A Bright Sunshiney Day.

Here it is May 10 and the sun is out already! I had almost forgotten what it looked like. After all, we’ve had rain, rain and more rain for the past week or so.

The sunshine was a welcomed addition to my sunny mood I desperately tried to maintain today. And I’m glad to say that I was successful. I just sort of smiled a lot, like a crazed person that walks on the street and hums. Hum hum hum. If the people around me were smart, they’d send me off to the big building where the people inside make rag rugs with blunt scissors. And hum. But no, I’m just loose on the street, sunny disposition and all.

The only thing that really crossed me today was that suicide inducing, syrupey Delilah on the local “Lite Favorites” radio station. I couldn’t scan past her fast enough. The listener, obviously with a certain drawl in her voice, was crying because her daughter hasn’t been very nice to her. SCAN. I flipped around some more and then came across Delilah again, playing “Friends and Lovers” by Gloria Loring. I hope that wasn’t played in reference to the mother and daughter. That’s what I get for jumping off of NPR.

I did enjoy a lovely bike ride this evening after supper. It was nice to get out and stretch my legs and all. I’m getting back into the cycling groove and feeling quite good about it. My body is responding very well. I look forward to hills. I try to maintain a higher average speed. I feel confident.

There’s a promise of thunderstorms this evening. I can’t wait!

I Can See Clearly Now. Almost.

After returning to work Friday around 1 p.m., I decided that I had had enough for the week, so I talked to my boss and bowed out for the weekend at 3:00. Earl left work early as well. It was nice to get out and enjoy some sunshine and stuff like that. Friday was truly an Afternoon Delight.

We headed over to Lenscrafters at 6:00 for scheduled eye exams. We hadn’t had our eyes examined since 1998… needless to say it’s been much too long. Long story short – I apparently have the eyes of a 50 year old, complete with cataracts! Holy Helen Keller! That caught me completely off-guard. The optomologist told me that I will undoubtedly have to have cataract surgery in twenty years or so, but hey! look at the bright side – who knows where technology will be then… perhaps it’ll be even easier than the current same day surgery currently required. It certainly gave me a little dose of reality, but nothing to knock me over. I also need bifocals now (WTF), and in 10 days you’ll see me on my webcam with my stylin’ new, no-lines, frameless, anti-glare glasses.

Apparently all this computer use is damaging my eyes. So no more mood lighting for me at work – I’ll have everything on full brightness starting tomorrow, plus, I’ll be wearing my old reading glasses (like I should have been all along) until I get my new glasses. Don’t make fun of me when you see me on ‘cam. 🙂

Mother Nature wasn’t very cooperative for the rest of the weekend… we made some attempts to get the deck ready for summer, but the rain kept chasing us in. We decided to take a second mortgage out on the house, fill up the gas tank and go for a ride. We ended up shopping at a new store up north called WiseBuys. It’s a new chain of department stores specifically designed to replace the void left by Ames. As an old Ames/Hills/Zayre employee, it’s kind of nice to shop in a department store that isn’t a Wal*mart or Target, so I hope that WiseBuys does really well with what they’re trying to do. Earl bought a new pair of jeans dirt cheap.

We also took the opportunity to check out our first Kohl’s, which has just started making an appearance in the neck of the woods. We picked up some needed kitchen gadgets.

Today my Mom and sister came over for a Mother’s Day dinner and general chit chat. It was nice to get together with them. They both seem to be having a little bit of a rough time lately – I hope they get through that soon and find happiness.

We wrapped up the evening with “Total Recall” on DVD. I hadn’t seen it since I saw it at the movies in 1990… it was fun to watch. Now I’m getting ready to do some meditating before calling it a night.

A new week lies ahead, and I feel like I’m ready to take it on after this nice, relaxing, low-key weekend. A little meditation, some deep breaths, and a new pair of glasses… I can see clearly now.

Skyrockets In Flight.

There’s is nothing more relaxing than heading home in the middle of the hectic work day. Especially when the sun is shining beautifully, the temperature is at a friendly 65 degrees, the birds are chirping and the lawn is freshly mowed.

