Saturday, May 18, 2019

Bermuda 2019 - Day 2

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
Our second day in Bermuda was wonderful.  After a lazy morning at the guesthouse - there a several other couples staying here, one from Norway - we had lunch at Coconuts, the restaurant at The Reefs. The weather was amazing and the view from the restaurant was beautiful, with the hotel perched along the top of the cliffs:

After lunch, we went into Hamilton and did some window shopping - and I bought a tie since I left mine at home - before taking the ferry across the harbor to return to the guesthouse and a snack and cocktail.  The highlight of the day was the welcome party for wedding guests at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club on the Hamilton waterfront. The bride, although from Newport News, has lived in Boston for a number of years and the groom is a Boston, native, so the bulk of the guests attending are from the Boston area.  That said, about 15 of us from Hampton Roads are down for the event.  The party was great fun with drinks, food and a DJ who got the place dancing up a storm.  Today, Barry is doing hair for the bride and bridesmaids - his gift to the bride - while yours truly will be lounging at the guest house pool.  The wedding is this afternoon and we will be dressed in "Bermuda formal.:  More photos from the party, including Barry with the bride to be:


Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Friday, May 17, 2019

Bermuda 2019 - Day 1

We traveled to Bermuda for the wedding of a young woman the husband has known since she was a child.  Amazingly, our flights on American Airlines were on time - the first leg we even arrived early.  There are a small number of folks from Hampton/Newport News - most of the guests are from Boston - so we will have our own group within the larger group. We are staying at a lovely B&B not far from the wedding venue at the Coral Beach Club.  Attire for the wedding for men will be "Bermuda formal": tuxedos except with Bermuda shorts (yes, I will post photos). The welcome dinner Friday evening will be at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

After settling in and having our first cocktail, we joined friends from Newport News for dinner at the Ocean Club at the Fairmont Southampton - shown in the photo above - one of the grander hotels on the island. Today, we plan on lunch at The Reefs - a fabulous hotel once owned by dear friends, the husband of the couple having passed away recently. The afternoon will likely involve a ferry ride into Hamilton and some shopping since I managed to leave part of my outfit for Friday evening at home. I will also try to get some beach or pool time in - the B&B has a gorgeous pool.

Blogging, it goes without saying, will be reduced during this trip.  A friend is staying at our home house/dog sitting while we are away.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Alabama (and the GOP) Reveals Its True Extremism

Alabama state capitol.
Ironically, on the same day that U.S. News published a ranking of the best and worse states to live in in the USA based on a number of criteria (the list factored in states’ health care, education, economy, infrastructure, public safety, opportunity and the fiscal stability of its state government, among other factors) with Alabama ranking second from the worse with the worse education system (Louisiana took last place and Mississippi was second from the bottom), the Alabama legislature enacted and the governor signed into law a bill that bans almost all abortions, even in instances of rape and incest.  Under existing U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the law is unconstitutional and is guaranteed to be challenged in the courts. Meanwhile, Alabama has further demonstrated its extremism that, in my view, tracks directly to the Christofascist take over of the Republican Party. The result? Even fewer businesses will consider locating to the state and there will be an even worse drain of the best and brightest from the state.  

