, a strong work ethic, and a kind heart. He's the kind of guy every Mom wants her daughter to marry. He's also gorgeous, with beautiful green eyes and a smile you'd have to see to believe. For the last year and a half, we've been working in different units of the same organization. Have to say that having him around has boosted my reputation among my coworkers, who all love him almost as much as I do. Because of him, I think they figure I must not be so bad after all. Otherwise, they'd still think of me as...

The Crotchety Old Man

Rain at Last!

After more than three weeks without, we finally got some rain here in Athens. And not just a little, either. According to my rain gauge, we received more than 2 inches on both Wednesday and Thursday--more than 4 inches all together. The newspaper reports that even with that we're still down about 10 inches from normal for the year. Throw in the deficit from last year and we're even further behind.

The drought hasn't been as bad as what we had last year. I'm not sure how the two years compare as far as total precipitation--about the same I think. This year hasn't been as bad because there has been less time between showers. Seems like just when I was ready to throw up my hands and give up, we've had enough rain to keep everything alive for another few weeks. I don't think it's been quite as hot this year either.

Up to last spring, I focused almost entirely on planting annuals and perennials. I like being able to completely change the look every year. I also enjoy growing my own plants from seed. I finally realized that this style of gardening required a tremendous amount of work. Between tending all the seedlings, and then the weeds and all the volunteers, keeping the beds neat and tidy on my one acre lot was more than I could handle.

So in February of 2007, I came to my senses and started filling in a lot of my beds with shrubs. I planted nearly 100--most for $5 or less from the local Lowe's store. Leave it to me to plant that many new shrubs in a year when outdoor watering was to become totally prohibited. The situation was so bad there was a concern we'd run out of drinking water, so I wasn't about to cheat.

Off the top of my head, I'd say I lost about a fifth of what I planted. Some, like the yellow eonymous, were eaten down to the ground by deer. To be fair, two are still alive but any time they put out new growth, the deer knock them back to the ground. The shrubs I planted near the street (cleyera and holly) might have made it were it not for all the dog pee. The rest--mostly deciduous and evergreen azaleas--died from lack of water.

This spring I was less ambitious, planting maybe 50 new shrubs and trees. Nearly all have survived. I planted a few more that I picked up at the UGA Hort Club sale last weekend, so was very glad to see the rain. I also transplanted a few things last weekend, figuring they were doomed. The rain gives them at least a snowball's chance of surviving. Maybe this weekend I'll get some bulbs planted.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Like a lot of people, I'm absolutely furious about greed and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington. If we were living 100 years ago, I bet that several CEOs--especially those at AIG--would be lynched by an outraged public. Joining them would likely be Treasury Secretary Paulson (he's one of them in case you didn't know), the CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and a host of others that have profited mightily leading up to the current debacle.

In the case of greedy Wall Street CEOs, a lynch mob would impose at least some accountability. As it is, there is absolutely no accountability. They do what they want, pocket millions, and the rest of us watch our portfolios plummet. We probably pay more taxes than they do, too. For that we can thank greedy politicians who happily pocket political contributions from these slimy bastards while pretending to care for us taxpayers.

I'm not advocating a return to lynch mobs. The current gatherings for McCain are probably the closest thing we have to them today. The kind of rhetoric coming from the crowds is more than a little scary. I hope that Obama has good security because the farther McCain falls in the polls, the more likely some whacko rightwing fanatic is to take matters into his own hands. Keeping that option open is the raison d'etre for the NRA. If Democrats thought that way, Bush and Cheney both would have been shot seven and a half years ago.

While I'm on the subject of rage, have you heard that DeLay is likely to get off on a technicality? Turns out that the Texas law only applies to cash transactions. DeLay got a check. I guess that's what you'd call Republican justice, and another reason I'm very much...

The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Debates

Just heard that last night's presidential debate had more viewers than any presidential debates since 1992. According to Nielsen, about 52 million tuned in. That's quite a few less than what was reported for the Palin/Biden debate.

The Republicans claim that support for Palin is the reason why 70 million viewers tuned in to watch the Vice Presidential Debates. Talk about spin! I'd be willing to bet that a majority of those 70 million viewers tuned in to see if Palin was as bad as Tina Fey portrays her to be.

