Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Architecture Wednesday: Piersons Way

This is a new home, though it’s located in a private oceanfront community that was established in the 19th century.

Due to its history, most houses in the neighborhood are more conservative in design and scale but this home is for a young couple looking to accommodate their growing family and reflect a more modern lifestyle. As a result, the clients desired a modern home that would fit within its historic context while embracing the modest scale of the property.

The design meets these goals by referencing the nearby gabled potato barns which are embedded in the ground. The architects then used a unique structural system to create a false ground plane that slopes up from grade to the second floor, masking the scale of the house when viewed from the street.

While the first floor is dedicated to guests and entertaining, the second floor is reserved for the family and that elevated ground plane that surrounds the family bedrooms is planted with native grasses. Within the plantings, intimate outdoor spaces are created for small gatherings, including a fire pit and spa with views of the ocean. Sloping portions of the elevated ground plane include paths to connect the family areas with the more public entertaining areas at grade.

By referencing the local buildings and building styles, and elevating the ground plane, this large house is rooted into the landscape and becomes a cohesive addition to the neighborhood.

South Carolina Is Progressive. That's Right, I Said It!

While we were away, the South Carolina Senate defeated one of those “Bathroom Bills.”

That’s right. South Carolina, for the moment, is one of the most progressive Southern states, and the defeat of this kind of anti-transgender Hate Bill is the latest bit of good news for us.

At the start of the year there were eleven anti-LGBT bills filed in the South Carolina Legislature but now, with a month left in the session, only one of those bills made it to full committee and none have advanced to the floor.

South Carolina. Progressive. Who knew?

State Senator, Joel Lourie, a Democrat who opposed the Bathroom Bill, seems to have seen it coming and points to a change in attitude and politics and feelings after the Confederate flag was removed from the statehouse grounds last year:
“I think you’ve seen South Carolina in the last year take two strong positions against intolerance. One, by removing the Confederate flag and two by the governor and business community and many members of the state Senate standing up against the bathroom bill. We are more open-minded and progressive perhaps than people have viewed us in the past.”
Now, does that mean hate won’t rear its ugly head again in South Carolina? Of course not; but we have seen how our politicians and our business community and our citizens have changed in the past year to become more open, and educated, more tolerant, and more accepting.

It’s a good day in the state, y’all. And made even better by the news that the Horry County School district has announced that it will adopt new policies on bathroom use after a transgender student was suspended for using the bathroom matching his gender identity.

The student, identified as R, had been using the boys’ bathroom since middle school but was suddenly told in his senior year of high school that he had to use the girls’ restroom or the nurse’s bathroom. He was later suspended after a teacher saw him using the boys’ bathroom.

R transferred to an online school to complete his senior year.

Horry County Schools is the first district to affirmatively change their policy following a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision affirming that transgender students have the right to use facilities that match their gender identity.

The district superintendent said that should R return to school, “he, and all other transgender students, will be allowed to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.” In addition, the district will remove the suspension from R’s record, educate faculty and staff on the appropriate use of pronouns, and update classroom attendance rosters to reflect a student’s preferred name.

In South Carolina, y’all.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Met Gala Fashion

The Met Gala; well, technically, it’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit, a black-tie extravaganza—say it like RuPaul, you know you want to … extravGANZAAAAAA—held the first Monday in May to raise money for the Costume Institute, the only one of the Met’s curatorial departments that has to fund itself.

It’s also called the “Party of the Year,” and the “Oscars of the East Coast,” and the “Don’t Piss Off Anna Wintour,” though the best description comes from publicist Paul Wilmot, who calls it the “ATM for the Met.”

It’s a time to rock the fashion, to go big or go home, or, better yet, stay home if you aren’t going big. And this year’s exhibit, and theme, is “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” Let’s see how our stars did … in no particular order:

Beyoncé. Okay, so she has an ass in latex. Haven’t we already gotten that memo?

Dakota Johnson. Just because you wear stars on the dress doesn’t mean you’re a star. Go back to secretarial school.

Demi Lovato looks a little like the two dollar roasting pan I bought at Food lion last Thanksgiving.

Jennifer Connelly? What is the Granny Clampett, sh*t-kicking boots mess is this thing?

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. I get that they’re twins, but do they have to go everywhere like Siamese twins, joined at the gut. Back under the bridge, Troll Dolls.

Katy Perry. I don’t get “Fashion in an Age of Technology,” but at least she brought the fashion.

Kerry Washington. No, honey, no. The hair color? The Elvira negligee?

Kim Kardastrophe came as the Tin Man, though it’s clear she was not only looking for a heart, but a brain, too.

Lady Gaga still capitalizing on David Bowie’s passing. Put some pants on.

Madonna. #TryHardEpicFail as I called her Facebook. By the time she starts acting her age, or stops looking for attention, we’ll all be dead.

