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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thoughts on Why RideSharing Kicks Ass

August 19, 2010
Location:, Albuquerque / Denver Rideshare Posting

I decided as a part of this world tour I would give ridesharing a solid “college try” as a way of reducing my travel expenses and seeing if this world tour/green movement made any sense. I was terrified at first of sharing my car to commute with someone who I had never met before. I was also fearful I would find someone with poor hygienic habits, someone who delt drugs, or someone who would secretively be an ace murderer. My fears were quickly put to rest by my first ride share acquaintance, Elise.
It turns out Elise was totally awesome. She was a rockin’ hipster girl who was interested in going to Denver for the weekend to see an old flame. She was passionate about veganism, and even more passionate about not pushing her beliefs and choices on others. She loved travel stories. She adored YouTube. She does facebook. She could drive a Corolla like my inner gay-man-woman bitch wanted to drive. She shouted at cars, she drove above the speed limit. She had interesting stories. She believed in hygene – if she had a Penis I might actually consider dating her/him.
IN any case, I found ride sharing to be an easy way to reduce my carbon footprint, make new friends, cut travel expenses, improve safety and generally improve the overall experience of traveling large distances by road. I figure most of the people I meet online are in similar economic and financial circumstances I find myself in. They would most likely end up renting cars, traveling by themselves or purchasing an airline ticket. I figure if those are the options people have without purchasing a ticket, it’s going to be unlikely that they will do anything to restrict their travel options. Further, if they do bring a weapon along, it’s probably  because they are just as afraid of me as I am of them.
I don’t want to leave you all with the impression I will be taken advantage of and that I don’t do due diligence on people I ride along with. I do, but I think anyone seriously considering a world or national road trip should consider this as a great way to inexpensively travel the country. If you couple this approach with couch surfing and preparing your own food along the way it’s possible to save a great deal of cash and have some good friends.

Denver En Route to Seattle.

Location: Somewhere in the Middle of Wyoming on I-25, Between Casper and Cheyenne, I-25
(“Gay Cowboy fantasy Land”)
Well, I’m traveling from Denver to Vancouver. For those of you who have never been to Wyoming, it’s as desolate as a forgotten arctic tundra. Giant planes of nothingness are cut up by small hills of nothingness with the occasional windmill power farm. It’s a lonely and desolate place. But the people here have a sort of toughness that’s tough to describe. I guess it’s the same spirit that keeps Joan Rivers on QVC or spandex on really fat women. Sometimes you just have to make it through the circumstances life deals you, not matter how tough it gets, or, in the case of the spandex, how big of an ass life can be when it sits on you.
I find it hard to visit this place without the feeling that I’m a total pussy. People here endure years with no job, work 18 hours a day mending fences in cold, ice, wind, dirt and rain. I get mad that I have to go to a warm gym filled with attractive, sweaty and muscular men for an hour a day six times a week. Despite this obvious injustice, I have to deal with an ankle injury. So, I’m free to go to the gym and not even work out, I can just stare at the men as long as I want. I find the gaul to even bitch about that too. I don’t have to work, I don’t have to do any kind of hard living. I eat at fine restaurants practically every meal. My biggest complaint is that I’m fat with fairly sizeable man breasts.
So, lesson learned: I need to man up, be ready to embrace this blessing and try a few new things along the way.  But these new things probably won’t be in Wyoming. All 5 of the state residents seemed really nice, and very, very bored.

Denver, Colorado

August 20, 2010
Location: 6th Avenue and Wadsworth, Denver, Colorado, United States

