Ray Of Light.

It’s a beautiful, chilly day in Upstate N.Y. here in mid January. Even though it was 30 degrees warmer last week, I’m enjoying the weather today. Why? Because the sun is out.

It’s amazing what sunlight can do for the psyche. I’m not a big fan of bright lights. I should say that I’m not a big fan of bright artificial lighting, especially fluorescent lighting. Even though light bulb manufacturers advertise and mark their fluorescent tubes as “cool white” or “warm glow”, I still find the light from them quite harsh. Very distracting. Very artificial.

I’m nearly fanatical (big shocker there) about the light bulbs in the house. I try not to get bulbs bigger than 60 watts. I opt to employ many lights, rather than bright lights. Plus, I always go for the blue “natural” light bulbs that have surfaced over the past couple of years. Around my plants, I always use “grow bulbs”. I’m trying to rationalize the purchase of one of those “full spectrum natural lights” you see in the health section of the grocery store, but it seems like they’re too darn expensive (almost $10 for one light bulb!) and for my frivolous ways.

Being out in the sunlight, even though I’m bundled up with hat, gloves and heavy jacket, does wonders to improve my mood and energy for the rest of the workday. Maybe I should get one of those full spectrum lights for my nightstand, I might not be so cranky when I get up in the morning.

Wired for Productivity.

For once, I’m writing a technology-related blog entry about someone else. While I’m always one to adopt new technology and try to incorporate it into my life as fast as possible, I’m finding that Earl is ahead of me on the curve on this one.

His company just bought him a Blackberry.

If you’re not familiar with these little packages of silicon goodness, let me fill you in. Using cellular phone technology, this is basically a little computer that fits in the palm of your hand, keeping you up to date with your important e-mails, appointments, phone book and of course, solitaire game. Unlike most Palm Pilots or Pocket PCs, a Blackberry has a little keyboard on it, does not (to my knowledge) employ a touchscreen or stylus and does everything but tell you what time you need to take a crap. Come to think of it, you could probably program it to tell you when to take a bathroom break.

But I digress.

Earl pretty much set his up solo this morning while he was at work. I got him started and then let him run with it. I was hoping to bounce on the boss’ knee while I was visiting him at work, but no, he wanted to set up the Blackberry.

So now it’s routinely vibrating on the kitchen counter as another Sigalert is beamed into it. “Stop the Lobster Thermador, let me read my e-mail!” he joyously proclaims.

As I borrow his iBook to type this blog entry, he is randomly uttering commands he’s typing into his Blackberry. He just said “Name” with a perplexed look on his face. There has been no follow up. I’m really resisting the urge to say “Earl…”.

Anyways, I joke and poke fun at him as he embraces his Blackberry, but actually I’m quite happy that he has it. I can now send him love notes and know that he gets them right away, rather than finding a chance to check his e-mail while he’s on the road.

Ain’t technology grand.


Last night I had the most incredible dream. It was very vivid. Full of color, texture, smells and sounds. Earl was hosting a party in honor of me. I know this sounds extremely self centered, but what can you do. Anyways, I dreamed that Earl was hosting my graduation party, because I had finally graduated from college as an elementary school teacher. All of my family and friends were there, even friends I hadn’t seen in years, and family that has passed on long ago. I was introducing Earl to my grandmothers. I recall being so happy that he was finally able to meet them and give them a hug. I even introduced Earl to Waldo, our cat from my childhood. He was courteous.

I have no idea where this dream generated from. I haven’t thought about going back to school in a long while. I messed around with the idea three or four years ago, but decided not to pursue being an elementary school teacher because I’m basically a coward. Maybe I’m lazy. I don’t want to deal with the problems of being an openly gay man and being an elementary school teacher in Upstate New York. I refuse to hide who I am. So I put that idea aside.

Whatever prompted this dream, I’m grateful for it. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed, positive and energized. I’m ready to take on the day.