Miranda Kerr. Was there a reason for taking the undergarments and wearing them on the outside after you tacked on what was left of Grandma’s quilt? Asking for a friend.

Nicole Kidman looks like she’s wearing a map of the universe. I think I see my house.

Nikki Minaj decided it best to buckle down … lest the girls escape.

Rita Ora looks like her dress ripped as she walked the stairs; either that, or she’s molting.

Sarah Jessica Parker usually brings it, good or bad, but now it just looks like she’s begging for a role in ‘Hamilton.’

Selena Gomez. Why bother showing up at all when you show up in some Forever 21 Half-Off Bargain Bin nonsense?

Solange Knowles, looking like, and I’ll say it, a urine soaked coffee filter.

Taylor Swift. A bleached blonde futuristic blow-up doll … on sale.

And lastly, Zoe Kravitz came dress as a bug? A superhero? An advertisement for Jo-Ann’s Fabrics?

Another Target Boycott ... This Time From Anti-Trans Wingnuts

Sheesh! I take a couple of weeks off and suddenly there’s another Target boycott. Only this time it isn’t an LGBT boycott of the retailer over the company’s habit of endorsing anti-LGBT political candidates, it’s a group of bigots and haters and transphobic asshats boycotting the store over Target’s transgender bathroom policy.

The American Family Association [AFA], a conservative so-called “Christian” activist group says it has gathered more than a million signatures from people pledging to boycott Target because the company refuses to give in to hate and fear. The AFA says Target’s bathroom policy encourages sexual predators and puts women and young girls in danger because "a man can simply say he 'feels like a woman today' and enter the women's restroom."

Except then the man is not transgender, he’s a sexual predator — and quite likely a Christian like Josh Duggar, or a conservative like Dennis Hastert, or a Republican like Larry Craig — so go after the predator not the trans woman who just wants to pee.

AFA President Tim Wildmon says the viral nature of the protest — and those “millions” of signatures … much like One Million Moms actual number being about seventy thousand — is because “everybody knows who Target is, and it’s an easy-to-understand issue." Wildmon says Target stands "to lose a lot of customers who won't come back."

Yeah, except Target isn’t budging:
"We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. As a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work — and our guests an inclusive place to shop — we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target." — Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder
She also added that hundreds of Target stores "have single-stall, family restrooms for those who may be more comfortable with that option."

This whole bathroom kerfuffle came to light in a Target blog post last week when the company stated that it welcomes “transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity." Sounds quite simple, but then folks, like the AFA and governors in a few states, decide to use fear as a weapon against something they do not understand, so, again, I’ll put it as simply as I can:

A trans female is not a “Man in a dress;” a trans female is a female and simply wants to walk into the women’s restroom, enter a stall, shut the door, do her business, and get out. That’s it.

Now, about that idea that a million people have signed the AFA petition … yeah, not so much; from what we hear, because the AFA doesn’t verify, or prove, the number, they are simply using this story as a means to get press and publicity and money for their Hate Agenda. And, to do that, the AFA listed several scary stories on their website — including one about a non-transgender man who had been arrested for illegally filming women in restrooms — to shore up their warped opinion. However, there is one list you won’t see on the AFA site: the names of those ALLEGED one million people who signed the Hate Petition.

So, to prove the AFA is lying, the good folks at ThinkProgress successfully “signed” the petition three different times from the same web browser using the names “I disagree With this,” “I really think this is stupid,” and “This isn’t A real email.” All that the AFA petition required was using a different email address each time, though, as the last name suggests, it was possible to sign the pledge using a non-existent email address.

Still, this petition, or pledge to boycott Target as the AFA calls it, is having an impact. Last week, the city of Oxford, Alabama passed a law banning transgender people from using public restrooms, and anti-LGBT conservatives in Texas, like Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and state Representative Matt Shaheen—both Republicans, of course—have stated their intention to boycott Target; Shaheen even said he would help Target pack up its stores, vow to “die on this issue politically. I am going to bat for my wife and my daughters.”


In response to the wingnuts, the “Christians,” the Republicans using fear as a weapon, MoveOn has launched a #StandWithTarget petition to counter the AFA pledge:
“I pledge to support Target and any other business that stands up for transgender rights and accommodates transgender people in their restroom use.”
You can sign HERE. When I signed there were over a hundred thousand real names on the list.

Stand with Target, and stand with and for our trans brothers and sisters.
Think Progress

Monday, May 02, 2016

An ISBL Travelogue

So ... we were on vacation ...

Toledo, Oregon, my father’s new, old home. He lived there with my Mom until she passed away, and then a couple of years later he moved way up north to Sumas, Washington. Sumas never felt like home, but he’d secured a long-term lease agreement for his Toledo house and waited the five years until the tenant moved and then Dad came back home to Oregon.

This is the The Timbers in “downtown” Toledo. I’m of a mind that every single coastal town has a bar called The Timbers or The Driftwood.