Have to say that I was disappointed that Palin did as well as she did. I'm not saying she did great, but she did manage--for the most part--to avoid coming off as bad as she did in either the Charles Gibson or Katie Couric interviews. That's hardly a home run.

I only watched the first hour or so of the Obama/McCain debate last night. It's interesting to me that McCain wanted the town hall format. Staying behind a podium would have worked much better for him. As it was, we watched him totter aimlessly around the stage. You couldn't help but notice how vital and robust Obama looked by comparison. It shouldn't matter, and it wouldn't were it not for the specter of a President Palin.

It takes one to know one. I have to say, however, that compared to McCain, I'm a teddy bear rather than...

The Crotchety Old Man

Gay parents

I was hanging out in a chat room for South Georgia yesterday. I like this particular room because the guys tend to be chatty. Yesterday was no exception. The other day I caught an interesting conversation on politics. Yesterday I wasn't so lucky. This conversation was about kids.

One guy commented that he saw where another guy had mentioned in his profile that he had kids. The little daddy responded that he had two, boys. So far, so good. Then someone said that gay men shouldn't have children because they are going to turn out gay. Interesting, but stupid.

Then another guy chimes in noting that he has eight kids. Eight! He goes on to say that two of his boys are gay. Daddy, however, is not gay. He's bi, and just looking to fool around behind the old lady's back. Shouldn't he be helping her to raise all those kids?

I know a couple of lesbians that had a kid. Not sure how they did it and have decided I really don't want to know. I saw them out a few weeks ago--with the little tyke in tow (he'll be a year old next April). They were at a bar. Parents of the year?

If you ask me, not having kids is one of the fringe benefits of being gay. I kinda sorta thought about wanting kids when I was younger. This was around the time when many of my friends started having kids. Like kittens and puppies, if they would just stay cute and cuddly it might be a different story. But no, they grow up and before long, they're saying "no" all the time. By the time my friends were dealing with teenagers, I started feeling pretty good about not having any kids.

I know. You have to be thinking that I'm just...

The Crotchety Old Man

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Damn Cats

I've written about my problems with irresponsible pet owners a couple of times. Usually it's about a dog owner who thinks it's fine to leave dog poop wherever it may fall. I get mad just thinking about it but have to say my yard has been pile-free since my first entry on the subject. Maybe writing about the problem puts out a vibe. Or maybe it was me standing in the yard with my arms folded across my chest glaring at any and all dog walkers in the vicinity.

Today my beef is with cats. Cats are actually a bigger problem than dogs. A dog will just poop in your yard. Some do that scratching thing after a good poop, which mostly flings grass everywhere (or mulch in some cases) but otherwise does no harm. Cats prefer soft dirt, and in my yard that means planting beds--especially after they've just been seeded. So much for nice, straight rows.

I like to grow a few vegetables. Or I did. Between the damn cats and the deer I have given up. I don't know about you, but a few piles of cat shit in the lettuce bed takes a big bite out of my desire for a fresh green salad. I've tried growing lettuce in pots, but that just makes it easier for the deer to reach.

Today when I got home from work there was a cat frolicking in my yard with what appeared to be a chipmunk. I'm guessing this is the same cat responsible for the pile of mockingbird feathers I found in the yard a few days ago. How cute!

My neighbors that own cats are oblivious to the damage their cats do. I've had outside cats, so I know it's impossible to keep them out of other people's yards. The good news is that outside cats don't live very long. Between cat fights, run ins with cars and other issues, the average outdoor cat lives about five years. I finally got tired of scraping my loved ones off the street and opted to keep my cat inside. Did you know that an inside-only cat can live 20 years or longer? By the time my two reached ten, I was ready to throw them under a bus or something. In the end, I took them to a shelter because I couldn't handle the ongoing damage to my house.'s true. Just another reason I am...

The Crotchety Old Man

Monday, October 6, 2008

On Church and State

On the front page of the Athens paper this morning was an article about a pastor telling his sheep how to vote. Yup. The Reverend Jody Hice of the First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, GA is taking on the IRS. He's one of 31 pastors that have decided that prohibiting such announcements in order to maintain tax-exempt status is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Can you believe it?

