Courage.



O.k., I swore that I wasn’t going to watch “American Idol 3.” After all, it’s reality TV, and reality TV sucks. And the state of the pop music industry sucks.

I lied.

On cue, Earl and I tuned into the commercials presented by the Fox Network with a few snippets of the first round of “American Idol 3” auditions in between. I must say that I think I enjoy these early auditions more than the Top 32, Top 10 or the grand finales! One contestant, Scat Girl, was an absolute mess, but you can’t help by admire her courage for getting up there in front of the cameras and the judges and giving her all. And her scream at the end made a worthwhile sound effect to install as my mail notification sound effect.

The talent was mediocre at best, but man, you have to give these folks credit for going for the dream and display lots of courage.

Lazy Days and Sundays.



I look up at the clock here in the computer and am shocked to see that it’s 8:15 p.m. already! I’m still in my pajamas, I haven’t showered or shaved and I haven’t been very productive today. It’s a mental health day, I suppose.

Earl has been glued to the television because it’s the last of the playoff games before the Superbowl, of course. We made homemade pizza earlier today for supper, that was quite fun. Earl picked up this Pampered Chef pizza stone and he wanted to give it a test drive, so we made this healthy pizza with lots of fresh veggies and homemade dough. Very tasty!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of judging Little Miss and Mister Mohawk Valley. That’s right, a beauty pageant of sorts. Actually, it was a fundraising pageant to raise money for the Miss Mohawk Valley Scholarship Program, which is part of the “Miss America system”. My dear friend Laurie Jean is executive director of Miss Mohawk Valley and asked me to judge, what with me being a big radio personality and all. (Yeah, whatever on that part). Anyways, I gave my two cents, or rather, two points on the contestants. Thank goodness I just had to sit and smile (don’t clap!) and write numbers down. I don’t think I could have been as cranky as that ass on American Idol. The kids were much too cute.

Last night Earl and I hauled ourselves to Albany for supper and a little shopping excursion. I needed to pick up some techy stuff for work, and the Best Buy in Albany lends itself much more to real purchases. Our Best Buy here is “Best Buy Lite”. In fact, everything in the new big box monstrosity the built here, Consumer Square, is a “lite” version, with each store only being 75% of the size of similar stores throughout the state. For me, less selection equals more gas, so we just drive to the bigger cities to do our serious shopping.

I’ve resurrected my laptop from work and am anxious to start using it regularly again. We bought a new wireless network card for it, so I can haul it to Starbucks or whereever and be impressive and trendy like so many others seem to do these days. I don’t have the nerve to bring it into the bathtub with me though. I’ve read about how rude it is to use your laptop in a meeting, so we’ll have to see if I can stick to etiquette!

Duh.



I’ve had decided that I need to write in my blog more. I’ve sort of slacked off over the past couple of months. I don’t really know why. It could be a lack of motivation, because I seem to be more passionate about things lately. I just haven’t set aside time to write things down. So, I’m going to try to write in my blog more, simply because it’s a sort of therapy for me. Maybe it will make my English more goodly too. 🙂

I went on a little rant at work today about my intolerance of ignorant people. In the back of my mind I’m always afraid that I’m going to sound snobby or elitest, but sometimes people just seem so, well, dumb. For example, as I have mentioned countless times, Earl and I live in Upstate New York. To our west is a REALLY big lake. In fact, it’s so big, it’s called a Great Lake. It’s so Great, they even named a Canadian Province after it. And on the other side of this Great Lake is Canada. So when a cold wind blows from Canada, across this warmer Great Lake, it tends to produce a lot of snow on our side of the lake. This is called Lake Effect snow. This sort of “effect” has undoubtedly been happening for thousands, if not millions of years. Why is it then that the news media decides that they need to frighten the be-joozies out of the public. “We’re going to get up to a foot of snow!” “Run for cover, buy your milk, buy your bread, a big lake effect snow storm is coming!” “Whoooooo”.

People. You need to calm down. I can’t count the number of times that we’ve been dumped on with almost four feet of snow in a day in the past thirty years. A foot of snow does not paralyze our area. We know how to take care of it. Is it inconvenient? Yes! Is it armageddon? For pity’s sake, of course not. Chill. Literally.