Earl and I picked out a new barbecue grill on Tuesday night, and I received a call from Lowe’s that it would be delivered today between 11 and 1. What an absolutely gorgeous day to head home for a little break. The perfect way to kick off what’s bound to be a glorious weekend… just what the doctor ordered.

Now, if Earl was home from work with me right now, it would truly be, an afternoon delight.

He Saw The See Saw.

I haven’t written in my blog the last couple of days because I’ve basically been out of my mind. You know, the usual bout of emotional instability.

Let’s just say that on Monday I went red-lined the “emotional response scale” with a lot of screaming and cussing during a heated discussion at work that left everyone with mouths gaping and me walking out the door for a half hour of downtime to find my sanity. If anyone working for me had acted such as I did, they would have been fired on the spot. In that respect, it’s probably a good thing I’m the boss. But that does not make my behavior any more tolerable, and I’ve offered my sincerest apologies to victims and witnesses. But you know how you sometimes know that you’ve wrecked things permanently? I kind of feel that way now. So for the last two days I’ve been REALLY quiet and just doing my thing.

On the inside, I’ve been looking for the reason that I went postal. In all actuality, there isn’t any one reason… more like the culmination of a lot of a variety of things going on in my life. Earl being out of town. The feeling of a hampster running on a playwheel while I’m at work… running, running and running but not going anywhere. Crappy Central N.Y. weather. The lack of a parking space. Imperfect people in an imperfect world. Bush Lite and his cast of idiots in the government. Acid rain. Shaving irritation. Rude people in the elevator. Constipation. You name it. I guess I’ve been just damn cranky.

I’m not a big fan of being in management. Unfortunately, that’s a problem when your title is “Director of Operations”. I don’t like telling people what to do. I like to show them what to do, teach them, mold them, but I do not like managing them. I don’t want to decide who stays and who goes. I don’t like telling people that they are no longer valuable to the company and to pack up their desk. I don’t like deciding who gets a raise. I don’t like doing employee evaluations. Let’s face it, I barely like people.

My ideal work scenario involves being on a project team, working in concert with others towards a common, pre-planned goal. Tell me what to do and when to do it by then leave me alone in my work area and let me get it done. Let me contribute to the vision, don’t make me be the lone painter of the big picture.

Earl’s response, God love him, is “fix it.” And he’s right. When you have a problem, you correct it. If you have an issue, resolve it. And I’ve been thinking about how to do that.

I know that this entry must seem vague and perhaps idiotic to the casual reader. Maybe that’s appropriate. I’ve been feeling vague and perhaps idiotic.

All I know is that on Monday I was at the lowest point of the emotional see-saw. Now, the only way is up.



It’s amazing that I was such a bastard on Monday considering the wonderful weekend Earl and I had. “The Punisher” at the local drive-in. Beautiful summerlike weather. A walk through Onondaga Lake Park. Saturday night supper at a 50s hot dog stand. It was glorious.

A Mid Spring Night’s Dream.

As I write this blog entry, I am simultaneous engaging in a “first” for me in my geekdom. I am sitting on the back deck of our home, with my work laptop, typing this blog entry.

It’ a beautiful 75 degrees here in Central New York, even at 10:04 p.m. on the second to last night of April 2004. Forty-eight hours ago, it was snowing. When I left work today, it was 87 degrees. God, how I love spring weather.

As I look up, I see a beautiful half moon, as clear and distinct as one can imagine, directly overhead. It provides enough light for me to see the keyboard of my laptop, as well as my immediate surroundings. It’s amazing to think that around 35 years ago, humans actually walked on the face of that moon, with a tiny fraction of the technology we have today.

To my right and off to the west, I see the ever so slight presence of haze, an indicator of imminent rain within the next 48 hours. Perhaps theres a thunderstorm getting ready to organize itself for the weekend. Maybe the sun will prevail and we’ll enjoy another picture perfect day tomorrow.

