New Emoji Coming!

If ever there was a reason to upgrade your iPhone to the newest iOS, it surely is the launch of new emoji to use in our everyday texting. I have my favorite emoji to use. The always make the conversation fun, even when you’re pissed. There are so many good ones! You’ve got your basic set of emoji like hearts ❤️💛💚💙💜 and faces 😀😃😄🤣😍😛😒😎😜🤢🤡🤠 to name a few. I use all of them in the course of everyday conversations.

There are times, though, when you can’t find the one you REALLY want, so you have to improvise or combine emoji to bring it on home. So I love it when new emoji launch to make texting even better! Apple just announced that the newest iOS update to iOS 11 will be coming out soon and it will have a bunch of new emoji. Here are a few of my favorites!

I personally can’t wait for the wizards, vampires, and fairies. I also am excited about the dumpling and other food ones. I’m also very interested in the fact that all the new ones come in different sexes (including gender neutral) and skin colors. They’ve really done a great job of being inclusive. Check out the merman/merwoman and all these fun ones below:

And there’s the Stephen Colbert emoji. LOL

So be on the lookout and upgrade when you see them announced so that you van enjoy all the new goodies and you won’t get the black square in your texts because your device can’t see them.See ya round!

Why Ruth’s Chris?

I had dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Houston recently and after I got the invitation I asked myself about that name again.  It has been one of those things that have fascinated me for as long as I can remember.  Why is it called this?  Shouldn’t it be Ruth Chris’s Steakhouse or Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse?  I’m so confused.  I just chalked it up as one of those mysteries I would never know.  And then I found out why and I just had to share it with others who may have felt this same way or had this same question.

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So, first off, there really is a Ruth.  In 1965, Ruth Fertel, a single mom looking for an opportunity, saw a steakhouse for sale in the classifieds. She didn’t know much about restaurants or steak, but she took a chance and mortgaged her home to buy Chris Steak House. Ruth mastered all the ins and outs herself, from butchering and broiling steak perfectly to serving guests. (taken from the website directly)

Ruth worked and lived by the mantra, “Do what you love, love what you do.” She had the reputation of being a driven, hard-working person who never met a challenge not worth overcoming. Ruth was successful because of her strong work ethic and keen ability to understand her guests.

Ruth had never planned to expand, but in 1976 a kitchen fire decimated the property and she was forced to relocate in order to stay in business. Within ten days Ruth had the restaurant up and running. But the Chris Steak House name was not allowed to move with it because the terms of sale when she purchased the restaurant prohibited her from opening a new restaurant with the Chris Steak House name.  Ruth added her own name to the new sign, making it “Ruth’s Chris Steak House.” Now with her own name in lights, the tongue-twisting name was born. Later Ruth admitted the name was strange, but she managed to work around it.

So that’s the answer to the big mystery of the name Ruth’s Chris Steak House.  And, now I’m craving steak.  Damnit.

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Grateful for Life

Today is the one year anniversary of the shooting that took place in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub.  Forty-nine of my LGBTQ community were just wiped away for nothing more than being in a nightclub and having a good time. The most horrific quote I read was from one of the survivors who said he had danced to the beat of someone’s death.

My heart breaks for all of us as a community but especially for those that were there that night and the family members of those that were hurt or killed.  I cried when I read about the one body not claimed by the family because he was gay.  I cannot even fucking imagine how you can leave your son there for someone else to deal with like a throwaway.  Who do you have to be to do that?  What do you have to believe in?  What do you have to worship?  I hope whatever God they believe in forgives them for that and also eases their pain as surely they can never forget what they had done.

Im one of the lucky ones  my parents love me and they tell me nearly every day they can.  I’m grateful for my mom and dad, but mostly I’m grateful for life, itself. I’m grateful for who I get to be every day and I’m grateful for the life I’ve been given. I don’t always take the best care of myself or my life but I sure am glad I got the chance.

To everyone out there who loves and celebrates life on their own terms, I wish you a Happy Pride Month!  May our lives continue to make a visible difference for those that can’t yet or who have yet to come to know who they are.  We are here for you and we’ll celebrate you and love you until you can love yourself.

🌈🦄💛💚💙❤️💜🖤👨🏻‍🎤👨‍👨‍👦👩‍👩‍👦👨‍👦🐻🐼🐷⬆️⬇️↔️🔀🔂♿️🚹🚺💟🖤💜❤️💙💚💛🦄🌈

“The first three shots: I thought it was music.

