Hey you, yeah you in the green Tshirt!

Made in the usa imageSo you with the green T-shirt.  Did you ever look to see where that shirt is made?  Probably not because we normally just think of T-shirts as functional or cool.  Who cares where they come from, right?

Well I’m sure there’s a lot of people who wish some of those jobs were still here in the good ol USA.  There are some shops still in operation but I imagine they are just getting by financially.  At one time there were areas in the North and South Carolina with textile mills.

The problem became when some retailers figured out that products could be made overseas cheaper due to the wages in those countries.  Then they ‘encouraged’ manufactures to move their production overseas so they could see the products for less.  OK encouraged is really not the right term.  They twisted the arms of those companies because the retailer wanted lower prices.  If the manufacturer wanted to sell their products in stores then they were going to outsource their manufacturing.

The thing some people miss about this change is that jobs started going away.  Our unemployment started to climb due to this trend.  Factory after factory started closing down.  It seemed like there was nothing anyone could do.

If people are on unemployment then they aren’t able to take care of their families or spend money for a quality product.  It’s a vicious circle and over the past 16 years I think we can all see how things have changed in this country.  I say 16 because that’s the span of the last 3 presidents.  We ended one presidential reign (Clinton) with a surplus.  The next president (Bush) ran the country into the ground. Then our current president (Obama) has managed to build the economy back up.

Now you could blame everything on the elected officials but I don’t go for that game.  We are just as much to blame for some of the problems with our country today.  Our everyday decisions drive the economy of this country.  So if we buy the cheapest shirt, pants, table, sofa, refrigerator or car then we’re only encouraging companies to make cheaper products.  The outcome of that is that companies have to move their manufacturing overseas to keep cost down.

Do you think you think if people bought more products that are made in the US that the economy would be the same today?  I would venture to get that it would NOT be in its current state.  It would be healthy and thriving.  More people would be employed and number of people in poverty would be an infinitely smaller.

So next time you pick up a shirt or a pair of pants check out the label and see where they’re made.  Think how buying products that are made here in the USA is helping a fellow American who are trying to feed their family, afford a home or pay for healthcare.  It may take a little work but the results will be tremendous.

I’ve started doing this so I’m not just preaching.  I’ve been buying clothing that’s sewn here in the US and some of the Christmas gifts I bought this year were Made in the USA.  Granted it’s not easy to find American made products but if you can just buy one new item a week that’s going to improve the economy and help your fellow Americans.

If you’re wondering I’ll be writing more about the products that I’ve found.  Sometimes it’s surprising how easy it is to find the products. Other times it’s more of a challenge.  The other thing to keep in mind is that if you’re buying say clothing it’s very likely be more expensive.  They are going to cost more like a luxury brand and honestly that’s what they are in comparison.  They’re made by Americans who are trying to produce a quality product.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Leave your feedback in the comments.

Move is coming up quick

Well the move is only days away. I’ve got most of my possessions given away or packed up. There are still some small things I need to figure out how to pack. I’ve been working on making some bread in my bread machine to use up ingredients. I love the smell of bread cooking. It makes the house smell SO good.

My friend Ray gets here Thursday morning at something like 8:30 AM. Then it’s a day of running around town with him and packing my car for the ‘launch’ Friday morning. I think calling it a launch is rather appropriate. It’s nothing short of the trip that Columbus made across the ocean blue. Of course we have iPods, GPS, radio, and hotels to stay in. Well maybe that’s not a good comparison.

Thursday evening I’ll be meeting my friends at La Fogata on High Street for a farewell party. It will be sad to say good bye but I always say, look at it this way, now you have a friend to visit in San Francisco. I have a lot of good friends here but I’m still eager to go to the west coast and see what earth quakes are all about.

Mardi Gras 2011

New Orleans - French Quarter - Bourbon Street ...
Image by wallyg via Flickr

So Mardi Gras 2011 has come to an end. What an amazing week of running from one event to the next. I had a great time and it was so good to see old friends. Including the person who started calling me Tuba.

I didn’t see any parades this year but I was in the French Quarter every day. We would stop and see friends and walk around to some of the old haunts like we would when I lived in New Orleans.  There are so many great restaurants in the quarter and so many things to see.  Then you add Mardi Gras on top of all that, well lets just say you can’t see everything.  I didn’t even go down to Burbon Street.  I just stayed on the edge of the French Quarter.

A huge thank you to my friend Bob for letting me stay at his house! Thanks to Poncho, Aaron, Lance, Josh, Max, and all the other people I saw there in New Orleans.  It was a great vacation and I can’t wait to come back.

I will always love the city and it will always be a great vacation spot.  There’s always something to do and there’s always wonderful food.  Those are two of the things that always make New Orleans a spectacular vacation spot.

