Sunday, April 27, 2008

Farewell my twenties. Don't forget to write!

One of the nice side effects of getting married and having a baby is that I really don't have any time to genuinly freak out about turning thirty between the two events. On the 29th I'll be thirty so it means I have only a little over a day to enjoy what's left of my twenties.

As the birth of the baby gets nearer and nearer, I find myself reading every bit of information I can get my hands on and listen to various parenting podcasts. I know that nothing will prepare me for the real thing so I won't lie and say that I'm not at all nervous. From what I understand something would've been wrong with me if I wasn't nervous, if I was very casual about it.

So in light of this exciting and mind blowing responsibility, I really couldn't be bothered much about turning thirty. I had a nice little birthday party with friends I collected in England over the last decade, all people I met in my twenties (except for my husband who met me just before when I was nineteen). So if I'll meet as many great new friends over the next decade, I can't wait! On the other hand, I could see I was getting older (as well as my friends) as previous birthday parties had people playing videogames all night, while this time everyone just drank, chatted and laughed.

I enjoyed my twenties, I enjoyed my life so far. But I'm ready for a change. It's like you've been to a restuarant and had a really nice appetizer. It was tasty, but you can't just sit there forever, eventually you'd want to move to the main course.

Well, I am. Thanks for the oysters, bring on the lobster!

I guess with this analogy, grandchildren will be dessert and death will be the bill.


Monday, April 21, 2008

My Many Faces

Just a little bit of fun using the following face transformer:

The original picture:

And that turned into the following:

This is supposed to me as baby, child and teen. I never actually looked like that, but it's still a bit creepy.

Not sure what I'll look like as an old man, but this looks quite convincing.

This is me in different ethnicities. Yikes.

And this is me as a woman. What a cow!

And this is me as a manga character and an apeman.

This is lots of fun and very easy to use, so give it a go.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Bregman to Blumental

It's cool to meet new people who know me only as Michael Blumental. For others the change is quite hard to swallow and I still have to correct friends and acquaintances when they refer to me as "Bregman". Heck, I even have to stop myself as well when I find myself typing my old name.

I guess to some extent I'll always be Mickey Bregman to myself as well. It's not that I don't like that name or anything. I consider changing my name to be a little sacrifice as it was such a huge part of my identity, but I am certainly growing into my new name and getting used to it already. At least I get to keep the same initials which is convenient as I sign most of my emails with them.

The reason I changed my name is simple: our children. I know many couples, gay or straight, adorn their children with a double-barrelled name. I don't knock it, it's still a fair solution and some names actually sound quite good when paired together. But Blumental-Bregman or Bregman-Blumental sound absolutely horrible. A bit too law firmish. Our kids are going to have enough unique issues to deal with, better at least spare them from having this spelling nightmare for the rest of their lives. What I always wonder is, what happens when two people with double-barrelled names meet and marry? Do they give their children a quaruple-barrelled name? At some point you will have to trim the fat. The simpe fact is, I don't think the actual name really matters that much. A rose by any other name blah blah blah.

Anyway, there wasn't really any other solution. We both planned to have at least one biological child each... So then what? They'll have different last names? It will totally fragment the family and is probably the worst possible solution we could think of.

And then it hit me. I'll just take my husband's name and we will all be unified under the Blumental name. My older brother can be in charge of manufacturing little Bregmans. My mother voiced her disappointed with the choice and I pointed out to her that she wasn't always a Bregman, she also changed her name. My brother teased me that I was "being the woman" and my reaction was "so?". I genuinely don't see "being the woman" as a bad thing. What's good enough for generation upon generation of women (including my mother and grandmothers) is good enough for me.

We are the Blumentals. Hear us roar!



The actual process of changing my name is a whole different matter. Passports, driving license, national health insurance, credit cards, national insurance, pension, tax office, bank account... Going through that process again is reason enough for me not to divorce anytime soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Zombie Survival Guide & World War Z reviews

I knew about the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z for a while, but never got around to reading them (which is odd considering what a huge zombies fan I am). So I bought both of them and read them back to back. Well, technically, as it took me several months to finish the Zombie Survival Guide, but on the same day I started reading WWZ and finished it in a little over a week.

It is not to say that the Zombie Survival Guide was bad. In fact, it is a very good book. It really does feel like an authentic survival guide, which makes it a bit of a slow reading in places. I ended up being a bit bored and getting back to the book every few weeks only to abandon it again. But near the end it got really exciting and turned out to be worth sticking with. The result is a unique book unlike anything you have read before. The amount of research that went into it is amazing and while I’m not an expert in any of the covered areas, it felt real to me. The text is written with such conviction and consistency that the illusion simply works. As soon as I finished ZSG I went straight to World War Z.

