My Governor Poisoned a City #FlintWaterCrisis


Politically Activated

By now, you must have heard about the poisoning of the water supply with lead in Flint, Michigan. The Emergency Manager of Flint – appointed by, and reporting directly to, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder – decided in 2014 to switch the water supply for Flint from Lake Huron via Detroit to the Flint River to save money for the cash-strapped city. Most of the water pipes leading to residents’ homes are very old and soldered together with lead. The water from Detroit was treated to avoid allowing this lead to leach into the water. When the switch was made to Flint River water, the extra measures need to prevent lead from leaching into the water supply were not implemented. This resulted in almost the entire population of Flint – mostly poor and majority African-American – to drink, cook, and bathe with lead tainted water.

Gov. Snyder was aware of this as…

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Happy New Year!

To all my friends – in here, out there, all around the world – I wish you all the best in the coming year. Onward to 2016!

Joyeux Nouvel An, Selamat Tahun Baru,Buon anno , Feliz Ano Novo, Feliz Año Nuevo, Feliç Any Nou, Glückliches neues Jahr, Athbhliain Shona, Godt Nyttår, Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku,Chúc mừng năm mới, Yeni Yılınız Kutlu Olsun, Srečno novo leto, С Новым годом, 明けましておめでとうございます,Ευτυχισμένο το Νέο Έτος, Laimingų Naujųjų Metų, Furaha ya Mwaka Mpya, Blwyddyn Newydd Dda, Onnellista uutta vuotta, Manigong Bagong Taon, Gelukkig Nieuwjaar, Godt Nytår. Happy New Year in 40 languages.

new year old


My Serendipitous Life as a Chef

chef2In the latest chapter of my seemingly serendipitous life, I am a chef. I wear a chef’s hat, and a chef’s coat, so I must be a chef. Oh, I’ve worked in the food service business off and on since I was 13-years-old. I started as a busboy and dishwasher in a restaurant my mother managed, 40 years ago. After that it was serving up ice cream cones and banana splits in the summertime at “Frosty Boy.” Since then, I have mostly worked as a server, fill-in short order cook, or manager; most recently as an events supervisor at a local high end waterfront restaurant. I did other things in between, of course. I’ve worked in customer service, international logistics and shipping, and dealt with government contracts in the office furniture industry. I even worked at Blockbuster for a time.

All which leads up to last year in September, when I decided I need a job that provided a more steady income, and some of the benefits that don’t usually come with restaurant jobs. I started at our local hospital (our town’s third largest company, with over 1,000 employees) as a part-time worker in the cafeteria. Basically I was a combination ‘lunch lady’ and hash slinger. But the hours were ungodly, with a 5:30 AM start time. I’m an early riser, but that was ridiculous, even for me! After about 8 months, I saw an opening for a full-time ‘food service specialist’ in the kitchen and applied for it, using my considerable charm and ability to sell myself – plus they were desperate. I got it!

My duties were a little more than I bargained for, but with my usual aplomb, I dove in. The kitchen prepares all the food for both the cafeteria (open to employees and visitors), and the patients. We make EVERYTHING from scratch – the mashed potatoes and gravy, mango salsa, parmesan crusted chicken, pot roast, corn bread, myriad soups and chili, are just a few of the items on our vast and ever-changing menu.

The kitchen consists of five full-time chefs, plus dietitians, prep cooks, and the various other support staff that are needed to feed up to a thousand people a day. I start my day (at 10 AM!) preparing the day’s vegetables for lunch and dinner. These can be anything from oven-roasted broccoli with lemon zest to succotash, or sauteed collard greens with ancho chilies, or steamed fresh zucchini and yellow squash finished off with various herbs and spices. I’ve since become somewhat renowned around these parts for my side dishes’ visual appeal and taste. After the veggies are ready to go, I begin preparing the evening’s two meal choices for patients. These are the same for each day of the week – Monday is pot roast and chicken pot pie, Tuesday is herbed tilapia and meatloaf, Wednesday is vegetable quiche and pork loins, Thursday is Swedish meatballs and penne pasta with tomato sauce – you get the idea.

Needless to say, all of this involves following very specific recipes, accounting for patient dietary restrictions (hence the dietitians) and using my somewhat rusty math skills to double or halve recipes, and to convert cups to ounces, or liquid measures to solids. I’m getting to be quite a skilled knife handler, too. I have yet to slice myself severely enough to require stitches! And for new parents, the hospital offers a Celebration Dinner for Two, with choices ranging from a sirloin stack to grilled salmon to chicken cordon bleu. That’s part of my daily routine, too.

Have I found my life’s calling? No. Do I want to call being a chef my new career? Probably not. But for now, I enjoy what I do, there’s no drudgery, and most of the people I work with don’t drive me crazy. I’m going to stick with it for now – until serendipity leads me to the next chapter of my life. Bon Appétit!