I lived in Alabama years ago and the state was not this extreme. Indeed, I barely recognize how insane it has become politically. While some will blame the extreme legislation on inherent aspects of Alabama, the real root cause is the GOP which has become a sectarian party controlled by right wing Christian extremists. Indeed, the Virginia GOP is not much better and in rural parts of Virginia controlled by the GOP, the same religious and cultural extremism predominates.  There's a reason Southwest Virginia is an economic basket case: its the inhabitants and the politicians they elect. An op-ed in the Alabama Political Reporter that a former classmate noted looks at the problem with Alabama and puts the problem at the feet of the voters who continue to elect extremists and vote against their own best interests.  Here are highlights:
This is who we are. We are the state that just told rape victims they have to carry their rape babies to term. We are the state that just told pre-teen girls that they have to carry their incest babies to term. This is who we are.
Stop telling me otherwise. Please. I’m sick of hearing that “Alabama is better than this.” Or that “the good people of Alabama won’t stand for this.” It’s not and they do. All the time.  It’s time to face the facts. It’s not the Legislature. It’s not the governor. It’s not Alabama’s politicians.  It’s the voters. The people. They’re the problem in this state.
Every year, these conservative politicians roll into Montgomery and do incredibly embarrassing things. They push racist bills and insane gun legislation. They deny the rights of gay and transgender people. They suck money away from education and into their own pockets. And when election time rolls around, the voters send them all right back to do it all over again.
Mostly because those politicians promise to do that embarrassing nonsense — to keep the liberals away from your guns, to put the “thugs” in their place, to keep the gays away from your daughter in the public bathrooms and to put your money to work for the state.
And always, always always to protect the life of the unborn. (To hell with the born, of course.)  The people of Alabama line up to vote for them.
And why not? Isn’t life here grand for the working class? Don’t we have some of the lowest wages in the nation? Don’t we have some of the worst schools? Don’t we have the nation’s worst health care system? Don’t we have some of the worst infrastructure? Don’t we have some of the worst pollution?
You’d think that after 150 years of basing their votes on religion and hate instead of self-interest, some of those voters would take a look around. That large groups would get tired of being played for absolute fools by some of the worst con men to walk the planet. But they never, ever do.
Last November, in the midterms, I pointed out that Republican candidates literally had no plans to govern. I was specific. I directed everyone to their websites and social media, quoted them from debates, and then I compared them to their Democratic counterparts.  Didn’t matter.
Because that’s not what the majority of the people in this state care about. They don’t care about what’s right or who can best solve the state’s problems. They care about their team, and about what their friends and neighbors might think of them if they suddenly began thinking for themselves.
In any other context, if I told the voters of this state that a man was preventing a 12-year-old from aborting the baby fathered by her uncle, they would be angry at that man. But put it in the context of politics and they’re lining up to vote for the goober.
In the past few years, when they weren’t being sent to prison for one felony or another, Alabama Republicans have attacked Hispanics, blacks, gays, blacks, transgender people, blacks, teachers, anyone who practices a religion other than Christianity and blacks. And now, girls and women.
Their hateful bills have been ripped to shreds by federal courts and they have managed to drive away potential businesses looking to relocate to Alabama. Not to mention, the poor management of this state has deterred our best and brightest from sticking around and has driven a number of businesses out of the state.
All of that has not cost Republicans a single vote in this state. In fact, in those midterms I spoke about, the Republicans without a plan — running on nothing but hate and religion — gained seats in the Alabama Legislature.
Stop telling me we’re better than this. We’re not.
Frighteningly, if Republicans held the Governor's mansion in Virginia and a strong majority in both houses of the General Assembly, this type of insane legislation would be passed into law here as well. If you find this extreme legislation horrible, vote Democrat in November in the Virginia 2019 elections. 

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Dedicated to Mike Pence and Donald Trump

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Trump's Trade War Leaves Mid-West Farmers Reeling