And why is it when there is snow on the ground, regardless of the quantity, are all rules of the road null and void? Here in Central N.Y., if there’s snow on the ground, half the drivers abandon all pretenses of driving between the lines of the road and obeying the traffic signals and signs. Guess what? When the light is red, you still have to stop! Here’s a shocker… when the mall parking lot is full of snow, it’s still NOT o.k. to form a row of cars three deep. That doesn’t make sense. The lines aren’t dancing underneath the snow. They’re in straight rows. They’re still a uniform length apart. Stop being selfish or stupid and use a little common sense. Please.

And just because it’s unbelieveably cold at -15 degrees, but the road is still bare, does not mean that you have to slow down to 15 MPH on the Interstate. Use your brains.

There’s a couple other things I’ve been ranting about at work. I suppose I’m becoming unpopular, but I don’t really care. With the New Year several co-workers have decided to do something about their eating habits. This is GREAT. The world, more specifically the United States, needs to be a healthier place. However, I think they’re approaching it all wrong. The Atkins Diet (gag). The South Beach Diet (boo). It seems to me that these are fad diets that are looking to pad somebody’s wallet. You have to buy the more expensive low carb bread. You better buy the book so you know the exact details of the plan. Please. Losing weight is simple math. Burn off more calories than you take in. Period. Watch your fat intake. Get rid of the junk food. Get off your fat ass and do something. Move. Be productive. Contribute to society.

It’s going to take some time to lose weight. It’s taken months or years to put it all on, why should it come off in three weeks? I could go into a whole thing about eating animals and such, but I’m not going to, because that shouldn’t make a difference. You lose weight on these fad diets because you’re cheating your body from it’s balance. Balance your diet. Eat some protein. Eat some carbs. Then work it off. Be active.

I’ve been told “what do you know?” Well at Easter 2002, I weighed 220lbs. Today I weigh 170lbs. Did I do the Atkins diet? God no. Did I do this South Beach thing (it’s like Atkins but less restrictive I’ve been told). Why waste the energy? I ride my bike in the summer, I try to keep active in the winter (doing everything from traditional ab crunches to sliding around on the wood floors in my stocking feet), I strive to keep my caloric intake between 1200 and 1700 and I don’t eat anything with double digit fat grams. Was I fim and trim in 2 months? No, it’s taken almost 18 months, but I’m keeping off the weight. Go ahead, starve your body of carbs. Then eat half of a pop-tart and gain 10 lbs. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

And lastly, what is this friggin’ obsession with Wal*mart? Wal*mart this. Wal*mart that. They save me money, blah blah blah. Ugh. They may be saving you money, but they’re destroying the United States of America and just about every other country. Take a look at this link. Here’s another informative link.

People need to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about the whole world.

It’s A Big. Geek. World.



I’m am the first one to admit it. I’m a huge geek. When it comes to anything that can be described with TechnoBabble, I’m so there. Buttons, flashing lights, whirs, beeps, bonks, it all fascinates me. My geekdom doesn’t limit itself at technology either, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m completely fascinated by roads as well. The other night, my aunt recalled how at age 13 I wanted go home in the most indirect route possible simply so I could see if new signs had been installed on various roadways. Until the internet, I thought I was alone in this fascination. Now I know that there’s a whole huge community of roadgeeks, and it’s all good. If you want to see my contribution to the road geek society, take a look at my web site sometime.

I suppose my geekiness if flaring high these days because Earl is out of town. He’s just embarked on a new project for his company and it’s going to take him out of town a couple of times a month, pretty much like the summer of ’02. To prevent myself from becoming bummed out about it, I’ve decided to embrace my geek roots and interface with the best of them. At least it keeps my mind off the fact that Earl isn’t home.

I’ve become totally addicted to TechTV, mainly The Screen Savers and Call For Help. Both fascinating programs, and I’m a learning quite a bit about a myriad of computer topics. I also like the way TechTV maintains a fair balance between Microsoft, Apple and the Linux distros. Big thumbs up.

