Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning, Wells, Maine – Review


 

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on my blog but I feel so strongly about this that I simply had to warn people.

If you don’t feel like reading this entire posting, the bottom line is, in my opinion, DO NOT HIRE BEN OLIVER FROM LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS CLEANING IN WELLS, MAINE

If you search online for Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning service in Wells, ME, you won’t find much, if any, information. No web site for this company exists, no HomeAdvisor.com listing, and I could find no listing, even on generic indexes of business through various services like the online Yellow Pages.  I assumed this was a small business with not much of an online presence.  I should have seen a red flag. But I was in a hurry and made a rushed decision.

Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning, or specifically its owner, Ben Oliver of Wells, ME, was recommended to me by the person who cleans my carpets.  I found my carpet cleaner through Home Advisor.  He was excellent, professional, friendly, and stood behind his work.  He’s great at what he does and I will use him again.  I gave him high marks on HomeAdvisor.com where I found his company.  I don’t want to name his company here so it doesn’t get mixed up with this review. But, I trusted his judgment and recommendation.

I first met Ben Oliver when we scheduled a meeting at my apartment so I could get an estimate.  He seemed friendly, actually overly friendly, but nice enough.  When he entered my apartment he immediately started evaluating my “stuff” (my belongings), not the job itself.

I am a smoker and after 15 years of living here, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get everything cleaned perfectly. The landlord won’t repaint, so I was considering paying for it myself.  But to do that, everything needed to be cleaned including the walls and ceiling.  Ben Oliver assured me that he would talk care of that.  I was told that his company always starts a new customer with a “big cleaning”; which meant everything from top to bottom including walls, ceiling, baseboards, behind the fridge, etc.  He wanted to charge me $200 for this cleaning.  I asked if he could come down at all on that and we agreed on $175.  I thought, for that, it was worth it.

We scheduled it for a few days later.  I gave him my house keys during the first meeting because I intended to use him on a regular basis, once a month, after the “big cleaning”.  On the morning he was to arrive, I left a check for $175.00

When I got home that day, at first glance the place appeared to look good.  The first thing I noticed was a broken light bulb, still in its socket, in the bathroom.  I wasn’t too upset by that but thought it was odd he didn’t tell me.  When he was there giving the estimate we talked about previous cleaners I had used and how they had broken things and never told me.  I assured him that if something were to happen, it’s not that big of a deal, just tell me and if its something of value, we’ll work it out in some way.  He agreed.

The next thing I noticed was some white powdery stuff (it looked like comet cleanser) in front of my fridge.  I got out the all purpose cleaner and a paper tower to wipe it up.  But when I wiped it up, the paper towel came up completely BLACK.  i sprayed a little more Fantastik farther away from the original spot and the same thing happened; completely Black. I took a picture where I re-sprayed the original spot a second time.

kitchenfloor

So this is after I cleaned it once.  I should have taken a pic of the first one but didn’t think about the bigger problem until I had already thrown the first one away and took out the garbage. But this is what it looked like AFTER I cleaned the spot.  And as I cleaned further, it just got worse.

This is a picture of my range hood where he used BLEACH!  Can you see the white discoloration and permanent drip mark?

rangehood

And this is a picture of the space between my fridge and the wall where some plastic molding from my fridge is wedged in there and I can’t get it out.. I don’t even know where it belongs.

fridge part

The Walls and Ceiling were NEVER cleaned.

When I called Ben Oliver of Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning, he acted like he didn’t know who I was.  How may people with my name did he have as a customer?  on that day?  When I started explaining the first issue of the kitchen floor, his response was “To be honest, your whole house was black”.  First, that’s insulting.  Second, it’s unprofessional. Third, we had already talked about smoke damage issues, and the linoleum flooring in my kitchen is something I’ve cleaned myself in the past and it’s never been black.  After a long day of work, I wasn’t in the mood to have some argument with him.  In my opinion, he was more concerned about being “right” than about the job he had done that was substandard  at best.  His response should have been “I’m so sorry, let me come back and take a look at it and fix it” to keep his customer happy and stand behind his work.  At the very least he should have agreed to come and look at it.

But in my opinion his personality, and ego, prevented him from being professional. It seemed that in his mind, he is right, he’s always right, and how dare I question him.

So I wrote an email to him about the issue.  I explained my concerns and gave him every opportunity to make good on is cleaning job.

He never responded to the email. I sent him a text asking if he’d read the email.  His text response was that he hadn’t received it and if I wanted to contact him I should do it between business hours Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

At that point, I was done trying to rectify the situation.  I sent him a text asking for my keys back.  I work in the town where he lives. So I asked him to drop off my keys at my office with the receptionist.  It wasn’t far out of his way and I was scheduled to be off that next day anyway; I didn’t want a run-in with him.  But as it turn out I did have to go into work that next day.

At one point during that day, I heard front door to our office slam and the owner of the company for whom I work came into my office with my house keys dangling in her hand and said “Some guy just dropped these off for you and said to tell you to never call him again!”.  She sort of stared at me funny.  My mouth dropped.  I was mortified.  To walk into a place of business, as a business owner himself, and make a scene over a set of keys, is reprehensible behavior.  It was none of anyone’s business but he made it personal.

