Thursday, May 12, 2011

Beautiful Original Northwood Home for sale

So - for a lot of reasons, none of which have to do with how incredibly awesome this house and the neighborhood are, my wife and I have moved back to our old house and put this one up for sale.

It's seriously someone's very lucky day. And if you know my wife, you'll know why.

She's utterly meticulous. And she over saw everything that was done on this house.

Three years ago it went through a sizable renovation. It got a new kitchen (Corian countertops, Jennair stove), the bathrooms were updated (including a hand held shower in the basement bathroom that's very handy for washing dogs), new appliances (everything energy star), new furnace, water heater, gutters, refinished floors, fireplace doors, new fancy fireplace thingy that closes at the top and saves energy, even custom made window well covers. The yard has lovely and low maintenance landscaping. The energy costs are extremely reasonable (never over $300).

And Original Northwood is a great place to live. It's very GLBT friendly, it's a great mix of families with kids that play together, single people and couples. It's also one of the most racially mixed neighborhoods in the city. It's 2 minutes from Morgan State, 7 minutes from Hampden, 15 minutes from Penn Station, and 10 minutes from Hamilton. The community association is active and effective - they even brought in people to get the streets cleared during the big blizzard.

The house has three bedrooms, a small, well designed kitchen, two full baths (2nd floor and basement), living room, dining room, little front porch, flagstone patio, one car detached garage.

It's on the market for $259,900.

Interested? Know someone who might be looking? Check out the official listing here - and please pass it on:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stop Discrimination on Gender Identity

This year the Maryland legislature is considering a bill that would outlaw some discrimination due to gender identity.

There's been a lot of fuss about this bill.


Well, first of all, it is totally legal to discriminate against people because of their gender identity in most of the state (certain municipalities, including Baltimore City have laws which prohibit this discrimination). In other words, a person can be fired, denied employment or housing because they are transgender or because their gender doesn't conform with another person's idea of an "appropriate" gender presentation.

Which is absurd.

Several years ago, Maryland passed a law which added sexual orientation to the non discrimination law. The non discrimination law includes: housing, employment, credit and public accommodations.  Gender identity should have been included then. It wasn't. And now we're having to fight to get it added. Last year, and the year before advocates tried to add gender identity to the overall non-discrimination law and failed. The law failed because the antis launched a campaign focused primarily on the public accommodations section - particularly the part of public accommodations that addresses bathrooms.  The campaign was fear based, focusing on mythical male predators putting on dresses and raping women and children in bathrooms. For some reason, legislators found this specious argument compelling and the bill never left committee.

This year, advocates decided to try a different tact. A bill (HB 235) was introduced that would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and credit. Public accommodations were excluded from the bill. So, although this bill would add many protections, it would continue to allow discrimination in extremely critical areas - including hotels, restaurants and yes, bathrooms.

The bill is far from perfect. Discrimination in public accommodations is intolerable. But, politics is ugly. We in Maryland did not stand up for our trans community when we should have. And now we're trying to clean up the mess. Our politicians don't have the hutzpah to stand up and do what's right and pass a comprehensive bill, but it looks like we may be able to get them to pass a bill that offers some protection. And I think they should do it. If this bill passes, and I hope it will, it's only a starting point. An important starting point.

So please, take a moment and call your delegate and ask them to support HB 235. 

And yes, we'll be back for more until trans people in Maryland have the same protections as everyone else. No one should fear or experience discrimination for their religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability or disability. It's wrong. And, although I sound like a country song when I say it, it's un-American.

There are some people who do not support the bill because it doesn't include public accommodations. There are good reasons for that stance. We, as the Maryland LGBT community, have marginalized, silenced and ignored our trans community(ies) for years. All of us, regardless of gender identity deserve comprehensive protection. People are angry. I'm angry too. And I believe the analysis that we cannot get a comprehensive bill passed this year, that prohibiting some discriminations will empower our communities,  and give us stronger footing for the next bite at the apple.

Imperfect as it is, we need to pass HB 235

Click here to find your delegate's phone numbers. And please, make that call today.

Friday, February 18, 2011

the war on women.

The Republicans just eliminated Title X. And also banned Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding.

The mind reels.

Title X is one of the most cost effective programs the federal government has. Funds are allocated to the states. The state health departments then distribute these funds through a grant application process to non-profit health centers and local health departments. The health centers then are able to provide sliding fee scale reproductive health care services to women and teenage girls.

The services fund STI testing and treatment, pap smears, breast exams and help pay for birth control.

Title X services have helped prevent millions of pregnancies, and save the medicaid system millions of dollars.

According to a study done by the Guttmacher Institute:

National family planning programs prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report.

Absent publicly funded family planning services, the U.S. abortion rate would be nearly two-thirds higher than it currently is, and nearly twice as high among poor women.

Publicly funded family planning services are highly cost-effective. More than nine in 10 women receiving them would be eligible for Medicaid-funded prenatal, delivery and postpartum care services if they became pregnant. Avoiding the significant costs associated with these unintended births saves taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent on family planning.

Guttmacher Institute February 24, 2009

The death of Title X is not assured. The bill will have to go through reconciliation with the Senate and then to the President.