Another web site that I’ve become morbidly interested in is Air Disaster.com Now, I’m not afraid of flying in the least. I’ve been flying since I was around six months old (my grandfather and father are both private pilots). In fact, I’ve often entertained the idea of getting my private pilots license. However, I admit that I do get nervous on commercial flights. It all stems from the fact that I don’t know who is on the plane with me and who the pilot is. In the private planes that I’ve flown in, I’ve always known, or in rare instances, been the pilot. I was reading my online friend Thom’s blog and discovered the new A&E series “Airline”. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the show, but I have watched the trailer, and the passengers depicted are EXACTLY the reason I get nervous on commercial flights! You know the type – flippant, selfish, whiney. And incredibly, they don’t pay attention to the flight attendants’ safety demonstration. They don’t know if they’re on a 767, an Airbus or a big blue bus. They can’t tell you where the exits are. They don’t know that you have to keep your hands up in the air as you go down the evacuation slide. Now, I know that an airplane I’m on is going to go down someday. And I’m going to survive it. (It’s a recurring dream I’ve had all my life, I just accept it as fact now). But honey, if you haven’t paid attention to the safety demonstration, don’t look at me for help putting on your seat cushion as a life jacket (even if we crash in Nevada). And I’m not sharing my oxygen with you. You should have paid attention.

Anyways, back to airdisaster.com. If you want to REALLY freak yourself out, take a listen to the black box recordings. Oh boy. God rest their souls, pilot and co-pilot shootin’ the breeze, a quick “what the f*ck” and boom. As terrifying as I find it, I must admit I find it morbidly interesting as well. A geek for you I guess.

I sometimes wonder if I’m an certifiably insane or if the rest of the world is actually better than me at hiding it. Do you know that I can still, to this day, draw out the keyboard for a P&C (grocery store) circa 1982 cash register? Don’t ask me why I can, I just can. I’ve never worked for P&C or any other grocery store. But the early geek in me figured out how the damn thing works and where all the keys were. I even coached a Great American (another grocery store) cashier back in 1991 on how to run it because she was new and no one would help her. At least I’m a nice geek. Truth be known, growing up I loved to play grocery store and since we didn’t have any calculators that we could afford, I just drew out the cash register keyboard on a piece of notebook paper and I just added up the items in my head when my cousins would be my customer and brought their order through. Good part? It made me really good at math and figuring out sales tax.

I was really good with the Ames cash register system as well. It made it REALLY easy for me to be trained when I actually worked for them in the late 1980s.

Thank the stars Earl has allowed me to embrace my quirkiness. Before he came along, I sort of hid it from others. I was an out and out gay man, but I was a closeted eccentric. I’ve always done things a little differently I suppose.

Have you seen the Dell commercial where the family kidnaps the computer guy and bring him to their house to make a Microsoft Windows error disappear? That’s how I’m feeling these days… I have three computers sitting on my desk (only two are mine), and four in the cellar waiting to be fixed. I’m also shopping Retrobox, looking for a new computer for my aunt and uncle.

It pays to be a geek.


Foolishness.



O.k., I have to admit it. I was ready to start the new year with a clean shaven face and a new found positive spin on life. Sadly, I was a fool. Not about the ‘positive spin on life’, I’m lovin’ 2004! After all, my motto is “Smile More in ’04!”. And I mean every word of that.

No, I was a fool for shaving off my beard. It has been 48 hours, and it has not grown back yet. I have shaved once, which was the initial deed. I can’t bring myself to shave again. My face feels naked, cold, raw and rashy. I feel vulnerable. Queer Eye’s Fab Five be damned, I’m growing back my beard.

On one of our shopping jaunts over the last month, Earl and I stopped at “The Body Shop”. We picked up various accessories, including their “premiere” shaving cream. Now this isn’t a puff of foam for 99 cents, no, this is a small tube for $8.00. According to the pitch provided by the repeatedly pierced sales person, using this stuff is suppose to be just one step shy of orgasmic. Perhaps for the pincushion, it was used in such a manner. More importantly to me, it proudly proclaimed “Not Tested On Animals”. I think the animals fought back before they implemented that policy or something.

