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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thoughts About Strap-ons

Visit almost any sex toy web site, and you will find a category of products known as "strap-on dildos". Sometimes, the dildos are hollow, which means that men can use them as "extensions" for their own genitals. (This type is known as a PPA, or Prosthetic Penis Attachment, according to this page at BigSexToyStore.com.)

I guess I can understand why a guy might want to wear the hollow type. When used as an extension, such a product could make it easier for him to give physical pleasure to his woman, especially if he is one of the numerous men who suffer from erectile dysfunction. (There are other ways to deal with that issue, such as penile implants, but as it says at Wikipedia, "Most men will not wish to proceed to surgery when properly informed of the likely outcome and risks of complications.")

Of course, a man would still have to get some kind of erection in order to use an extension, but his member would not have to be as big as the dildo could be.

I think that a hollow strap-on could be worn by a woman, not just by a man. She obviously wouldn't need to have anything to insert into the hollow part.

Why would a woman want to use a strap-on dildo of any kind, whether hollow or not? It depends. Some male partners may consider themselves to be straight, but they may still want to occasionally "take a walk on the wild side". "Pegging" is the name for a practice in which a woman "anally penetrates a man, in most cases using a strap-on dildo harness". The practice has also been described as "bend over boyfriend", the acronym for which is BOB, which must annoy the heck out of the folks who run the Christian ministry known as Band Of Brothers (which has the web address of www.bellinghambob.org). Speaking of acronyms, DILDO is also an acronym for Direct Input Limited Duty Officer. I guess that the "duty" is sexually pleasing a person with penetration of a bodily orifice.

I think that strap-ons are also popular among lesbians and bisexual women. The idea that two women could sexually satisfy one another might seem a bit weird, since a woman does not have any physical endowment suitable for penetration of another woman, unless one counts her fingers (or, in extreme cases, her firsts). But where nature has not naturally endowed a woman with a penis, technology (albeit a primitive technology, based on a modification of the dildo, which has existed for some 30,000 years) has come to the rescue.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

About Chocolate and Sex

Traditionally, guys have given boxes of chocolates to women on Valentines Day (the symbol of which is a "heart" which in reality looks more like an actual vulva than an actual heart). There is a biological reason for that: In an article entitled Top 10 Reasons Why Chocolate Is The World's Most Perfect Food, it states that chocolate contains tryptophan (the ingredient which, in turkey, causes folks to fall asleep on Thanksgiving Day) and phenylethylamine, which "reaches peak levels during orgasm".

That reminds me of the dessert they used to serve at the Baby Watson's fast food place near Harvard Square in Cambridge, where I worked as a pizza and sandwich cook. (Our New York-style cheesecake was originally made by a company called D'Aiuto's Pastry Corp.) Dennis Saide, the manager (from Lebanon) had his own unique names for products sold there. As I recall, his butterscotch brownies were called "gay bars", and the chocolate cheesecake brownies (like the one I just ate at Starbucks) were called "chocolate orgasms". His slogan, printed in yellow silkscreen ink on our brown aprons, was "Baby Watson: The creamiest thing you've ever had in your mouth". Something tells me that cheesecake was not the first thing that came into a lot of people's minds!

Of course, if the sex-like excitement from normal chocolate (like my favorite brand Cadbury) is not enough, one can always buy a piece of chocolate molded to resemble a real penis, complete with a sugary cream meant to look like a man's ejaculate. Such products can be bought from United Indecent Pleasures. It's not an American company; rather, the address seems to be in the Mediterranean islands. But if you're willing to pay for your very own chocolate dick, they are always willing to accomodate you. Just email them at findways@unindencent.com.

David Gilden and the Kora

Back in the 1980s, I lived for 7 years in Boston, Massachusetts, and I worked at the Harvard Coop in their record department. I'd moved there because I wanted to study jazz piano at the Berklee College of Music, which had alumni like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Gary Burton.

One of the things I really liked about living in that area was the proliferation of street musicians, aka buskers. One such musician was David Gilden. He'd studied at Berklee, and while visiting the Smithsonian Museum, he'd learned about a West African musical instrument called the kora, which he spells with a c at his website www.coraconnection.com. You can hear David play in a YouTube video at http://youtu.be/GjQJ1nn63Oc. The kora is a delicate sounding instrument, or at least it can be; but when it's played in a duo, featuring the percussion instrument known at a balafon, it can also sound quite vigorous.

Interestingly, David has even adapted the kora in order to play classical guitar pieces by Bach and others. That makes sense, since the strings of the kora are similar to the gut strings or nylon strings often used for classical guitar music.

I Love Grilled Cheese

The phrase "government cheese" was used disparagingly by critics of the Reagan administration to imply that Reagan's administration did not care about the needs of the poor. In point of fact, the Wikipedia article about that phrase says that such cheese had been given to poor folks ever since the 1960s, which (news flash to Democrats) was way before Reagan ever took office.