I felt the bass in my body on the floor against that wall. I felt it. I saw it.

I thought it was the music.

Then glass shattering, the air filling with smoke. The flashing of the gun looked like a strobe light.  I danced to the beat of someone’s death.

Everyone getting down.”

Chris Hansen, a survivor.

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It’s Time for a Change

Yesterday was my birthday.  I’m horrible with birthdays, celebrations, and acknowledgements.  For someone so outgoing and extroverted, I can feel so shut down and fearful of people and public situations that it feels a lot like what I think anxiety feels like.  I have no idea when it started, but I guess it doesn’t matter.  I just turned 49 years old yesterday and the same thing happened.  I went to bed the night before so full of hope and excited about the next day.  I walked the dogs and said my prayers like I do every day.  I woke up on Saturday morning, the day of my birthday, and jumped in the shower and did all the stuff I knew to do to go get coffee and hang out with friends.  The problem was I hadn’t made any plans with anyone.  I didn’t want to make plans.  I knew what was happening because I had done it so many years before and so many birthdays. I would wake up and get lost in the day and see how it unfolded.  It usually ended with me being deflated, sad, and even more introverted.  Nobody could have pulled me out of it, and believe me many had tried over the years.  I was always so mortified that I felt that way but it never felt like I had a choice.  It was like a default way of being.  I had no choice.  I fucking hated it and I hated my life during those moments.

That was yesterday.  This is today.  I’m 49 and 1 day today.

I’ve thought a lot today about who I’m going to be for the next 364 days and here’s what I’m thinking.  Recently I was asked to say a little something about myself that I’d like people to know.  I responded with this:

“I love “love” so much, I got the word tattooed on my arm; not only to let others know that love is what I’m all about, but to remind myself when I forget. There is no place I can’t make a difference when love is where I stand. When I embrace all the parts of me that I denied or avoided for so long (my white beard, my being a bear, for instance) it gives everyone permission to completely be themselves around me and in their lives. I can’t think of a greater gift than that.” – Harold Hal Kelly

In thinking about this upcoming year of life I’ve decided to do a couple of things to ensure that by this time next year, I won’t be in the same position of feeling lonely, sad and depressed.  So here’s what I’m going to do…

  1. Each day I’ll share something in my life that I’m grateful for.  It can be anything.
  2. Whatever I say I’m grateful for I’ll take a picture of and post it here or on some other social media.
  3. Celebrate my life and my skills and my accomplishments as I go into my 50’s.
  4. Plan trips to see musicians and bands I love throughout the year.
  5. Go see places I’ve always wanted to see or want to see again this year.
  6. Love what I’m doing and who I’m with or change it immediately.

So that’s my new year.  I have no idea what to expect and that’s part of the appeal here.  I can do nothing and get exactly what I got yesterday and today.  I’d love to think that I can keep this going on my own but I’ll need reminders from time to time.  I’ll put it in my calendar to remind me…that’s a good start.

So here’s to the next year…a year of gratitude, love and celebration of life.  Thanks for reading and thanks for your support over the years.  Lets do this…17991167_10212928497350880_2007424354697771822_n

It’s time for Pride 2017

Hey everyone!  So I got to be a part of the fabulous P.R.I.D.E. Portraits photo lineup and I was so proud to be asked!  There are so many fabulous Houstonians in this lineup I can’t even tell you.

I’m not going to say a lot about it, because it just speaks for itself.  I was asked what I wanted the world to know about me and the statement included just sort of came up for me.  It wasn’t hard to think about who I am at this time in my life.   Here’s what I said I’d like people to know about me:

When I embrace all the parts of me that I denied or avoided for so long (my white beard, my being a bear, for instance) it gives everyone permission to completely be themselves around me and in their lives. I can’t think of a greater gift than that.” – Harold Hal Kelly #gay #lesbian#trans #queer #ally #intersex #bi#prideportraits #equality #instagay #bear#beard #lgbT #FABULOUS #love #lovewins #downtownhal

 

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A Spell for You in 2017

A very good friend of mine posted something on her Facebook page today that I just had to share with everyone!  But first, I had to look up who originally created the words that came together so beautifully and that made me sit up in my chair and think, “wow!  I want that!”

