February 2004

Seems like a nice day for a white wedding.

For obvious reasons, I’ve been following the whole gay marriage thing quite closely. It saddens me to have such a hateful man as the leader of the United States (Personally, I will always refer to him as ‘Bush Lite’ and will never dignify him with “Mr. President” or even “human being”.) While tossing this whole deal around in my erratic mind, there are several things that I can’t quite comprehend about the whole debate.

1. Isn’t the constitution designed to declare and protect our freedoms, rather than take them away? As I recall, the only constitutional amendment that took away citizen’s rights was prohibition, and we all know how swimmingly that went.

2. Isn’t the creation of a religiously biased constitutional amendment in violation of the whole separation of church and state ideal?

3. Why has San Francisco just started handing out marriage licenses to same sex couples? It’s not like the whole gay thing is a new idea in San Francisco. Was there an epiphany involved?

Honestly, I’m ambivalent about any kind of marriage as a “declare your love in front of God” ideal, because Earl and I don’t believe that you have to be standing in a church, dressed up in wedding clothes and exchanging your vows in front of a padre to consider yourselves married. For us, it’s simple. Declare your love for one another in front of God. You can do this in a chapel, in front of a McDonalds drive thru speaker or at the State Fair… I don’t think God is that picky. Love is love. God is omnipresent. If anyone knows when you’ve been sleeping, and knows when you’re awake, its God.

As stated on our “About Us” page, you’ll see that we’re already married. I proposed on a mountaintop in October ’96. We exchanged our vows in front of witnesses on December 26, 1996 at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. It was the type of ceremony that we wanted. Was God involved? Abso-friggin’-lutely. I know that we homosexuals are suppose to be all agnostic and such, but sorry, for us that’s just not true. Earl and I are very spiritual. We share in God’s love. We pray daily, and not just the simple warp-speed mumble before the mashed potatoes get cold. And we know that we were brought together to go through life as one. Who cares if we are both men. Not to sound smug, but you won’t find many unions between any two people, man/woman, man/man or woman/woman, with a relationship as strong as ours. However, we unfortunately don’t benefit legally or financially from our marriage. And that’s where I have a problem with the whole thing.

Even to the most casual observer, it’s obvious that the use of the word “marriage” has everyone’s panties in a wad. Bible beaters scream that the Bible declares marriage to be the union of a man and woman for the purpose of procreation. O.k. …

1. Doesn’t that outlaw divorce?

2. Doesn’t that outlaw the marriage of a sterile individual?

3. Doesn’t that prohibit marriage after menopause?

Whatever happened to “Love thy neighbor…”?

Besides, the Bible also talks about several other issues, including:

Leviticus 25:44 — one may buy slaves from the nations that are around us. This apparently includes Mexico and Canada.

Exodus 35:2 — those that work on the sabbath should be put to death. I would assume this includes Wal*Mart 24-hour Supercenter employees.

I could go on and on, but if you google for “Dear Dr. Laura”, you’ll get a lovely list. (She’s such a gem, that Dr. Laura) And never mind that the Bible has been translated, retranslated, edited, regurgitated, condensed, expanded, fluffed and folded over the past 2000 years or so. My grandfather remarried shortly after my grandmother passed away. He was 80 years old at the time. I’m pretty certain he wasn’t marrying for procreational purposes, though he has said, most recently at Thanksgiving in a very loud voice, that does enjoy sex. I say “Bravo” to him for getting married again and having a happy sex life!

I don’t like the idea of a double standard, but I think Vermont has the right idea with the “civil union” thought. Would Earl and I like to be legally married? Of course we would… in the legal sense. As far as we’re concerned, we’re already married in the spiritual sense. Could we deal with a “civil union”? You betcha. I can already hear the old bitties at the mall. “Oh, those two men are (whisper) unionized.”