The bottom line here is DON’T HIRE Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning in Wells, Maine.  From my experience, you will be overcharged for shoddy work, and he won’t take any responsibility for work that wasn’t done or for work done poorly.  He is unprofessional, and while I try very hard not to judge people based their personality, or who they are, or aren’t, in this case, all of those issues play and were a big part in how all of this went down.   Additionally, there are things missing from my house that I can’t explain or prove. I never even got into that with him.  I’m not a lawyer and can’t accuse without proof, and just wanted it all out of my life.

As I said at the start, I don’t post to my blog very often these days.  However, this situation warranted some action on my part.  I couldn’t find any reviews of him or his company, so somebody needed to speak up.  I wish I had some sort of review to go on; instead I took the word of someone I trusted.  I believe that Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning can’t be found online because he doesn’t want a place online for anyone to review him.

Restoration Hardware is less trustworthy than Walmart


rh

When a presumed reputable company like Restoration Hardware has a sale, and they say the sale will end on a specific date, most believe this to be true.  RH had a “sale” going on that “ended” on February 10, 2014.  One of the sale items was a somewhat expensive linen sheet set in various bedding sizes, and colors.  A friend of mine had received them recently and had them on her own bed, and on the bed in her guest room.  I experienced these sheets on a recent visit to her house and was amazed. They truly are a unique and awesome item if you love your bed and don’t mind spending a few bucks on it.

Because of the cost, I was hesitant, but I really wanted these sheets.  I received an email from Restoration Hardware on February 10, REMINDING me that the sale was ending on that day.

I bit the bullet and placed my order.  I didn’t want to miss out on the sale price, or possibly experience a lack of color choices.  I order the sheets.

The next day, I happened to check the RH web site and guess what?  The sale had been extended for “one more day”. They specifically stated that the sale was extended to February 11.

I sent an email to Restoration Hardware Customer Service asking what the deal was and why were they actively participating in such low-class tactics.  I expect more from them.  I didn’t use those words; I was much more diplomatic, but I was clear about how I felt.  I never received a reply.

Now it’s February 12 and guess what.  Not only is the sale STILL going on, but the wording about the sale being “extended” has been removed.  After my email, the “end date” of the sale suddenly vanished.

For those of you who hold Restoration Hardware in high regard (as I used to), let me tell you that they are no different than any other retailer.  Amazingly, even Walmart ends a sale when they say it’s going to end.  I have purchased items from Walmart for our business, at times, because they had the best price.  But their sales do end.

So if Restoration Hardware has lower standards than WalMart……….

UPDATE:  I received an email reply from Tricia Lavy in Customer Care at Restoration Hardware a short time after I wrote this posting, who said (and I quote exactly) ” Please be assured that the extension of this promotion was a last minute decision, and the promotion was extended an additional day to provide our customers with one last opportunity to take advantage of the sale. It was never our intention to make you feel misled by our recent decision to extend the promotion. ”

This was written to me TWO days after the “sale” had ended, and ONE day after the “extended” date, yet the sale continued.  Now it is February 13th.  Day three since the sale ended and TWO DAYS after the “extension”.  Guess what?  The “limited time sale” CONTINUES.  Restoration Hardware continues to mislead consumers.

BlackberryandBeyond.com web site gay bashes staff


Many “BlackBerry-centric” web sites exist on the Internet.  These aren’t sites owned by Research in Motion (RIM – makers of BlackBerry), but rather third parties who run Forums which double as “news” sites.   There is a lot of competition among these sites and when one of them get’s a scoop, the others immediately jump into action, trying NOT to be the very last site to post the scoop.  The goal of these sites is to make money, obviously. The income can be generated from advertising dollars if they get enough traffic or, if they are lucky, from an online store where they might sell BlackBerry Applications, BlackBerry Accessories, etc.

The list of these sites goes on and on:  They include, but are not limited to, BlackberryForums.com, Driphter.com, BlackberryOS.com, EverythingBerry.com, PinStack.com, Berryreview.com, BBGeeks.com, and the grand daddy of them all – Crackberry.com.  And trust me, this is a short list.

BlackBerryandBeyond.com is a new web site created recently and owned by Tom Evans, John Hodges, a guy named “Jeff” who goes by the call sign “Shimmyshine”, and one other individual who goes by the name “wraithwatcher”.  To demonstrate how these sites rise up, seemingly overnight  – the “owners” of BlackberryandBeyond.com used to be contributors to BlackberryOS.com.  There were personality clashes and accusations of poor management, so the 4 horsemen decided to go off on their own.   The site’s official opening isn’t until late February/early March, but they are well under way now.

A few months back, BlackberryOS.com was looking for contributors.  I showed interest in writing for a Blackberry web site because I had spent so much time on My.BlackBerry.Com (a user forum site run by RIM), and had worked with users to solve technical problems as a fellow BlackBerry user.  My experience comes from running a BlackBerry Enterprise as part of my job.  I noticed that many visitors who submitted questions to My.BlackBerry.Com were asking the same questions over and over and over again.  So I wanted a change of pace.  I’m a decent writer had developed some standard wording in plain language to answer common BlackBerry questions.   When I approached Tom Evans, he was familiar with my work at My.BlackBerry.Com.   In two months I posted almost two thousand responses to forum visitors who requested help with a Blackberry Issue or Problem.  Mr. Evans told me he knew of my work and wanted me to write for BlackberryOS.com.  The problem at the time was that they wanted me to commit to posting one article every day on their site.  I did not feel I could meet their expectations and did not want to promise something I could not live up to.  So in the end, I did not take the “position”.