If he wants to tell his flock how to vote, fine. Let him pay taxes like the rest of us do. See what happens then. As soon as he has to put his money where his mouth is, he'll come around. Count on it.

Given that Barack Obama is rising in the polls, watch for the Republicans to drop another bomb in the cultural war in the weeks ahead. I'm putting my money on abortion. To be clear, I am opposed to abortion. But as a gay man, it's not an issue I've ever had to confront in a personal way. Consequently, even though I am opposed to abortion, I don't see how it's any of my business if someone else chooses to have one. I can't walk a mile in her shoes, so I don't feel like I could ever understand what it would be like to have to make that decision.

Gay marriage is another possibility. If you ask me, the uproar over gay marriage is much ado about nothing. For starters, I don't think it's possible for us homos to do any more harm to the institution of marriage than straight folks have done in the last 60 years or so. Second, I thought marriage was a religious institution, and that we in the United States have freedom of religion. So if a church decides it's ok for two men or two women to marry, what say does the State have in whether that wedding should take place or not? How can the State justify denying the economic benefits of marriage to same-sex couples? I have no idea.

Seems to me the so-called cultural war is really about uptight rightwing religious conservatives wanting to control how others live their lives. Ever heard of free will? Guess not. I hate to think about what this world would look like if the pastors weren't dictating behavior.

Mark my words...the Republicans will stir up one of these issues--or both in the hopes of getting pastors across the country to order the sheep in their flocks to vote for McCain. The really scary part is that it's a strategy that has worked well in the past. Just another thing that makes me...

The Crotchety Old Man

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Joe Six Pack

I don't understand all the focus on Joe Six Pack. Palin must have winked at him 15 times during the debate. I'd be willing to bet that he probably didn't even watch.

Joe's probably one of those guys like my brother-in-law. He knows absolutely everything about everything. Just ask him. And the amazing part is that he has all this knowledge despite the fact that he never watches the news, reads a newspaper, or even looks at the pictures in a news magazine. Nope...somehow he just knows it all.

So I really don't understand why politicians are trying so hard to connect with Jane and Joe Sixpack. Why not Mel Methhead, Connie Crackho, or Denny Dimebag? I'm just as interested in what they have to say...aren't you?

I heard one of those ditzy blond pro-Republican pundits bragging about the number of people that watched the VP debate. She claimed--rightfully in my view--that they all tuned in to watch Palin. True enough. But I suspect most of those viewers were watching so they'd be ready for the Saturday Night Live sketch with Queen Latifah. I know that's why we watched.

Oh well... it's not really about truth anyway. Just another reason I'm...

The Crotchety Old Man

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Blogging Experiment

I started blogging on September 17 of this year. It wasn't something I thought about doing prior to that moment. I stumbled across the Blogspot homepage, saw how easy it was to create a blog, and got started. Next thing you know, I'm a blogger. In truth, prior to my first blog entry I had never even read a blog. So to say I didn' t have a clue what I was doing would be an understatement.

Have to admit that it came pretty naturally for me. I have always been a writer. Let me rephrase that...I have always enjoyed writing. The top of my closet is filled with the many volumes of a journal I've kept that dates back to the 1970s. I also do a lot of writing for my job, and have been told more times than I can count that I have a gift for it. Perhaps one day I'll type all my old journal entries into a blog (though I suspect a lot of editing would take place!).

Days after I started blogging, I installed the code from Google Analytics so I could see how many people were stopping in. Took me a while to get that part right. FYI--it didn't work until I switched the "new" code for the old code. Now it works like a charm, and I'm hooked.

After the tracking code started working, one day I popped into just about every room on Gay.Com and posted the URL for my blog. The next day I had over 100 visits, from all over the world! I also had my first really nasty comments. More importantly, I learned about bounce rates. For readers that have not learned about bounce rate, it gives you an idea of how long visitors stay on your pages. A high bounce rate means that they don't stay very long at all. The day I had more than 100 visits, my bounce rate jumped up around 80%.