Homo For the Holidays

Well we’re coming up to the holidays and I’ll be spending this Thanksgiving with my extended family.  I’m not a big one on spending time with the extended family because our lives are extremely different.  I live in the Columbus (Ohio) and I have a white-collar job while most if not all of my relatives live up in the area I was born and our focus on life is different to say the least.  It makes it difficult, going back as a 40-year-old gay man, to spend time with people who I don’t have much in common.  Most of the time I hang out with the ‘lady folk’ because that’s the best I can do in terms of relating to someone.  Even then it’s a little dicey.

So what’s a (gay) guy to do?  That’s a great question because I haven’t really figured it out.  Normally I go visit my friends in San Francisco and spend the Thanksgiving holiday with them.  While there I feel like I have an extended family in which I can relate to everyone.  We have a big meal, grace is said, and people sit around talking just like a “normal” family Thanksgiving.  I think that’s one of the things that makes this year different.  I’m so used to being with that group of people in San Francisco that it makes it more difficult to spend time with my biological family.

So what is it that makes these two environments so different?  I can think of one major contributor that makes up these different environments.  That one thing would be our work/life environments.  You see my family lives in a rural area of central Ohio.  Most of my family lives within twenty miles from where they were raised as children.   I often wonder what keeps them so connected to that area or more interesting is why don’t I feel that same connection.

I know some people in the LGBT community gather together creating their own family to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I’ve done it myself but I do have to admit that I long for the same connection with my family.  The thing one has to remember is that you can’t change people.  By that I mean you can’t change your family.  So that leaves people like me and many others in the position of longing for something we can’t have in our lives.  All we can do is be positive and form those healthy relationships so that we have a family like structure to support us in our daily lives.

So chin up and forward facing we march to our drum.  Forming our own families to support us in our daily lives.  Build those healthy support structures for emotional and physical help every day.  Those relationships will carry us forward and into the future.  Everyone needs to keep this in mind.  If you ever feel alone simply look around.  There’s someone just like each of us and whether they admit it or not they are looking to build their own family.

Happy Holidays and build your ‘family’ strong!

Glad to help friends out…

Time Zones
Image by r.rosenberger via Flickr

So I just went to the airport and picked up some friends who got back from vacation.  They’re good people as some people would say.  They shared some of their stories but I wanted to let them rest because they have been traveling almost all day long and they have been in 8 different time zones.

Good Friends are hard to find.  I look look forward to getting more details about their trip later this week.

Holiday Weekend Trip

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylv...
Image via Wikipedia

Well I had a great time this weekend hanging out with my friends over in Pittsburgh.  I mean it’s always a good time when you can hang out with your friends and laugh about silly things.  On the other hand we didn’t find Pittsburgh entertaining at all.  Our hotel was acceptable but it was out in the suburbs and not a nice suburb and the staff at the hotel were not good.

The restaurants were OK but not good enough to go back to Pittsburgh.  We did find that people must really love Olive Garden on this trip.  Every time we asked about a restaurant someone would tell us about an Olive Garden.  Now don’t get me wrong Olive Garden is OK but I’m a firm believer and supporter of local restaurants (so are my friends).  So we had to laugh when people kept telling us about Olive Garden.

We went to the Warhol Museum and that was nice. It’s a 7 story building in the downtown area of Pittsburgh, next to the baseball field.  There was lots of displays and the several different mediums so it wasn’t all looking at art hanging on the wall.  At one point while we were walking through the museum when the silence was interrupted by someones cell phone ringing.  We had a good laugh at that must because it was a Lady Gaga ring tone.

OH and let me tell you about our visit to Shadyside (a neighborhood in Pittsburgh).  We made our way over there Sunday afternoon after our visit to the Warhol museum.  We had to drive through a rough section of town which wasn’t all that interesting but then we finally got over there and it was one of those you cross the tracks into a different worlds scenarios.  The neighborhood was very nice and it was nice once we found a parking space so we could walk around.  So we hadn’t had lunch yet so we find a restaurant, call them and get directions.  It’s only a couple blocks she says.  So we start walking, and we’re walking for more than three blocks.  Finally we ask someone if they are familiar with the restaurant.  The young woman says “Yes” and so we ask her for directions.  She tells us that the restaurant is about three blocks away in the direction we came from.  So we head back and we walk for probably ten blocks.  We’re thinking that we’re never going to get there and see a young man walking down the street towards us so we stop and ask him about the street that we hoped we had walked towards.  He says we’re almost there and thankfully he was right.  So we start down the street looking for the restaurant and we come along it after a couple large blocks.  We walk in and guess what we find out.  The restaurant stops serving brunch at 2:30 and the time was 2:28 so they wouldn’t serve us.  You talk about some unhappy gay men.  We ask for some suggested restaurants since we have no clue where to eat at this point.  They tell us there’s a bar across the street that serves food 24 hours a day.  So after all that walking we eat in a bar.  Thankfully the food was good.

So that’s just a little about my trip to Pittsburgh this past weekend.  If it doesn’t seem exciting that’s because it wasn’t.  We tried but alas there was no excitement that we could find.