I use the term “position” loosely.  These sites don’t actually pay people like me to write.  You have to be an owner, and insider, or work you way up.   I wasn’t getting paid to write, although I would have been called a “staff” writer of some sort.

I heard through the grapevine that several people from BlackberryOS.com had left to start their own site – BlackberryandBeyond.com.  I approached Mr. Evans again and asked if there was a place for me in his organization either in Moderating or Writing.  I actually wanted to do both.  I like working with the end-users, but also enjoyed writing; focusing on “How-To” type articles.   Mr. Evans and I had one discussion about where I might fit in.  I was clear that I wanted to play both roles; a moderator and a writer.  Mr. Evans was eager to get me on board.  I had the chops, and the talent, and he knew I would be a good “get”.  He suggested I start as a writer.  I thought that was acceptable.  I had no experience or knowledge in contributing to a web site before.  I immediately began contributing articles to BlackBerryandBeyond.com.  I didn’t sign anything or agree to anything specific number of articles – I just wrote when I could.

When I became a “member” of the group, I was added to their BlackBerry Messenger group.  For those that don’t use BBM or the group function, it’s like Instant Messaging but in group format.  There were about 12 individuals in the B and B group.  Anyone who posted a message into the BBM group had it read by all other members of the group.  It’s an effective way to communicate with everyone at once, especially when big news is breaking, like a new Operating System release, or our web site is down – stuff like that.  Again, the primary players of BlackberryandBeyond.com spend a great deal of time monitoring all of the other BlackBerry forum sites to see what they are posting, so they also spend time trying to get the “staff” to write similar articles so we don’t look like we’re not on top of things.  To me, it’s a strange way to run a “business” – no direct news sources of your own – always playing catch up with what others are posting. 

On Friday, February 4, 2011, RIM announced a new BlackBerry trade-up program.  It was announced by RIM and every single BlackBerry Forum site wrote the same basic article.  I was asked to get something up a quickly as possible.  We didn’t want to be the last ones with the same news as everybody else.  God forbid. 

On Sunday morning, February 6, 2011, I was at home.  I could hear my BlackBerry “pinging” away.  I have a tone set to make a sound when people are posting to the BlackBerry Messenger Group for BlackBerry and Beyond.   What I saw was a bit disturbing to me.  I had become accustomed to this group of “guys” making crude sexual comments and grammar school “jokes” about sex, and women.  It was so unprofessional to me, but I tried to let it just roll of my back.  But on the Sunday morning in question I had enough when I saw them making “gay” jokes.  I didn’t want to be “that guy” who causes problem when they don’t exist.  But I couldn’t stand by any longer and keep my mouth shut.  Here is the conversation I watched go by.  The initials indicate the person “speaking”:

FM – “Steelers. +1”

R – “Packers here….by 14”

JSS – “I can’t vote for gaybay. Lol”

R – Lmao

FM –  Steelers. 24-21 I think. I can’t root for the packers. Ever. I’m a bears fan. Hey shimmy, you a lions fan by any chance?

JSS –  Nah, I’m a tampa bay shittyeers fan..

JSS –  They both suck sadly.

FM –  Lol. Bucs had a chance this year…

FM –  Hodges is probably still sleeping. But since he is gay he’ll probably root for the packers

I saw where this was going, or had already gone.  After watching them talk about wives and girlfriends and “cialis” earlier, I was not about to let this conversation go where it could easily go.  In 2011, the “innocent” gay slur or misogynistic comment just isn’t cool, it isn’t acceptable, and it isn’t appropriate for a “business” conversation.  After all, BlackberryandBeyond.com is a business.  They may act like it’s a junior high locker room, but it’s a business.

So I spoke up – and this is what I said:

“I really didn’t think I would have to say this in 2011, but I don’t appreciate the gay slurs. If you want to act like 12-year-olds in private messages, that your prerogative.. But in a group chat?  You should be ashamed of yourselves. I am gay. If that’s a problem for anyone, then you let me know right now, and we’ll take it from there.  This is not an LOL or LMAO or any of the other terms this group overuses. This is for real.”

The reason I said the part about LOL and LMAO is because in the 14 days or so that I was a member of this group, I watched as comment after comment after comment is posted the BBM group about all kinds of things, and everyone ends or begins their comment with LOL, ROFL, LMAO, as if EVERYTHING is so damned funny that their all rolling on the floor in stitches.  It’s childish and nothing more than verbal filler because these people have nothing important to say to each other.  I should have seen the writing on the wall then.

After my comment I got a few responses.  The first was this:

R –  ….no one meant any offense at all. Everyone in this group except a few, yourself included, have been friends for quite some time. As such we tend to lose sight to the new people in the group.  I’m sure it won’t happen again.