Processed American cheese was generally the variety on offer. My family never received government cheese, to my knowledge, but I liked American cheese a lot. Often, that was what one got when one ordered a cheeseburger or a grilled cheese sandwich in a typical diner in the Midwest, where I was raised. I later learned that I tended to prefer other varieties, like cheddar, longhorn and similar types. I liked those kinds because the cheese got stringy, in a nice way, when it was melted between two slices of bread.

I was reminded of grilled cheese just now when I checked my email, which included a Yelp.com link to a review of restaurants in Chicago renowned for their good grilled cheese sandwiches.

When I first moved to the Lawson House YMCA in Chicago, my room there had no kitchen. So I was pretty limited in terms of my weekly menu. I could eat at fast food restaurants like McDonald's, but McDonald's had no grilled cheese sandwiches.

I liked cheeseburgers, but sometimes I was in the mood for a plain old grilled cheese sandwich, which I'd made for myself quite often when I was a young man in Missouri. Lawson House later put small microwave ovens in the rooms of each of the residents, but a microwave oven is a lousy way to make a grilled cheese sandwich. The cheese needs to be melted, sure, but the bread also needs to be toasted. Toasters were verboten there, as were hot plates.

When I did a temp job assignment in an office complex out near the OHare Airport, I discovered a small restaurant there that actually had grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu. So I could satisfy my craving for such sandwiches on days when I was scheduled to work there. (I hadn't yet seen the Yelp.com review of other restaurants that served such sandwiches, nor had I heard of the chain of restaurants, based in Ohio, known as Melt.)

I eventually bought a little electric skillet which I used for such things as making grilled cheese sandwiches, but I had to hide it out of view whenever they had one of their scheduled room inspections. How ridiculous! A grown man treated like a toddler and forbidden from cooking basic food items if they could not be microwaved. They said in their lease that we were forbidden from owning any appliances that produced heat (which presumably included toasters).

I guess they had never tried to remove a light bulb that had been on for a while. I guess they had never heard of the toy known as an Easy-Bake Oven.

To say that I am glad that I no longer live in Lawson House YMCA would be a mild understatement, not just because of their idiotic policies about such things as toasters, but also because they stupidly accepted donated mattresses infested with bed bugs. I often awoke with painful bed bug bites on my hands and feet (and even on top of my head a couple of times). It felt a bit as if I was living in hell.

Thankfully, when I moved from Chicago to Bellingham, Washington in 2010, I did not bring my bedbugs with me. I did have other difficulties here, including several ministrokes, which might have happened even if I had not been so poor that I had to live at Lawson House. But the bedbugs and the stupid rules about toasters were thankfully a part of my past.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

I remember hearing a tune on the radio with the memorable line "paranoia will destroy ya'". I had no idea of who had recorded that tune, so I just googled the phrase. http://alturl.com/fbo3v is the short URL for the page on which someone answers that question, and reprints the lyrics.

It would be hard to conceive of a better example of the destructive power of paranoia than Jim Jones. In an article at TheAtlantic.com, a survivor talks about what it was like to be a part of The People's Temple:

Do you think he really believed he was doing something good for the world?
It's hard to know the mind of Jim Jones. He was a very complex, confusing character. In some ways he was a good guy. He was passionate about interracial integration. The People's Temple built schools, built housing, built a health clinic, built a kitchen, cleared fields, harvested crops. His goal was to set up this utopian community where everything would be fair and equal.

At the same time, he was very paranoid. He could not accept the fact that one person would leave him, ever. He had us all sign papers -- Jim called them compromises. They were blank sheets of paper, or typed sheets of paper that he'd cover up while we signed our name. He had something he could blackmail all of us with. One guy tried to leave and Jim said he'd use his paper against him so he'd never see his children again. So he came back. The thing was, too, that Jim would not let children off the compound. So if you were going to leave, you were leaving your child. There was no way of getting a child out of Jonestown.

Scary, huh? Most pastors are not paranoid to that extent, or even close to it. But any time a Christian leader acts as if he or she is exempt from criticism, as have several pastors I have known, that person is showing that he or she has tendencies which are different from Jim Jones only in degree, not in kind.

Jim Jones apparently attracted a lot of racial minorities to the People's Temple, because he did seem to be their friends on some level. But black folks can be paranoid, too.

John L. Jackson wrote a book called "Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness". Jackson is black, so his words seem to be worthy of attention.

I'm sympathetic with blacks who have been victimized by genuine racism, but there are others (e.g., Barack Obama's former pastor) who have used charges of racism as a means of manipulating others to give them what they want.

Church Abuse Is Not Always Sex Abuse of Children

Do a web search on the phrase "church abuse", and you will almost always find web pages pertaining to sexual abuse of children or minors. That is most likely because one of the most egregious examples of such abuse pertains to Catholic priests who have perpetrated such abuse. (And it's not just the Catholics. The COGIC denomination, aka Children of God in Christ, is Andrae Crouch's denomination, and there's a Facebook page related to the web site www.reportcogicabuse.com.)

