Saturday, September 22, 2012


For a few reasons both within and beyond my control, I'm going to be unplugging for a few weeks. I guess this won't be any different from times in the past where there has been a lull in my posting, but I'll likely be gone for about a month, which I think is the longest I'll have been without posting here. I am looking forward to the separation from life, technology and the world of gay blogging and I hope that this time spent focusing on things other than the gay will be effective at broadening my horizons and seeing more possibilities in life.

There's a phrase that goes, "When all you have is a hammer, all of your problems look like nails." I'd like to counter that by saying, "When all you have are nails, your tools start to look like hammers."  Both are true in my case.

All I have in my arsenal is a frankly pitiful blog that's rife with selfish posts about loneliness and depression. [Note: selfish here is used in its literal sense. Very little of this blog pertains to anyone but me and therefore, it is by its very nature a selfish blog.]  Because of that, most of my problems look like nails that I can hammer out by blogging about them.  This just isn't the case.

Conversely, seemingly every problem I face pertains to homosexuality in some way.  Therefore, every time a new tool comes along that could solve some other problem (therapy to address anger-control issues, talks on improving our relationship with God), I instantly view them as tools to help me address my homosexuality. I am hoping that this time away will help me realize that not everything is about me, nor are the things that are about me always about my homosexuality.

Plus, frankly, I'm sick of blogging and e-mailing and texting and Facebook. It's exhausting work journaling for an audience. A wise man would have deleted this blog and all its vestiges months ago and taken his thoughts to a pen and paper, but no one ever accused me of being wise. So instead, I am going to take this hiatus from life, fall off the edge of the earth, and stick my head in the sand somewhere until I'm content to return.

I'd say something like if you need to email me, I'll eventually respond, but that's giving others' demand for me way too much credit. I have a feeling my return to the plugged-in world will be something like this:

Seriously, e-mail away and I will return them, although not for some time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Northern Lights- "Automobiles and the gay man"

As many of you may have noticed, cars are really one of the few things that get me going when I'm feeling depressed. I have decided to defend the stereotypical gay mobiles in my latest post over at North Star. It's light, it's somewhat interesting, I think it's funny. Pretty much the antithesis of everything I've ever written over there.  I just needed some variety.

So, go have a look!  There are two cool pictures if nothing else.

A whole new level...

I have reached a whole new level of gayness.

I'm almost ashamed to admit it.


I bought designer underwear today.

My old Hanes been wearing out lately so I went online (remember how much I both hate and love shopping for underwear?) and found some designer underwear on sale at only slightly higher prices than regular stuff. So I bought some. In pink, yellow and electric blue, with funky patterns and plaids for each.  Yikes.

You know how some closeted guys hide their porn under their beds? I'm going to have to start hiding my underroos.

Peace out world, keep moving forward!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Which lobster are you? Danielle Mansfield posts at Northern Lights

Danielle Mansfield offers a powerful metaphor in her post over at Northern Lights. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, as I am incapable of rendering the nuance and loveliness with which she tackles a very depressing concept.

In her essay, she addresses issues of shame, agency and compassion. The stinger for me was this metaphor she gives about cooking a lobster. Apparently, if you only cook one lobster at a time, as soon as the water starts warming up, the lobster will claw his way out of the pot. If, however, you cook two lobsters in the same pot, one lobster will try to climb out and the other lobster will pull him back down into the water until both are killed. The implications here are obvious.

Are you the lobster who tries to climb out but feels constantly pulled back into your old ways? Are you the lobster who, perhaps out of jealousy or narrow-mindedness, prevents people from climbing into a new life, insisting that the pot is the place to be? I sometimes feel like the former, but too frequently feel like the latter.

Danielle addresses a number of other compelling issues in her post. Spare five minutes of your day and have a look at it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cars of the Moment: The Japanese Supercar Edition

Japan's automotive industry is generally known for sensible family transportation. Here in the US, Honda is known for the Accord, Toyota is known for the Corolla and Nissan is known for the Altima, all of which are generally designed to get you, your passengers and your stuff from point A to point B cheaply, reliably and in relative comfort.

