Participation.

On Saturday night we went to a party at the local Hamburger Mary’s. The event was called “Grrr, Woof”, and as one can tell by the name of the party, it was geared toward the gay bear set and their friends. We had a really fun time.

Since the marquee on the outside of the building said “Grrr, Woof, Tonight!”, I had to take a moment to wonder why there was a bachelorette party standing in the middle of the dance floor, not moving, when we arrived to a room otherwise filled with good sized men, most of whom had some sort of facial hair. Hamburger Mary’s isn’t in Boystown, where a lot of the bachelorette parties terrorize the streets along the gay bars in the traditional gayborhood. 

Now, I know that public venues are open to the public and I guess I wouldn’t want to see the bachelorette party thrown out of the place, but I can’t understand why they would want to be there in the first place. There were a couple of heavier go-go dancers from time to time. A fully bearded bear did a couple of drag performances on the stage. And there were a lot of sweaty, bigger, shirtless guys milling about the space quaintly named “Mary’s Attic”. But there in the middle of the dance floor was a smattering of women with short skirts, ridiculously high heels, and tiaras looking around looking for some sort of Twinkie fest and there was just none of that going on at this party called “Grrr, Woof!”.

The bachelorette party left after about 20 minutes of standing in the middle of dance floor looking uncomfortable. A second party came in about an hour later, but they bolted for the door as soon as they realized the aforementioned bear drag person was using the ladies’ room as a dressing room.

The gay ‘world’ is just as diverse as the rest of the world. I kind of feel like bachelorette parties are in search of the stereotypical, smooth, oh-so-cute, super thin, hyperventilating twink who breaks into tears every time Katy Perry walks onto his television screen. If you’re into that, OK, but don’t stand there in the middle of the dance floor gaping at the men with a disappointed look.

We know how to party.

Abbariffic.

Cher.

When I first heard Cher was going to be in “Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again”, I wasn’t really feeling it. But then Earl and I saw the movie and saw her role wasn’t as big as the trailer made it to be and all was good. Cher then announced she was going to release an album of ABBA covers and I was hesitant. 

Last month Cher released “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)” to YouTube and I was kind of blown away. Her version is in the original key, the instrumentation sounds blissfully familiar, and Cher has done a respectable job of maintaining the quality of the original go at this track with her “Believe” auto-tune antics. I like it much better than Madonna’s sampling in “Hung Up” and it doesn’t detract from the simplicity of Erasure’s version of the song from the early 1990s (because Erasure was always way ahead of the curve on these things).

I have to admit I’m looking forward to hearing Cher’s entire album when it drops later this month.

Stats.

In the spirit of Labor Day weekend, I am happy that 6 million Americans (according to the WH) recently received some sort of bonus check. However, as a reality check, please remember than there approximately 130 million Americans in the work force. Let’s do a little math: 6/130 (drop the millions) is around 4.6% of the workforce population. So, 95.4% of the workforce has not seen any benefit from these tax cuts. Additionally, it was announced this week that federal employees will not receive their annual salary increase in an attempt to fund the already completed tax cuts for corporations.

Lose Yourself.

After a 55 hour work week, sometimes you just want to lose yourself. A couple two, three beers at a local watering hole. Fun games of Uno with friends. A late nite diner experience outside of your Weight Watchers endeavors. All of this helps maintain balance. Balance is good. It helps one achieve an equilibrium so that everything makes sense and happens in a comfortable space. Lose yourself to find balance once in a while. It helps the world go ’round.

Breakfast.

I’m not a breakfast food kind of guy. Once in a while I’ll have pancakes or waffles, but generally I’m not into cereal or oatmeal. I will not eat eggs unless I have to, as I don’t care for eggs unless they’re used as an ingredient for something else.

Earl is always patient with my food requests, and since the kitchen is his domain, I am grateful. I enjoyed a nice chicken and bacon sandwich on an English muffin this morning. This was just what I needed to start the day. Low in Weight Watchers points, I’m finding myself feeling pretty good after this savory breakfast.

