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.


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.

Life in the Midwest.

Another day in beautiful Iowa. I just got back from eating supper at a local restaurant with my classmates and various members of the computer company I’m learning from. Being the techno geek that I am, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in the first half of the training session. I thought I already knew it all. Apparently I was wrong.

I have a tendency to talk shop at company related dinners. Maybe my conversational skills are reduced to bits and bytes and binary babble. Maybe I should pay more attention to the useless one (Jai) on Queer Eye for The Straight Guy.

I still can’t get over how nice people are in the little town in northwest Iowa. It is so refreshing. Having only met a lot of these people just 12 hours ago, it’s amazing to me that I feel so comfortable being with them. I suppose this has been a study in assertiveness. I tend to be a little shy or withdrawn when confronted with a situation outside of my little world, but I’ve felt very at ease these past couple of days. It’s been a wonderful feeling. Perhaps this trip was exactly what the doctor ordered. I do have a fresh outlook on my current professional circumstances. And I feel a warm, sunny glow in my soul that I haven’t felt in a while. Not that I was full of darkness or anything like that, but the change of scenery and such has really lifted my spirits.

I do know that if Earl’s job dictate a move (and in all likelihood, that is going to happen soon), I am going to be better prepared to handle it, both professionally, and more importantly, emotionally. I’ll be able to handle making new friends and getting acquainted to a new city or town. I really like the idea of telecommuting.

Tomorrow night I head back home. I can’t wait to be with Earl again. I look forward to sharing my new lease on life with him.

Nice People. New Attitudes.

Yesterday afternoon I left work around 1:00 to travel to Iowa for the computer training I’ve been looking forward to. I arrived here in Emmetsburg, Ia. this evening, after a total of 16.5 hours on the road.

Last night I drove as far as Madison, Ohio, where Earl is located when he’s “out of town” working. It was certainly wonderful to see him, as I’m sure you can imagine. After getting situated in his hotel room, he gave me a tour of his new plant (quite impressive). Then we headed to Great Lakes Mall, which is about 30 miles east of Cleveland, for supper. Of course I chose Chick-Fil-A. I had been looking forward to Chick-Fil-A since I basically gae up on vegetarianism, and it was a nice treat.

Last night was also special for us as it was the eight-year anniversary of our first date. I fell in love with him during that first day, and its nice to know that the feeling has only grown stronger as our relationship has progressed.

This morning it was up, up, up (to a car covered with snow!) nice and early so I could get on the road by 7:00 a.m. After a bagel, a glass of juice and a big kiss, I hit the road headed west. As soon as I was on the other side of Cleveland, the clouds parted, the temperature jumped 10 degrees and Mother Nature blessed my entire drive with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. All the way across northern Ohio and Indiana, central Illinois and up near the northwest corner of Iowa. I’ve never driven this far west, so it was a little bit exciting for me, especially crossing the Mississippi River. All the radio stations changed from “W..” to “K..”. ๐Ÿ™‚ The broadcaster in me appreciated that.

One thing I noticed, starting with last night, is that people are a heck of a lot friendlier than they are back home. Of course, I could be superimposing my feelings about the area on my perceptions of the people back home, but they all seem so cranky in comparison to everyone I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with last night and today. I’ve actually been smiled at, thanked and just generally made to feel good by the service people that I have dealt with, whether it be a gas station attendant, a toll booth collector or a high school kid behind a fast food counter. And I must say that it’s made by disposition brighter. Perhaps its the weather. Maybe back home is populated with nothing but degenerates. Who knows. All I know is that I feel sunny right now and I intend on taking my sunniness back home with me.

So now I’m situated in my motel room in Emmetsburg, Ia. The moblog will have to be put on hold until I leave, because there doesn’t seem to be any cell service for Cingular customers in northwest Iowa. Maybe things will change on the way home once I get into Minnesota, but when I got north of Waterloo, I lost my cell service and I haven’t found it since. The On*Star phone is working o.k., so at least I’m not completely out of touch with reality, and I have high speed internet here in the room too, which is nice.

And I must say that I feel like I am in the middle of nowhere. That statement isn’t really fair, because it is “somewhere” for “someone”, so I shouldn’t be judgmental by saying that this is “nowhere”. That would imply a snobbery on my part, which I don’t have. Actually, I really like it here. I feel like I stick out like a neon arrow over a casket at a funeral, especially with my shaved head, soul patch and little gay thing I always have going on, but I suppose I’ll get over it.