Newport, Oregon. The Newport Bridge, from the bay and from the beach, and the seal population in the harbor. Oy, the noise they make … like Carlos practicing his trumpet. [And, yes, I told that joke to him and he did not laugh!]

The Rogue Brewery in Newport where one can, and did, enjoy a Chipotle Ale whilst overlooking the harbor. One also enjoyed what was left of Carlos’ Hazelnut Ale, too.

Three lighthouses along the Oregon coast; the first, top left, is at Yaquina Head and is the tallest along the coast; plus the coastline there, the birds and the surf, is just so gorgeous and peaceful. The second, top right, is the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Newport; it sits atop the lighthouse keeper’s cottage. It’s pretty, but holds a wee sad memory for me. My mother and father volunteered as tour guides there when they first moved to Oregon and, one day, my mother slipped on the stairs and broke her ankles … plural. That was due to years of smoking which caused the bones to become spongy but, as the doctor told my mom, there was no sign of lung cancer. A year later she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Sad memory, pretty house. The last is the Heceta Head lighthouse a bit further down the coast. It sits on a gorgeous point of land, and the keeper’s cottage is a B&B now, where my parents spent their fiftieth, and last, wedding anniversary.

Another view of the Heceta Head lighthouse and the beach …

Local Ocean Seafood in Newport. It’s run by fishermen’s wives, and all the fish is as fresh as fish can be when it’s caught, brought ashore, and then carried form the boat, across the street, and into the restaurant. Any and all profits from the business go to help local fishermen’s families in times of need, so it’s good for you and good for the community. 

This tree, in Toledo, seems to be trying to tell me something ….

The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, or, as it’s called in Oregon, the Bridge Over The Devil’s Churn; just another gorgeous spot along the coastline.

The weather was so beautiful the entire time we were out there, save this one day when we visited Depoe Bay and the sky was gray and the seas were ragged. Even then … beautiful.

The night before, though, my Dad had taken us up to Depoe Bay to the Tidal Raves for dinner; the food was amazing, the view was spectacular, and our waiter had great guns and a nice butt. No matter where I looked, I saw The Pretty.

Nye Beach; kinda tourist, kinda quaint. And home to Nana’sIrish Pub where I had the best Irish Coffee—mostly Irish with a little java—and a killer Reuben Sandwich. After eating, we went into a little shop and started chatting up the owner. When she found out we were from South Carolina she told us she had a tenant upstairs who had recently moved to Nye from Ashville, North Carolina, So we were talking North Carolina and it’s crazy Bathroom Bill, and how beautiful Asheville is, when the phone rang; it was the tenant, from upstairs, who’d heard us talking through the floor, and was coming down to meet the two guys from Camden. She brought he freshly bathed dog with her and we chatted South and North Carolina for quite some time; just makes you realize how small the world really is.

Astoria, Oregon. That little needle at the top is the Astoria Column with spectacular views all around. You can climb to the top and walk out on that little teeny tiny balcony but, well, it was very windy that day and I was sure I‘d be blown—and not in a good way—of the top of that big rod so I stayed put. That last picture is a view from the Column looking down on Astoria; the bridge crosses the Columbia River into Washington. Now, is it just me or does anyone else expect Julie Andrews to come twirling across that hillside signing about climbing mountains?

While in Astoria we stopped in at Baked Alaska for lunch and views and a lovely glass of Albariño, my favorite Portuguese wine. It’s one of those wines, and restaurants, where you want to sit and sip all day long … we did not, sadly.

We had planned to stay in Astoria but then we chose to drive into Portland for our last day to see the Japanese Gardens. We’ve been before on a previous trip, but it’s so peaceful there, and so lush—no, they don’t sell wine …sorry—that we wanted another visit. That is the Zen Garden from above, and a stone pillar inside the garden itself.

More of the gardens, with the pure white sand gardens and the beautiful, almost neon, moss gardens.

Just two of the ponds and waterfalls in the gardens, and the hillsides behind.

And the Koi Pond, too. Plus a little stone temple icon; there are scattered throughout the gardens and sometimes you might not even see one of you aren’t really looking and enjoying.

On our way to the airport, whilst driving through Portland, I saw the Boy’s Fort. If anyone knows Stephen Rutledge — he has a blog called Post ApocalypticBohemian ... though he posts mostly on Facebook now — the Boy’s Forts is what he and his husband dubbed their back garden at their Portland house. Stephen’s husband, a designers, and a partner, opened a Boy’s Fort pop-up store last year that was so successful, it is now a full-fledged, thriving, fabulous Mecca for manthropology!

Anyway … those are few pictures—seriously, I took hundreds—of the trip. It was so nice to get away; so nice to see my Dad and help him get settled back at home; and so nice just to spend time with Carlos away from home and work …

Now, time to plan another getaway.