What a weekend it has been! Actually, what a week it has been. Wednesday morning at 4:00 a.m. the phone rang – it was Earl’s cousin Julie from St. Louis. Her brother (Earl’s cousin) Rick passed away at age 43 from a brain anerism. Earl and Rich were close – so we were planning on driving out to Chicago this weekend for the services, pre-empting our planned trip to New York. So on Wednesday night we cancelled all of our reservations for New York and starting making plans for Chicago. Then we get a call Thursday morning – the services are Friday morning, which there was no possible way for us to get to Chicago in time, and the family really understood if we didn’t make it out there. So after some conversation with the rest of Earl’s family in Pa., we decided not to go to Chicago and to go to New York after all. But we had released most of our reservations, so we ended up staying at the Sheraton New York Towers instead of at the Meadowlands. The money was about the same so it didn’t really make a difference.

So we took the day off from work on Friday and headed out about 11:00 a.m. Took a new route for us – Route 8 down to Deposit, and then over Route 17 to the Thruway and down the Palisades Parkway to the George Washington bridge. Very nice and surprisingly quick ride – about 4 hours all told, which was a nice change of pace. Usually it takes about 4 1/2.

Once we got situation in our hotel room we headed over to Times Square and went to the 1/2 price tickets stand just for the heck of it. We ended up getting two tickets to see “Bea Arthur On Broadway: Between Friends” – and it was very, very enjoyable. Of course Bea Arthur is famous for her roles on “Maude” and “The Golden Girls”, but she is even more accomplished on the Broadway stage, and this one woman show was absolutely magnificant, went singing and stand up and storytelling… it was a hoot! We hung around at the stage door afterwards, but she just kind of walked straight to the car, so we didn’t get her autograph, but we did see her up close, it was a little shocking to see how frail she has become. But she still has that fire she’s famous for – and we thoroughly enjoyed her show.

Saturday we headed over to “The Art of Shaving” to use the gift certificate that Earl had gotten me for Christmas. I ended up purchasing the most expensive straight razor they had (he actually helped me pick it out), and I got my complimentary shave and lessons on how to use the razor properly. I felt well pampered. Spent a little more money than I anticipated, but that was o.k. Earl and I had originally scheduled the “royal shave” – which was the full treatment, but cancelled the reservations when we thought we were going to Chicago. I was lucky that they could squeeze in my complimentary shave. I promised Earl he would get the full treatment the next time we were down there. When I get more confident with the straight razor, I’ll take pictures to share here on the web.

After that we headed to the Village. Took a stroll up Christopher Street and surrounding streets as well, did a little shopping, had lunch at the Christopher Street restaurant, which was very good.

We then walked all the way from the Village back to the hotel – 8th to 53rd! Quite a jaunt, but we needed the exercise. Besides, the weather was absolutely beautiful – sunny and 58.

Saturday night we tried to get more tickets at Times Square, but they were sold out, so we went for a nice walk through Central Park and watched the ice skaters and such. We had dinner at The Stage Deli, and went back after our walk for take out dessert. After all, you need to be rewarded after so much exercise – and what’s a better reward than a huge hunk of cheesecake? πŸ™‚

This morning we got up and headed out early – got home around 2:00, which gave us a chance to get the chores around the house done. We watched “Miss Congeniality” on DVD, which is a great movie. Watched a bit of the Olympics before calling it a night.

Well here it is Sunday already! Time really does fly these days – I think that means that I am happy with life. πŸ™‚

Earl and I did a “home shopping spree” yesterday – we went and bought things we need for the house. Sort of a “spruce” up if you will. We both received our tax returns, plus Earl got his yearly bonus, so we had some ammo in the checking account. So we bought new sheets for the bed, a hamper, some decorative planters and such. We went to Albany and went to “Bed, Bath and Beyond”. Very nice, very nice indeed.