Where is this going? God only knows. I think Baby Bush is stupid enough to base a good share of his re-election campaign on this issue. After all, he can’t campaign on the war (it’s unorganized, American soldiers are still killed daily in Iraq and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight), nor education (he just cut 38 programs out of the “No Child Left Behind” law), nor the economy (a record deficit in the shortest amount of time in the nation’s history), nor Social Security (I’d be very surprised if the program still had enough money for postage to mail the bounceable checks by the time my turn comes around), nor his foreign policy (we all know that the U.S. would not win a world popularity contest right now). He started his presidential term with a nation divided, he might as well end this nightmare the same way. However it turns out, I’m afraid there’s going to be backlash. The right will get righter, the left will get lefter. I do know that if that fool does get his constitutional amendment, then I no longer wish to be an American. That sounds like a strong statement, and that’s because it is. And there’s no doubt in my mind that that’s how I really feel. I’ve never lived my life as a second class citizen in any manner, and I’m not about to start because the powers that be have lost their mind and mangled the constitution. But I don’t think that constitutional amendment will get passed. I don’t think the country as a whole is that hateful. For better or worse, this whole thing will simmer down.

Until this is all resolved, I suppose I’ll be glued to NPR and riding the gay marriage roller coaster along with everyone else. No matter how you feel, get out there and vote. Be involved. Let your voice be heard.

I like to suck.

With Earl out of town, I’m finding that the simplest things are amusing me. I think I have too much time on my hands.

I like to suck.

Now that I have your attention, naturally I am talking about our vacuum cleaner. When Earl and I moved into the new house, our beloved cleaning lady, Mariruth (I sometimes refer to her as ‘Agnes Destructo’), had to have some back surgery that was going to take her out of commission for a couple of months. While we don’t like to see anyone undergoing surgery, it was admittedly a convenient way for us to kind of slide her out of the picture and save money for the new mortgage payment. “Hell, anyone can clean a house”, we thought, smugly.

Such a simple thought. Such a massive house. Such fools.

Earl and I are the ‘jet-set’ type if you will, and use the weekends to flit to this or that locale to enjoy all life has to offer (mainly malls and diners in distant lands). During the week, we are two very busy executive types that are making very tiring decisions all day long. At night, we like to kick back and relax after a long day at work.

These two variables leave little time for cleaning.

So the second weekend in January we decided that we were going to clean the house every other Saturday. Top to bottom, elbow to asshole, this place was going to SHINE SHINE SHINE all around the world. (Sorry, I’m getting a clean toilet mixed up with Barry Manilow for some reason). We promptly went to Lowe’s and purchased all sorts of accoutrements, including a wet/dry type vacuum made especially for hardwood floors (which includes all the floors in the house save for the kitchen and one of the bathrooms). We thought we’d be spiffy with a Swiffer. Not just any Swiffer mind you, but two of them… a Swiffer Plus which resembles a maxipad on a stick and a Swiffer Wet thing that spews some sort of goo and a mildly pleasant gas. That’s on a stick as well.

We also picked up a Eureka canister vacuum for the sole purpose of dusting and vacuuming the stairs. It was cheap at $79.

Well the wet/dry vacuum sucked, and I don’t mean it in a good way, and it’s a beast to drag around the house. The cat is constantly hysterical, I’m wetting when I should be drying and general mayhem ensues whenever I try to use the damn thing. I use the Lysol kitchen floor cleaner on the wood floor and the Murphy’s oil soap (both specially formulated for this particular vacuum cleaner, mind you) on the kitchen floor. Chalk that $250 up to the “lessons learned” category. It’s parked next to the cat’s litter box. I’m hoping that the fear it strikes in him makes him bury his crap faster.

The Swiffer Plus looks like a huge tampon and quite honestly, though I’ve never seen the female genitalia, being gay and all, I can’t use anything that looks like it belongs in places I’ve never been. Especially something covered in dust bunnies.