Ah yes, Denver. Where tie die T-shirts never went out of style and you can be just as comfortable smoking pot downtown as you can going to a high powered business meeting. This town really is a special place and I absolutely love it when I get the chance to come up here.
Denver has a lot going for it. It has a huge technical services/IT employment sector at the Denver tech center boasting some of the biggest names in IT. It has a great night life (I’d personally suggest Wranglers or one of the bath houses along Colfax avenue for those who don’t want any challenges getting their kicks). It’s also a sports fan paradise with the Colorado Rockies, the Broncos at Mile High Stadium or some great bud to be found in the areas hundreds of marijuana dispensaries.
I came here hoping to see a different side of the city than I had when I lived in the metro area briefly in 2004. So, I stayed on the West Side of town and found my commute to downtown, Boulder or the tech center to be reasonably speedy and fun. Of particular interest was the downtown nightlife this time around. I had a lot of challenges with Denver when I lived here in 2004. I ever really integrated myself outside of my core group of friends I had before moving into town. I didn’t network very well looking for a job. I got depressed, and, in short, failed miserably trying to really pull anything off.
This time felt different though. I saw lots of old friends and started to see opportunities here. I also started to see that there was lots of old money in town needing services performed…..
…. I think it’s time to move back.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Movers and Shakers in Denver

August 12, 2010
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Well, it looks like the journey has officially started. I have a plan, or at least, a bunch of independent dreams in life to start stringing together into one.

First stop on my leg out of the house is in Denver. For my readership outside of the United States, Denver is a megalopolis of about 4 million people halfway between San Francisco and Chicago. The city is known to be a great springboard into the rocky mountains and boasts a simply fantastic quality of life. I also know it as a city that made me put my teeth onto the cement and kicked me in the back of the head when I lived there. Well, not literally, but financially.

I graduated college in 2004. I went to school at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and got a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. At the time, completely ignorant of the workings of the world and how useless a Bachelors Degree is these days, I left Flagstaff and moved to Denver about three days after I graduated. I moved in with a close friend I had, without a solid job lined up at the time. I figured that Denver was a big city, and I would be able to find steady employment when I moved into Colorado.

A few months passed by. Weeks of looking turned into months. I saw my savings start to disappear and my debt load started to soar. I fell behind on my rent. I started running out of cash for basic commodities. I called my parents and relatives for money. I networked with every person that I knew - I simply wasn't able to find a steady job that provided the funds I needed to subsist. After a bitter, drawn out, four month fight with a personal balance sheet devastated from both college and a failed job search, I returned to New Mexico to live with my parents and I have been here ever since.
The lessons I learned in Denver have made me extremely gun-shy about moving into a new city without a strong balance sheet. It's also made me realize just how stupid I can sometimes be. I know enough about the world to know that having a Rolodex full of powerful and influential people is the strongest asset you can have. Surrounding yourself with people who have a can-do attitude, who work hard and are willing to take risks makes. It also helps if you know people with some cash in their pocket, people who won't stab you in the back every chance they get, and people with some talent that you simply cannot easily articulate at a school or by reading a single book at a chain bookstore/Nicer public library ("McKnowledge" centers).

All of the above seems like a great place to start, but it doesn't really tell me how I go about 'doing' a city. It doesn't tell me how to learn how those people are. It doesn't help me develop the social skills I need to land in a city and obtain an income. It doesn't tell me how to work within "hard business talk" situations and make them effective. It doesn't tell me how to make good friends.

Knowing all of the above, I know I need to articulate this skill set. But how do I do this? Where do I go? Who do I talk to? When do I talk to them? What should I know before walking in the room with these people? What should I wear?

I do have a small hunch on how to get started. The basic idea should be that I need to be interesting to talk to. I need to be able to add social and personal value to these people. I must learn to create interesting spectacles that lead to business and personal relationships. I need to have sex with hot dudes to get their attention. I wonder if Neil Strauss' words of wisdom will work here. If you haven't already checked out this book, you need to stop doing what you are doing this second and read it right now!

Sounds like I have more lessons to learn. Let's see what happens.

- Brad

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Toys

You know what's great about living in New Mexico?

"Absolutely Nothing?"

Right! Well - ok - something small. Every year during the first or second week in August we have a back-to-school tax free weekend where thousands of items go on sale and are sales tax exempt across the state. For the well off, it's an excuse to double down purchasing nice, expensive items. For the middle class, its an excuse to get a new flat screen, or maybe a new video camera. For the bone crushingly poor, (read: 1/3 of the state on food assistance in some form) you get an extra tortilla, or maybe *a* tortilla!

So, doing my part to help stimulate the local economy I went down to my local Baillo's electronics warehouse, a local Electronics Store outlet. I looked at a plethora of Video Cameras and absolutely fell in love with a nice Sony that was in my price range, recorded in the exact codec and spec I wanted just to find out that it was sold.