So I abandoned the adbot strategy, and started following blogs that looked interesting to me. That generated some nice comments on some of my postings (thanks guys!). It also took me to Joe, My, God. This is a GREAT blog, and it has inspired me to do better.

So today I have been searching for tips for successful blogging. I'm going to continue with The Crotchety Old Man for a while. I like the appelation and it really feels good to vent. But based on what I've been reading, I don't think this will ever be a "successful" (translation: profitable) blog. But for now, I'm still...

The Crotchety Old Man

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin vs Biden

Not since Dan Quayle have the Republicans put up such a dumb ass for Vice President. Say what you will about Cheney--but stupid he ain't (I know, one could easily argue that Cheney was too crotchety to be President so they let Bush head the ticket, in which case Quayle becomes #3 behind Palin and Bush). Quayle, as dumb as he came across, is an intellectual heavyweight compared to Palin.

I heard on NPR yesterday that the Republicans have proclaimed that The New York Times is not a credible news source. Yeah, I listen to and enjoy NPR which I hear makes me one of the liberal elite. The New York Times certainly isn't Fox News, which I suppose the GOP would assert is the only credible news source in the United States. This would all be absolutely hysterical if a huge percentage of Republicans didn't actually believe it! But I digress...

We have early voting here in Georgia. I voted last week because even if they established Obama as Satan in the flesh, I still couldn't vote for McCain/Palin. So the VP Debate tonight isn't going to change my vote (or opinion) one way or the other. I do plan to watch, mostly so the eventual Tina Fey sketch about Palin's certain screw-ups and circular answers will make more sense to me.

I'm sure Palin will finally be able to name a Supreme Court case other than Roe vs. Wade, and that she'll mention a couple of newspapers and magazines that she reads to stay informed. She'll probably mention a few foreign countries. She may talk about her lesbian friend-who's-not-just-a-friend-but-a-really-good-friend. But mostly, I predict she'll play cutesy with lots of winks and nods to help her connect with Jane and Joe Sixpack.

I'm too happy with Palin as the GOP VP candidate to sign off as...

The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New & Improved Gay.Com Sucks!

I've been trying for the last hour to log on to the new and improved I guess the improved part is that old farts like me don't have the patience to make it to the chat rooms. The ads work, of course. But on my computer, they are the only part of that's working.

I like because it's the only place I know of with chat rooms. My favorite aunt asked me how I could stand sitting around with all those naked people and their computers when I told her I liked chatting in chat rooms. Thank God that's not what a chat room is. Ewwwww.

I've always had my issues with Adbots have been a problem with for as long as they've been around. The new version is supposed to block them. I guess it thinks I'm an adbot because I sure can't get in. I've tried Firefox and Explorer--no luck.

It's just as well. Very few people chat with me any more because they all know I have zero interest in hooking up. Funny how that works. Even though they come into the room claiming they only want to chat, as soon as they find out that really is all I want, poof! They're gone.

My frustration with has pushed my surliness to new levels. That's why tonight I am most especially...

The Crotchety Old Man

Lesbians and Bumper Stickers

See a vehicle covered with bumper stickers and chances are pretty good that it belongs to a lesbian. It doesn't even have to be a Subaru Outback, a VW or a Honda Element. See more than three bumper stickers and you can bet your bottom dollar the owner is a lesbian.

Straight men don't do it because the car communicates who they are without need of any bumper stickers. When you do see stickers on a straight man's vehicle, it's usually a truck, and the stickers convey attitude and the driver's favorite sport or team. I don't know what to think about straight men that have a pair of balls hanging from the trailer hitch. Sounds gay to me.

Gay men may stick a rainbow on their car somewhere, mostly to increase the odds of that super hot random encounter that fantasies are made of. could happen! In some cases, gay men use bumper stickers in lieu of duct tape--to hold the car they've driven into the ground together for another 1000 miles or so.

Straight women may sport a sorority sticker on the back window. If they're older, look for "I'm proud of my honor student" or something else about their kids. I'm not sure Mary Kay counts as a bumper sticker.

I don't know why lesbians are more likely than others to plaster their cars with bumper stickers. I just know that's the way it is. And it doesn't have a thing to do with me, and why I'm still...

The Crotchety Old Man
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