The geek in me is trying out a new web-authoring program again. This time I’m trying out Adobe GoLive. I downloaded a trial version. So far I like it very much, but this is the first page I’ve ever edited with it. Let’s see what I think in a week or two! πŸ™‚

We did a little more shopping this afternoon… bought a pair of surround speakers for the living room surround sound system, and a pair of speakers for the wreck-room stereo. We have glorious music throughout the house! Plus we bought some tools at Lowe’s and some household stuff for Mariruth (our cleaning lady). Yes, we are presumptious enough to have a cleaning lady. Actually, Earl has some wicked allergies and she comes in twice a month to clean the house from top to bottom. That let’s him and the cat co-exist peacefully! πŸ™‚

Next weekend we are headed to New York. We are staying at the Embassy Suites Meadowlands. We’re going Friday morning and staying until Sunday. I’m finally going to be able to use my gift certificate at the Art of Shaving, plus we’re just going to do touristy stuff – combining Valentine’s Day and Earl’s birthday into one trip. I already gave him his birthday present, even though his birthday isn’t until the 20th… two tickets to John Edward at a seminar in Providence, R.I. (John Edward is from the TV show “Crossing Over with John Edward). He’s a psychic and a medium, and from what I hear gives wonderful seminars. I’m looking forward to it – and I know that Earl is really looking forward to it too.

Well Earl is downstairs watching the SuperBowl as I am trying to figure out how to ship an ebay shipment to Canada. It’s a $5.00 book and I can not believe the paperwork involved with it! It might be easier just to drive it over and drop it off. Oh well.

Friday night we went out to dinner with Dennis and Vic, to a local restaurant called “Casa Too Mucha”. It’s mine and Earl’s favorite local restaurant, and we eat there quite a bit. The owner, Patty, has a couple of CDs and she is quite the singer. I’ll have to find one of her songs online and post a link to it so you can hear her wonderful voice. Ever since Earl and I were out west last year, I’ve enjoyed Mexican food. I particularly like anything with green chiles on it.

Yesterday we did our monthly Syracuse run – as Earl desperately needed a haircut. So we visited Shoppingtown Mall Barber Shop, and shot the sh*t, and then did some shopping. It’s amazing how much difference a new pillow can make in your sleep patterns. We decided that we needed new pillows, so we picked up a couple at K-mart and we both slept like babies last night. I don’t think I kicked Earl once! πŸ™‚ And the cat didn’t get tossed around either. He insists on sleeping at our feet, or between us sometimes, and we occasionally end up bouncing him around the bed like a trampoline.

We also went grocery shopping at Wegmans. Gosh, I wish Wegmans would come to Utica!

While we were in Syracuse we stopped at Barnes and Noble. I love reading and I love Barnes and Noble – I’m glad that they’re building a store closer to us. I hope our budget can handle it! πŸ™‚ I bought the three book series “Journey of the Soul” by Sylvia Browne. I’ve been doing a lot of reading of Sylvia’s stuff lately. I’m finding much of it to ring true for me. For those that don’t know, Sylvia is a world renowned psychic. Her thoughts on religion are wonderful. Through trance of her spirit guide, she has been able to learn so much of God and the Other Side and so much. As I do more research, I am beginning to identify myself as a Gnostic Christian, rather than as the Methodist I was baptized as. I’ve always been a little bit confused by the teachings of the church… for example, if God is all loving, then why would he punish those that sin and send them to hell? An all loving God can’t be a vengeful God. That made no sense to me. Well as I read Sylvia’s books, I’m realizing that this whole hell and punishment and vindictive and judgement stuff is man-made to scare people – that God is really an all-loving, all-knowing God. I think I am going to join her “Novus Spiritus” study group.

I had to run into work today as the broadcast computer was completely screwed up and played nothing but 2 1/2 hours worth of commercials! πŸ™‚ So much for music! πŸ™‚ Computers can be so helpful, but they can be such a hinderance at times. While I was there I started the 300MB download I intended to do tomorrow during the day. At least it won’t slow down the internet connection for the rest of the office by doing it now. My workstation at work runs Linux and I needed to do some upgrades, so downloading we-a-go. Linux is nice in that it is completely free and doesn’t crash hardly at all. One of our Linux servers has been up and running for the past 74 days without needing a reboot! The other Windows servers need reboots all the time. I hope Linux continues to catch on.

Well here we are at high speed on the internet! Pardon my French, but this is fushin’ awesome! I left work today at 12:30 p.m., eagerly anticipating the arrival of our satellite installation guy. Well he arrived at 2:30. I just love how the cable and satellite people give you a time like “between 1:00 and 5:00”. It’s a good thing that things are slow at work and I had a little flexibility in my schedule. Anyways, he added another dish to the collection on our milkhouse (which now brings us to FOUR dishes – one for DirecTV, one for DirecPC, the old DirecPC one and the old Primestar dish. The neighbors are going to think we’re weird. I’ll have to take down the non-functional dishes when the weather settles down.