The Swiffer wet/dry thing, well, died after three or four uses so I threw it out back in the woods. Perhaps the wildlife would enjoy the mildly pleasant gas. At the very least, maybe they’ll bury it.

But the cheap Eureka vacuum cleaner has been an absolute trooper. I got downright crazy and ordered extra parts online last week, including an attachment for hardwood floors and a kit that lets you clean the inside of a computer or a model train set. The little kit works so well I’m thinking of getting a model train set so I can use it more often. Which is a good thing, because I wanted to see how all this worked out before I ordered the parts that let you perform a home facial on yourself. I must admit that I am excited about the prospect of sucking the dirt out of my pores with a vacuum cleaner. The Queer Eye fab five would be proud.

So tonight I threw on my cleaning clothes (including the big socks for dusting the floor with ease) and proceeded to vacuum, vacuum, vacuum with my little Eureka trooper. 2,600 square feet in two hours and the house looks wonderful! It was fun vacuuming with this. I enjoyed myself.

It’s true! I suck! And now I do it well!


There are times when I eagerly look forward to work on a Monday morning.

Unfortunately, today was not one of them.

Earl arrived home late Thursday night, and we took the opportunity to celebrate his birthday on Friday night. It was a fun evening… I took him to one of the area’s more upscale restaurants for a quiet, romantic dinner. The restaurant was virtually empty because the weathermen were predicting everything short of a new ice age, though nothing of the sort was happening. There was candlelight, and soft whispers among the few patron that were there… except for one table. This table was populated by a sloppily mannered, inappropriately dressed family, complete with an obnoxious, cud chewing, wild-haired woman. Had it not been for them, the scene would have been positively serene, but her sqwaks detracted slightly from the mood. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable experience and we both had a good time. I asked Earl if I was becoming a snob with my “poo-poo” attitude towards that family. He assured that I wasn’t, because I already was a snob. Oh well.

Later Friday night, Earl’s brother Dave and his wife Kelly arrived for a weekend visit. It was Kelly’s first time up here, and the first time in the new house for both of them. We just sort of hung out most of the weekend, relaxing and shootin’ the bull. Saturday night I set aside my vegetarianism and we went to the Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. There was a two hour wait, but it was worth every minute and the food was out of this world. I paid the price for setting aside my vegetarianism later on, but I guess it was worth it.

After Dinosaur BBQ we stopped off at Turning Stone Casino, where I followed tradition and gave them a sizeable chunk of change. Sometimes I wonder why I just don’t hand in my wallet is at the coat check and tell them to just take what they want. At least Earl broke even on the tables so we didn’t lose everything, just half of it. But it was fun, and that’s what’s important. I guess I have to get over feeling guilty about losing money at the casino. Earl tells me that we wouldn’t go if we couldn’t afford it, but nonetheless, I still feel guilty.

Yesterday we did stopped off at Panera’s for a Chai Tea Latte (great for my health plan) then the grocery shopping, household thing after Dave and Kelly left and then we futzed around on the computers a bit before Earl packed for this week’s business trips and we called it a night.

And then this morning was work. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, so I had a hard time getting up at my usual 7:00 a.m. I do much better sleeping in, and I’ve felt sort of draggy all day. I don’t know if I have a lack of enthusiasm going on because of work or because Earl is out of town. Deep down I know it’s the latter. I enjoy my job, very much so, even though this week is a hectic week, especially with a couple of big projects winding up. Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines. Just typing this paragraph is reminding me of what awaits tomorrow. I can deal with it just fine, but do I really want to? I’m not sure. Do I have to? Of course. I’ll get through work and Earl’s absence just fine.

At times it feels like the world is moving way too fast. Zoom. Hectic. Be here. Be there. Ringing phones. Obnoxious intercoms. Virus alerts.

I have to remember to work hard at staying focused. Do the right thing. Slow down, savor each moment. Look for the sparkle in the eyes of those around you, even if they’re wild haired and cackling in an intimate restaurant.

