Storms.

I’ve been watching the forecasts from the Storm Prediction Center all week. When they started mentioning severe weather yesterday, I told Earl I was interested in doing some storm chasing this weekend. He packed me a cooler with sandwiches, salads, fruit, and drink, along with the necessary silverware and other accessories, and told me to go have fun. “Be careful. See you Sunday.”

I’m writing this from the River Hills Mall parking lot in Mankato, Minnesota. I’ve been following heavy rain around all morning; the forecast calls for severe storms this evening and into the overnight hours. I’ll probably move to the east just a bit, as the forecast probability is strongest to the west of I-35 along the Minnesota-Iowa border.

Adventures like this are awesome. I am lucky to have such a supportive husband.

Beer.

I don’t care if a bar is calling themselves a gay bar or a straight bar. Once upon a time I would seek out a gay bar but then again, once upon a time a gay bar was the only place a gay man would go. If I’m going out for a drink I’m looking for a friendly bar and the only label I’m looking for is “friendly”. It’s a harmony that should be prevalent in the world.

I enjoy the taste of beer and I enjoy trying different beers. I use the “Untappd” app on iOS and apparently I have tried over 350 unique beers in the past five years. The picture on my profile is from 2013. My attitude is from 2018.

When Earl and I first moved to Chicago we discovered a pub down the street called “The Globe Pub”. This pub is known for its allegiance to soccer and The World Cup; it’s not uncommon to see folks drinking and watching the World Cup at 10:00 on a weekday. The space had a great vibe to it; their beer list is quite complete. Back in April they announced they were closing for renovations but they promised to be open for the World Cup.

The opened in the nick of time.

Earl and I stopped their tonight and found it to have a familiar vibe with a lot more space. Stephanie (according to the receipt) is still behind the counter; I tried a couple of different beers I haven’t sampled before. One of the local microbreweries, Begyle Brewing, is feature on their draft beer list. The beer I tried tonight is one of their darker beers. Some of the darker beers have an ABV (Alcohol by Volume) of 14%. I tried one of those tonight and then I tapered off with an Oatmeal Stout from Begyle. The alcohol content was around 5%. Given a choice, I prefer dark beers over the cutting edge hoppy taste of IPAs. I like trying different beers. As I type this blog entry the heavier ABV beer is kicking in a bit. That’s prolly why they serve it in a fancy glass.

I’m happy that The Globe Pub is open. I suppose as a gay man I’m suppose to patronize the gay establishments but I couldn’t care less how a bar labels itself. If my husband can sit next to me, the bartender is friendly, the clientele is hospitable, and the beer selection is good, how does my sexual orientation fit into the equation?

Gosh, I sound like a millennial.

I like to call “The Globe Pub” our neighborhood “Regal Beagle” even though Suzanne Somers isn’t looking for an outrageous salary. There’s a bunch of sports on the television, the beer selection is good and the staff and customers are friendly, even when my husband calls me sweetie.

Living in the big city is awesome. Living near “The Globe Pub” is awesome too. I’m happy they’re back online.

SuperBlueBlood Moon.

Image courtesy of NASA

Tonight is a Super Blue Blood Moon. The moon is full, it’s the second full moon of the month (blue moon), it’s in a point in its orbit around the Earth where it’s close (looking up to 17% larger) and there will be a lunar eclipse near dawn.

I might just have to get up and take a look myself.

Skaneateles, New York.

Skaneateles is considered the eastern gateway to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. Situated along US Route 20, this charming little town is at the northern end of Skaneateles Lake. Strolling amongst the charming village green along the lake shore, it is evident that there’s a bit of money in Skaneateles. As I understand, the Baldwins (Alec, Stephen, et al) and the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) enjoy spending some down time in Skaneateles.

In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “Skinny-atlas” when using the typical flat Central New York accent.

Earl and I spent the day relaxing today. We had the top off the Jeep, we drove amongst back roads and we just spent some quality time together. It’s a downtime weekend for us after about a month of traveling and being focused on our careers. One of our stops was in Skaneateles.

And it was a wonderful day.

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Setting. 

Looking out our hotel room window this morning, we were presented with this lovely house in the middle of a rural field. Honestly, this is the kind of setting I would really enjoy when I retire. 

  

Speed.

So lately I have been making a conscious effort to stick to the posted speed limit. I usually attempt this while I’m driving. There are a couple of reasons for this effort, the first and foremost reason being that I am very concerned about the rising cost of fuel and I am doing everything I can to keep my commuting costs under control. Ironically, the Jeep performs better in the area of fuel efficiency when I’m on back roads instead of driving the freeways. This is backwards from what I have always been taught, but I guess that’s just the way this Jeep works. I’m fine with that; the scenery on the back roads is much better than the interstates anyways. It’s only five minutes or so extra to take the scenic route to work.

