Sunday, June 29, 2003

Bearing the Banner

I was "volunteered" by my congregation, the Arlington Street Church in Boston, to carry our banner into the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly held here in Boston.

It's a representation of one of our church's tiffany windows done in the form of a quilt with tie-dye sections.

Photo courtesy of John Culver

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Cards Anyone?

It's nice to see that my old buddies at the Ruckus Society are staying in trouble. - get the card deck

Monday, June 23, 2003

Men, Pants and Relationships

Sunday found Ann and me at Filene's Basement at Downtown Crossing in Boston. There she delighted in picking out for me a succession of suits, ties, shirts and pants. (More on this pants theme below.) I'm sure that the last time she had as much fun was when she played dress-up with her first Ken doll.

I now have my first dark green suit and I will wear it for the first time in a few weeks when I meet the Prince of Wales. (More on that in a forthcoming entry.)

My fellow blogger, Stacey George, has a theory around men and pants. This is what she blogged today, June 23:

Theory of Pants

One day, a man wakes up and gets dressed and notices that he needs pants. "Today," he thinks to himself, " I must buy pants." He goes to the mall and goes to Brooks Brothers, or The Gap, or J.C. Penney, depending on the guy, and tries on pants. He doesn't try on funky styles, he doesn't try on sweaters, he doesn't browse the CD rack. He picks out pants that he likes, that look comfortable, he tries them on. If they fit, he buys them and takes them home. That is how a man buys pants.

Extrapolating that shopping experience to dating, one could assume that one day, a man wakes up and brushes his teeth and looks in the mirror and thinks to himself, "Heidi Klum is never going to call me. I'm in my 30s. My hair will never be thicker, my waist never will be trimmer. I've got a good job, I'm a nice guy. It's time for me to get a wife." From there, he will go and begin dating nice women. Women he can picture as the mother of his yet unconceived children. He will not date crazy, bi-sexual tattoo artists. He will not date bouncy, 17 year-old semi-professional gymnasts. He will try on these "nice" women until one feels comfortable. Then he will marry her and take her home. If she declines, if she is not ready to *be* the pants, he will most likely marry the next pair of pants he meets. Which would lead us to conclude that it is less about being soulmates and "made for each other" as it is about having a roomy inseam and some cargo pockets.

Bolstering Stacey's theory is my own experience. Last fall, it became clear that I would be staying in Boston. I was ready for a relationship. So I pored over the personals, discreetly inquired about interesting women I knew, and encouraged my friends to try their skills as matchmaker.

This spring, I predicted to my friend, Beth, that I would be in a relationship in 2-3 months and probably married or at least living with a woman in 2-3 years. Beth thought that was typical of a man. Just like Stacey, Beth remarked that men just decide one day that they will find a partner and then just go out and do it.

I could quibble about the details of Stacey's theory. (For instance, my waist size will be trimmer in the future.) But the fact remains that I'd reached a point in my life when I was ready for a relationship. It was just a process of finding the right woman.

It's all in the timing. Plus Ann knows how to pick out a good pair of pants.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Are You With Us ... Or The Enemy?

Did you like the "Homeland Security" t-shirt I plugged on March 31st.

If so, here's another t-shirt that might appeal to you.

I wear my own proudly.

Friday, June 13, 2003

A Fan Writes

As we walked into the Verona Downs gig at P.A.'s in Somerville last night, the band was about to play. My friend Rebecca looked up from her bass and said "Hello, Simon" before launching into the first song.

I have to admit that was quite cool.

My companions, Ann and her friend Dena, were impressed with their first encounter with the band. Ann remarked that the song "Blue Noon" reminded her of the Pixies. It is a pounding pop song with beautifully crafted guitars and bass. I'm now sufficiently intrigued to pull out the Pixies' albums that I own but have failed to hear.

The turnout at the gig was quite sparse. The band deserve much better. However, I selfishly enjoy being able to avoid a crush when I see a band I like.

Nevertheless that won't stop me from urging my friends to check them out the next time they play.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Much Sweeter

Last night, the United States Senate voted 97-1 in favor of S.1182 the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act, which would impose sanctions on Burma, including a ban on all U.S. imports from that country.

I caught the debate live through the C-Span website. (Isn't technology marvellous?) I particularly admired the tenacity of Senator Mitch McConnell who has pressed this cause for many years. I was moved by the passion of Senator John McCain who spoke of his admiration for Aung San Suu Kyi after meeting her in 1996 and the attack on her during his visit then.

Encouragement for me and others active in the Free Burma movement came when Senator Dianne Feinstein listed all the retailers that have in the past few years stopped buying apparel made in Burma. She listed Sak's Fifth Avenue, Wal-Mart, Macy's and Pottery Barn amongst others. All these companies made that decision in great part because of the letters, phone calls, media stories and demonstrations organized by the Free Burma Coalition. It's important to realize that direct citizen activism can often pave the way for Congressional action.

There was also a lesson here for a staunch progressive like myself. Honor and principle cross party and ideological lines.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003


Sometimes the cross-currents of life leave me uncertain as to whether I'm happy or sad.

The good news is that this week I joined Oxfam America in the staff position of "Senior Policy Advisor, Corporate Engagement." Since July of last year, I had been performing the same role but as a consultant. This new status as a staff member gives me the advantage of a steady salary with benefits. I'm also pleased that, for the first time, I will be a union member. Oxfam America staff in Boston are represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). I wanted a union card to flash around but I was disappointed to discover that I don't receive one.

In the past, I have had good experiences working with the SEIU. After the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa, the SEIU was one of several unions that joined my old firm, Trillium Asset Management, in filing shareholder resolutions at the American oil companies that helped prop up the Nigerian military junta. In 1998, Folabi Olagbaju, then at the SEIU and now Director of Amnesty USA's Just Earth Program, brought Cordelia Kokori to the annual shareholder meeting of Mobil, There she shamed Mobil Chairman Lucius Noto, into bringing up the case of her father, Frank Kokori, the leader of a Nigerian oil workers' union thrown in prison for leading a strike against the military junta. I felt privileged to stand by her at the AGM and afterwards write an article about it.

Meanwhile in Burma, another brave woman Aung San Suu Kyi was the victim of a brutal attack on her and her supporters. The attack, clearly instigated by Burma's ruling military junta, appears to be part of a dramatic escalation in the generals' repression of the Burmese democracy movement. As New England Coordinator of the Free Burma Coalition, I am playing my part in lobbying the U.S. Congress to enact tough new sanctions on Burma. After ten years of Free Burma activism, I am saddened that it remains necessary to do so.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

My Girl and Me

Ann's colleagues had a cook-out last Saturday where she formally introduced me as her "boyfriend."

And here's the picture from the party.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Old Friends

It's always nice to come across old friends on the web. It's even nicer when they plan to raise money for your employer.

Meet Geoff Challinger. He's an old buddy from my postal Diplomacy days. He's now planning to bike from Africa to Nottingham to raise money for good causes including Oxfam.

Go Geoff!