Straight ahead, I look down the hill, through a row of evergreens and see the lights of the western end of the Mohawk Valley, including the City of Utica and her small, cluster of western “suburbs”. Though she’s a worn, slimmed down city from years of hard work, abandonment, celebration and abuse, she’s beginning to show promise of her second life. She’s showing hope and promise again, in small baby steps.

In the distance I hear the lively chirp of crickets, a sure sign that it is indeed spring. They pause for a dozen seconds… perhaps a stray cat is walking through the brush, interrupting their serenade. But as the intruder passes, the orchestra resumes, right where they left off, without skipping a note.

The crickets have a chorus of cars and trucks as accompaniment, as travelers make their way across New York State’s “Main Street”, the New York State Thruway. Perhaps a newer looking hotel will be found in Syracuse; maybe there’s a McDonalds at the next Service Area. The bustle of the traffic is joined by the closer, local Utica-Rome Expressway, as guards make their way to the local prisons and employees head to the mammoth Wal*Mart Distribution Center not far from here. Drivers are happy because yesterday they were given the green light to drive 65 MPH.

Overhead I can see the flash of five or six airliners, lined up perfectly straight of one another and equidistant apart. In that half dozen jets could be as many 1,500 people, oblivious to the fact that I am sitting on the back deck for the first time, blogging on my work laptop. They are content to enjoy the beginning of their movie or cocktail service, wondering what lies ahead at their destination.

Again I look to the west and think of Earl, who’s winding up his work week in Ohio this evening. Who will join the many drivers on the Thruway tomorrow and head back home after a brief stop to meet with the boss in Buffalo.

I feel a small glint of anticipation, as the thought of tomorrow’s activities invade my concentration for a brief moment. One more work day to go until the weekend.

As I wrap up my entry, a small easterly breeze passes through. The crickets stop to investigate. The traffic continues. The planes move on. And the lights twinkle. A slight chill reminds me that it is indeed still April. And while the promise of summer is on the horizon, we are now enjoying a Mid Spring Night’s Dream.

Channel Flip.

I’ve had it up to here with commercialism. If you could see my hand, you would notice that it is hovering above my eyebrows, which though quite blond, are in dire need of a trim.

But I digress.

It seems like commercialism has taken over the world. Advertisements. Banner ads. Billboards. Billboards that change their “look” every thirty seconds. Crawling letters. Transparent boxes in the corner of the television screen. Sponsorship thank yous on public radio. Sponsorship pleas from a weird woman named Goldie on public television. It goes on and on.

I know, I know, it’s the American way. Good old American commerce and all that happy horse doo doo. But my goodness, when do we reach the point of commercial overload?

It’s ironic that I don’t like commercials, since radio commercial revenue pays my salary. In fact, during my illustrious radio career I have been a “copy writer” and a “production director”, both jobs being directly responsible for what I now despise.

Growing up, I admit that there were some commercials I absolutely loved. “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”, then she gives a lightning bolt to some poor soul who gave Bea Arthur’s sister on the Golden Girls margarine instead of butter. She was pretty cool.

“Honeycomb’s big, yeah yeah yeah, it’s not small, no no no”

“My husband, some hot shot, here’s his ancient Chinese secret, Calgon!” Now the oriental woman in those commercials absolutely rocked. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see me in pigtails and a kimono hovering over a GE washer with a box of Calgon for Halloween this year. “We need more Calgon!”

I think commercials started getting on my nerves when I was in my teens, in the early 80s. I’d be hanging out with my neighborhood friends on the back porch of his house, television blaring in the background as the summer sweltered, we shot the shit and roasted marshmallows and made fun of the girl across the street named Freida Look. There’d always be a lull in the conversation, just in time for the television to blare a serious, orchestral crescendo followed by a young girl saying “Mother, how do you stay feeling fresh all day..” The mother looked perplexed, the girl looked forlorn, my friends looked pained and I was headed to the wood pile to puke. I don’t know what Freida Look was doing. Maybe she just looked.