One of the features of my Jeep that I enjoy is the “eco” notification. A little display on the odometer tells me “ECO ON” when I’m driving in an economically fashion and just “ECO” when I’m not. There are no recommendations as to how to improve my driving skills to be more economically friendly, because quite frankly, I don’t believe a Jeep Wrangler is the place for a touch screen or anything that fancy but I have noticed that the I am not driving economically whenever I am driving over 71 MPH, even if I’m driving downhill.

In New York State the statewide speed limit is 55 unless otherwise posted. On the interstates and a few other freeways, the speed limit is posted at 65. Traffic rarely moves at that speed, 75 is commonplace and I am seeing more and more drivers doing 80 or more these days. Everyone is in a hurry. During my little experiment I have been driving at 66 MPH (because I’m a rebel) in the 65 zones. I try to stay a close to 55 as I can when that’s the posted speed limit, but occasionally I creep up to around 58 or so because I’m just bored.

I have increased my fuel efficiency from 18.5 MPG to 20.7 MPG using this approach. I think that’s pretty impressive. That’s around 30 extra miles on a tank of gas. That’s around $300 a year in fuel savings for me. I think the five extra minutes it takes to get to work is worth it.

I am a little surprised by the number of other folks on the Thruway that are driving around the same speed as me instead of whizzing by in the left lane without a care in the world but a thumb on the smartphone sending a text message. I don’t think distracted driving is a good idea under any circumstance and I don’t care what the distraction is: unruly kids, bossy GPS systems, phone calls, text messages, makeup application, shaving, eating, it all doesn’t matter, you should be driving and not doing other things. It just makes sense.

And it makes even more sense if you do it at a reasonable speed.

Monday.

So today is the first day back to work after a most excellent vacation. Though I am officially halfway through the day and currently enjoying a beautiful afternoon during my lunchbreak, I have not finished going through the email that I received during my absence from work. I was braced for the onslought of email, so I’m not stressed about it, but it can be startling seeing message counts up in the four digits waiting in your Inbox, especially after the rules have done their magic and moved things around for you.

My allergies seem to be enjoying the springlike weather we are enjoying here at the tailend of winter. People are doing ‘May stuff’ in March. I know I enjoyed racing around the back lawn this morning as I tried to coax a cat that is deaf back into the house. Sometimes I wonder if he feigns his lack of hearing. He can be tricky like that.

So as I try to get back into the swing of things at work, spring fever runs rampant in my head. I’m looking forward to the ride home in the sunshine.

It’s a good reason to smile on a Monday.

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Spring?

Today is the 18th of March. Winter doesn’t officially depart until later this week, but I think someone needs to remind Mother Nature of her timetable. It is currently 79ºF in Upstate New York. The lilac bush is celebrating out front by showing a few buds on her branches. I love lilacs.

I know it’s 79ºF outside because the first thing this morning I installed the new weather station that had arrived before our departure for Florida a week and a half ago. I guess I’m like a kid during the holiday season when it comes to gadgets, because I was up fairly early to install everything on top of the pole Earl and I had cemented into the ground in a snow storm.

Weather Station.

Everything is level and the parts that need to be pointing north are pointing the right way per the compass on my iPhone. I have a nifty display in the kitchen that has all the stats I need. I occasionally bark out the time, temperature, relative humidity and wind speed to anyone that will listen. I even do this when the room is empty.

The installation of the weather station spurred more work in the yard. The solar lights have been installed and the patio furniture has been put in place.

Patio.

The patio still needs to be powerwashed, but at the very least we can enjoy some sun. The big umbrella was full of dead wasps and they came pouring out when I opened everything up. Usually there’s nests up in there when I first open the umbrella. I guess they didn’t do so well in the last cold snap before the current heat wave.

Tom was delighted to see us when we arrived home last night. I guess he can only entertain himself for so long, even with frequent visits from trusted folks during our absence, because he was quite vocal for a while. To celebrate his 17th spring, he took a walk across the lawn. He can’t hear a thing but apparently he doesn’t care because he seemed quite kittenish in the sunshine.

17th Spring.

We still have plenty of work to do in the back lawn to get it ready for the good weather, but we made a good start today. There was talk of putting in a small pond or as the fancypants like to say, “water feature”, during our ride home from Florida. I wouldn’t be surprised if I came home to a backhoe in the back lawn one night this week.

In the meantime, we are quite content with this.

Still Winter!