There have been outliers, to be sure. Honda used to make the Prelude, a fun little coupe built from spare Accord and Civic parts. Toyota had the Celica, MR-2 and Supra sports coupes for a long time before relegating them to history due to low demand. And Nissan still makes the fun-to-drive Z sports car and roadster.  Even so, ask someone to name a Japanese sports car and they'll likely be hard pressed to come up with something.

And that is a travesty, because to those who know, Japan has consistently been producing some of the finest supercars the world has ever known. They are few and far between, but they are almost always great.

Let's start with today, then look to yesterday before moving on to tomorrow, shall we?

The Lexus LF-A is the product of 10 years of research, development and testing. Test mules, the mocked-up and cobbled-together vehicles automakers use to try out different engine and suspension settings, have been rounding Germany's Nurburgring since 2003. Design concepts have been teased at major auto shows since 2005. Finally, after four different designs and hundreds of gigantic conceptual changes, the LF-A was released to the public in 2011, with only 500 models available worldwide and a strict buyer selection process that would prevent owners from flipping their rare cars for more money in the used marketplace. 

I'd think that for each of those lucky customers, the wait was worth it. 

Now, my distaste for Lexus and Toyota in general is well-documented, but this car breaks with tradition, both in general and for me specifically. Look at the thing. Even (or perhaps especially) painted fly yellow, it looks aggressive and modern. The scoops in front of the rear wheels, the blade-like radiator vents protruding from the rear window, the bonkers-sexy interior: from stem to stern, this car's intentions are clear.

But if you're still not convinced, turn the key and listen to one of the fastest-revving V10 engines in history. Taking from Toyota's extensive experience as a manufacturer for Formula 1 racing, the engine is ultralight and mounted so low in the chassis that it doesn't even clear the top of the front wheels. The Lexus has a digital tachometer because, rumor has it, the engine is so quick to rev that a conventional analog gauge mechanically wouldn't be able to keep up.  

The whole car's structure takes shape with the use of carbon fiber, a lightweight and strong material that only recently has made the jump from aerospace and astronautics to automobiles. The carbon strands are woven in a gigantic industrial loom that was repurposed from one of Toyota's original fabric looms. A tiny piece of Toyota history goes into this car. With a racetrack-chic exhaust wail and a loud, backfiring crack with each banging gearchange, this car is designed to thrill and scintillate. How unlike Lexus, and how refreshing.

Nissan has been making a fantastic car for markets other than the United States called the Skyline GT-R. After a hiatus in the 1970s and 1980s, the R32 Skyline GT-R was reintroduced in 1989, featuring a technologically advanced all-wheel drive system with something they called ATTESA E-TS, that could split engine power up among the wheels. For example, more torque could be sent to the outside rear tire when the vehicle was turning a corner, giving it exceptional balance and maneuverability. Further improvements were made for the R33 Skyline and R34 Skyline, with each of them gaining notoriety from the gaming crowd for their near-dominance in the Gran Turismo video game franchise. Fans of the cars were vocal. America, known to every major automaker as the least forgiving and most fickle automobile market, was ready for Nissan's supercar.

After a few tantalizing concept cars, the production Nissan GT-R (no longer a Skyline) was unveiled for the 2008 model year. With a probably-underrated 485 horsepower coming from a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 and, no hyperbole, the most technologically advanced transmission, all-wheel drive system and driver interface, that first version of the "R35" GT-R was capable of sprinting to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, faster than the $600,000 Ferrari Enzo, never mind that the Nissan cost only about $80,000 after dealers inevitably marked it up.

Fun fact: Polyphony Digital, the developers of Gran Turusmo, was contracted to design the vehicle's driver interface, which allows drivers to change suspension and drive settings and view real-time performance stats from the navigation screen.  Fun fact II: All vehicles sold in Japan are required by law to be limited to about 88 mph and the GT-R is no exception. However, if the navigation system senses that the vehicle is on a racetrack, it automatically removes that speed governor.