I had initially clipped my beard off with my beard trimmer and ran around looking very Don Johnson with lots of stubble. But then I decided I need to go all the way, so I headed to the bathroom. I should have known that when I didn’t hear a heavenly chorus of angels proclaim “Ohhhhhhhhh” in a joyous manner that this “premiere shaving cream” wasn’t all it was suppose to be. When I put it on my face, I thought I had mistakenly applied solidified lighter fluid. However, after the initial numbing pain, I got used to it. So I went to work with the Mach III. After millions of dollars of research, I can say that the Mach III is still an engineering marvel and does bring joy to one’s shaving routine, especially those of us that choose to be Bald By Choice. So I brought my cheeks and chin to their pre-pubescent smoothness, despite the rash I was developing from the shaving cream. I looked at myself and said, “Damn, you looked better with the beard.”

I suppose every man that shaves off his beard is hoping for something better than he started with when he looks in the mirror after “the big shave”. Well it something that we can dream about. I can not get used to my face without a beard. In my mind’s eye, I still see myself bearded. When I look in the mirror, all I see is pasty white. I mean WHITE! Very WHITE! Devoid of my head hair and my beard, along with my blond eyebrows, I was accused of looking like a Q-Tip. And the folks at work say they’re my friends.

It wasn’t very smart of me to shave off my beard at the beginning of the coldest week in years. Weather forecasters are saying we’re not going to get out of the single digits for the next 10 days or so. Thank God for the soul patch I left under my lip. At least the coroner will be able to identify my hair color when they find me dead from freezing to death.

And Thank GOD for Earl. God Bless Him, he’ll support me no matter what. Small wonder I love him without hesitation. I told him tonight at supper I was growing back my beard. He’ll have to endure the nightly “progress reports” for the next month or so until something substantial plants itself.

So after this dance with conformity, yesterday, January 5, 2004, I began The Great Beard V2.0. I’m done shaving. I’ve tossed out the “Premiere Shaving Cream”. The Mach III has been laid to rest. May the fur grow, and the cheeks and chin no longer be barren.

And may the fool learn from this experience.

A New Year.



It’s 2004, a New Year for all. I’ve set some goals for myself to make 2004 the most productive and enjoyable year it can be. I began by shaving off my beard, completely. It’s something I haven’t done in a while, as I usually have a mustache or goatee, but I went for the full blown clean shaven look… well, I kept a “soul patch” under my lip because I have to have *something* on my face. Tomorrow morning, when I’m getting ready for work, I’ll start shaving my head again. It feels wonderful. I think my beard was making me feel ‘burly’ and subconsciously giving myself permission to eat more food than I should have.. Being clean shaven, I feel sleek and ready to get back into my fitness regimen. I’ve lost 50 lbs., now it’s time to start finding my abs. 🙂

Earl and I did a little bit of shopping over the weekend. I took the opportunity to pick up Visual Basic .NET 2003 – the Deluxe Learning Kit. My goal this year is to become very proficient in Visual Basic (a computer programming language). I’ve written countless programs in the ancient GWBASIC and it’s cousin, QuickBASIC, but I’m eager to start programming in something a little more current. I did look at Linux for a bit, but since corporations seem to be Microsoft-centric, it’s probably best for my career in the long run to continue to use a Microsoft Based product.

Tomorrow life regains normalcy. Work is a full week, routines will be re-established, social commitments settle down… it’ll be nice to be on pace again. I have a lot of plans for work during 2004, and I’m excited to delve into the projects I’ve laid out for myself.

Happy New Year to all.

In-Between.



This is the weird “in-between” week of the year. Half the country is working, the other half isn’t. Some businesses are open, some are closed. The weird week between Christmas and New Year’s. Always interesting.

Earl and I had a wonderful Christmas with our families. It was a touching Christmas, in that we had the opportunity to sit back and reflect on how fortunate we really are. To be surrounded by loved ones is very special.

On Friday evening we went to Lindsey’s calling hours. Over 1,000 people passed through the funeral home in three hours to pay their respects. It is very clear that there is a lot of love in the world. While the circumstances were unfortunate, to say the least, it was something to see people I hadn’t seen in 25 years.