Trippin’.

I’ve mentioned before that I occasionally listen to Binaural Beats. For those unfamiliar, Binaural Beats are two dissimilar tones listened with headphones, which produce a third tone in your brain. It is said that these tones stimulate certain brainwaves and measured responses. Some use Binaural Beats as a “digital drug”; I like to use them to find focus and calmness, the latter as I’m settling in for a good night’s sleep. They’re best listened to when combined with music or white noise.

Last night I fired up a couple of new downloads on my iDoser app. I fell asleep as the different audio tracks played for about 35 minutes. I was hard asleep before the tracks ended; I woke up briefly about an hour after falling asleep and took out my headphones. I then slept soundly for the rest of the night.

And wow, did I have very intense, colorful, and vivid dreams last night!

The content of the dreams are not important but the impression was one of happiness and euphoria. I have a lot of pressing deadlines at work, so I’ve been working extra hours and focused on the projects the team is working on. My dreams last night put it all in perspective, gave me a 20,000 foot view of life, and most importantly, helped me find my center of happiness.

It’s good to regain a sense of balance in life. I feel like a million bucks today. I intend to carry this feeling throughout the day. 

RIP Aretha.

Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul”, passed to the next stage of her existence this week. She was 76 years old. To commemorate her passing, Fox News featured Patti LaBelle in a montage dedicated to Aretha, because after all, they’re both… um… singers. (Look carefully in the background in this photo).

While I have mentioned in the past that I wasn’t particularly a fan of her music, there’s no denying that she a was very talented woman who brought much joy to millions of people over a career that spanned decades. I never knew what the hell she was growling. “Flip pop the top baby, you’re as cool as an inner tube, this better than cinnamon seed”. Just because I don’t understand her lyrics doesn’t diminish her artistry. She did have a lot of soul.

May she rest in peace and bring joy to the other side as her spirit lives on.

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Accolades.

So I don’t talk about work a lot here on this blog. I usually speak in the vaguest of terms so that nothing can be held against me in the future. But the truth of the matter is, I work for a Fortune 500 Technology company. Said company has its roots in traditional telecommunications; at one time it would have been called “the telephone company” (but it’s not THE telephone company that Ernestine worked for).

I’m the Lead Developer and Staff Manager of a team of nine very capable individuals. Seven of them work for the company and two of them are off-shore contractors working on projects along with the core team through the end of the year. Our official team moniker includes “Tools and Automation”. We write web-based applications to bring a cohesiveness to very dissimilar software applications in use throughout the company. Our tools touch all parts of the company: service and support, order processing, order entry, and communicating with third party providers. It’s a very challenging position with some wonderful opportunities. Our automation and tools make an impact to literally thousands of employees in the company, which in turn improves the customer experience. Writing this makes me realize that I indeed feel like I’m making a difference.

The company has endured its ups and downs over the years. Budgets are occasionally leaner at point A on the timeline versus what we can do at point Z. However, the company tries to make working a pleasant experience within the confines of budgets. We now get an extra week of vacation at three years instead of the traditional five. Tech start-up niceties have been installed in the offices; nicer cafeterias, ping pong tables, and the like. Many have an option to work from home. There’s a strong “remote employee” culture as well; I’m one of the folks who’s official office is actually at home. The company also focuses on Employee Engagement.

Every quarter, a handful of employees are recognized as “MVP Employees”. With the award comes a cash bonus and an extra day of vacation. I was selected as one of the MVPs for this past quarter.

It’s nice to be recognized for the work I’m doing as well as the work my team is doing. For all the extra hours that are worked, for the moments of accomplishment and the moments of frustration, it’s a nice feeling to be recognized by the leadership team. In a particularly pressing time in the realm of deadlines and expectations, it was quite nice to receive the recognition.

It was the morale boost I needed. I once again feel like I can conquer the world.