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Attended First WORDPRESS Blogging Conference

I attended a full day workshop titled PRESS PUBLISH held by WordPress in Portland Oregon on March 28, 2015. WordPress.com is a blog WEB hosting service provider owned by AUTOMATTIC and powered by the open source WordPress software. It provides free blog hosting for registered users supported by paid upgrades, advertising and premium options. It was their first (inaugural) conference dedicated to BLOGGING. You can see a list of the topics covered at http://presspublish.events/events/portland/

I enjoyed all speakers but two were exceptional: Erick Prince-Heaggans and Jerry Mahoney.

Erick’s topic was titled: “Around the world in 80 posts.” 

He wants to be the first African American male to visit every country in the world. So far he has visited 73. He is a professional photographer and blogs to help make things better for others. His talk was full of passion and give-and-take with the audience.

His blog can be found at http://minoritynomad.com/minority-travel-blog/  

I dined at his table at lunch; he gave me contact information for a man who has blogged about travelling the world – without ever flying.

Erick is also owner and CEO of MinorityNomad.com and Founder of A World Beyond Youth Exploration. You can read more about this organization at http://www.aworldbeyondyouth.com/

Jerry’s topic was titled: “Which Came First, The Book Or The Blog?” His blog can be found at http://jerry-mahoney.com/best-oblog/

Jerry’s first published book, “Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Superdad” is about the crazy road he and his boyfriend took to become dads. You can find more information about his book at http://jerry-mahoney.com/mommy-man-the-book/ His talk was humorous and substantive.

I learned a lot from the 15 sessions I attended which included technical topics on widgets, add-ons, use of statistics, phone camera photo techniques, videos upload tools, theme selection, comment management, blog customization, publicizing, monetizing, tagging, categorizing and more.

But more importantly I had the opportunity to listen to a variety of women and men share their passion for blogging, explain how they attained a wide readership and describe how much effort they put into their craft. Several speakers triggered specific thoughts on how I might do a better job with my own blog.

I even got one-on-one help (in the Happiness Lounge) with improving my own blog, including help upgrading (free for a year) to the premium version of WordPress.

Please note that my blog is now at journeysofaheart.com (no longer at journeysofaheart.wordpress.com)

Sculpture on OSF Plaza

Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland Oregon Mar 11-12, 2015

I went on a wonderful trip to Ashland Oregon with fellow members of OLLI – Eugene Springfield (Osher Life Long Learning Institute) to attend three plays in two days. We arrived in time for a fantastic afternoon performance of Much Ado About Nothing in the Angus Bowmer Theatre and an evening performance of Pericles in the Thomas Theatre. We stayed overnight at the very comfortable and nearby Stratford Inn. The following morning we were treated to an hour-long engaging Q&A with Wayne Carr, the actor who played Pericles – the Prince of Tyre. That afternoon we attended the musical fable of Broadway, Guys and Dolls, back in the Bowmer and after a light supper at Southern Oregon University we all headed back to Eugene. Please see http://www.osfashland.org for more details.

The theatre experience was enhanced by audiences filled with hundreds of excited high school students.

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The Bard

 

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Some quotes (as best I was able to capture them) from Much Ado:

“What force drives liking to love?”

“You make fair weather yourself.”

“Make use of your discontent.”

“Friendship is constant in all except in love.”

“Til all graces be in one man, he shall not be in my grace.”

“Counterfeit never introduces itself to passion.”

“Some cupids succeed with arrows, others with traps.”

“Like a true drunkard, I will utter all to thee.”

“When the age is in, the wit is out.”

“Time has not so dried up this blood of mine.”

“Foul words are but foul wind.”

“What’s the matter with you with such a February face?”

“Man is giddy thing.”

“Thou are sad – get thee a wife!”

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Some quotes (as best I was able to capture them) from Pericles:

“Pray that the wind blows fair!”

“One sorrow never comes than soon brings its heir.”

“I don’t look for reverence but for love.”

“We sit too long on trifles.”

“Oh, you gods, why do you make us love your glorious gifts, then so swiftly snatch them away?”

“We can not but obey the powers above us.”

“He bears a tempest which his mortal vessel holds.”

“We would closely agree if only both views were justly weighed.”

“I will..til sweet slumber rests upon my eyes.”

“Upon the touching of his lips, I may indeed melt and no longer be seen.”

“My father’s dead; the heavens made a star of him.”

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Some quotes (as best I was able to capture them) from Guys and Dolls:

“Why do you want to get over him? He’s not pneumonia.”

“But more I can not wish you than to find your true love and the strong arms to carry you away.”

“You can’t make an alteration to a dress you haven’t bought.”

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 My own quote:

“Be gentle; everyone’s life is more complicated than we know, even our own.”

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PGMC: Celebrate The Silver Screen

On February 15, 2015 I attended a performance by a number of talented soloists in the Portland (Oregon) Gay Men’s Chorus.