I continued and then found a really nice JVC that I liked. Sold out. Then looked at another camera. Sold out. Finally, I looked at another JVC. Two left. One in the box. I ended up picking it up and bringing it home today. Giddy. So now I have something I will be able to record my memories with and upload fascinating, compelling pictures of people (naked men), cultures (exotic naked men) and places (naked men on photo shoot) that I come across in my travels.

It's been a long time since I actually posted a video online of myself doing or working on anything worthwhile (to obtain a relationship with, well, naked men).

More to follow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Proposition 8 Ruling Reaction

Lately I find my particular brand of politics to be moving closer to the center, but on the whole, I am still left of center on a variety of political issues. On the issue of gay marriage, however, I actually agree with the right wing on a variety of things. I think this is another one of those issues where I am totally and completely ashamed to be a gay man and an American, thought not at the same time and not for the same reasons.

"Wait a minute, you are gay and you agree with the right wing on this issue? You don't think that gay people deserve to get married and have legal protections? What's wrong with you?" you might be thinking. Oh boy. Here we go.

Do I think gay people should be able to get married? Absolutely. Do I think all gay people will make great parents? Hell no. Do I think that some gay couples will do awesome things with kids and others will cause serious, irreparable psychological harm? Yes. Yes I absolutely do.

Do I think some gay couples might be making a serious mistake getting married and may cause more harm than good when adopting kids?Well, in a word, yes. I feel like the gay community does a lot of really stupid things and we generally treat each other rather poorly. We don't really communicate all that well with each other. We regularly treat each other like dirt and are often looking for the quick hook-up instead of a relationship based on trust. We value each other based on our looks and how queeny we can be to each other instead of our personal character. We regularly engage in psychological games with our partners that causes distrust, harms long term relationship potential, and spread disease in the name of better quality sex. You might think that all of these beliefs could be viewed as arguments FOR marriage. I see them as a lack of maturity necessary to bring successful people into the world.

I think relationships take a lot of things to work. I think it takes a fundamental trust between two partners. It's something that takes years to build but is fragile enough to be broken in a few words, actions or deeds. It takes a willingness between partners to watch each other thrive. It takes compromise, humility, respect and a sense of humor. In short, it's a partnership between people who simply "get" each other. I think one reason so many relationships in western cultures fail is because there is a tremendous family pressure to get married. Another reason they fail is because too often people are so excited that someone treats them reasonably well they forget to take the time and effort it takes to build the trust and ground rules necessary to thrive. A third reason, is that we have so few successful and positive gay couples in the national spotlight that we see bringing wonderful people into the world.

With these realizations for relationship and family success in mind, the argument I have against gay marriage is that there is no traditional values framework for gay couples to raise their children. Although I will readily concede that married religious couples often convey values of racism, bigotry, irrational fear and economic dependency on their children, many of them raise children readily capable of being positive net contributors to society. They view work as a privilege, contribute to their local governments, participate in the betterment of their community and ultimately lead to a stronger community and nation. So, at what point between gay partners do we become ready for responsible child bearing? With heterosexual couples, the maturity is often forced with the babies arrival. But with homosexual couples, how do you decide you are ready?

I often think that gay couples legitimately believe that all they need is love and understanding when it comes to the raising of responsible children that meet my above postulate. I often wonder how they go about instilling values in children. There are so many things that parents have to teach their kids. For example: When is it acceptable to physically attack someone else who intends you harm? Do you have the right to defend yourself? How would you defend yourself? What should your child do if they are being physically, emotionally or digitally bullied? When is the right time to have sex? How does your child determine their sexual orientation? When should your child start dating? How trusting should your child be of people? Is it OK for your child to experiment with drugs? How late should your child stay out?

I often think the answers to these questions would be very different from gay parents than it would be for heterosexual, conservative parents. The fact is kids rely on parents to create a framework for decision making that they need to exercise when confronted with challenges that life brings.

In short, I hope proposition 8 is defeated and the gay community reaps the benefits of the marriage. I now hope the community steps up to the plate and brings the responsibility and moral framework needed to produce amazing kids.