Later improvements to the engine, transmission, suspension have culminated in this, the 2013 Nissan GT-R. Until the R36 generation bows in a few years, this is likely as good as any Nissan will ever be. With 545 (!) horsepower, a cataclysmic launch control system and enhanced aerodynamics, the GT-R is one of three cars than can get to 60 mph in less than three seconds. The other two? The Porsche 911 Turbo, at nearly double the cost, and the Bugatti Veyron hypercar, which starts at a jaw-dropping $1.5 million.

Not bad for a Datsun, eh?

Remember that old Honda Prelude we mentioned before? Most of them came with VTEC, an innovative variable valve timing system that allowed an engine's timing to change with revs so that it could pull strongly from both high and low RPMs. Its technology is beyond my understanding and therefore, in my mind, miraculous. I've driven a few cars with VTEC and they're all a blast.

But the system owes its very existence to Honda's original supercar, the 1990 Honda/Acura NSX. This car was revolutionary in so many ways that it's difficult to quantify. First and foremost was the VTEC system, which made its first appearance in the US market on the NSX (which was badged as an Acura here). This system gave the NSX and its 3.0-liter (later enlarged to 3.2 liters) V6 engine performance on par with the more expensive Ferrari 348 and less exotic Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette. 

However, Honda's innovations did not stop there. The NSX was also the first vehicle ever to have an all-aluminum monocoque body. In layman's terms, the car's stunningly styled body and frame were one unified piece and were made out of expensive, lightweight aluminum, making the car about 500 lbs lighter than a comparable steel vehicle.

Above and beyond the exotic-for-the-time materials and interesting engine technology, compared to its rivals, the NSX was very easy to live with. It was low-slung but still had great visibility, its interior was built with Honda quality and Acura luxury, and it was reliable and predictable when driving quickly. Unlike the fragile Ferrari 348, the tail-happy Porsche 911 and the tacky, uncomfortable Corvette, the NSX was the first supercar you could reliably drive every day and still enjoy on the track each weekend, and damned if it didn't light fires under the butts of every sports car manufacturer's management, who now had to scramble to match what plebian Honda had created with its supercar.

Said Johnny Liebermann of Motor Trend, "Do you enjoy your modern Ferrari? You have [the NSX] to thank for it."

Can't think of any higher praise for the same company that makes the Odyssey minivan...

In the next five years, we can expect to see another sports-car renaissance from the Land of the Rising Sun.  While Toyota Motor Corporation has acknowledged that it may not build a successor for the LF-A immediately, the Lexus brand has the LF-LC sports coupe on the pipeline. While it may be considered more of a grand tourer than an outright supercar, it still looks plenty interesting, with some classy details and Lexus' new spindle grille taken to its logical extreme.  It will surely be a step in the right direction for Lexus' brand image.

LF-LC concept interior. Unreal and totally awesome.

There also will be a new version of the Nissan GT-R, and while details are sparse and incomplete, it will surely bring a whole new level of performance to the table. Nissan isn't a brand that usually ruins the recipe in one generation, so we could probably expect the R36 GT-R to improve on its predecessor, at least in most quantifiable metrics.

And then there's Honda, which is (finally) bringing us a new NSX supercar. After teasing us with the underwhelming (and front-engined!) Acura ASCC concept, then telling us it would evolve into the NSX's successor, then abandoning the project, then finally unveiling a proper mid-engined sports car called the NSX concept, its road to production in 2015 is all but unimpeded. The company's impressive SH all-wheel drive system, which will come standard on the NSX, works similar to Nissan's ATTESA. It allows torque to transfer from left to right and front to rear to give each tire its optimal level of power to keep the car going in whatever twisty line you want it to. You may have seen Tony Stark driving a new NSX Roadster in The Avengers and you probably saw Jerry Seinfeld fight with Jay Leno over who had the rights to buy the first NSX if you watched the Superbowl (and/or its commercials).