I think I’m in Love.

Earl has been working diligently at his new Ohio plant all week. We’ve been talking back and forth a couple of times a day, as well as conversing on e-mail when time allowed. It’s a good thing that I’m the IT Administrator at work or I’d have to fire someone for all the steamy e-mail that has been exchanged during business hours.

I would love to see how much the “shared services” department of Earl’s company are blushing whilst reviewing our e-mail exchanges.

Just kidding, I’m entirely too internet wise to know that you shouldn’t be having that sort of exchange on company e-mail. That’s what webcams under the desk are for.

But I digress.

Anyways, I hadn’t heard from him since lunchtime, so after getting settled in for the evening, I decided to call his cell phone. He promptly answered. “Hello?”

Realizing he is in the rental car, rather than at a dinner meeting like I originally suspected, I asked, “Where are you?”

“I’m out for a drive, relaxing after a long day.”

Going on a hunch, I ask out of the blue, “Have you made it through Buffalo yet?”

“I’ll be home in two and a half hours, I just passed through the toll barrier”, he giggled back.

My lover is coming home a day early, for two reasons:

1. He wants to wake up in his own bed for his birthday (tomorrow).

2. He wants a hug.

And that, my friends, is what makes a boy like me teary eyed on a Thursday night.

Yes, I Mac.

With Earl out of town on business this week, I’ve had the opportunity to let the techno-geek out for a little bit. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that as Earl travels on business, I tend to go into full nerd mode to fill my quiet evenings. This week has been no different.

As a true nerd, I started out Monday evening by looking at porn on the internet. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at porn on the internet (well maybe not that long) and as I suspected, a man is a man is a man is a man, whether posing prettily on a chair, complete with abnormally pouty lips, or swinging from a ceiling fan dressed up as one of The Village People. Usually the leatherman. Been there, done that. And as I’ve always known, porn doesn’t really do it for me… I need the real thing, and the real thing is currently in Ohio.

Tuesday night I tried to be wildly productive. I have to admit that I had grand ideas. In fact, I went so far as to bring home a briefcase full of work with hopes of catching up on various projects that I hadn’t gotten to at the office. That just plain sucked. If I didn’t do it at work, why on earth would I do it at home?

So then I thought I’d dive into the internet by working on my road website, writing in my blog and generally being creative for the rest of jpnearl.com. If you take a look around at jpnearl.com, you’ll notice that I didn’t get much accomplished around here. I’m longing for a new look to the rest of the site, something in a brushed metal motif. I did enjoy writing in my blog, as always. Earl says I write in my blog just to amuse myself. My mother thinks I should take my act on the road. But I don’t think Upstate N.Y. is ready for a gay, eccentric stand-up comedian that doesn’t get turned on by porn. Maybe I should show Janet Jackson’s boob and get them talking. Well, not actually her boob, but perhaps a picture. What this has to do with standup comedy, I don’t know, but then again, what does Janet Jackson’s boob have to do with football?

Anyways, after daydreaming of becoming a nice, male Rosie O’Donnell standup type and then trying to get the image of Rosie O’Donnell looking at Janet Jackson’s boob out of my head, I looked over at the computer desk next to me and saw Earl’s iMac sitting there.

When the cat’s away….

I bought Earl his iMac a little over a year ago for Christmas. He has been in love with the computer since the first time he heard the typical startup Mac “honk”. Maybe it’s more a bong than a honk. He absolutely loves his computer and has done some wonderful things with it, including making beautiful photo albums of our last two big vacations. I haven’t even gone through the pain of posting the pictures on jpnearl.com. Windows didn’t like that idea one night so I just gave up.

I decided I needed to give the iMac a test spin. After all, it’s just sitting there, right?