One lovely thing is that they have A&W! So you know what I had for supper. Afterwards I decided to drive through town to see what it was all about. I was ‘invited’ to drag race a high school kid at one of the two stop lights. Of course I did it and smoked him with our Impala LS. Gramps still has some kick in him after all. ๐Ÿ™‚


Earl and I are sitting in the local Jiffy Lube as I write this blog entry on my Pocket PC. We’ve been out on a ride this afternoon, enjoying the beginning signs of spring. It hasn’t really felt like spring the past couple of weeks with temperatures in the 30s and 40s. It’s nice to see the sun. And, its been nice to spend time together, especially since Earl is spending more time in Ohio with work.

I am looking forward to my trip to Iowa this week. I leave Tuesday afternoon. I’ll be spending the night with Earl outside of Cleveland. Then comes the long haul to Emmetsburg, IA on Wednesday. That’s why I’m getting the car serviced, so I have one less thing to worry about.

I am hoping to have internet connectivity on the trip. But at the very least I’ll be actively updating my moblog. So while I may not be able to share my snarky comments, at least you’ll be able to see what I’m up to.

Was the term “snarky” invented on the internet? I’ll have to do some research on that.


Back at home… Jiffy Lube turned out to be a nightmare! We were there almost two hours! The service guy informed us that we needed to flush our transmission since it hasn’t ever done before and the car has 96,000 miles on it. At first, he didn’t have the right fittings to hook the “flushing machine” up to the car. But then he found something that would work so he proceeded with the job. Well then the hose broke and transmission fluid spewed all over the engine and the windshield and down the front of the car. He hooked it up again, correctly, and continued with the servicing, though it took a lot longer than promised. Plus, with all the excess transmission fluid on the engine, the car smokes like its on fire whenever we park it now. He assured us that this was temporary and only until the fluid burned off the manifold. I like being an exhibitionist, but I don’t need to be the center of attention because my Impala appears to be on fire!

This should make the trip to Iowa REALLY interesting.

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I’m really starting to groove on my moblog. Of course my cell service was down most of the day (apparently it doesn’t work when there’s a sun in the sky) so I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I wanted, but nevertheless I was able to upload a few.

I think my reality-TV aspirations from last year are starting to creep up into my forethought again. Now I don’t want to go dunking for apples with Julie Chen watching so that I can win a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Big Brother. But I want people to see me. I want to perform. I want to have people stop me in the mall and say “I saw your moblog on TextAmerica and you’re whacked.” Hey, I’ve had a few offers to do some mildly obscene things on my webcam (especially under my desk at work of all places), and while the sentiments are quite flattering (I think), I don’t think I want to be the next Dirk Diggler. Not that being a Dirk Diggler type wouldn’t be interesting, but I really don’t see myself in a Marky Mark body nor do I have anything in my underwear that’s been surgically enhanced. At least I no longer have the body of Kevin James. Not that Kevin James isn’t cute mind you, but I don’t really have his physique either. I just would like to keep my webcam “G” or “PG-13” rated.

I don’t know why this need for attention is surfacing again. Perhaps because Earl is out of town more than he used to be, maybe I feel lost without my personal cheering squad. Now I’m not belittling my relationship with Earl to “cheering squad” status, but part of our relationship is that I’m his biggest fan as he is mine. at the very least he is extremely tolerant.

I’ll probably go moblog crazy on my computer training excursion to Iowa. Having a moblog is a great lesson in assertiveness. I can ask any drive-thru attendant at any given fast food place, without a trace of humor in my voice, “Hey, wanna have your picture on my website? Just hide the super-sized fries.” Before the camera in my cell phone, I would have never done that. Sure, back in the day I accidently unleashed my old roommate’s Springer Spaniel in an Arby’s drive thru, which resulted in the dog running across several roast beef sandwiches, but that wasn’t a study in assertiveness. That was more a study in stupidity. Of course I got all embarassed about it. To this day I avoid that Arby’s, and it’s practically the only one left open in the area.

So don’t be surprised if you start seeing more of me. With Earl’s new camera, and my moblog, we’re bound to make our mark on the internet. If you see me on the street, be sure to say hi and ask for an autograph.

The Future Lies Ahead.

I have been on an on-going anti-television kick over the past month or so, limiting my boob tube enjoyment to “Judging Amy”, a little bit of “West Wing” (when it doesn’t border on idiotic) and “The Screensavers” on TechTV. However, I did see an ad for a new lawyer show called “Century City”, so I added it to my ReplayTV to do list. Since this show takes place in 2030, I thought it would be interesting.

I just got around to watching the latest episode tonight. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I thought it was well done, was a somewhat realistic look at the the world 27 years from now and I hoped for it to continue.

Apparently, it’s been cancelled.