Alright. That was absolutely unnecessary. First of all, how degrading to women of the world. Are we really suppose to believe that a woman in her 20s is going to ask her mother, who’s wielding a meat cleaver in the kitchen no less, about personal issues in the nether regions? Come on. I’m pretty sure that mothers and daughters don’t talk to each like that. Guys certainly don’t. “Dad, the toilet paper Mom bought leaves me feeling dirty. What do you do?” Yeah, right.

Then of course we moved into ridiculous with “Where’s The Beef” and all that crap. I’m not even going to go there, except that the wonderful elderly lady screaming “Where’s the Beef” should have been paid more Social Security and less royalties to be left off the television.

Fast forward to present day. Now we have commercials for medication. Like that commercial for some anti-depressant. First of all, the sad face on the little bubble that bounces along about makes me cry. I know, it’s suppose to, so I can go run out and get myself some happy pills. But does the bubble have to be so depressed? Never mind that you’re just having a bad day or that you could take a moment to take a deep breath and ask yourself if your latest tragedy is really worth it. No, no, no. Run to the doctor to get a prescription for a pill that’ll fix all your moods. Take enough pills and you’ll be “Super Zombie”!

Then we have the viagra boy. “Did you lose weight, Bill?” “Did you shave off your mustache, Bill?” “Why are you so happy, Bill?” They never come out and say why Bill is so happy, but he’s grinning like a fool the entire day. Why doesn’t he just stand up in the middle of the office and loudly proclaim “Hey! I banged my mistress during my lunch break while my wife watched and I was able to do it because I was chemically motivated!” Clue phone for Bill, if you stopped watching television for viagra commercials and paid more attention to your wife (and maybe concentrated REALLY hard at the right moment), you wouldn’t need viagra. And I really couldn’t care less if Bill lost weight, shaved his mustache or banged his mistress. Keep your chemically motivated sex drive in your seedy motel room and out of my living room, thank you very much.

And I can’t go on without mentioning those fat whacker pills or whatever they are. I suspect that they are related to that awful invention of “Olestra” which invaded my Pringles a number of years ago. I will never forget the moment I slammed the car in park on the side of the Thruway and took a dump along the fence, in the city of Albany no less, because I ate two Pringles with “Olestra” in them not two minutes before stopping. That’s what those fat whacker pills do. “May cause explosive bowels, intestinal cramping and uncomfortable gas.” And they recommend you take one before the company picnic or office party! My God. Talk about being the life of the party. Boring conversation? Pop a crab cake or whatever, do a 180 and blow away the person you’re talking to. I tried burning the rest of the Pringles, but they wouldn’t burn.

Earl and I were at the movies last weekend. Of course we have the revolving slide show before the commercials before the preview. The slide show doesn’t seem to be selling well in this area because there were only three rotating. One of them was for an new Open MRI service. “Schedule your Open MRI today”. Like the nerd who is waiting to see Tomb Raider II is going to say, “My God, I’ve never had an MRI, let alone an Open MRI. Forget the movie, I’ve got to leave and schedule one RIGHT NOW.” And God forbid you’re told you need an MRI. “I’m sorry Bruce, but we think you have an extra toe growing in your brain and we need to do an MRI.” Do we really think Bruce is going to say, “You know, before Connie and Carla I saw this ad at Hoyt’s Theatre for the Open MRI…” or “I don’t want to know about the toe in my brain unless its checked out with an OPEN MRI.” Yeah, right.

Then there’s the local restaurant in the three rotating ads which has a picture of a “delicious” entree of macaroni and cheese, french fries and a fishburger on a folding table with folding chairs, which are surrounded by a group of elderly patrons, two of which look like they’re in an unfortuate accident with their walkers. I haven’t figured out if one of them is the server yet, but perhaps the answer will come to me the next time we are at the movies.

The third ad is for Adelphia High Speed Internet. The graphic is a road sign over a highway that says “Adelphia Powerlink” with an arrow pointing down over the highway. I couldn’t agree more. Adelphia Powerlink is always down. Great visual there. Enough said.

You can’t go anywhere without someone hocking their wares. We drove into Connecticut a couple of weeks ago. We crossed the N.Y.-Conn. line and my cell phone rang. A cheery voice said “Welcome to Connecticut, press 827364910283 for the department of tourism. En Espanol, marque tres.” I really didn’t need that.