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It was about a year ago that I seriously decided that I needed to Think Different. It’s been about 23 years since I first started messing around with computers, not counting the countless calculators and adding machines I played with before jumping onto the computing bandwagon on an Apple ][+ at school and my very own computer, my Commodore VIC-20 (which I still have somewhere). I’ve survived countless incarnations of Windows, from Windows/286 (that’s Windows version 2.0) all the way up to Windows 2003 Advanced Server. I’ve danced with the Unix shell. I’ve flirted with the VAX/VMS DCL dollar sign. I’ve commanded the DOS command prompt. I’ve clicked. I’ve double clicked.

But nothing has rocked my computing world like my Mac. As they say in the ads, it just works.

I’ve become one of those Mac-obsessed people, pooh pooh-ing others still struggling with Windows. Praising the OS X gospel. “Life is just easier with a Mac”. “It’s a more secure operating system.” “Viruses? Hah!” Yes, I can be annoying.

Yesterday was the big “keynote speech” by Steve Jobs at Macworld Expo. Like many other Mac users and technology buffs, I frequented the Macworld Expo site (until it crashed, it’s running on Microsoft Server 2003), refreshing and refreshing again, hoping to catch a glimpse of the new Apple products as soon as they were announced. Would the rumors be true? Would there be a more affordable yet powerful Mac, primed for any household? Would there be another incarnation of the iPod?

And the answers are an unqualified yes.

There is now the Mini Mac. Starting at $499, this puppy can be plopped in place of any PC, use the existing keyboard, mouse and monitor, and spread it’s Mac goodness with its owner. When a family member now asks my recommendation for a “start up” computer, I can point them to the Mini Mac. I also think it would be a nice addition to the little music studio I’m thinking of building, but we’ll save that for another blog entry.

Then there’s the iPod Shuffle. Clocking in at $99, this guy can play a good number of songs from a very small device. And its affordable!

And that’s just the beginning.

Why am I saying all this? Because I’m impressed. My PowerBook impresses me. I can’t believe how easy it is to get stuff done on my computer now. If I want to be a tech head, I can mess around with Unix. If I just want to goof off, I still have Unix, with Panther sitting on top.

As I said before, it just works. I’m not dinking around with device drivers, security issues, activation codes and a secret operating system.

I think I’ll record one of those testimonials and send it to Apple. Don’t be surprised if you see me on their “switch” page.

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Doctor! Doctor!

Today I continued along the chain of medical referrals. I mentioned that I had to visit my primary physician a while back. Well today was the referral to the urologist. Or at least, his assistant.

I’d been to the same urologist back in 2000 for a consultation. At that visit, he graphically informed me of the things he wanted to do to my more treasured body parts. I politely declined and decided to just live with my ailment. Whoops, a few steps back. The reason for all this is because sometimes I have difficulty urinating. It has to do with scar tissue and it’s something that I’ve had all my life, having two surgeries in my teens for the same problem. My first surgery was when I was 13. I shared a hospital room with another kid about my age. I was in 8th grade, he was in 7th. I just *knew* there was something special about him, and sure enough, we ended up hooking up one night about 10 years later. “Where did you meet? In the hospital, he was having his tonsils out and I was getting a roto-rooter up my wa-wa.” Sexy.

Back to present day. So I went to the urologist’s satellite office, with a waiting room about the size of a broom closet. There’s a friendly enough receptionist who likes to bark out things to patients. “Here’s your viagara”. “Don’t forget to shoot into the cup.” “Save enough pee for your next visit so we don’t have to squeeze it out of you.”


For some reason, walking in I expected the waiting room to smell like pee. I don’t know why, but I thought it would add to the ambiance. There were older people all about, save for one four or five year old with his mother. Every once in a while, an older gentleman would come out. One wild looking gentleman came bursting through the door with a huge grin and a bunch of pill samples.

Viagara. Mrs. Wild is going to have an interesting evening.