It figures. Television isn’t about putting anything interesting out there anymore. Of course, it’s about making money. And apparently, CBS has determined that after three episodes, this show isn’t going to make money. So off it goes.

At least “The Screensavers” is still interesting. They’ve moved people around on TechTV, some have left, etc., so there’s new dynamics in the ensemble on the show. As an ubergeek, I find myself learning loads of stuff. If you want to check out their website, you can do so here.

Speaking of being a big geek, the moblog is finally up and running with some quality pictures from my phone. I had to finally go to Cingular Wireless in person and practically throttle the guy behind the counter. But he got everything up and running. They had to completely wipe out my account and start fresh, so I have a new phone number, but hey, that’s the price you pay for technology. Apparently something wasn’t set up right when I upgraded my phone back in February, and every time I turned the phone on or off generated an error that finally added up to a whole bunch of errors in their system. They were unable to reincarnate Alexander Graham Bell (I think that would have been faster), so it was just easier to bag the whole ordeal and start again. Be sure to check out the moblog if you’re so inclined.

My biggest critic.

I decided to take a shower before writing in my blog and calling it a night. I sometimes go a little crazy in the shower, especially when Earl is out of town, and start singing in “full voice” – the voice I was trained to use in college so I could fill a 500-seat auditorium without the use of a sound system.

Tom (our cat) was not amused.

Just as I was cranking up a memorable rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Rubberneckin'”, I heard the unmistakeable sounds of a very displeased voice. Tom had jumped up between the shower curtain and liner and started caterwauling like someone had just set his tail on fire. Naturally, I did what ever good parent would do and ignored him completely.

I made it through Rubberneckin’ in it’s entirety and the started on my encore… Andy Kim’s “Rock Me Gently”. He then switched from a tail-on-fire sounding emergency to a downright yowl. Apparently, Tom does not like Andy Kim. I don’t think he knows what he’s missing.

Always one to please my fans I decided to wrap up my little concert with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. I sang it pretty much like my performances for the local hockey and baseball teams (who have since left town – should I take offense?)

Tom thanked me by being downright screaming louder than any crowd I’ve sang in front of.

But I know he’s part of our family – he yowls were right in tune with “land of the free” shrill.

I guess you can’t please anyone.

ps. I haven’t forgotten about my moblog already… I’m on Tech support call number 24 or so with Cingular One. They have until 12 noon tomorrow then I get all happy with Catherine Zeta-Jones and T-Mobile.

Electronica Maximus.

Well today I decided to embark on a little adventure and add to my already popular blog. That’s right, I’m adding a “moblog”. This is a mobile blog, one which includes pictures uploaded from my gee-whiz spanking new beauty of a cell phone, my Motorola V400. I’d show you a picture, but…

… it’s not working. Cingular One has been cranky with me today. Or maybe I’ve been cranky with Cingular One. Either way, I have no cell phone service right now, which makes my new moblog rather barren.

First of all, if you want to see the moblog, it’s here. I’m rather excited about it, because I can post pictures to it with just the click and click of my cell phone camera, the touch of a button or two, a few wireless transmissions and viola! the world see what Earl and I see. Textamerica.com has a great (read ‘free’) service that seems to be just wonderful. Many of the host/geeks on TechTV use the exact same service and everyone thinks they’re cool.

So I was able to upload one picture to my moblog when all of a sudden, right when I should have been working, my wireless web connection on my cell phone went dead.

1. Tech support call to Cingular One number one reactivated my phone. It didn’t work.

2. Tech support call to Cingular One resulted in a re-reactivated phone, and an offer to add insurance to my phone should I drop it in the toilet or something equally destructive. Still didn’t work.

3. Tech support call to Cingular One revealed that the Cingular One “switch” was all clogged up and that they would call my home phone when my phone service was restored. They never called.

4. Tech support call to Cingular One revealed that there was nothing wrong with their system, nor would there be, nor had there ever been a problem with my service, their service or their switch and that my gee-whiz spanking new beauty of a cell phone was at fault. Whammy! Wrong.

5. Tech support call to Cingular One resulted in the admission that Cingular One representative number one really screwed up my account and apparently Ma Bell herself was coming in to reprogram my portion of the switch. Apparently this entails 24 hours of hard labor, a bag of doritos and a lot of Mountain Dew, because I am not to even think about the phone for 24 hours.

So someday you’ll see my moblog in glorious technical color.

Part of my excitement about my moblog was spurred on by our purchase of a spiffy Sony Cybershot DSC-F828 digital camera. This actually looks like a real camera with manual focus and zoom lens and everything. It is 8.0 megapixel, which apparently allows us to photograph a cute man from several states away and still be able to see his charming grin. True to form, we bought the Best Buy “bees knees” of the camera department. I’d show you a picture, but I can’t take a picture of the camera with the actual camera, and well, my cell phone camera doesn’t work.