Anyways, the install went flawlessly, and now we are just cruisin’ along on the internet. Where it used to take 10 minutes to download a 2MB file, I downloaded a 3.5MB file today in FIVE SECONDS. Absolutely amazing. This even blows away the system at work. Now I don’t have to abuse company resources anymore – I can use the system at home. Plus, it doesn’t tie up the phone lines, which is very nice as well. Definitely a GREAT investment.

Earl’s been doing some surfing online as well. He’s very pleased with the new system.

You know how sometimes you get a song in your head and it makes you crazy until you hear it for real? That happened to me last night. I was saying my nighttime prayers, which includes the Lord’s Prayer, and I got that folk song version of The Lord’s Prayer going through my head and I couldn’t fall asleep. It’s funny, because that’s how my mother taught my sister and I the Lord’s Prayer, with that song. Anyways, after a little bit of research at 11:30 last night, I found out that the version I was singing in my head was by Sister Janet Mead and was a Top 10 song in 1974. I downloaded it, and now I can play it at my convenience.

Driving into work today I dug out one of my old Human League CDs. They may have not been the most talented, but I do really, really, really enjoy their music. It has a sort of “ordinary folk” feel to it. I was grooving on “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” on my way into work, and the underrated “Heart Like A Wheel” on the way home. It was kind of cool.

I’m really liking this trial version of IBM WebSphere Homepage Builder. I think I might by it for real when the time comes around.

Well, Earl and I just got done watching “Shrek” on DVD. It was hilarious! Glad we took the time to watch it.

We spent the yesterday and today in Toronto. It’s only 4 1/2 hours away, and it’s one of our favorite cities, so we decided we’d enjoy a little R&R. However, the main reason for going out was to meet up with our friend Jay – who we keep in contact with via e-mail. Jay is originally from Toronto, but currently lives in Omaha. How’s that for culture shock!

We went to this GREAT restaurant called “Marshall’s” in “the village”. It’s near the corner of Church and University. A tiny little place, but the food is absolutely wonderful! We also went shopping in the Eaton Center. We also went to “The Body Shop” – because we needed to stock up on skin stuff and there isn’t a Body Shop in Utica. The closest one is in Syracuse. We love the ‘Skin Mechanics’ line that The Body Shop offers for men.

We then spent most of the evening just relaxing in the hotel room and chatting with Jay.

Today I had to wipe out my hard drive and reload everything, a tedious, but enjoyable task nonetheless. So I took the opportunity to try out a new web authoring program. Let’s see how this one works out.

Tomorrow, we get our new high-speed internet satellite system put in, so it’s half a day at work and then geek stuff at home. I’m looking forward to it!

A lovely weekend in the Cochran-Wing household. Earl is busy working on taxes on his computer next to mine. I am sitting here being a geek and moving all of our Dreamscape stuff over to Earthlink. That’s why we’re at this new location. Hope you found us o.k.! πŸ™‚

I took the day off on Friday. We were originally suppose to go to New York this weekend, but timing wasn’t quite right, so we’ve postponed it until February. But I kept the day off anyway. I did something I’ve never done before. Thursday night as we were watching “Crossing Over with John Edward” (we tape it everyday), I got this strong urge to have a bag of popcorn from K-mart. Not just any K-mart, but the K-mart in Mattydale (suburban Syracuse). Now, I haven’t been to that K-mart in years, but my grandmother used to take us shopping there from time to time, and we’d routinely eat in the K-mart Cafeteria in the back or we’d get a bag of popcorn. I could actually TASTE and SMELL the popcorn Thursday night. So, on my day off on Friday, I drove to Mattydale, and got a bag of popcorn and ate the majority of it. I then drove out to the cemetery where my grandparents are buried, and left the rest for them (minus the bag). I figured if they didn’t eat it, the birds would. I felt such a wonderful feeling of well-being while I was doing this. I got a little emotional while I was there, but it wasn’t sadness, it was more of just a flooding of all sorts of emotions. I hadn’t been to their grave site in a couple of years, and I’m glad that I went. I don’t know if meditating is putting me more in touch with my inner feelings or not, but I’m glad that I took the opportunity to do this.

On another spooky note, Friday night I had a wonderful dream about starting up my computer business again. I haven’t been doing much with Intellimedia Computer Services, but I feel like I’ve matured in my business sense enough to make a serious go of this. Since I’m starting it up again, I’ve decided to give it a more generic name, something with a little bit of flair, and something that touches up my nostalgic streak. So introducing…

That’s right, it’s called Zayre Electronics. To me, “Zayre” has a 21st century, ‘growth’ oriented sound to it, much like Zephyr, and it’s unique. Right now, I’m focusing on ebay sales and computer repairs. Who knows where it’ll go from here; I do have big hopes.