The unkind part of me struggles to have much sympathy for Mid_West farmers who helped put Trump in the White House as they watch their führer pushing trade tariff policies that are wreaking havoc on their financial survival. They are, after all reaping what they sowed, motivated by racism and a war against modernity itself. The kinder side of me, feels sympathy for the children and youth who are suffering as a result of their parents' bigotry and overall idiocy.  Frighteningly, rather than admit his tariffs have been a failure, Trump wants to give a bailout to farmers and shift the costs of his failure to the rest of the American taxpayers.  One can only hope that the Democrat controlled House of Representatives rejects any such handout to farmers and that they are left to live with the consequences of their voting for an unfit candidate.  Actions do need to have consequences. NBC News looks at the growing plight of Trump supporting farmers.  Here are article highlights:
WATERLOO, Ill. — As Tim Bardole surveyed his farmland, the soil too wet to plant corn or soybeans because of a recent downpour, he remarked that there are few rays of hope for most American farmers these days. While the weather continues to hamper the planting season, the news over the weekend that the United States and China had only moved further away from a trade deal was seen by the farmers as another blow.
Bardole runs a 2,400-acre farm near Rippey, Iowa, with his father, brother and son. This time last year, they figured the trade dispute between China and the U.S., which had already created an economic nightmare for farmers, would be over by harvest time in the fall. Now, it appears there is no end in sight.
"We just keep hunkering down and doing what we can to reduce costs as much as possible, and digging into reserves, and borrowing more money and using up equity," Bardole said over the phone, adding that the entire industry is doing the same.
China announced Monday that, beginning June 1, it would impose tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. That caused stock markets in the U.S. to tumble, and left farmers to face a future that looks financially bleaker than the historically tough years they have recently faced.
Because of the Trump administration’s trade tactics, the Congressional Research Service concluded in a report published in December that national net farm income dropped by more than $9 billion, or 12 percent, in 2018.
Things looks like they could get much worse as the trade dispute continues.
With the most recent news of the intensifying tensions between the U.S. and China, the price of soybeans has dropped below $8 a bushel for the first time since 2008, which comes as many Midwest farmers are facing rampant flooding on their land during the planting season.
Despite the financial strain that farmers have been enduring while the White House’s trade war continues, many had remained committed to the president and his negotiating tactics. Most farmers tend to agree that China is not an equal trading partner, so the common refrain is that they are willing to suffer short-term pain for long-term benefits.
But after years of hardship, confidence in Trump’s negotiating tactics has begun to waver among some of his most ardent supporters.
Kenneth Hartman, a fifth-generation farmer in Waterloo, Illinois, said he’s long been a Trump supporter . . . But, he added, farmers also need free trade and open markets or else the agriculture community will continue to erode. More than 160,000 farms in the U.S. disappeared from 2007 to 2017, according to the USDA Agriculture Census released in April.
Whether falling confidence in this particular trade negotiation will diminish Trump’s very solid backing among farmers overall, however, remains unclear.

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Out gay model Zander Hodgsen