The truth is that there are many different levels of abuse one can get from church leaders, as anyone knows who read the horrible story about the mass suicide committed by the followers of the delusional egomaniac Jim Jones. I still remember the news photos showing the bloated bodies of the members of the People's Temple in their compound in Guyana. Powers Boothe played the part of Jim Jones in a TV miniseries about that event.

Church abuse can rise (or sink, to be more accurate) to the level of Jim Jones or sexually abusive priests or pastors, but it very rarely does. More often, it takes the form of subtle abuses of power and authority of church leaders (often, but not always pastors) who arrogate to themselves the right to control aspects of a person's life that are frankly none of their business, like what college the person attends, what job the person accepts, what woman the person dates or marries, and so forth. Jeff Van Vonderen (www.jeffvanvonderen.com) has coauthored a book entitled "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse", and he has his own web site (http://www.spiritualabuse.com/) specifically related to such abuse. I highly recommend the book, because Jeff and his co-author David Johnson clearly respect the authority of the scriptures, even though they do not equally respect all pastors.

Why do I care about such things? Because I have witnessed megalomania on the part of pastors far too often for my tastes, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Bottom line: I love God, but only God is God. When a pastor's behavior conforms to my understanding of what God requires, then I will be happy to treat that person as someone worthy of respect (if not unconditional obedience), but not when that is no longer the case.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Halloween Costume for 2013: I'm Going As Myself.

Here in Bellingham, in the Cordata neighborhood (right down the street from Christ The King church), there is a shop for a company named Spirit Halloween (www.spirithalloween.com). I went in there today for the first time. They have all kinds of products with which one can celebrate All Hallows Eve. From fake eyeballs and severed fingers to all manner of costumes, they have it in stock. They also sell pumpkin carving kits from Pumpkin Masters. (A guy working in the shop told me, however, that he'd be more likely to buy the Dremel pumpkin carving tool sold at Amazon.com, because that unit was powered from the wall outlet, whereas the Pumpkin Masters saws were battery powered.)

They also sell a lot of safety-oriented things like glow sticks, to protect kids from being hit by cars while they are out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. (See www.halloween-safety.com.)

Some Christians deplore Halloween, due to the roots of the holiday in a tradition going back to the Druids, who worshipped Samhain, the Lord of Darkness. To some Christians, that probably sounds uncomfortably similar to worshipping Satan!

But one doesn't have to dress like Samhain or Lucifer or Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies in order to frighten a Christian. Judging by the recent treatment I have gotten from a couple of Bellingham churches, one merely needs to threaten to tell the truth. You know, that thing that ostensibly sets people free!

Brad Howell, from Hillcrest Chapel, told me that I would be arrested if I dared to show up at that church, because I'd threatened to tell people that they had done absolutely nothing to help me when I'd pled with them to find a house sharing situation so that I would not have to stay at the Lighthouse Mission.

Needless to say, I did not appreciate getting that letter from Brad. But I still was a believer, so when Steve Loeppky did some practical things to help me out, I decided to attend his church, Mosaic.

Well, it seems that the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. The same old bullshit, I mean. Recently, I was banned from attending Mosaic, because I'd audaciously asked a woman to let me know if she would be interested in going out for a cup of coffee in order to get to know me. I mentioned that I was feeling in need of a female partner, and I found her attractive.

Ooooh, scary. NOT.

When I talked about this episode with Fred Sprinkle, who works at Logos Bible Software, he said that he thought my invitation might have seemed "weird" to that woman because I was somewhat older than she. OK, maybe it did. But she is presumably an adult, even if she is younger than I. Since she is capable of sending an email herself, all she had to do was to send me a message telling me that she was not interested, as another woman from that fellowship, Deborah Lutz, had done. (I was disappointed when Deborah did that, but I can take no for an answer and I stopped asking her.) Instead, like a baby, the aforementioned woman went running to Matt Atkins, asking for his protection. Hence, I got a text message on my cell phone, telling me that I would no longer be welcome at that church.

 I always thought that Christian ministry was supposed to be about love and compassion. But I've encountered far too many power hungry pastors to believe that that is how everyone sees things.  No wonder so many people have turned away from God altogether. They may rationalize the decision to do so by claiming that they can't deal with inconsistencies in the Bible, but really, I think it has a lot more to do with the inconsistencies they see in the lives of people who claim to speak for God.

P.S. In all fairness, I should acknowledge that I learned yesterday, from an email from a fellow believer, that the woman I'd asked out for coffee was only 19 years old. Holy cow! I knew that she was younger than I; that was obvious. But I would never have seen her as a potential partner if I'd been aware that the age gap between us was so large (nearly 40 years).

19 is not legally a minor, and that woman is only a couple of years younger than my parents were when I was born. So I still maintain that it was preposterous for Matt Atkins to call me a predator. (I have never "preyed" on anyone, man or woman, and I find such an accusation to be unjust and insulting.) But I guess that I can understand why she might feel that my written invitation to have coffee with me might have seemed a bit "weird" to her. In retrospect, it seems a bit weird to me too. I really have got to get better at estimating women's ages based on their physical appearances.