Yesterday Earl and I went grocery shopping at Super Wal*mart of all places. Now, I will absolutely not set foot in the local Wal*mart, but the Super Wal*mart in Herkimer is pretty decent, and we were able to get quite a bit of shopping done.

Last night we went to the movies and saw “Ocean’s Eleven”. We both really enjoyed the movie – but boy did it snow while were in there. We had to clean a couple of inches of snow off the car, and the roads were crappy coming home.

Today is a kick back and get organized day. Every week, we do a little more to get our house back in order, and I’m happy to say that this project is about complete!

I am sitting on hold with Earthlink (the internet company) as I type this journal entry. They are in the process of securing jpnearl@earthlink.net for our e-mail address again. Earl and I have decided to purchase a high speed internet connection through Earthlink. Living in the country like we do, we’re very limited on internet connection options – dial-up, which is very slow, and two-way satellite, which is expensive but fast. So we’ve decided to go with the Direcway two-way satellite system through Earthlink. So this is an exciting time in my geek life!

They just picked up and asked me the last two letters of my old password when I had an account with them before. Oh jeez! I am suppose to remember that? πŸ™‚ I’m a good little computer boy and rotate my passwords monthly, so it could be one of a bunch of things. I just gave her the right one on the first try! Must be I’m not rotating my password enough. πŸ™‚ Whoops, I’m talking to her again.

Well I just got off the phone. It’s confirmed – we’re getting high speed satellite internet within the next 10 business days – our new e-mail address is back to jpnearl@earthlink.net. It’s the address we had up until September.

I had a really vivid dream last night – I think my spirit guide or at the least, my subconcious, was reminding me how happy my childhood really was. I remember hanging out with my family, but Earl was there to, doing the things we used to do when we were kids – hang out at the airport (my dad is a private pilot), enjoy a picnic… I was near tears when I woke up this morning! In the very last part of the dream, I remember sitting on my dad’s living room floor petting our old family cat Waldo. He’s the cat in the picture of me as a kid on our “About Us” page. Needless to say, upon waking, I promptly said a prayer and a hearty thank you to God for giving me that wonderful dream. It was like an emotional boost for me. I’ve been feeling a little weird about my family over the past year or so, there’s been quite a bit of conflict, with my parents separating and some other “issues”. I’m sure it’s chicken feed compared to what other families go through – but I was the type of kid that lived in a “Bewitched”-type happy existence. Very content to live in my own little world – much like Tobey Maguire in Pleasantville. πŸ™‚ So the affirmations in the dream were very nice.

Then I popped onto ebay, and what do you know – our auctions are going along NICELY. I’m very pleased.

Now I’m going to meditate and head off to bed.

Well, here it is the end of the weekend, time for everyone to get ready for work once again. I’m actually looking forward to working, as it has been going along spectacularly the past couple of days. Also, it’s a short work week for me as I am taking off Friday just for the heck of it. Earl and I were originally going to drive to New York for the weekend, but those plans have been put on hold for a month, so instead I’m just going to goof off, maybe get my haircut (more on that in a few minutes) and just relax.

Yep, the bald boy is going to get a haircut! I’ve decided to grow out my hair for a bit, simply because I’ve become bored with shaving my head. Now I’m not going to end up looking like Fabio or anything, but a nice buzzcut is in order. Ultimately, I’d like to have a flattop, but I don’t think I have enough left on top to flat.

Earl and I went on a bit of a shopping spree yesterday. We started the day at Shoppingtown in Syracuse for Earl’s haircut (I didn’t have enough to cut yet) and then headed over to Carousel Center to go to Old Navy, Best Buy and CompUSA. Even though Carousel Center is HUGE, the Old Navy in there is tiny compared to others that I’ve been in, so we didn’t end up spending the whole gift certificate my father gave me for Christmas. What to do, what to do! So we had lunch at Pizzeria Uno (another gift certificate!) and then got on the Thruway and drove to Rochester. We went to EastView Mall in Victor and the surrounding shopping plazas. Can I tell you, I love Target. We found a bunch of stuff for the house and some nifty other stuff. I got a nice new optical mouse, since my old mouse was starting to get cranky. Who knew that General Electric made computer mice? I think it’s just branded GE for Target. Anyways, we also went to Eddie Bauer, where we went a tad crazy buying clothes. Plus, there was this fabulous restaurant in the EastView Mall Food Court called Tom Wahl’s or something like that. The food was awesome! When we can’t get to a Chick-Fil-A, we’ll get to Tom Wahl’s instead.