That was the right answer.  Just acknowledge that things got out of hand, that  no offense were meant, and let’s move on.  I had absolutely no problem with that at all. 

But then, THIS, from one of the “owners” – verbatim:

H –  I was driving when this msg came in (name redacted) I’m glad u commented  to play off what you said.  Yes (name redacted)  you are correct this is 2011 and as fucked up as the world is its unfortunate that there are still people in this world that feed of society.. However on the other side of the  coin I myself am not a homosexual but I am half black half puertorican and I have been called every racial name under the sun.. At times it  was meant towards me and at times it was in a joking manner.. You have to know when to be able to decipher the two.. Its obvious these guys weren’t talking negativatly towards you or anyone in the gay community.. As rick said we are all friends my friends call me a nigger all the time but its funny and in a joking manner just sayin”

This above is a comment from John Hodges – Owner of BlackberryandBeyond.com.  Instead of acting like an “owner” and responding with “hey no offense – and guys, he’s got a point, let’s keep our conversations a bit more elevated”, John Hodges basically said – “I’m called a nigger and it doesn’t bother me – so don’t be so sensitive”.

Is that any way for the Owner of a company to respond??  Not to mention that Tom Evans, another Owners, who is NEVER not listening to what’s going on in the group conversation, was in complete radio silence.  Nor did any of the other “Owners” weigh in on the subject. 

We had one female member of our group when I joined.  She resigned unexpectedly and nobody would tell me why except that it was personal.  I can only glean that if she reacted to the misogynistic “talk” the way I reacted to the gay slurs, she had way more reason to be pissed off than I had.  What they said about gays, in comparison to what they’ve said about women, is tame.  And I admit, I don’t think anyone was intentionally trying to gay bash, I just decided to speak up before anyone took it any further.

For the Owner of an organization to defend the actions of the group by saying he’s OK with being called a “nigger” once in a while, is repulsive.  And for the other owners to not say a word about what happened is indefensible.

I deleted all of the articles I wrote for BlackberryandBeyond.com.  They are my intellectual property and I didn’t sign any agreement with them.

I am now looking for somewhere else where I can write – with and for adults.

Toyota recall conspiracy removes Connecticut from New England


In a recent press release Toyota announced it was recalling 1.5 million vehicles, this time for a break fluid leak – or so they say.

I’ve uncovered some classified company information that sheds light on the real issues.  Toyota is rewriting history, and the history books themselves.   On October 20, 2010, I saw a television commercial for “New England Toyota Dealers”.  The commercial featured that guy who used to do the Toyota commercials back in the 90’s.  Toyota started using him again in an attempt to gin up customer confidence in Toyota after the recent  “uncontrolled acceleration” disasters.   To my surprise, the map of New England used in that commercial did not include the State of  Connecticut.  Yes, only Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are “New England” states according to Toyota.  I figured it had to be an honest mistake, right?  – until I did a little more digging.

I scoured the Internet for the video of this commercial but could not find it.  I thought it was odd that I could not find the video since every commercial in the world makes it to YouTube.  I theorized that Toyota was involved in a conspiracy:  I scoured further.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a web site that Toyota forgot to hide.   This forgotten page proves that the company does not consider Connecticut to be part of New England.  Here is a screen shot from the web site in question.  It has not been altered.  Please – only read further at your own risk, since once you see this, you will be part of the select few who know where the roots of this conspiracy reside.


Notice that next to “Locate a Dealer”, Connecticut is not listed.  Further, the URL for this page is:

http://www.newenglandtoyota.com/dealerLocator/dealerLocatorStart.aspx.

I know for a fact that Connecticut is part of New England.  Check any source you can find – other than Toyota – and you will see that I am correct on this point.  Only 4 States were considered to be “New England” when our country was formed by the original 13 colonies.  Those 4 States are Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and CONNECTICUT.  Vermont was not yet a State and Maine was owned by Massachusetts at the time.  Maine didn’t even become a State until 1821.

And how does all of this relate to Toyota’s recent recall?  There are approximately 1.5 million Toyota vehicles registered in the State of Connecticut.  Toyota’s most recent recall is 1.5 million vehicles.  So one can deduce that Toyota is trying to remove Connecticut from New England and remove all of Connecticut’s Toyotas so that no proof is left behind.  This recall is one big conspiracy in Toyota’s evil plan to eliminate Connecticut from New England.  They’ve already done it in their advertising.  Toyota knows that America has become so stupid and complacent, that if Toyota tells them that Connecticut is not part of New England, Americans will believe them.  All Toyota has to do is say it over and over and over again until fiction becomes fact.

Don’t let them do it, I BEG YOU!  I may live in Maine now, but in my heart, I will always be a Connecticutter (yes that’s the real name for people from Connecticut).  Don’t let Toyota rewrite history, or our maps.

PLEASE CALL TOYOTA’S “CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE CENTER”
AT 800-331-4331.

Ask them to put Connecticut BACK ON THE NEW ENGLAND MAP.

This is not a political issue, nor is it a partisan issue.  This is an American Issue.

Be strong.  Take New England Back!