- Brad

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Irony and Crisis of the American Gay Fem

August 3, 2010
Location:, Albuquerque Chat Room

Have you noticed the changing attitudes about femininity in gay culture recently? It seems like feelings on femininity break into several schools of thought. I've been wondering if these attitudes are something that are expressed on an international stage or wondering if this is a uniquely American concept. First, a definition: Fem: Noun - A homosexual man who displays female tendencies of personal weakness, chipper disposition, frequently exhibits sassy behavior, wears make-up, and exhibits characteristics of women. See Jack from Will and Grace.

Generally, the gay community's attitudes on fems fall into these schools of thought:

- The ingrained school: This school of thought believes that realizing yourself as a gay man is to fully embrace femininity. It is absolutely, positively OK to be as loud, boisterous and feminine as you want. This means it's totally acceptable to Z-Snap everyone. Shout "Hay girlfriend" to acquaintances and generally be a boisterous gay man. In short, if you aren't fem you aren't gay. Embracing femininity despite being male is what defines us as gay men.

- The maturity school: This school of thought recognizes that many gay men use the feminism mechanism as a counter-culture adaptation in the coming out process. The idea is that at first, using femininity is a way by which men can adapt to the social pressures society places on them. By proceeding through the coming out process, eventually a new, stronger, more masculine, socially strong and mature masculine gay man erupts and comes out. The idea here is that femininity gives the newly gay-aware man an opportunity to explore a new path in a more socially acceptable construct of what being a gay man is as a part of the coming out process (outlined below). Older/More mature gay men recognize this and while they realize it is important, they are somewhat turned off, though accepting of it.

- The Weakness school: This is a tough one. This school of thought sees any form of femininity to be a weakness and is a complete rejection of gay men's culture and values. This school will do absolutely everything it can to socially and personally ostracize any sort of fem culture from the ranks of gay men. This school reasons that "If you're fem, you might as well get a sex change and be straight. The entire point of a gay relationship is a man being in a relationship with a man. Men spit. Men fart. Men fuck. The feelings of this school could be summarized as "man up". (Note that this school is often contemptuous of transgendered individuals and is often viewed by the bisexual and transgendered school as intolerant).

These three points of view are beginning to cause all kinds of hell to break loose in the gay community. Please - allow me to level with you. I think everyone deserves to have a partner who suits them. Everyone deserves someone who is interesting, emotionally positive, healthy and productive in their lives. The interesting notion in all this is that we in the gay community pride ourselves on welcoming people of every background and stripe into the community. Part of this welcoming attitude means that everyone should be allowed to exhibit what is really in their heart and be appreciated for it. That's the entire reason why the community picked the rainbow flag as its motto. We have super masculine men from Henry Rollins (C'mon you aging, angry very gay old man! Come out already...) to Ru Paul as a part of the community. Every person, every stripe as accepted.

So what does this have to do with travel?

You see - overall my gaydar is simply awful. Unless a man walks in with a purple feather leotard carrying a neon sign that says "QUEEN" I simply cannot pick out a gay man from anyone else. Since I personally find strength, strong character and mental fortitude to be extremely important in a partner, I am generally *VERY* turned off by fem gay men. This isn't to say however that all fem moments are bad per se, or that I myself am immune from having the occasional fem moment. On the contrary. Although every gay man of every background is occasionally allowed a fem moment (Think Girlie gitty woot when we found the Wicked musical was coming to Albuquerque). We are generally limited to three instances per week.

This issue with the 'dar is causing some real problems when it comes to meeting men outside of bars or online social networking situations. It's also causing me to question my safety when I travel outside the country and how I can meet men that aren't a part of the club scene. Here in western society we have lots of different categories for men. We have twinks, wolves, otters, cubs, bears, silverbacks, jocks, chubs and everything in between. (Google the definitions if you aren't sure what they mean.) But I wonder if gay men in other cultures find the same things attractive as we do here? How do gay men in other cultures identify as gay men? Are American notions of masculinity and maturing as a gay man found in other cultures?

Lastly.... How do I find a masculine man who isn't a part of the club scene, who isn't fem, who is masculine overseas? Are the rules of attraction the same for men in all cultures?