A packed church was serenaded by eighteen songs from the silver screen.

Some of my favorites were: “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once, “The Way He Makes Me Feel” from the movie Yentl, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” from the movie Shrek, “Pure Imagination” from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and “Out Here on My Own” from the movie Fame.

Chocolates and wine were served in the chapel.

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Heart Day – 2015

“And we are put on earth a little space, that we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
William Blake

February 14th has evolved over the years to be a day when many citizens of the world take time to let their heart focus on the importance of love and affection. For more on the history of the day, please click on: Valentine’s Day

For me it also marks the day (February 14, 2008) when I felt that I had finally fully “recovered” from the trauma of quintuple by-pass open heart surgery, performed at noon on November 9, 2007, some 3 months earlier. As I rolled into the operating room, I listened to an old Canadian folk song written by Connie Kaldor titled “Wood River.” The lyrics for the song include the words, “… the heart is bigger than trouble and the heart is bigger than doubt, but the heart sometimes needs a little help to figure that out.

Pillow used to protect the  area of the chest which was cracked open

Pillow used to protect the area where my chest was cracked open

On that Valentine’s Day in 2008, I started training to walk a half marathon and on May 4th, 2008 I completed walking the 13.1 miles in almost 3 hours and 12 minutes.

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Eugene Marathon 2007-1a

Two weeks later, on May 17th, I walked the Michael J Fox 5K in 44 minutes and 6 seconds. When returning home from this event, near the University of Oregon, I met Barack Obama in the lobby of Sacred Heart Hospital where I had my surgery. He was running for president and was visiting someone there. On his way out of the hospital’s lobby he stopped to speak to me and a five and 3/4 year old boy who had also undergone open heart surgery. He stooped down, put his arm around the lad and asked me to take a picture of the two of them.

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The following winter (2009) I retreated to the coast of Maine for four winter months and started to read my life’s journals. The retreat was the start of my writing a formal collection of life memories, presently titled “Before Memories Fail.” It remains a work in progress.

In November of 2014, on the 7th anniversary of my open heart surgery, I started to write a novel and will continue to work on it throughout 2015. The cover of the novel is below:

Current draft is over 200 pages, 16 chapters, and over 80,000 words.

Current draft is over 200 pages, 16 chapters, and over 80,000 words.

 

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Window display in Vancouver BC

 

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Toronto

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Sculpture met on walk in Vancouver BC

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Flower Rose My Shadow

 

Heart dress

Located at a clothing shop (Velvet Edge) on Broadway and Pearl in downtown Eugene,

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Ruling expected at the end of June 2015

Ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on Marriage Equality is expected at the end of June 2015

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Nationwide Marriage Equality ?

Our U.S. Supreme Court is finally going to rule on Nationwide Marriage Equality before the end of this term – in June 2015, probably June 29th. They will hear arguments in April.

So far there are 36 states and DC where marriage equality exists.

17 countries already provide marriage equality, starting with the Netherlands in 1971, over 43 years ago.

I am contemplating going to Washington DC this June to be on the steps of our Supreme Court when the ruling is announced. What will this summer bring?

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Portland Gay Men’s Chorus 2014

I attended a superb performance by the Portland Oregon Gay Men’s chorus on Dec 7, 2014 with a friend.

The concert was titled “A Holiday Celebration.” The chorus sang in English, Spanish, Russian and Arabic and was lead by Bob Mensel, who is beginning is 21st season with the PGMC. The mezzo-soprano, Jennifer Gill was the special guest artist.

The program included chorus songs, dance numbers, violin solos and sing-a-longs. My favorite was Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”  where the chorus was joined by Jennifer Gill and Eva Richey (violin solo). The chorus moved their white gloved hands in synch with the lyrics creating a magical impression of snow falling and snow covered trees.

You may see their upcoming concerts at www.pdxgmc.org

Congratulations to the PGMC! 2015 is their 35th year: 1980-2015

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YaPoAh Terrace Retirement Apartments Eugene Oregon

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Amtrak Cascades Train departed one hour late

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Friend, Dan Johnson, in lobby of Newmark theatre

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Bowl of beads on display in Newmark lobby

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View from 2nd Balcony down to lobby of Newmark Theatre

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I was way up there.

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View of stage from second balcony before guests arrived

 

World AIDS Day Dec 1, 2014

World AIDS Day is December 1st.

Below I share a poem I wrote in Portland Oregon on December 1st 2008 while I attended a World AIDS Day vigil on the waterfront.

The strong pillars of the Morrison Bridge

are draped in soft ribbons of red light,

reflected in the waters of the Willamette,

like free flowing stains of blood.

A damp chill of the first December evening

joins a slow drizzle from a dark and sad sky.

I walk

around

a circular fountain

stilled in serene silence,

thinking of Joe and Bob and Tom,

quietly crying,

alone.

        I check my cell phone

        “No Recent Calls”

I walk on.

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