So anyways, my turn came up and they beckoned me in. I had to do the usual deal – weight, height, blood pressure. Everything appeared to be normal. I sat in the examining room for a bit. There were pictures of dissected body parts all over the walls. It was kind of interesting, as I had never really paid attention during high school biology. Come to think of it, I don’t remember much of biology at all. The only thing I remember was the teacher, Mr. Oliver, asking me “Mr. Wing, do you know what a homosexual is?” Wasn’t he funny. The rest of the class went “oooh.” I should have had a snappy comeback like “Homosexual. Homosexual. Like your boyfriend?” but of course I didn’t.

Anyways, the nurse practicioner comes in and asks me a bunch of questions. I fill her in with my history and everything. She seems pleasant enough. But then she wants to do a prostate test.

Why does every doctor want to check my prostate? Is my ass that cute that they go “Ooooh, look at that tight ass, let me touch!”?

Long story short, my prostate is in good shape. She informs me that I can look forward to that round of fun every year for the next 10 to 15 years, because after all, I’m at the fun male age.

So now I have to do a couple of lab tests (I’ll spare you the details, use your imagination) and then go in for another exam on February where I get to go the bathroom in a computerized toilet.

I’m so excited about the whole thing I could pee my pants.

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Back To Life, Back To Reality.

So I’m home enjoying a homemade lunch and blogging at the same time. I’m eating lunch during the noon hour. It’s a murky January day, overcast but not overly cold, in the mid 30s. Weather man says it could hit 55 degrees on Thursday, but I sometimes think they say these things just to make you feel good.

After my sprint through last week, being on call for work for the first time, life has settled back down to the normal routine. Earl is out of town on business, but only for a couple of days. Tom is happy that I cleaned his litter box. I’m feeling relatively well rested so life is good.

Normally at this time of year I fall into a holiday slump, where I’m depressed that the holidays are over and spring isn’t ready to peek out yet. I bitch about how bitter life is. Sunlight is at a premium. But I’m happy to say that I’m not feeling the holiday slump this year. Maybe its because my life choices have made a happier path for me to walk. I really don’t have a lot to be cranky about. Even though Earl and I just took down the Christmas Tree this past Saturday, I feel like the holiday season is long gone. Is it me or did the ringing in of the New Year seem rather anti-climatic this year? Perhaps it was because Regis dropped the ball instead of Dick Clark. He was so melancholy about the whole affair.

Tonight I’m going to plan out our February vacation to celebrate Earl’s birthday. We’ve bagged the Las Vegas idea. We’re going to be kids again. We’re going to remember the magic at DisneyWorld. I can’t wait.

I Remember One Time, At Band Camp…

I’ve decided to embark on a project. Inspired by listening to real performers perform real music, and enjoying the Sour Citrus Society at a recent S U basketball game, I’ve decided that it’s time for the alumni marching band at my high school to make an appearance.

Now, mind you, I didn’t participate in the last alumni band performance back in 1996. I had last minute work conflicts pop up, and I was unable to get to the practices, so I didn’t get in step with the whole thing. I’ve been tossing the idea around for the past couple of years and this morning I woke up and said to myself, “why don’t I just go ahead and do it?” So I’m going to do it.

I have connections with the alumni society, so I can get the word out to other alumni. I’m going to take an ad out in the local newspaper as well. I’ve asked a fellow classmate (and band nerd) to help out if he wants, so maybe this is something that can actually come together. I mean, how difficult can it be? We borrow a couple of instruments from the school, we learn two songs and we go to it. Seems simple to me.

Of course, I’ll play tuba again. I haven’t played tuba since, oh, 1987 but it’s got to be like learning how to ride a bicycle. Once you do it, you can always do it. I think I’m going to look around on ebay for a tuba.