Tyler Clementi – a personal memorial


I’ve had Tyler on my mind for the past week.  I can’t seem to shake it.  I call him “Tyler” not because I know him.  I should refer to him as Mr. Clementi out of respect.  But I think if I knew Tyler, we would have been friends.

I’m older now,  amost 30 years older than Tyler, but I have not been able to shake the flashbacks of what it was like to be 18 years old, gay, and terrified.  By the time I was 18, I had known I was gay for several years, for as much as I understood what that meant.  But I knew for damned sure since I was at least 15.  And I lived in terror of people finding out.

Anyone looking back on MY life would consider me lucky.  Sure I was called faggot by every cruel and not-so-cruel person I came into contact with.  I was also overweight, scared out of my mind on a daily basis, and didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.  By 18, I had gone on a crash diet.  I was 6 feet tall, had a 31 inch waist and weighed about 170 pounds.  It was the night I graduated high school that I had my first sexual encounter with a guy I had a crush on for a while.  I didn’t know then, and don’t know now, why it happened, why this guy liked me, or why he was interested in a sexual relationship with me.  But it happened.  And I was in heaven.  Somebody out there cared about me.  Somebody that I cared about, maybe even loved, held me in his arms and awakened things in me that had been pent up for so long.  Somebody wrapped his arms around me and let me fall asleep against his chest.  I woke that same way.  I did not know that happiness like that existed.  I had never experienced happiness before that time that I can remember.  But finally I knew what they meant by “happy”.

So I can not imagine (and I am welling up as I type this) what would have happened, or how it would have affected my life, if two hateful losers broadcasted my secret to the whole world.  I haven’t seen, nor do I want to, the video in question.   But even if it was as simple as a beautiful first kiss, a kiss that lingered for a long time, for the first time, then the possibility that the world was laughing at me for what I was finally feeling would have crushed me.

I don’t know the history of Tyler Clementi.  I don’t know if the experience at his college was the first or second or tenth.  It doesn’t matter.  Nobody deserves what Dharun Ravi and  Molly Wei did.  Betrayed by his own roommate just a few weeks into the school year.  How do you face that without the right support system.

In a perfect world, what would be broadcast instead to the world is the trial and conviction of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei.  What punishment is fair for invading another human being’s most intimate expressions and behaviors without his consent.   This was not an innocent prank.  Ravi and Wei knew exactly what they were doing.  Their intention was to totally and completely humiliate Tyler Clementi to a point beyond repair.  What other reason could there possibly be for what they did.   The perpetrators and their defenders may come up with all kinds of reasons or explanations.  But no matter what, there is NO excuse.  Again, this was not a prank.  It was an intentional, malicious, hateful attack.

Maybe too much time has passed and my wounds have healed.  But I think  I was lucky to find the support of some very good friends who accepted me completely for who I was.  And eventually, my family came around to the point where I would bring my boyfriend (the few times when I had one) to a social event.  Today, it’s just not an issue.  Partly because the world has changed a lot since I came out (or so I thought), and partly because I am so accepting of my own sexuality.  I don’t have an issue with it so why should you.  I don’t hate myself so why should you.  I don’t force my sexuality down anyone’s throat, but I won’t deny it nor will I miss an opportunity to correct someone who doesn’t know I’m gay.   If someone refers to my wife or girlfriend, I simply say “I’m gay”.  I don’t believe that sexuality should be flaunted by anyone, gay or straight.  I don’t want to watch a straight couple grope each other on a park bench.

I wish so much that Tyler was my friend.  I know, I just know, that if we were friends, I could have helped him get through this.  I would bring him to places to be around people who just don’t give a shit if you are gay.  And I’m not talking about bringing him to gay bars.  I’m talking about normal heterosexuals or homosexuals (although most people I know are straight) who treat you like a person, not a “type” of person.

This is probably from watching too many movies or TV, but I keep picturing me, there, on the bridge (and I’m going to cry again) holding out my hand to Tyler.  And just simply, and quietly, I take his hand and ease him down to the ground.  Then I give him a hug and tell him it’s going to be OK.  “We’ll face it together”.

So many young men have killed themselves just his month – all because of the idea that their families and the world won’t accept them for being gay.  I am amazed that in 2010, the attitudes of some are so far behind the rest of the world.  How can it be that we live in a world that has gay marriages, civil unions, domestic partners, gay adoptive parents, openly gay politicians and clergy;  ideas that were unthinkable just 20 years ago.  Yet that same world has so much hate for the exact same ideas.  I can only conclude that it is our fault.  It is the fault of those that are more progressive thinkers.  We haven’t spoken out enough, we’ve tolerated this hate too much, and there are not enough of us watching the bridges for the ones that need a hand to get down.  The time has come.  Keep your eyes, and ears, and especially your mind and heart, open.  Only we can change it by de-stigmatizing it and making sure that all people, not just gay people, are accepted and loved.

As for Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei; the same god that they might quote to condemn homosexuality (they must, why else would they have done what they did) is the same god who said “an eye for an eye”.  So do we make them stand on the edge of that same bridge and force them to do the same?   I doubt Tyler would have wanted that.  I might be mad enough to do it, but he wouldn’t be.  You can tell, just from the few pictures you might see of him.