Ending Title X would be a disaster for our nation. The people behind this movement, while claiming to take this action to work against abortion are instead bringing on a national health crisis. They say that Planned Parenthood uses Title X funds to indirectly support their abortion practice. I can tell you with certainty, that's not true. If anything, the abortion practice helps to subsidize additional reproductive health services for women. Planned Parenthood is one of the finest health care providers in the nation, and the largest single provider of reproductive health care in the United States.

Where will these millions of women turn for reproductive health care? How many cases of breast cancer will go undiagnosed? How many case of cervical cancer will not be prevented? Or be missed? How many young women will avoid accessing birth control because they can't afford a doctor's visit? And how many of these same women will end up pregnant?

All in the name of what? Bias against Planned Parenthood. Bias against abortion and the freedom to choose abortion. Bias against birth control. Bias against women.

Call your Senator now and tell them to stop this atrocity.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Porn. The scarlet P

Last Fall, student organizers at Oregon State University approached author, educator and award winning pornographer, Tristan Taormino to provide a keynote presentation at a conference called Modern Sex: Privilege, Communication, and Culture Conference.

Choosing Tristan to speak at this conference makes sense. She is one of the leading sex educators in the country. She has spoken at multiple colleges and universities, including Yale and Harvard. She wrote a column in the Village Voice for ten years. She has won multiple AVN Awards and Feminist Porn Awards. She is smart, insightful and well connected. She is able to discuss sex and sexuality from multiple perspectives - especially those related to how we communicate about sex.

This week, after tickets to the event had been purchased, and while her contract was going through the final signing process, she was disinvited from the event. The explanation was as follows:

Organizers of the upcoming Modern Sex Conference at OSU recently sought approval to bring in a speaker for that event by presenting a partial description of the speaker in question as a writer and sex advice columnist. However, as arrangements were being made to complete the contract for the speaker, it became clear to those providing taxpayer funding for the conference that the speaker, in fact, is also a self-described pornographer with a significant online business in video pornography and related material. A decision was made by Student Affairs leadership that using public funds to cover a speaking fee and travel expenses for the speaker constituted an inappropriate use of those funds, and the speaker’s appearance was thus cancelled.

Travel costs already incurred by the speaker in preparation for her appearance at the university will be reimbursed.

The statement isn't exactly correct - the approval process was started last fall. And, although I have no idea what the students at OSU wrote on their forms, Tristan has never hidden the part of her job that includes pornography. Its part and parcel of what she does.

So what is this really about?

OSU has a right to decide how to spend their money. That's part of how they exercise free speech. As a public institution, they have to answer for how they spend their money, not just to a board, but to the legislature. This conference is being paid for with general funds. In other words, with tax payer money. Frequently, this issue is avoided when controversial speakers are brought to campus by paying for these speakers with student fee funds. This money belongs to the students and is not allocated to the institution from the legislature. When I have taught at public universities, it was these funds which were used to pay me.

Paying for things with student money, makes it easier. But why is it necessary? Would a public insititution balk at bringing in an anti-pornography activist and paying for that person with public money? I doubt it.

What is it about someone participating in pornography that causes an administration to back off?

It's fear.

Right now, our politicians are living in fear. Creating it. Selling it. Manipulating it.

State budgets are tight all across the country. And it is extremely possible that a state legislature would use something like this as an excuse to slash the university budget.

The actions of the university are understandable. But they are not excusable.

As an institution of higher learning it is the responsibility of the administration to provide it's students with access to multiple perspectives. Especially perspectives that may be controversial. Listening to people with whom one disagrees, working to understand different perspectives is a critical part of a good, solid education. Learning how to listen to an argument, compare it to your own experiences, academic knowledge and personal values and synthesize a well thought out opinion is how we become active, useful members of a democratic society. Stifling debate or access to opinion is the death knell of a healthy culture.

How is one to have a legitimate and comprehensive discussion about sex and communication in the United States without including some discussion of pornography? Like it or not, it's part of the fabric of our sexuality. And it's legal.

And why was it ok to include the author of "The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women", but not the director of "The Expert Guide to Fellatio". Why does the act of putting something on HD change who someone is? It's non-sensical.

OSUs decision to exclude Tristan Taormino from their campus is to the detriment of their community and to their academic credentials. I sincerely hope that they find some back bone and revisit their decision.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MiMi (or the pebble) review

Recently we got to review JeJoue's newest toy: the Mimi.

And it gets a double thumbs up. Here's our video review - and for those of you who prefer to read their reviews - skip to below the video and keep reading!

The MiMi is a great, simple, elegant, moderately priced, rechargeable toy from JeJoue.

It has a no fuss, pebble-like shape (as the one of the folks from Milwaukee's fabulous Tool Shed pointed out) that is great for clitoral stimulation, teasing the entrance to the vagina, tucking into a Spare Parts harness, cupping against the perineum behind the scrotum or trailing across nipples.

It comes with five levels of vibration and then five patterns. The highest vibe setting is comparable in intensity to that of Lelo's Siri, but it has a frequency that is not as thumpy - more in the mid to slightly over the mid range in frequency.

It's waterproof and comes with a magnetic charger - so no prongs to break off!

Overall, at $80 you just can't beat this toy - the controls are easy to use. It didn't get hot with use and seems to be holding a charge well.

Sometimes, simple is where you need to be!