The Trump Regime's War with Iran Would Be Far Worse Than Iraq

With an occupant of the White House who is a malignant narcissist, has no knowledge of history, doesn't read and only wants reports on a single page that tell him what he wants to hear, saber rattling and possible war with Iran is a recipe for disaster. Surrounding himself with delusion war mongers like John Bolton only makes the danger to the nation and the lives of our military service members far worse.  Trump - who seemingly like Hitler uses war and military threats and posturing to make up for his diminished manhood - has learned nothing from the Iraq War debacle and the trillions of taxpayer dollars (which would have been better spent on America's infrastructure) squandered in that fiasco.  As a piece in the Washington Post makes clear, a war with Iraq will be far worse than the Iraq catastrophe both in terms of cost, lost lives, and destabilizing America's already tarnished standing in the world. Making matters even worse, the USA could find itself with few coalition partners save for perhaps the toxic and brutal  regime.  Here are article excerpts that ought to terrify sane Americans: 
Judging from appearances, the United States and Iran are worryingly close to conflict. This weekend, only days after the United States dispatched warships and bombers to the Middle East to deter what it deemed Iranian threats, two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian ship were damaged in apparent acts of sabotage in the Persian Gulf.
The dispute between a [Trump] U.S. administration led by a tough-talking Republican president [would be führer] and an embattled but antagonistic Middle Eastern power has reminded many observers of the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 — a move that, in the years since, has been widely condemned as disastrous for all involved.
Even some of the characters in this apparent remake are the same: John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, played a key role in President George W. Bush’s buildup to the Iraq invasion as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
Bolton’s actions at the time earned him a reputation as reckless. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared to allude to him on Tuesday, telling reporters that “extremist individuals in the U.S. administration” were falsely trying to blame Iran for the incidents in the Persian Gulf.
[A] conflict with Iran would not simply be a redux of the 2003 war with Iraq. It would be quite different in many ways — and it would almost certainly be substantially worse. Present-day Iran is a significantly different country compared to Iraq in 2003. The way it would fight a war is very different, too.
If nothing else, Iran is simply a bigger country than Iraq was before the 2003 invasion. At the time, Iraq’s population was about 25 million. Iran’s population is estimated to be more than 82 million. Iran spans 591,000 square miles of land, compared with Iraq’s 168,000 square miles.
[T]he Iraqi army had fewer than 450,000 personnel when the invasion began. Recent estimates suggest that Iran has 523,000 active military personnel, as well as 250,000 reserve personnel.
Just as important, however, is Iran’s location. Unlike Iraq, Iran is a maritime power bordered by the Caspian sea to the north and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. It shares land borders with several troubled U.S. allies, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Iraq.
About a third of the world’s oil tanker traffic passes through the Strait of Hormuz, which is bordered by Iran and Oman. At its narrowest point, this shipping route is just under two miles wide. Blocking it could lead shipments of daily global oil exports to drop by an estimated 30 percent.
In terms of conventional military strength, Iran is far weaker than the United States. But the country has long pursued asymmetric strategies that could allow it to inflict serious damage on U.S. interests in the region.
Iran’s navy has a real advantage against the United States, too. It doesn’t need big ships or firepower to block off the Strait of Hormuz, for example, but could use mines or submarines to force a halt in trade.
U.S. war games have suggested that speedboat suicide attacks and missiles could be surprisingly effective against the American military.
The invasion of Iraq involved 150,000 U.S. troops, along with tens of thousands from allied nations. The financial cost of the Iraq War was pegged at over $2 trillion in 2013, with about 400,000 people estimated to have been killed between 2003 and 2011.
American military planners know all this. However, the U.S. government cannot say that there are no good options to militarily engage Iran, because doing so would take the threat of military action off the table and diminish the pressure that it hopes to maintain on Tehran. It’s a risky strategy that has even some of America’s closest allies worried.
The US would likely go it alone and the expense in lives and wasted taxpayer funds would make the Iraq disaster pale in comparison. Only a fool would push this agenda, but then again, that's what we have in the White House, a narcissistic, dangerous fool.