So in the end, do we really need to be reminded, one more time, to love and respect each other while you have the chance.  Because you never know what tomorrow will bring.  What might be “harmless hate” to some, will be the end of the road for others.  Do you really want that on your conscience.

To my friend Tyler:  Hi Tyler, you don’t know me.  My name is Ron.  And I want to let you know that I’m thinking about you.  You are in my thoughts and you probably always will be.  Just know that while you may not have known it, there are so many people who love and respect you.  And they don’t care if you’re gay.   Maybe somebody, even just one person, will learn from what happened to you and decide to make different choices.  I will keep a candle burning for you.  I’ts my way of leaving the light on.

Loud Motorcycles save lives??


On July 12, 2010, Maine enacted a law meant to prevent those who ride street bikes from altering their exhaust systems to make them louder.  An organization called Maine Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles (MECALM.ORG) played a big part in supporting the change in the law, and has played a big part in trying to get local police departments, State Police, and sheriffs to uphold existing noise ordinance laws as well as this new one.

I don’t believe that MOST motor cyclists are intentionally trying to disturb the peace and I don’t think that MOST of them are altering their bikes to make them louder.  (Harleys are loud enough out of the gate.)  But there is a certain segment of this “user group” that is arrogant, ignorant, and self-absorbed enough to think that they can do what they want, when they want, and disturb whomever they want, with their motorcycles.  The one and only argument they use is “if I”m loud enough then you are more likely to hear me, and therefore won’t accidentally hit me”.

Well, that argument might hold true for the few people who are riding in cars within 50 feet of you.  But that certainly doesn’t hold true for people too far away to hit you in the first place.  And it doesn’t hold true for people sitting in their homes whose dental fillings fall out every time you ride by.  The truth is, some bikers have altered their bikes to make them louder.  As I said and as we all know, Harleys are loud already.  Some make them even louder.  And it’s all about getting attention.  “Look at me, I’m cool”.

Well, you got your attention.  It just wasn’t the attention you wanted.  If the “loudists” (that’s what I call them)  had even one ounce of common decency, or common sense, then this issue never would have come to pass.  If the “loudists” realized for one second that because of their bikes, they are disrupting other people’s lives , and then actually care about that, this issue never would have come to pass.

Like any other social issue, there are some very strong opinions on this subject.  Those against loud motorcycles give compelling evidence of the effects of loud bikes.  You can easily do a Google search and find all kinds of writings on this subject.  The cyclists themselves have very strong opinions as well.  The difference is, the tone of the “loudist’s” writings is so very angry, and so very arrogant, and in some cases, so very stupid.  I read one guy’s comment on a web site who was pissed that he was going to lose the money he invested in his illegal muffler.  He just didn’t get it that all he had to do was put the original muffler back on the bike, that he took off in the first place, and he would be within the law.

If I drove my car down Main Street with a broken exhaust system, or a modified exhaust system, I would be the loudest thing in the area, everyone would hear me, and I would be pulled over in about 2 seconds and cited for a traffic violation, disturbing the peace, and go knows what else.  The same should be true for motorcycles.  If you are on a motorcycle and you are the loudest thing in the area, you are too loud.  If I can’t talk to the person in my car, or hear my radio, because you are next to me at a traffic light revving up your engine, you are too loud.

As for the noise from your bike protecting you from being hit, I could say the same thing about my car because many drivers don’t pay attention to anyone but themselves.  Selfish drivers cause accidents; accidents with other cars and with motorcycles.  You can be as loud as you want but if you encounter a stupid or selfish driver, it won’t matter.

The bottom line here, to bikers who want to be loud – stop being a dick, stop stomping your feet like a 4 year old, get a grip, fix your fucking bike, and then welcome to the real world where the world doesn’t revolve around you.

Ass Wipe Nation


When I was a kid, and even when I was a younger adult, the words “ass wipe” were used as a derogatory slang expression that meant “a real asshole” – nay, you were worse than that, you were the toilet paper that wiped the dirty asses.  Don’t you remember referring to someone as an “ass wipe”?  “Oh my god, that guy is such an ass wipe.”

Oh, how times have changed.   Today, the definition of “ass wipe” is not derogatory, ass wipes are a requirement in the American household.  I don’t recall when it started, but I do recall being one of the first people I knew to buy ass wipes, also called “moist wipes”.  They are a derivation of “baby wipes” except you can’t flush baby wipes like you can ass wipes.  I remember having visitors to my home, close friends usually, who said “what are those things sitting on the back of your toilet tank in that plastic box”.  And I would explain to them that they are “moist wipes”.  When they still didn’t get it, I said “they’re ass wipes – they’re slightly wet and you use them to clean you ass”.  For christ sake do I have to spell it out??  Do you really not know what these things are?  Were we, as a nation, so naive, or blind to a fact that Europeans and their bidets have known for years:  Skid marks aren’t pretty. 

Maybe as a gay man it all seemed so natural to me to have these cleansing gadgets.  I won’t go into details – you’re welcome.  But American bathrooms, for the most part, are bidet-free.  Sure there are high-end homes with super high-end bathrooms that have bidets.  Many wouldn’t recognize what it is and would probably ask why there is a water fountain in your bathroom.  And now the “must have” bathroom fixture is the thousand dollar Japanese toilet that basically washes, blow dries, and puts your ass through a spin cycle before sending you on your merry way.