I was happily watching Green Acres on TV Land. All of a sudden, Eva Gabor’s face shrunk up to the corner of the screen so that a little dancing set of letters could appear on the bottom letting me know ElectraWoman and DynaGirl were on at 1:30 a.m. Match Game PM constantly has a “GSN” hoo-dickey hanging over Brett Somers face. Judging Amy has a CBS eye over Tyne Daly’s bosom.

Even the waitress at a restaurant we were at was pre-selling food! “What would you like for an appetizer?” And then in the same breath, “Be sure to save room for the delicious blueberry pie we have today!” Pie! I was still working out the blooming onion, iced tea, bread and butter, soup, crackers, salad and entree! Who’s got time to think of pie then?

Small wonder I want to move to the middle of the desert and shut out the world. My luck I’ll end up next to a billboard for Pringles.

Technologically Simplistic.

Sometimes I wonder if all this technology is really good for us. Have we forgotten what the sound of silence really sounds like? You can’t go anywhere without hearing the whirr of a fan, the ring of a phone or the blip of some miscellaneous electronic gadget.

Over the weekend, Earl and I went to Albany to see “Kill Bill, Volume 2”, as well as do some shopping and such. We had a wonderful time. On the way home, we stopped at one of the Thruway service areas for a pee break. I was standing at the urinal doing my business and minding my business, when I guy strolls in chatting away on his cell phone. He comes up to the urinal next to mine, whips it out and continues to talk on the cell phone, having quite the animated discussion with someone he was obviously, excuse the pun, pissed off at. He had one hand holding the phone. Now you’d think his other hand would be holding his business, but no, it was waving around in animated excitement. I hope he had good aim.

Is it really necessary to carry on a telephone conversation with someone while you’re taking a leak?

Today I spent a good two hours setting up one of the computers at work so that the user could synchronize her palm pilot with her desktop computer. Come to find out that she wanted to synchronize notes that were written, in her own handwriting mind you, down on the palm pilot so she could print them out.

A cashier at the local grocery store almost had a full blown hissy fit because my rice milk wouldn’t scan. She had to plunk in the numbers off the barcode by hand since there wasn’t a price marked on the item. Sigh. Boo. When that didn’t work, she asked me if I knew the price. I automatically responded “99 cents”, since that’s my response whenever I’m asked the price for an item that won’t scan. I don’t care if it’s a tomato, a vase or a Ferrari, if you’re too lazy to find out the price, I’m going to tell you 99 cents.

And lastly, Earl and I decided to break out of our healthy eating spree (which lasted two hours) and visit the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. The person in front of me paid for his $15.50 order with a $50.00 bill. The cashier entered $20.00. The poor imbecile couldn’t figure out the change on her own. She asked the manager what, and I quote, “15.50 take away 50.00” was. She pondered over the problem a couple of minutes before I impatiently chimed in, “just add $30.00 to what the display says.” She responded with a “how did you know that?”, her eyes narrowed to suspicious slits that would seemingly be reserved for a masked gun man robbing the place.

“I used to work in retail.”

“Oh.”

I am a technogeek at heart. I love all the things that technology can do for you. However, in order to truly appreciate the luxury of technology, you have to have the basics down. And while you’re learning the basics, do me a favor and flush your cell phone down the toilet next time you’re chatting in a public potty.

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.

Last night, I had such wonderful dreams. They took place in a calm, peaceful, enchanting dreamscape. Colors were bolder than I had ever seen. Sounds were full of undeniable clarity, devoid of the ringing always present in my ears. I had the ability to make things appear in thin air. I could fly. Earl was by my side, as was my childhood cat Waldo and my “single days” cat Gideon. I could speed up or slow down time. I could freeze things.

So after I became aware of these abilities, I decided to eat lunch with Earl… and Allison Janney.

Now what the heck does that all mean? I find it comical that I dreamed about Allison Janney. But she seemed pretty cool. We weren’t on a date or anything, more like a ‘hanging out with your friend’ type of experience. And she had the same abilities as I did. She told me that all I had to do was “remember”. Remember this moment. Then we chatted about various trivial things and made things appear and disappear.