So I’m writing this blog entry on his iMac. I’ve adjusted the screen to the appropriate height for my viewing comfort. I’m looking at his iSight camera and it’s clarity, envious of all the gee-whiz bang look of it all. The little Mac happy face makes me feel so happy. I like feeling happy. Kind of like, “Hey, I’m your cool computer. I’m pretty to look at, I have Unix under the hood so you can get as geeky as you want, and I make it REALLY easy to get your little projects done. You’re going to love me. And I love you. Have a Nice Day!”

Oh my (insert favorite deity here), I’m in LOVE!

I want one. Jeez oh please oh deedy doody deedily please can I have an iMac? If you think outbursts like that are frightening, you should meet me in person sometime.

So Earl and I need to have a talk this weekend about what to do with the Tax Returns. I’ll sell my old computer on ebay and make a decent buck off of it. I’ll sell my various copies of Microsoft based programs to gather up a little more money. Admittedly, the talk makes me a little nervous.

But what really makes me nervous, is I think I’m more turned on by the thought of having an iMac than I was Monday night looking at the leatherman on the ceiling fan.

Call me Sheena.

Long, long, distance love affair! I can’t find you anywhere! Whoa-oh. I call you on the telephone…

And week two commences of the long distance relationship. It’s official. Effective yesterday, Earl was promoted to “Multi-Plant Operations Manager”. He is now in charge of two plants. The one here at home, and a second in Madison, Ohio. Due to the financial performance of the Ohio plant, he’s going to be spending a lot of time in Madison. And I mean, a *lot* of time. He’ll be out there five days a week for the next six weeks or so, and then he’ll re-evaluate the plant’s performance and he see what he needs to do.

I’m married to a traveling executive. And I’m so proud of him. This is something that Earl has been working on, and he finally took another step up the corporate ladder. I joke with him that I’m going to end up at the ladies’ luncheon someday and they won’t know what to do with me. My luck, I’ll win the table centerpiece as a door prize and all the women will be jealous. “Of course the boy wins the door prize”, they’ll pooh-pooh.

πŸ™‚ The thought of me at a ladies’ luncheon is like a bull in a china shop. I’m sure I’ll have my elbow in the soup before the first course is over with.

So now I’m busying myself at home, working on various projects for work and listen to MSN Radio. MSN Premium service came free with our Verizon DSL service, and while I don’t care for the interface (it’s pretty and all, but entirely too simple for me), I do appreciate the ammenities that come with the service.

Earl and I spent Valentine’s Day malling. Many gay couples go “antiquing”… jumping from antique store to antique store looking for a distressed table for their lanai. Earl and I do the gay simplistic thing instead… we drive from mall to mall, looking for stores that suit our tastes. We’ve always been mall connoisseurs. We started with “Holyoke Mall at Ingleside”, outside of Springfield, Mass. While quite busy, we found it to have a dated feel to it. And a tad crowded. So we hit I-91 south and ended up just across the Mass.-Conn. line in Enfield, Conn. There’s a mall there called the “Westfield Shoppingtown Mall” or something close to that. Very small. We walked that whole mall in ten minutes.

So we proceeded into Hartford, Conn., where we found Westfarms Mall. Success! We had a wonderful, casual dinner at California Pizza Oven and did some browsing at the Apple store. We were carrying around our doggie bag in a small pizza box, when the associate at Apple came up to us and said “Did you bring pizza for me?” (flirt, flirt). We smiled and I said, “Sure…”. He sniffed the air and said “I’m a vegetarian” in quite the haughty voice and walked away. Yo, Creepella, I’m a vegetarian too you nitwit. From now on I think I’m going to just say “I don’t eat meat”. Vegetarians are entirely too snooty.

After a stop at Williams-Sonoma and Nordstroms, we hit the road and arrived back at home around 2:30 a.m.

On Sunday we relaxed and just enjoyed the day. Earl packed for this week’s trip. We watched “Daredevil” on DVD. Great movie, even the second or third time around.

This week’s project… Earl’s birthday present! Wish me luck.