But barring that, Americans have their “ass wipes”.  Currently it’s almost unheard of to walk into someone’s bathroom and not find a box of moist wipes sitting on the toilet tank.  Mothers are happy.  Their kids and their husbands don’t leave so many skid marks in their underwear; making their laundry chore far less disgusting.  Husbands are happy because now maybe their wives won’t mind giving them head somuch because it doesn’t smell so bad.  As for gay men, we’re just happy.  Happy that we spread the word about ass-wipes and it took off.  I’m disappointed that Spell Check in America rarely get’s “bidet” correct.   To summarize, clean asses are in our thoughts, but not in our dictionaries.

My only counterpoint to this?  Dick Cheney is still an old-fashioned ass wipe. (Sorry, I had to slip that in somewhere).  I’m not sure, exactly, why America has become obsessed with cleaning their butts.  But I’m glad they did.  It makes sitting in a crowded room so much more pleasant.

December ’09 is a slow news month


We seem to by in a news cycle where there is a lot going on, yet none of it is important enough to write about.  And so the bloggers, and the main stream media, begin to fill up the pages and the TV screen with something that can only be called “stuff”.

Does anyone really care about Tiger Woods personal problems?  I don’t.  And neither should you.  All of the wasted file server space used up by people writing articles and opinions about who Tiger slept with or had an affair with; it’s a crying shame.  Who cares?  Let him live his life and handle his problems on his own,  just like the rest of us.

Amanda Knox, did she, didn’t she.  Who cares???  Her family, yes, and friends, of course, but the rest of us have no say in the matter and will never know the truth.  I don’t care if the Italian court works like the American system.  I don’t care if Italians are prejudicial in their court judgements against outsiders; because I don’t plan on going to Italy to kill anyone.  Who the hell cares?  It’s just another murder trial.

Obama took a while to decide what to do about Afghanistan.  He did what any smart person should do – think long and hard about his options and then make a decision and stick to it.  Done.  Do we need to debate it to fill air time?  I don’t think so.

And even I am guilty.  I just wasted how much electricity, and file server space, to write this post about how there truly is nothing to write about that isn’t already being said, or thought.  I’m glad I don’t own a cable news network.  I’m glad I don’t have to fill 24 hours each and every day with noise, so that the advertisers have some place to show their products.

Here’s what I think is going on in the world that we should be thinking about:  We all have friends, and/or family, who are hurting, and to some degree, suffering.  Maybe it’s the kind of hurt caused by personal crisis:  sickness, abusive relationships, or love that seems to be dying.  Maybe it’s the kind of hurt that is financial: mothers and fathers who can’t feed their kids, or people wondering how they will avoid eviction or foreclosure.

We should be writing about, and watching TV that deals with, taking care of each other.   Random acts of kindness are under-rated.  Whether it’s holding the door for someone or helping a woman in the parking lot clean the snow off her car.  Now we’re talking about stuff that matters.  Lend an ear, lend a hand, lend a dollar.  Listen to what people around you are saying.  Some of them have a difficult time asking for help.  But if you really listen, and watch, it’s not hard to figure out what someone needs.  It might just be a hug, as corny as that sounds.  What if a big, smothering, maternal or paternal hug is all someone needs today.  What will that cost you.  Or maybe it’s money, or food, or a ride, or a job.  Just do it.  And do it thanklessly.  You shouldn’t do it for recognition, or glory, you should do it because you are human.

I’m not saying all of this simply because it is the holiday season.  As far as I am concerned, even Christmas is not worthy of writing about.  Unless someday (in my wildest dreams) Christmas is no longer about buying presents and instead is about helping each other.   Unless Christmas is no longer about gifts for the sake of buying gifts, then Christmas is not worth wasting more space on a file server somewhere; and it’s not worth filling up the airwaves.

Why don’t we all take this opportunity to take advantage of this “inconsequential” news month.  With the exception of families with loved ones overseas fighting in wars that we shouldn’t be fighting, everyone else should start to make a list, and check it twice.  And on that list should be thank you’s, and donations, and meals you made for someone who can’t get out of the house, and packages for troops, and treats for your dog, and all of the things about which writing words on a page are worthy.

Where’s my stimulus?


I hear this question all the time.  “If the government can give banks billions of dollars, why can’t they give average American’s a bailout?”.

Well, it’s true.  I hear these unimaginable dollar amounts being talked about, and given out, to Banks, Auto Companies, and god knows who else, and it seems everyone and their brother is getting money, but no me.

It was just announced that Wall Street will give out 140 some odd billions of dollars in BONUSES.  It’s sickening.  I am driving a 14-year-old car that has a trunk that leaks so badly I get 6 to 8 inches of standing water in my trunk every time it rains.  The air conditioner doesn’t work, and it’s starting to rust out.  This car did not qualify for “Cash for Clunkers” because it supposedly gets more miles per gallon than the government cut-off of 18 mpg to qualify for the program.