Let’s here it for technology!

Home Is Where The Heart Is.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, I recently came to the realization that we have a new house that really is yearning to be made “our home”. I must admit that I’ve been a little scared to become attached to this new house, because the idea of another move is always at the back of our mind, especially with Earl’s career on the move as it is. He’s eventually going to be promoted again, and it’s probably going to entail a relocation. It’s a prospect that I’m very excited about, however, it does make me a little hesitant to become attached to the wonderful house that we live in.

Now I just say, “screw it”.

This week I began the project of installing my collection of school clocks. The installation project has gone well, and I have around half of my clocks installed and fully functional. Just in time for daylight savings time tonight. I’m going to work on the more difficult-to-install clocks this week while Earl is in Ohio. Let’s see how well I do installing wire in walls stuffed with insulation!

We had a little “spring fling” dinner this evening, having my mom and my sister, my aunt and uncle and my cousin and my aunt’s mother and her husband over for dinner this evening. It was so nice to get together. It’s always an enjoyable time, and we laughed and laughed and laughed. The sound of laughter and the obvious feelings of family love definitely made our house feel like home this evening.

Prepping for the party yesterday, Earl went to the brand new Linens and Things and picked up some new decorations for the great room and formal living room. We’re going to do a little more shopping tomorrow during the day – I’m trying to convince Earl to go antiquing, but I don’t think that he’s in the mood to do so. I think it’d be fun. We’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

Earl and I, along with my sister, my mom and her dog went to get family portraits taken today as well. So we got all dressed up and headed to The Picture Place to spend the gift certificate that we had given my Mom for Christmas and had some really nice pictures taken. The cool thing about The Picture Place is that you get your pictures an hour after their taken… so we were able to bring them home with us. I’m going to scan them in tomorrow and share them. They came out really, really well. At Earl’s request, I went clean shaven for the pictures (save for my ever present soul patch), so if you’re keeping track, please mark the appropriate spot on your J.P. facial hair score card.

And lastly, I’m starting to get really jazzed about my trip to Iowa in 1 1/2 weeks for computer training. I can not wait to take the drive. I must admit that I am a little sad because I’m going to do the 18-hour in each direction trip alone (as I always road trip with Earl as my co-pilot), but I really like the thought of the drive and the opportunity to meet other individuals that have the same sort of job that I do.

The Handyman Can.

A couple of days ago I came to the realization that Earl and I live in a new house. Granted, we’ve been here since December 1, but with all the running around we’ve been doing it seemed like we hadn’t had time to take the opportunity to make the house ours. So tonight I started a little project.

I’ve mentioned before that I collect old school clocks. The type that click ahead once a minute and are control by a master clock that is usually located in the school’s main office. I had these clocks all through the old house, and when we moved, we had to spend a considerable amount of time patching holes in walls and such because of my hack wiring job. I look back at what I did in the old house and can not believe that I was jamming wire through the walls using the end of a broom handle, while standing on the piano. To this day I wonder why Earl didn’t murder me.

I’ve been a little hesitant to put the clocks up in this house because of my hack wiring job in the last house. But Earl and I talked about it, and I decided to go ahead and put them up… but very neatly. So tonight I started drilling holes in walls and scoping out where I’m going to run wire and all that stuff. The wire I ordered online should arrive tomorrow, so tomorrow night I’ll be fishing wire through walls. I’m really good at fishing wire. And I actually ordered the correct wire, instead of using a mix of speaker wire, telephone wire and a lot of electrical tape. I’ll also take the opportunity to introduce myself to the attic. That should be interesting.

For some odd reason I think it amazes people when I tell them that I’m capable of this stuff. I don’t know why. I grew up near a farm. My family owns a lumber yard and hardware store. Granted, I liked hanging out in the office and doing the accounting and such, but I still picked up a considerable amount of Do-It-Yourselfer knowledge by osmosis or something. Earl was amazed early in our relationship because I knew the difference between “AC” and “CD” plywood. He also was amazed that I knew what waferboard was. I always enjoy dropping little bits of handyman chatter because it makes me sound butch. And I don’t mind wearing my pants plumber style and showing my butt crack on occasion.

So Earl is going to get a little surprise when he comes back from Ohio. The reassuring “tick tick” of the clock system, functional once again. Let’s just hope that when he gets home I’m not straddling a beam in the attic, legs plunged through the bedroom ceiling, waiting for someone to save me.