The inspirational quote was originally posted back in 2015 as an excerpt from a book by Rob Brezsny called PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA.  I know nothing about the book but I’m fascinated by the excerpt.  I think it literally hits a spot in me that makes me want to jump into action and cause something amazing this year.   I loved the quote so much that I bought his book as well.  (Pronoia is the opposite of Paranoia in that you start working from the universe is indeed out to get you and support you and empower you and bring all goodness your way.  I’m going to need practice for that!)

Anyway…here’s your new motivation for 2017.  I put a meme of the quote at the bottom of the page as well as a link to Amazon for Rob’s book.  Enjoy it.  Embrace it.  Go out there and live it.  We need a good year!  Here’s to an utterly FABULOUS new year!

A SPELL FOR YOU IN 2017

your debts forgiven

your wounds healed

your apologies accepted

your generosity expanded

your love educated

your desires clarified

your uniqueness unleashed

your untold stories heard

your insight heightened

your load lightened

your wildness rejuvenated

your leaks plugged

your courage stoked

your fears dissolved

your imagination fed

your creativity uncorked

–Rob Brezsny

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2017 Spell for You

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Pronoia by Rob Brezsny

 

Twenty Lessons for Americans to Remember

Well, there’s no doubt about it.  This recent election has really forced so many of us (myself included) to question life. There’s a meme that says “I whisper, ‘what the fuck,’ to myself at least twenty times a day.”  I catch myself doing that all the time 4646e2e38f4bb70211cd95aca5ec484elately, especially when scrolling through Facebook.  Literally, I just can’t even handle it at times.  It’s not that I don’t mind the other people have opinions that are different than mine.  It’s just sometimes when the people I care about say things that sound racist or insensitive to a whole other group of people, I become afraid for us all.  How far would someone go to suppress or bring down others?  Have we really gotten to a place in life where we have to go back to blaming others for our seeming fucked up life?  And, why does someone always have to lose so others win?  Are we still operating like that in life?

The point of this little opinion post (and this is exactly what it is, nothing more), is not to change anyone else’s mind or thoughts on the candidates or issues we had to choose from.  My intention is simply to offer a different perspective on how we are all going to be able to work together and live together in the coming years.  It’s a time of change and uncertainty.  I have my own fears and concerns.  None of these are the point of this post.  The following is something I found on Facebook and I found it really so beautifully written and expressed.  I hope you’ll read it and get something out of it no matter what side of the issues you may fall.

Recently, on Facebook, Yale historian and Holocaust expert Timothy Snyder wrote:

“Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.” Snyder’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (which includes former Secretaries of State), and consults on political situations around the globe.

He says, “Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

  1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.
  2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.
  3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.
  4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.
  6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.
  7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
  8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
  9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you.
  10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.
  11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
  13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.
  15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.
  16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.
  17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)
  19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.
  20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.”

 

About Timothy Snyder:

Timothy Snyder is one of the leading American historians and public intellectuals, and enjoys perhaps greater prominence in Europe, the subject of most of his work.  He is the Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.  He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar.  Before joining the faculty at Yale in 2001, he held fellowships in Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard.  He speaks five and reads ten European languages.  Among his publications are six single-authored award-winning books, all of which have been translated: Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (1998, second edition 2016); The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (2003); Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine (2005); The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (2008); and Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010). Bloodlands won twelve awards including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding, and the Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought.  It has been translated into thirty-three languages, was named to twelve book-of-the-year lists, and was a bestseller in six countries.  His most recent book, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015) will appear in twenty-four foreign editions.  It has been a bestseller in four countries and has received multiple distinctions including the award of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee. Snyder is also the co-editor of two books: Wall Around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in Europe and North America (2001) and Stalin and Europe: Terror, War, Domination (2013).  In a very special project, Snyder helped his friend, the distinguished historian and intellectual Tony Judt, to compose a thematic history of political ideas and intellectuals in politics, Thinking the Twentieth Century (2012). Snyder’s essays on the Ukrainian revolution were published in in Russian and Ukrainian as Ukrainian History, Russian Politics, European Futures (2014).  A broader range of essays was published in Czech as The Politics of Life and Death (2015). Snyder sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Modern European History and East European Politics and Societies.  His scholarly articles have appeared in Past and Present, the Journal of Cold War Studies, and other journals; he has also written for The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, and The New Republic as well as for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, and other newspapers.  Snyder was the recipient of an inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellowship in 2015 and received the Havel Foundation prize the same year.  He has received state orders from Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland.  He is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is the faculty advisor for the Fortunoff Collection of Holocaust Testimonies at Yale, and sits on the advisory councils of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research and other organizations.