If ZSG is a slow burner, WWZ is a fast paced page-turner. Dropping the survival guide format, WWZ is pure storytelling, collecting interviews with survivors from the war against the zombies. Each short story can almost be standalone, but together the stories paint a bigger picture, covering the war from the very beginning to the aftermath all over the world.

That is not to say that WWZ is not as well researched as ZSG. In fact, it covers such a massive scope that dwarfs ZSG almost out of existence. The story takes place all over the world, featuring characters from many different cultures and covering many aspects of the war. Here you might spot some small holes when the author covers areas you are familiar with, but those minor accuracies are forgivable all things considered. Not only because the author covers a scope that is virtually impossible to cover flawlessly by any one person, but also because even when you spot those flaws, the story keeps moving and urges you to carry on and just accept this reality. You want to believe it.

I will not go into any spoilers, but the scope is so big that I don’t think anything is left uncovered. I don’t know what is left for Max Brooks to write about in a third zombie book, but somehow I am sure he could think about something if he wanted to. I am a big fan and would love to see more.

Highly recommended. World War Z is the better book by a mile, but the Zombie Survival Guide is also a very good read. While it's not necessary to read both, they work better together by painting a bigger picture. Stick through the slower parts of ZSG and you won’t regret it.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Who's Your Papa?

For many years we were trying to figure out how to become parents. Shall we use surrogacy? Partner up with lesbians? Adopt? We never actually thought past that point.

After we learnt we were pregnant and expecting out first child, that is when other questions popped out of nowhere.

One that I found particularly intriguing was: what should our children call us?

To our dogs we were both daddy. If either of us asks the dogs "where's daddy?" they'll excitedly run to the other daddy. Jokingly we'll each refer to each other as "evil daddy". That's not an issue, since the dogs can't talk and won't be calling us daddy.

But what about a child? For a child mommy and daddy are the names of his parents. When a kid calls for his mommy he means only one person. How can we both be daddy?

We can't.

So I came up with a very original solution. Since I grew up with parents who were russian immigrants in Israel I called my father both papa (russian) and later aba (hebrew). I decided to go with papa, as that sounds more universal (pronounced like Tapas without the S). So we'll be daddy and papa. Out of curiousity I did some research and found out that most gay couples have used that "very original" solution!

Other solutions include calling each parent daddy with their name afterwards (for example daddy Jack and daddy Mark). It's OK, but doesn't work for me.

To make things more complicated, I then realized that being papa puts me in a great disadvantage. Most children books, tv shows, movies and so on always refer to mommy and daddy. Papa is never mentioned! There are many cute baby clothes that refer to "daddy's little mate" or "%50 Mommy %50 Daddy". No papa...

So the solution for now is to buy some french baby clothes in Montreal that refer to papa. As for the depiction of papa in children's fiction? Well, if it doesn't exist I'll have to create it, but more on that later.

So there you go. One of the many unique little "problems" we keep encountering on this wonderful journey.


Monday, April 07, 2008


This is a story about a female to male transgender person who decided he wants to keep his female organs intact so he could have his own biological children.

I thought I’ve seen it all, but wow. This is pretty mind blowing. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when I first read about it. The story doesn’t go into those details, but I assume once Thomas Beatie had all the biological children he wanted, he would finish his transformation.

I was always a little scared by the concept of transgenders. Not transgenders themselves, not who they are before or after the transition. What I found scary was the process. I can’t possibly imagine how it feels to feel like you are trapped in the wrong body. To view your penis or vagina not as a source of pleasure, but as a foreign object. I suppose the nearest non-transgender people can imagine what it feels like is to imagine what would happen if they were kidnapped and were forced to have a sex change operation. What would you feel like if suddenly there was a fleshy slit between your legs? Or the other way around, suddenly there’s this dangling piece of flesh between your legs. I find the idea repulsive and unpleasant. And I can only guess that’s what transgenders feel like from early childhood.

Now if gay people need courage to come out of the closet, transgenders need a hundred time the courage to do that. To tell your family and friends the news that will cause many of them to turn away from you. To embark on this long journey of gender reassignment and live with the fact that even with the best and most expensive treatments out there, some unlucky individuals will get to be only an approximation of the opposite sex with little things about them giving away their original sex (which in turn makes them a target to vicious strangers).

So when I read about Thomas I was so impressed. Even though his reassignment isn’t finished, he’s got a massive set of balls already. Not only did he start the process of change, he made a very clear and very practical plan to stop halfway in the process in order to have his own biological children. That takes an amazing amount of conviction, especially in light of his family’s attitude. This man is going to be a fantastic role model for his children.

When I was a gay teenager I assumed that I’ll never have a proper family, maybe just a long term boyfriend if I’m lucky. And here I am married and one month away from the birth of my first son. When there’s will, there’s a way.

Good for you Thomas Beatie. You’re the man!