The Coming Out Process:
- We hide in complete silence and attempt to avoid any undue attention to ourselves
- We first Come Out in a gay explosion (Think fashion, cars, workouts and clothing)
- We experiment with lots of different boys to figure out what we want
- We hold out for "the one"
- We meet someone who is darned close to "the one"
- We turn off "the one" because of our femininity despite wanting masculinity in a relationship
- We do everything to make "the one" work.
- "The One" is totally turned off because "The One" wants the exact opposite of what our newfound fem freedom provides
- We either become very happy, very bitter, or try again.
- The fem fades away. (Or does it?)

Let the comments begin!

Ass in Gear; New Gear In; Sale of 5 speed Gear?

August 2, 2010
Location: Rio Rancho, New Mexico

A note to my readership: Please note a few Americans might think "duh" to some of the things that I say on this blog, but keep in mind I have readers from all over the world who have never been to the US and therefore don't understand our lifestyle here.

Things are really starting to look up for this big trip!

A lot of the stressors in my life are starting to go away. This is a time in life where counting my blessings seems to be in order. It seems like my wounds are healing up well from surgery. My pain is well managed. My finances are on track thanks to a kick ass severance package, savings and unemployment insurance. In short: I'm on track to buy the first plane ticket soon.

But, first things first. I finally decided on a backpack. I ended up heading over to instead of buying the bag locally. I realize many people may frown on my decision to purchase the bag instead of (S)upporting a (L)ocally (O)wned (B)usiness, Slob-ing, the purchase. But I found the selection to be a lot nicer online and the overall purchase to be substantially less of a hassle. I bought a High Sierra Compass convertible bag. It has the detachable day pack option I was looking for and also looks rather posh in Blue. ( ) It has the exact options I wanted at a great price, all delivered to my door step. Woot!

So now I have the cash and the bags lined up. Now comes the bigger decisions - deciding what to do with the life I have going for myself here in America. The really, really big decision I am faced with at the moment is if I should sell my car or not. Not many people really understand my relationship with cars and why this is such a big deal for me. It's not that I enjoy working on them or talking about them - I view them as an appliance more than anything. It's that a car represents everything you need in the Western United States society to be upwardly mobile, to be social and to obtain the goods you need for everyday life. We don't really have any sort of mass transit in our area of the country. Our only real practical option to go to shopping centers or leave home is the car. It's not really practical to bike the 25Km one way each day to work, go to the mall, see a friend or to go shopping. When you are in high school you salivate at the fact that one day, you too might be one of the cool kids that had a car. It's been something that I have spent years of my life working for: having a reliable, clean, nearly-new car is a privilege I sacrificed a lot for. So it isn't something I am willing to part with easily.

My poison of choice is a Black 2007 Toyota Corolla "S". I like it because it has all kinds of sporty plastic and stickers tacked on to it that make it appear really fast while being a very simple, 1800cc naturally aspirated car. It gets fabulous gas mileage, 35Mpg highway or 15.3 Km/L. The payments and insurance on the car amount to around $420 a month for me. Which is actually quite manageable if I am working full time.

The problem is that if I sell the car, I end up taking a really big hit financially. Sure, not having a car payment or insurance payments for a year will be nice. But what happens when I come home? I am going to have to find the cash to find a replacement car, assuming I live in the same area of the country after the trip. Then there are issues with obtaining credit for the car since I worked overseas instead of domestically for a year. Then there's the added hassle of trying to find a reliable car at "sub-b" car dealerships. Ugh. It seems like keeping the awesome car I have would be a better solution.

But, on the other end of the spectrum I have issues with keeping the car. Just because I leave the country doesn't mean I won't need to maintain the car I have. It also means car payments have to be made on time, and I have a financial pain in the ass to deal with. When I am drinking myself into a stupor in Europe or having a Safari in Africa, am I really going to want to miss out on the extended tour because cash flow says I have to make a car payment on a car I'm not even using? What happens if I find a gig in Germany, my car payment is due, and I have to wire funds to my own bank account in the US just to make the car payment?

It would be nice if I could lease my car to someone for a year that I trusted, and have my exact same car returned to me in good shape when I return to the US. Maybe I could work on that deal.