There’s one song that I would really like the alumni band to play – it’s called “España!” by Jay Bocook. I think it came out around 1979 or 1980. I borrowed it from my high school band director back when I was in college for a conducting class project. The band director then passed away, so I never had the opportunity to return it and now I have no idea where it is. I think I’m going to buy the school a new copy, if I can find it somewhere. (If you’re reading this and you know where I can find España by Jay Bocook, please contact me.) Even if the alumni marching band doesn’t come together, I can still replace the music that I never returned 18 years ago.

So if you’ve come across this blog entry by googling your old alma mater, Pulaski Junior Senior High School / Pulaski Academy and Central School / Pulaski High School in Pulaski, New York, and you’d like to be in the alumni marching band in August 2005, please contact me.

A Musical Discovery.

This morning I was kicking back and messing around with iTunes. Searching for “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” by Yes (one of my favorite songs from the 80s), I came across another version of the track. Curious, I hit the audition button on iTunes and was absolutely astounded. The version I was listening to was from an album entitled “BOCA 2001: The Best Of College A cappella 2001”.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘a cappella’, let me explain. A cappella music is performed with absolutely no instrumentation. The only instrument used is the human voice. There’s no percussion. No piano. No guitar. Just the vocal instrumentation of the performers. Tight harmonies. Everyone singing their own unique part, their contribution lending to the construction of the whole. I sang in many a cappella performances in both high school and college, the majority being the classic barbershop quartet music. A female version would be something like the Sweet Adeleines.

What I heard today blew me utterly and completely out of the water. I never knew that these a cappella groups existed in colleges all across the country, and I went to a music school! Perhaps I should have paid better attention.

What makes this type of a cappella music intriguing to me is that the tracks are reproductions of popular Top 40 songs, and they sound absolutely amazing. Titles like “Ray Of Light”, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. It’s sounds fantastic over my PowerBook speakers. I put on my iPod headphones and couldn’t believe what I was listening to. I must admit that I was trembling with excitement when I decided to dig out my pro radio headphones and bask in the audio experience. So I plugged them in and discovered two things. The sound threw me into sonic nirvana. My iPod headphones are pretty damn good, as they sound much better than my $150.00 Sony headphones from my radio career.

If you appreciate really good music, take a listen to this album. I’ve included the link to Amazon which provides samples.

I think I’m going to be singing in the shower more. And I think I’m going to end up trashing my iTunes allowance.

Time (Clock of the Heart)

I find the concept of time somewhat amazing. It’s really nothing more than a human perception. We feel comforted by the tick-tock of the clock, or the passing movement of the minute and hour hand. “What lies ahead?” “Were almost there!” “Is it time to eat yet?”

When you think about it, time really serves no purpose. It’s simply a marker to tell us where we are in life. “I’m getting old.” “It’s time to sleep.” “It’s time to brush my teeth.” “I’ll be 37 on my next birthday.”

I’ve always been obsessed with time. I have a collection of school clocks, each clock perfectly synchronized to the master clock, which is in turn synchronized to the atomic clock. Those clocks that aren’t in the collection are still calibrated to change with the school clock collection. There is no flashing “12:00” on my VCR.

When I worked for ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens) back in the late 80s and early 90s, I worked a shift that started on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. and ended on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. Time was very important to me. In the back of my mind, I knew precisely how much time I had left before I was home again. Before I was free.

Last night was a particularly rough night of “on call” for my current job. Now that I think about it, was I making it harder on myself because at that time, I should have been asleep? Did my body suffer because I didn’t sleep at the proper time? Granted, my ass is dragging a little bit today because I slept for a total of four hours in ragged increments. Would I feel so lethargic today if I didn’t obsess about time? Is my sleepiness because of my brain telling me I didn’t sleep the right amount of time or because my body didn’t get a chance to build up the proper amount of energy and do it’s housecleaning?

Honestly, I think it’s a combination of both.

I’m going to try to live in the “now”. No worrying about what lies ahead or what’s left behind. I haven’t got the time for it.