I’m thinking that I was having some sort of out of body experience and I went to this lovely place where I could perform all these magical acts. I was feeling an incredible peaceful, euphoric rush. About 3/4 of the way through my dream, Earl tossed around in bed a little bit which sort of disturbed the dreamscape. A type of ripple. I forced myself to stay asleep to continue the dream. Allison said it was time to get back to work, but to look around and remember my surroundings.

I woke up, realized I was back in reality, and became miserable. I’ve been cranky all day. I don’t think that was the goal of last night’s experience.

So now I’m sitting in our great room, closing my eyes and making a conscious effort to remember. And as I peel back the layers of self-imposed negativity, I realize that I can close my eyes and remember the dreamscape again. I can feel a very small sliver of the euphoria I felt. I can feel the comfort of Earl’s presence. I can hear Allison’s laugh. I can see Waldo and Gideon playing.

I look forward to visiting the dreamscape again as I sleep. I look forward to meditating on it when the need arises.

And I thank whomever is responsible, whether its a spirit guide or my subconscious, for the experience.

Change.

As I mention from time to time, I consider myself a real huge geek. I am fascinated by what most people would consider trivial, if not mundane. I like roads. I’m fascinated by synchronized clocks. Earl dreads daylight savings time when I have to get the oven and microwaves clocks to change together at the exact instant. And of course, I love computers.

At work I’m on a crusade to go as paperless as possible. I believe everything that’s important can be stored much more efficiently in a database on someone’s hard drive somewhere. Not being as organized as I’d like to be, sometimes the data gets misplaced on someone else’s hard drive (usually halfway across the state), but I do deserve an “E” for effort.

I’m trying to introduce some paperless systems into our quaint little work place. For example, we found that people weren’t keeping track of what projects they were working on, so our customers weren’t being billed. Not a good situation, since this means less money for the company, which means less in the way of a raise for me, which means a rise in blood pressure, which means an increase in health benefits. Not to mention the fact that it just makes me cranky.

Anywho, the office manager and business manager (I don’t know what the difference is either) came up with a logging system. To my horror, this morning they began handing out beautifully bound, gaudy yellow legal pads. Ugh. Everyone has been instructed to write in pen only. Double ugh. Reason for this – it can’t be changed once it’s written. And paper can’t be torn out without leaving evidence that something is missing (a point I quickly proved as false, by writing my lunch order in my pad and ripping it out).

It’s not that my co-workers are afraid of computers… heck, they gleefully open any attachment that has the lovely, anonymous message of “I thought you’d love this!” Hello Mr. Welchia Worm. They just don’t think along Technorati lines. Being a person that loves all things connected, the simple solution to me is to construct a database that would be seemlessly integrated into the billing system. The horror! There’s nothing to write on. There’s no mounds of paper that need to be entered into the computer for billing. There’s no opportunity for garish pink ink, complete with hearts over the i’s.

Maybe I’m more weird than I suspect, but I welcome change. It’s a bold, exciting challenge everytime a new opportunity comes along. A chance to expand my mind, broaden my horizons. I wish I could bring more people along on my ride. They might like the view.

On The Road Again.

Mother Nature has finally blessed us with some beautiful weather. To supplement my sunny disposition, I took the opportunity to take my first bike ride of 2004.

Wow.

Fortunately, I’m 15 pounds lighter than I was on my last bike ride last fall, and I was delighted to see that a long sleeved jersey that I’ve never been able to fit into easily slipped on for the ride.

It was a short ride, only six miles or so in 15 minutes, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I kick started my interest in cycling again. It felt good to be on the road.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll remember that I often mentioned a hill that I used to test my endurance with. Earl and I now live about a third of the way up that hill. So now with the new house, I can test my endurance on every ride… it’s just a matter of whether to do it at the beginning or at the end.

I’m looking forward to a season of cycling and pushing my limits once again. Not bad for a guy tipping 36.