Acura NSX concept
What's interesting about each of these new cars, the LF-LC, R36 GT-R and 2015 NSX, is that they're all but guaranteed to have hybrid powertrains. The details on the GT-R are rumors at this point, but it will likely rely on gas and electricity for its motivation. The LF-LC, which will likely compete with base Bentley and top-of-the-line Mercedes touring cars, will likely see tons of hybrid technology from Toyota's extensive experience building green cars like the Prius and RAV4 Electric Vehicle.  The NSX will feature Honda's near-ubiquitous 3.5-liter V6 and electric motor mounted behind the driver and powering the rear wheels while individual electric motors will power each front wheel. Through-the-road hybrid systems like this, where the electric motor and gas engine see little interaction with each other but still provide prodigious performance, seems to be the new normal for sports cars, with even manufacturers like Ferrari getting in on the game.

While the advent of the electric motor makes a manual transmission an unnecessary impedance (electric motors make full torque starting at zero RPM, so individual gears are redundant), and while that fact makes me very sad, I am nonetheless excited to see Japan's technological prowess again translate to some pretty awesome cars.

Images sourced from Wikimedia Commons, Lexus and Nissan USA

Sunday, September 9, 2012

One brief beef I have with a common anti-gay marriage argument

Tonight was another good CES fireside in which Elder Holland urged the young singles of the church to plant their feet boldly where they stood and dare to keep their standards high. It was an uplifting, entertaining, emotional fireside and he had some amazing stories and lessons to share. I really admire Elder Holland's emphatic, almost frightening conviction with which he invites and encourages listeners to live on a higher plain.

However, I have just one or two little issues I took with aspects of his message.  These may or may not be motivated by the fact that I've had a really bad attitude and some really caustic feelings towards the Church and that my pride has been puffed up recently by who-knows-what, but here they are.

First, he encouraged us to be more loving. There's nothing I hate more than being loving.

Just kidding.

No, he encouraged us to be loving and free of judgment towards those who live different lifestyles, have different standards, dress differently, etc. He illustrated his point by sharing a story of love shared towards a spiky-haired, pierced and tattooed woman who attended a stake fireside he gave a number of years ago.  Awesome. I am pro-love, so no qualms yet.

However, in the next sentence, he encouraged us to remember to continue to judge righteously. He likened our righteous judgments to those of parents who prevent their children from eating too much junk or running into a busy street, where no level-headed person would ever censure a parent for "taking away their children's agency" in this way.

He encouraged us to do the same, to prevent harm or accident from befalling us by keeping good company, taking care of our bodies and avoiding sin and temptation. So far so good, on paper at least.

However, in practice, I've noticed that Mormons as a culture are mostly incapable of giving righteous judgment without, in his words, "checking their religion at the door." We tend to censure, scorn and ostracize those with whom we disagree and our actions cross from "righteous indignation" into hate. Elder Holland himself said these words with what I felt was a hint of venom, the slightest tinge of sardonic scoffing towards those to whom he was referring, those outside our church and its standards.

He continued by encouraging us to be active in political discourse and stand up for our rights. Again, I totally agreed, until he said that we were justified in taking away others' agency if it was a matter of celestial, eternal importance. Again, he used a metaphor involving running red lights. Paraphrasing, "I as a good driver know that running red lights is wrong, but why should we penalize those who choose to run red lights? Isn't that taking away their agency?"

His point was that it is necessary to take away agency in matters like these, but the fundamental difference between his metaphor and the issues to which we all know he was referring (gay rights, abortion, etc.) is that running a red light can cause irreparable harm to someone who had no control over your actions. In exercising your agency to run a red light, you can take away another person's agency to live without their permission.

However, with gay marriage, one man is not taking away another man's agency to marry; rather, two people are willingly entering into that contract with one another. No one's agency is being taken away. You might disagree with their choice, but it has no affect on anyone but themselves. This argument breaks down somewhat in the argument about abortion, as it could be argued that you are removing a fetus' right to live, but still, there is palpable difference between reality and metaphor.