Monday Morning Male Beauty

Monday, May 13, 2019

Perhaps Democrats Have Not Moved So Far to the Left After All

I have noted many times my fears that the far left of the Democrat Party would push too hard for far left policies not popular with a majority of Americans and, as a result nearly guarantee the re-election of Donald Trump - something I see nothing less than a catastrophic.   While it is very, very early in the 2020 Democrat nomination process, something is happening that suggest that perhaps the far left of the party has been living in a bubble and is simply out of touch with even the mainstream of Democrats much less the mainstream of all voters. Other than Bernie Sanders, the far left favorites are struggling to gain traction and Joe Biden - written off as a has been - is leading the pools by a for now commanding margin.  In third place behind Biden and Sanders is Pete Buttigieg who the far left is attacking for being "too white" or "too privileged," taking identity politics to an extreme. Taken together, the Biden and Buttigieg supporters suggest that a majority of Democrats are moderates and simply do not want what the far left is selling.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at the phenomenon.  Here are excepts (note the reference to how wrong the far left was on Virginia's blackface debacle where the far right played the far left like a fine violin): 
Over the past five years, the Democratic Party has seemed to race leftward so fast that its recent standard-bearers are considered no longer qualified to lead it. Bill Clinton? An embarrassment not welcome on the campaign trail. Barack Obama? A neoliberal whose half-measures should not be repeated. Nor does the new crowd of Democrats qualify by the stringent standards of ideological purity: Cory Booker has ties to Wall Street; Kamala Harris was a prosecutor; Beto O’Rourke once mused about cutting Social Security.
But nobody is thought of as more retrograde than Joe Biden — “a deeply flawed candidate who’s out of step with the mood of his party,” Politico wrote last year. Biden’s heresies are comprehensive . . . . And Biden, being Biden, has articulated these positions with cringey sound bites that make the situation even worse.
The prevailing mood toward a Biden candidacy has been a combination of anger that he has the temerity to lead a party that has left him behind and sympathy that he’s too addled to grasp his predicament. A genre of op-ed has developed out of liberals pleading with Biden, with such headlines as “Why Joe Biden Shouldn’t Run for President” (The Week, The Guardian); “I Like Joe Biden. I Urge Him Not to Run” (the New York Times); “I Really Like Joe Biden, but He Shouldn’t Run for President” (USA Today); and, as exasperation has sunk in, “Again, Joe Biden, for the Love of God: Do Not Run for President” (The Stranger).
[I]nitial polling has revealed that a large number of Democrats have not left Biden behind at all. He begins the race leading his closest competitors, including early front-runner Bernie Sanders, by as much as 30 points. Perhaps it was the party’s intelligentsia, not Biden, that was out of touch with the modern Democratic electorate.
The conclusion that Biden could not lead the post-Obama Democratic Party is the product of misplaced assumptions about the speed of its transformation. Yes, the party has moved left, but not nearly as far or as fast as everybody seemed to believe. Counterintuitively, House Democrats’ triumph in the midterms may have pushed their center of gravity to the right: The 40 seats Democrats gained were overwhelmingly located in moderate or Republican-leaning districts.
Biden’s apparent resurrection from relic to runaway front-runner has illustrated a chasm between perception and reality. The triumph of the left is somewhere between a movement ahead of its time and a bubble that has just popped.
This is not to say we imagined the whole thing. . . . News accounts have emphasized the growing share of self-identified liberals in the party as well as the diminishing stigma of socialism among younger Democrats. But political parties are large groups of people, and they change very slowly. Socialism may be growing less unpopular, but it remains quite unpopular.
While the liberal share of the Democratic electorate is rising, it’s only just caught up to the combined share of Democrats who call themselves moderate or conservative. A small majority of Democrats say they wish the party would move in a more moderate direction.
So why did the media spend the past few years getting the state of the Democratic Party so wrong? One reason is that a numbers of factions had an incentive to hype the rise of the left. The left itself came out of 2016 giddy with its conviction that Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton only out of inertia (or even, the more radical members of the movement claimed, party manipulation). Sanders had won the young, and therefore the future.
In reality, Sanders received lots of votes from people who either appreciated his earnest persona or objected to Clinton for a variety of reasons, including her being too liberal. . . . . The Sanders movement convinced itself that his success reflected an unsated demand for socialism. The rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—young, nonwhite, native to social media—gave the movement the ideal image of its ambitions. Their plan to take over the party involved repeating that they had already done so.
In this project, they enjoyed the support of the conservative media. Saddled by his own unpopularity, Trump cast his opponents as radical socialists. . . . Right-wing media focused almost obsessively on Ocasio-Cortez and a handful of her closest allies, including Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts’s Ayanna Pressley, and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib. That these had a habit of supplying TV-ready controversies made the cycles of outrage perfectly symbiotic.
On top of it all, the familiar cast of centrist independents cycling through the greenrooms of CNN and MSNBC found the left to be a convenient balancing tool. Trump’s gross bigotry and authoritarianism threatened to place them in the uncomfortable spot of blaming the country’s problems on a single party.
The most important ingredient in the delusion was Twitter. It is hard to exaggerate the degree to which the platform shapes the minds of professional political observers. Part of Twitter’s allure to insiders is that it creates a simulacrum of the real world, complete with candidates, activists, and pundits all responding to events in real time. Because Twitter superficially resembles the outside world’s political debate — it does, after all, contain the full left-to-right spectrum — it is easy to mistake it for the real thing.
One striking example of the disconnect took place earlier this year in Virginia. An old medical-school yearbook showed Ralph Northam, the state’s Democratic governor, in a picture featuring a blackface costume and Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. If you followed the debate on Twitter, as nearly all political reporters did, Northam’s resignation was simply a given. The debate turned to when he would step down, who would replace him, and what other prominent people would have career-ending blackface yearbook photographs.
Virginians, however, were split in ways the political elite would never have guessed. Whites and Republicans favored his resignation, while African-American voters believed, by a 20-point margin, that Northam should not resign.