Today I’ve been cleaning out the wreck room again. Throwing away tons of stuff… plus I put a bunch of stuff up for sale on ebay. We need to make up for yesterday’s shopping spree.

I am feeling wonderful. I’ve been working hard on being more positive in life, and it seems to be working as I feel so much happier these days! I’ve been doing some “soul-searching” in regards to my spirituality, and quite honestly, I’ve been praying more. Just trying to be as positive about life as possible. I’m not swearing as much, and I’m recognizing when I’m getting upset and doing something about it before I start flying off the handle. And people are having a more jovial attitude around me as well, I think I’m rubbing off! Plus, I’ve been much more productive at work. It’s like vicious circle – the better I feel, the better I do, but I guess “vicious” circle isn’t quite the right term! πŸ™‚

Last night I pursued another of my New Year’s resolutions and I found the exercise quite enjoyable. I began to learn American Sign Language through a multimedia website at the Michigan State University Communication Technology Laboratory. Trying not to go crazy with money, I’m going to see if I can stick to learning five words a day for the next 15 days before going out and purchasing the CD-ROM that has many, many more details. I’m finding this quite fun and look forward to building my vocabulary at it.

Our friends Dennis and Victor were over tonight for supper and a little bit of television. We always enjoy our Wednesday night get togethers. We watched “Queer As Folk” off the TiVo – the Showtime series about a ground of gay friends and their trials and tribulations. It’s funny, I remember some aspects of the lifestyle the show depicts from when I was in my 20s when I was a club DJ and a single guy on the prowl, but now Earl and I just sit back and enjoy the show for entertainment. I hope it continues to do well.

We also watched “The West Wing” – one of my favorite shows of all time. Like much of America, I really enjoy it. I must admit that I’ve become slightly disenchanted with Judging Amy – it seems to be groping in the storyline department lately.

In between Queer as Folk and The West Wing, we watched a little bit of The American Music Awards. What a waste of time! Much of the popular music (Top 40 mostly) is such contrived, repetitive, uninspired drivel that it’s not even worth listening to anymore. Usher? Please. Britney? Whatever. ‘N Sync? Computer generated. I’m liking country music more and more, simply because it’s better musically and doesn’t have the same bullpucky associated with it.

I haven’t been using ICQ as much any more, because honestly, it’s been messing up my computer. So I’ve been using MSN messenger, which seems to run better and not crash as much. If you want to chat, I’m at jpnearl@msn.com on MSN messenger. If the little butterfly below is in color, I’m on line.

Well I am up and about and feeling pretty good today! After taking several catnaps throughout the day, I decided that enough is enough, I can’t be bothered enough to be sick, and when I wake up again I better be feeling better. Well, someone must have listened, because I woke up this morning, still feeling a little sniffly but decidedly 200% than I felt before! The power of the mind!

I’ve been reading one of Sylvia Brown’s books that I have found to be very inspiring. In case you’re not familiar with Sylvia Brown, she’s a very good psychic and spiritual healer. I’ve always been fascinated with the whole idea of “The Other Side” and psychics and healing and all that, and I find much of what she says to be very interesting. I’m going to do some more reading. Another of my New Year’s resolutions is to just be myself and to be a good person – and her books are very inspiring for that purpose.

Today Earl and I drove to Syracuse to help my sister with her move. She’s moving out on her own into a lovely townhouse in the suburbs. (She’s had been living with her fiancΓ©, but that relationship didn’t work out). I’m really proud of her taking such bold moves and taking charge of her life. Earl and I stand behind her 100% and will assist her whenever and wherever we can. She’s always had a good head on her shoulders (she’s the “book smart” one of the family), so I know she’ll do fine. Also saw my Mom and her boyfriend as they were helping out with the move as well. My mom’s doing much better. I suppose I should take the opportunity to meet her out for supper or something sometime soon.

Also talked to my Dad and his girlfriend today – he seems to be doing very well and seems very happy. His girlfriend is a very nice woman, Earl and I had the opportunity to meet her at the family Christmas party.

I am glad to see that my family is getting it’s act together for 2002! πŸ™‚

I am trying a new background on this page of the journal. I’m not sure that I like it very much. Let me know what you think.