#NationalComingOutDay – My Story

coming-out-day-oct-11In the now-distant past, the notion of coming out as gay was so terrifying, I waited twenty-eight years, endured a nine year marriage, fathered a son, and tried everything (short of conversion therapy) to convince myself that my attraction to men was “just a phase.” But to my consternation, those feelings would not go away. I was miserable, living a life I knew was not authentic, not true to who I was as a human.

And so I did what had to be done. But even the process of coming out was done reluctantly, slowly, in jumps and starts. I came out to my wife (she sorta kinda already knew), and we divorced due to “irreconcilable differences.”  I came out to my family next, with the most common reaction being, “It’s about time!” Shortly after that, I met my partner, Larry, and we’ve been together ever since. That was twenty-six years ago.

It wasn’t as easy coming out in the 1980s as it is today. The acceptance of sexual orientation (both inwardly and publicly) has grown year by year. But there are still obstacles to overcome when coming out. Even with marriage equality being the law of the land, it is still legal in 31 states to be fired for being gay. And there is no Federal protection status for LGBTs. But the progress has been remarkable for us, for ALL of us.

So, on the 27th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, to those who are afraid, or reluctant, or are just waiting for the right time, I say to you, “Come on out, the weather’s fine!” And know this: you will always have a great big, world-wide family that welcomes you, cares about you, and loves you just the way you are.

To My Son On His Birthday

Today my son Dylan turns 29 years old, and is starting a new chapter of his life today. He and his wife Samantha Sue, along with their kids, McKenzie and Carson, are on their way to Sioux Center, Iowa. Dylan starts his new job as sous chef at Dordt College on Monday. I am extremely proud of my son and his career path, and his wonderful, beautiful family. They mean the world to me. I wish them the best of everything as they begin their new adventure in life. I love you all! SEE YOU SOON.
carson mcKenzie schooldylan and sam

The Road of Happy Destiny

Today is the 7th anniversary of my last drink. I mark this day as an acknowledgment and a remembrance – the dark days before, and the infinitely better days after. I carry on one day at a time, trudging the road of Happy Destiny with the countless others who came before me, those who are with me now, and those who will travel with us in the future. And I keep in mind always these words from Bill W: “Believe more deeply. Hold your face up to the light, even though for the moment you cannot see.” Peace.
road in woods

Let Your Gay Kids Be Gay – They Were Born That Way

Homo young

I can say now that I knew I was gay when I was around six, although I didn’t know what I felt was called “homosexuality.” At that time (in the late sixties and early seventies) there were no gay role models, no support from peers or adults, no one to talk to about what I was feeling. I most assuredly could not talk to parents about it. Most of the information I could find about homosexuality was outdated and negative, and the name-calling from kids at school was devastating. I fought against my feelings and desires as hard as I could for over 20 years. I even got married to a woman at 19, and we had a son five years later. It was three years after that when I could no longer live in denial of who I was – and had been since birth – GAY! I was finally ready to accept what I had been hiding (and hiding from) for so long.
No child should have to suffer or hide – like I did – in their growing-up years. My advice to parents is this: Kids KNOW when they KNOW, regardless of age. Please be supportive and loving. Celebrate and encourage your child to discover the greatness that is within them. Your gay child needs you to be there for them. And you’ll all be better for it.

An Open Letter to the City Council of Holland, Michigan

On Friday, June 26, The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed what the majority of Americans support and believe: that the freedom to marry who you love is the right of every American, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a giant step forward in ensuring that we are all created equal and we all deserve the same rights.

However, the ruling does nothing to protect those in the LGBT community from getting fired from their jobs or being denied housing because of who they love or marry. When making a lifelong commitment with our partner, we can share the joy and happiness of our marriage with our friends and family, but at the same time we also face the possibility of losing our jobs or being evicted from the place we call home.

That’s just not right.

On June 15, 2011 the Holland City Council, in a 5-4 decision, voted not to add “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the city’s human relations and fair housing ordinances and the equal employment opportunity policy. This came even after a year-long Human Relations Commission study that recommended the change to the ordinance.

In the four years since that vote, many hearts and minds have changed. The overwhelming support and success of Holland Area Pride 2015 showed that Holland, Michigan is an open, welcoming, and diverse community. The time has come to take the next step and join the more than 30 municipalities in Michigan that already treat their LGBT residents as equals.
holland city hallNow is the time to show our city, our state, and the country that Holland, Michigan is open, caring, and welcoming to everyone in our community, no matter who they are or who they love.

Holland City Council, it’s time for a vote.

Love Wins!

The day we have been waiting for, hoping for, FIGHTING FOR, has finally arrived. Marriage Equality is now the law of the land. Thanks go to the justices of the Supreme Court (the majority), to the plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges, and to the President of The United States Barack Obama, who has tirelessly advocated for the LGBT community since his “evolution” on marriage equality. This is a truly historic day for gays and lesbians across the country and for everyone who believes in equality for ALL.

love wins