Monday Morning Male Beauty

Sunday, May 12, 2019

More Sunday Male Beauty

Mike Pence Continues to Promote the Myth of Christian Persecution

Two modern day Pharisees: Pence and Falwell.
To hear American Christofascists, one would think they are undergoing persecution just short of having their churches bombed and being fired from their jobs daily.  The reality is something far different: Christofascists are simply  seeing increased limits on their ability to persecute and mistreat others.  To say they don't like restrictions on their ability to inflict harm on and to marginalize others is an understatement. Hence, the ploy of claiming persecution and the false flag of religious freedom. Mike Pence, who I find a malevolent force, took the occasion of his address to graduating students at Liberty University - a blight on Virginia - to promote this dishonest myth.  Pence has used this lie previously in defense of his wife's work at an anti-gay "Christian" school.  As one Facebook friend rightly notes:
Nobody ridicules Pence for being Christian. They ridicule him for claiming to be "Christian" while he fights to disregard the marginalized, make the rich richer, turn away war refugees, steal kids from migrants and pretend that Christ shares his homophobia.

The same description certainly applies to Jerry Falwell, Jr., the president of Liberty University who is a Trump cheerleader and supports the GOP war on the poor agenda (and that's not counting his "pool boy" imbroglio).  USA Today looks at Pence's lies at Liberty University.  Here are excerpts (note how a movement is growing at one Christian university to block Pence giving the commencement address due to his failure to support true Christian principles):

The last time Vice President Mike Pence spoke at Liberty University, he used the backdrop of one of the world’s largest Christian schools to vouch for candidate Donald Trump’s faith credentials during the 2016 campaign. 
Pence, who has been facing criticisms of his own religious views recently, warned graduates that they have to stay strong against the challenges they’ll get from Hollywood, the media and the secular left. “Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” Pence said. “Be ready.” “Throughout most of American history, it's been pretty easy to call yourself Christian,” Pence said. “It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible. But things are different now.”
Pence said the graduates will be asked not just to tolerate things that violate their faith, but to endorse them.
Pence didn’t specifically mention this, but he’s been a target on the presidential campaign trail, where Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg has gotten attention for questioning how Pence can square his faith with both his support for Trump and his opposition to gay marriage.
And the commencement address that Pence is scheduled to deliver next week at a Christian school in his home state has divided Taylor University. An online petition started by a Taylor alum complains that the address will make the school “complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration's policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear.”
A recent Morning Consult survey shows why Pence’s message Saturday that Christians are under attack might resonate with his audience.  The April survey asked people if they felt respected by various types of groups including late night comedians, people who work on Wall Street, national journalists, and college professors at elite universities. Less than 30% of white evangelical Protestants felt respected by any of those groups. But nearly two-thirds said that Trump respected “people like them.”   
The survey results document that two-thirds of evangelicals are fools.  Trump doesn't respect them - he merely recognizes that they are easily duped and easy con-artist targets. 

Dealing With a Cancer Diagnosis; The Importance of Healthcare Coverage

I have debated whether or not to write about my latest challenge for a couple of weeks. I want no pity or sympathy.  When this blog first began, it was intensely personal as it described my often extremely turbulent coming out journey.  To my surprise, I had men from around the globe reach out and tell me that my hearing saga had helped them in their own journey.  Over time, the blog morphed into something much more political given the need for gay rights advocacy.  