The funeral service was on Saturday. I smelled my Grandmother’s perfume again, and I knew that everything would be o.k. for Lindsey’s family. It would be hard, naturally, and though it doesn’t seem like it right now, everyone will be o.k. After the funeral and the service at the cemetery, everyone gathered at the restaurant that Lindsey worked at, Kelly Cole’s, an Irish Pub in Liverpool, N.Y. The owners shut down the restaurant and served lunch for everyone, on the house. A pretty amazing gesture, considering Lindsey had only worked there since September. If you’re in the area, please stop by and give Kelly Cole’s your business. They’re pretty special (and the food is great!)

So now we’re at this “in-between” time. Earl and I work 2 1/2 days this week. We’ve decided to be selfish and celebrate New Year’s Eve on our own. The new entertainment system we bought for the house is awesome, and we want to take the opportunity to have a movie marathon. I haven’t mentioned it before, but Earl and I decided to buy this huge entertainment system when we moved into the new house. A Sony Wega 42-inch plasma television. A Yamaha surrond system with Klipsch speakers. Oh my goodness. This thing is awesome! We watched “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” on DVD tonight (great movie) and a couple episodes from the first season of “The West Wing”. It’s now clearly evident to me that this season’s “The West Wing” is clearly lacking in the writing department, especially after watching the far superior first season episodes.

Loss.



Life has dealt us a different sort of holidays this year.

On Monday morning, my sister called me shortly after 7. Since my sister and I share the same sleeping habits (we like to sleep in), this struck me as very unusual. She started the phone call by telling me that nothing was wrong with Mom or Dad, but she does have some bad news. Our second cousin, Lindsey, had died earlier that morning at 5:15 a.m.

To say that this has been an emotional rollercoaster for the family would be an understatement. I can not even begin to imagine the feelings that my cousin Theresa, her husband Charlie, and their children, Taylor and Patrick are feeling. If one were to sum it up in one word, it would be ‘shock’. A second word quickly inevitably follows… ‘Why’? Unfortunately, it’s not easy to come up with an answer.

The last time Earl and I had seen Lindsey was at her graduation party in June ’02. She was dressed up in one of those whacko sumo wrestler outfits and was ‘bouncing’ off her best friend. As a kid, she was bubbly and cute. As an adult, Lindsey was breathtakingly beautiful, both inside and out.

Earl and I quickly rearranged our travel plans so that we would be home this weekend for the services. Instead of heading down on Friday, we took a brief trip to Pennsylvania to share in the Christmas Eve festivities with Earl’s family. While we were there, we took a moment to visit his Mom’s grave site. As we remembered Earl’s Mom, we stood in the pouring rain and said a prayer, asking for her assistance in helping Lindsey to the Other Side. During the Christmas Eve festivities at Earl’s Dad’s, I suddenly smelled the unmistakable scent of my Grandmother’s perfume. Since I was standing between Earl and his father, it was a pretty safe bet that neither of them was wearing the scent. So I took it as a signal from Grandma that Lindsey was with her and Grandpa and all of my beloved family members that have already passed.