The average car price now, is about $22,000 dollars.  And that’s for a regular old standard sized American and Japanese cars.  I’ve learned over the years that when you buy a used car, no matter how much you know about cars and no matter how much you know what to look for, you are always buying somebody elses problems.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be selling the car.  How many people sell a car that they like and that runs great. 

So all I want out of the trillions of dollars being shuffled about this country from one place to another to a bunch of people who don’t deserve it, is my $22,000 to go buy a decent car.  If I were able to get that money and buy a car, the first person that benefits is the car dealer, and its employees.  Then, I would be way more likely to go on road trips like I used to do.  I don’t take road trips now because I don’t trust my vehicle.  But if I go on a road trip, then restaurants, motels, retailers, liquor stores, supermarkets, gas stations, and their employees, all benefit from me spending money.  It’s called the economy, stupid.   Giving money away to people who already have money doesn’t stimulate shit.  The rich will just have bigger bank accounts but they won’t spend more than they spend now.  To grow the economy, there must be a GROWTH in spending, not the status quo.  Plus if I got a new car, I wouldn’t be contributing negatively to climate change.  Cleaner vehicles are good for the environment regardless of whether you believe in climate change or not.

We hear all about deficits and debt.  But there is still enough money in this country, controlled by the top 10 percent of all Americans, to pay off America’s debts.  So don’t tell me the country is falling apart.  The rich are STILL getting richer and the poor are still getting poorer.  I’m just trying to make it to the middle class.

Bail me out!  Stimulate me!

Maine Senators don’t care about health insurance reform, or you


Today I called the offices of both Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, you know the moderate Republicans, the progressive Republicans.  Bull shit.

According to the staff person that answered the phone, Olympia Snowe “hasn’t finalized here position on health care reform”.  She hasn’t??  Everybody else in the country has chosen a position.  And most of them don’t know what they are talking about.  So Ms. Snowe is the only person in America who hasn’t decided on a position?  They asked me if I wanted a response.  Of course I want a response.  I want to know why you don’t have a position and I want to know when you will publicly state what your position is.

As bad as Susan Collins position is, at least she has one.  She categorically is against a public option and against a single payer plan.  OK.  So if you extrapolate that, she’s against reform in general.  Susan Collins released a statement.  I couldn’t find it on her site but I found it on a political blog.  If you are interested, here it is: http://principalquattrano.com/images/collins_lg.jpg

It is FILLED with standard Republican talking points and phrases like “Washington-run public insurance” and continues to quote “The Lewin Group”.  Now, the Lewin Group is quoted by literally every Republican member of the House and Senate.  The Lewin group is touted as being the foremost  independent experts in the country regarding health care.  Well, by right wing politicians and pundits, at least.

In reality, the Lewin Group is a front.  They are a fake independent health care consulting firm wholly owned and operated by United Health Group, one of America’s largest health care providers.  There is nothing independent about Lewin.  Yet, if you listen to any Republican in Congress when they have the floor, or when they are on Fox News, you will hear each of them continually reference the Lewin Group as a preeminent source for what a catastrphe Health Insurance Reform would be on every level.

So Susan Collins, the moderate, is quoting the same bogus sources as every other republican.  Further, on one hand, Collins says that the reduced operating costs of a government backed health insurance plan would bring an end to private insurers and it’s not fair.  On the other hand she says we can’t accomplish Health Care reform because the cost is too great.  WELL IT CAN’T BE BOTH.  It can’t be a cheap-to-run health insurance plan AND too expensive at the same time.

The contradictions go on.  She states that the increased costs of health care are a burden to employers.  Well, that’s true.  But if employees don’t like their plan, or feel they could get better coverage from the government plan (and I can tell you from experience that many employees would bail on their existing health coverage), employer costs, in most circumstances would GO DOWN because fewer people would need private coverage.  Again, Susan, you can’t have it both ways.

And finally, she said she talked directly to the President.  She states that in her conversation with him, she pointed out that States with high-quality, low-cost health care like Maine (?) should not be harmed by reforms but rather rewarded for their efficiencies and innovations.  I don’t know what State she lives in but I can tell you the following:  finding a primary care physician, or finding mental health care, or finding a dentist in Maine is next to impossible.  There are not enough doctors, they are not taking new patients, there aren’t enough dentists, psychiatrists won’t take a new patient unless they have the right “kind” of insurance.  I don’t have a clue what she means by our “efficiencies”.  When I was out of work for 18 months, I was denied for the State of Maine health insurance program (for the unemployed, disabled, people on public asistance, etc) because they weren’t taking any new applicants right then.  They put me on a waiting list – a waiting list to get health care.  It was 2 months after I went back to work (18 months later) that I receive a letter from the State of Maine with an application to fill out for the State health insurance program for the poor.  What exactly was efficient about that.

In conclusion, if my Congressional representatives don’t want to fight for a national health care system, then let me join the health insurance plan that they have.  I want to pay the same amount that a Congressperson  pays our of his or her own pocket and I want the same level of coverage. 

That sounds about right, doesn’t it.  What could they possibly have against that.  I am not asking for anything more than Congress gets, and they work for me; I pay their salary.  Maybe as your employer, I will decide that we can’t afford to provide you with health insurance anymore.  That’s what employers are doing all over the country to make ends meet.  I think it’s worth considering.