Now, having learned that I have prostate cancer - thankfully, not an aggressive type and with an extremely positive prognosis - I opted to talk about this latest chapter in my life in the hope that others will get themselves checked out and, if necessary, get treatment. From my research, prostate cancer is among the most common forms of cancer in men - its causes are unknown and, in my case, I have no family history of prostate cancer. It is also one of the most survivable when discovered early and properly treated.  One of the big problems, however, is that it often has few discernible signs until well advanced at which point mortality goes up and the treatment options become more sever with more permanent impairment.  The bottom line: get tested regularly and ignore the thoughts of some in the medical community that an annual PSA test is of uncertain effectiveness or involve srisks (candidly, it is simply a matter of giving some blood). It's your body and you need to be your own advocate.

So how did I come to be diagnosed?  It began with a simple annual physical (the cost fully covered by my insurance) which included blood work, including a PSA - prostate-specific antigen - test that showed a somewhat elevated result (things from sex, to running, bicycle riding to strenuous workouts can cause results to be elevated - who knew?). As follow up, over a period of months I had additional PSA tests and the results remained consistently somewhat elevated.  As a result, an MRI was done which showed a small lesion.  This in turn lead to a biopsy - a truly unpleasant experience - that confirmed I had a problem.  I actually got the news while driving to court one morning with the doctor telling me "I have bad news and good news"after I stated I did not want to wait for an office visit to get the news: the bad news is you have cancer, the good news is that if you have to have it, you have the best type to have. An office consultation followed with the husband at my side where the list of options was discussed: (i) do nothing and monitor the situation through annual PSA tests and annual biopsies - I said "no thank you "to annual biopsies since one was more than enough, (ii) surgery, (iii) chemotherapy, (iv) traditional radiation, or (v) proton therapy.  I immediately rejected the surgery option - which can result in serious, lasting effects - and chemotherapy having seen my late sister go through that nightmare. I ultimately opted for proton therapy, the least invasive and most state of the art treatment option.  Thankful, a proton therapy facility is only ten minutes from our home. 

There are some preparation procedures one must undergo in order to receive proton therapy treatments, but none are as bad as the diagnostic biopsy procedure. The treatment sessions themselves take 30 minutes or less and while there are side effects, all in my case are manageable and far better than those that would come with the other treatment options.  One big issue for those considering this type of treatment is that the treatment regime lasts for up to or even over nine (9) weeks of daily treatments and proton therapy facilities are not located in many states.  The other big issue is the cost and whether or not one's insurance will cover the treatment regime.  Fortunately, between Medicare and my Anthem supplement, my treatments are fully covered, although one of the drugs I'm on to deal with side effects is ridiculously expensive - the pharmaceutical industry continues financially rape American patients - and the out of pocket cost is significant. 

One thing this experience has also taught me is the need for healthcare coverage for all - coverage that covers preventive measures and diagnostic testing.  Without healthcare coverage, many men will never get what could be life-saving testing and only when pronounced symptoms from advanced cancer will they seek treatment, probably via an emergency room visit.  By that point, the chance of surviving may have been be lost.  The same holds true for stripped down insurance coverage that either (i) does not cover diagnostic tests and/or (ii) leaves one with financially devastating co-payments.  Sadly, America's healthcare system - if one can even call it that - callously condemns some to death and/or financial ruin.  Not surprisingly, with prostate cancer, European nations with national, universal healthcare coverage have higher survival rates that in the USA. I have long been an advocate for national healthcare coverage - now, with this experience, I believe it is even more necessary.  We need to stop treating some lives as disposable. 

To men reading this post, I hope the take away is to get tested and do not procrastinate. One client I shared my story with admitted that he had not been tested in years - he plans to rectify the situation and will be getting tested. I hope others will do likewise.  I also hope that anyone diagnosed will study their options and not blindly follow doctor recommendations.  Unfortunately, too many medical practices are now owned by hospital systems that urge physicians to direct clients for treatment at their facilities, whether or not they can provide the optimum treatment regime.  In my case, the Hampton Proton Therapy Institute is not affiliated with either of the two dominant hospital systems and, but for my own research (and having a friend who had undergone proton therapy), I might have been pushed to seek a different treatment regime.  Currently, I have my treatment sessions early in the morning and have missed no days of work and have a very positive prognosis.   

Sunday Morning Male Beauty