God has a breathtakingly beautiful angel among his legion.

~~~~~



Lindsey Brown

Lindsey Christine Brown

December 22, 2003 Lindsey Christine Brown, 20, of Liverpool, NY passed away Monday, December 22, 2003 at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Born in Syracuse, she was a communicant of Christ the King Church and a waitress at Kelly Cole’s Restaurant. She was a 2001 graduate of Liverpool High School and currently a student at Onondaga Community College. Lindsey loved animals especially her own dogs, Riley and Bailey. She is survived by her parents, Charles J. and Theresa A. Brown of Liverpool; a brother, Patrick Brown of Liverpool; a sister, Taylor Brown of Liverpool; paternal grandmother, Helen R. Brown of Liverpool; maternal grandmother, Rose L. Bonner of Syracuse; maternal grandparents, Matt and Katie Pedzick of East Syracuse; a beloved friend, Danielle Inman of Liverpool; Several Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. Calling hours will be Friday, December 26, 2003 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Maurer Funeral Home Moyers Corners, 3541 Route 31, Baldwinsville, NY. Services will be Saturday at 8:15 a.m. from the funeral home and 9 a.m. in Christ the King Church, 21 Cherry Tree Circle, Liverpool, NY. Burial will follow at Our Lady of Peace Cemetery, Clay, NY. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The S P C A, 5878 East Malloy Road, Mattydale, NY 13211 or The Humane Society of CNY 4915-1/2 West Taft Rd., Liverpool, NY 13088.

Published in the Syracuse Post Standard on 12/24/2003.



Christmas Shopping.



Earl and I went on our annual Christmas Shopping Trek last night. Actually, it was part 2 of the trek, as with all the activity involved with moving into the new house and everything, we found it easier to stay relatively local and to divided the annual trek into more manageable chunks.

So we shlepped our way to Carousel Center in Syracuse (the mall that is to become DestiNY USA, the largest mall in the world someday). A couple of months ago, Carousel instituted a Friday and Saturday night policy prohibiting people 18 years and younger in the mall unless they are escorted by a guardian. In a word? Halle-freakin’-lujah. Like The Walden Galleria in Buffalo, which instituted a similar policy over a year ago, mall traffic has dropped considerably. But retail sales have not, since people are actually at the mall to shop, instead of just hanging out and being obnoxious.

So we went on a merry trek through the mall and finished everything up, save for our gifts for each other. I hope to accomplish that tomorrow.

After the mall, we headed to Barnes and Noble to pick up some gift certificates. We took this as an opportunity to sit and relax in the café, something we have never done despite the thousands of hours and dollars we have spent in Barnes and Noble. (Well, maybe hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars). I had a blueberry scone that was absolutely wonderful. Not being a coffee drinker, though, I settled for a trendy bottle of water. Very nice.

On the way, I discovered that we were frightfully low on gas, so we headed to the trendy Delta Sonic. The place was all a glow and bustling with activity. I proceeded to swipe my ATM card and pump gas when the pump just stopped. The pump next to me stopped on the guy pumping his gas as well. After pushing some buttons and squeezing some handles (the pump, not the guy’s next to me), I decided to head into the convenience store to find out what was up. Between gum snaps, Ms. Bitch Behind The Counter informed me that the store closed at 10:00 p.m. and she shut the pumps off. No warning. No “attention Delta Sonic Pumpers…” announcements, nothing. So I had pumped all of $.02 (that TWO cents) worth of gas into my car. That’s right folks, $.02 (that TWO cents) was charged to my ATM debit card. I saved the receipt and plan to make a rant page against Delta Sonic with a scan of the receipt for everyone to see the foolishness involved. It’s fun to spread holiday cheer.

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The new symphony of life.



I’ve made a very important electronic discovery today. I’ve discovered iTunes. I’ve mentioned from time to time that I would really like an iMac, like the big brother version to the one I bought for Earl for Christmas last year. But my HP Pavilion is not that old, is quite functional (when I allow it to be) and works like a charm. I’ve messed with alternate operating systems (Linux, FreeBSD), but I’ve settled back into the routine of Microsoft Windows XP Home. And today, I took the opportunity to install iTunes for Windows XP.

Oh my God.

I’ve already purchased one complete album and 17 miscellaneous songs. I’ve burned two CDs that I intend on listening to in the car this weekend.

I’m hooked on iTunes. After struggling with “alternate operating systems”, it’s nice to have something that works so easily and is yet so very functional.

If you haven’t latched on to iTunes, you need to get it fast.



Earl and I invited our friends Dennis and Victor over for supper tonight. We haven’t seen them in over a year for various reasons. Our lives were very hectic with Earl working many extra hours. Our house was always a wreck. So it was nice to get together and catch up on all that’s been happening. It was a nice, relaxed, casual evening. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.



And last but not least, I may have mentioned that I started a beard the day we made a purchase offer on the house. Not wanting to jinx the purchase, I decided to not shave until we closed on the house. Well, we’ve closed on the house, and I still have the full beard. I kind of like it, as does Earl, and I think I’m going to let it grow until at least his birthday (end of February) or until the 1st of March. Who knows, maybe I’ll let it grow until The Ride for Missing Children. That would be pretty cool. 🙂

If you want to take a look, the webcams are up and running again. Now that we have high-speed internet AND I’m running Windows, it’s easy to share my face with the world!