Other than that, I really enjoyed his fireside. I don't know what I'm going to do about it because I'm still so miserable at church that it takes all of my energy to attend, but here's hoping that I'll have some urge to be a better disciple due to Elder Holland's convicting words.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"Etymology and the gay Mormon mind"- Northern Lights

My most recent post went live over at Northern Lights. This one was kind of difficult to write. As regular readers know, I have not been on a spiritual high right now and Northern Lights is not the proper place to air out negative, spiritually destructive emotions. It's supposed to be a place of faith and encouragement, where gay Mormons and their allies write about how fulfulling it is to suffer from same-gender attraction.

They are wonderful men and women who blog there and they all tell a unique and fantastic story that is truly faith-affirming. But I sometimes don't feel as though I fit in well there because I don't always partake of the belief that it's a fulfilling life being gay and Mormon.

So, in this latest post, I tried to air out some of those feelings I'd been having as a way to try and show the world (and other gay people who think like me) that life can be tough and it's okay to be mad about it. My good friend showed me in a conversation I had with her that the bitterness is sometimes the best first step to take on the road to recovery, as long as it's given a properly brief time slot. And another one of my friends said that his greatest complaint about Northern Lights was how plasticky and fake it felt, like people were showing their best selves in their blog posts. He sought something more real.

(For the record, I disagree. I think Northern Lights is part of a balanced blogosphere diet. They provide lots of examples of faith and God knows the world could use more of those.)

I dunno. It was a hard post to write. I feel like a fish out of water. But I guess that's not a unique feeling for a religious gay kid. I should be used to it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

In which I become addicted to spiritual highs

So, as I mentioned a few days ago, that fun meltdown I had last week is turning less and less raw with every passing day. I went and saw a therapist and I'm going to start working through a lot of the relationship and addiction issues that contributed to that anger and dissatisfaction I had with my life. I'm not going to lie, I still feel pretty lonely, but all things considered, I'm feeling better about life, more and more so every day.  One thing that certainly helped was all the love and support I felt from my friends and people from this blog. From the absolute bottom of my heart, I really appreciate it. Internet community FTW.

Just wanted to share a quick insight my therapist had.  I had mentioned that after giving up porn, I was feeling great, like I could conquer the world, for a few weeks before feeling like crap again, even though I hadn't relapsed.

She had this incredible insight at that moment. When addicts binge, they stimulate the pleasure centers of their brains. That's what was happening when I was looking at porn. The funny thing is, after I stopped watching porn, I didn't stop stimulating that pleasure center.  I felt so awesome for giving up porn and I felt like such a spiritual giant and I was so proud of myself and I felt pleasure for it. Instead of masturbating down low, I started masturbating up high. Then, just through the natural process, the "high" of not looking at porn and feeling good about that began to wane. I was able to divert the coming-down and withdrawal symptoms of porn by feeling self-congratulatory, but there wasn't anything to help combat coming down from that.

Then came the really profound thing. The greatest thing addicts fear is normalcy, because we're used to living on a different level than normal life. No matter what our drug of choice is, be it alcohol, ecstasy, Vicodin or pornography, we feel more pleasure than is either normal or healthy, so normal life by comparison seems very lackluster.  There's every likelihood that what I have been feeling for a long time is just the result of me getting used to living at a more realistic plane than the one of hedonism that I was used to. To be sure, I had done a lot of avoiding and had bottled in a lot of those vaguely unsatisfied emotions and needs and that's why I exploded like I did, but the basic framework of my meltdown really might just be due to the fact that I'm just not used to living a "normal" life yet (as if the life of a gay Mormon could be anything but abnormal, haha).

Not that I shouldn't have been proud of myself for giving up porn, but it apparently caused problems that I should have been more realistic in addressing.  Anyway, there ya go.

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