“Long, long, distance love affair! Whoa-oh”… πŸ™‚

Back In The Groove.

Well Earl and I are back online at full speed, and I must admit, this makes me quite happy. Thank goodness for Verizon DSL.

I have to admit it was a little rocky at the start. I followed the installation instructions to a “T”, only to discover that I did not put a filter on the phone in the spare bedroom. I fired up the DSL and found that it was very, very, very slow. So slow in fact, that I starting have flashbacks to our days in the old house with that satellite setup. I went to bed and had nightmares.

Same deal this morning. Slow, slow, slow. So I went to work cranky. Looking back, I’m sure my co-workers appreciated that!

So when I got home this evening, I decided that I was going to make this work, come hell or highwater. So instead of playing Mr. Macho Techno, I called Verizon DSL support. The very sweet yet rather unintelligible tech person talked me through everything, and had me check various connections, bits, beeps and whatnot. Then she reminded me about the little filters you have to install on your phones so that they don’t interfere with the DSL connection. That’s when I discovered the problem in the spare bedroom. “Ah ha!” And it’s my favorite phone too, being an old General Electric phone I bought when I was in college. When it rings it’s enough to wake the dead. Apparently all that noise interferes with the DSL signal.

Once I figured out that little problem, we were *golden*. A few speed tests and off we were, and now I’m cruising along on the internet at lightning fast speeds, while streaming some New Age music at the same time. N I C E!

So I just made the phone call and broke up with Mark at Adelphia. It’s been a number of years since I broke up with anyone, and I must say that Mark pouted almost as much as one of the flings I had in my mid 20s. True to form, he told me how much I betrayed Adelphia’s excellent service by bringing that wench named Verizon into the house. He even offered me a metal… the “Bronze” package, free for a month. I said “sure, why not”, but I have no idea what that means.

Another reason I’m back in my groove… I had to go to the doctor’s today because I seemed to have some sort of infection in my nether regions. I hadn’t been in to see my doctor since July ’01. He was shocked to see that I’m 50 pounds lighter. He was very pleased that my blood pressure was *excellent*. And he did use the term, *excellent*. Not like surfer-dude “Excelleeeeent”, but a courteous, professional “excellent”. Even though I’m sure Dr. Brownstein could get away with a surfer-dude comment, what with his charm, charismatic nature and drop dead good looks. But he keeps it professional.

I was trying to figure out how to snap a picture of him on my cell phone but I thought it would be a little obvious, what being naked and all with a sheet over my wah-wah. And the infection is just a simple little urinary infection… maybe too much time in the hot tub.

I thought it was getting a little soupy in there. Calm down, it’s clean.

Earl comes home tomorrow night… just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend. After the long week, it’ll be nice to relax with my sweetie for the weekend!

Forced Laziness.

My one New Years resolution I made this year was that I was going to write in my blog more. I’m trying to be more positive, upbeat and just generally gosh-golly-go-lucky (my previous blog entries reek of sheer happiness, right?), but looking back on my entries, it would appear that I have not been living up to my resolution. Honestly, it would appear that I’m lazy.

It’s a lie, I tell you, a lie.

This blog laziness has been forced upon me. By a lovely high speed internet cable provider named Adelphia. Would you like me to say it again? Certainly. Ad-hell-phia.

Now, I do not wish to admonish one about the evils of Adelphia, because they’re cable television is not bad, especially if you have a nifty little scanner and color printer to print piles and piles of money. It’s only appropriate that Adelphia refers to their cable television packages as “Metallic Packages” (i.e., we have the ‘Gold’ package, which includes fifteen versions of MTV, the pampered pet channel, the fully phat aerobics channel and the ‘normal’ channels full of snow to celebrate winter), since it takes a hefty chunk of change to pay for their services.

It’s their high speed internet service that truly sucks.

Earl and I have been in our new home since December 1st. We have had high speed internet since December 4th. Our internet connection has been down 26 out of 60 days. A stellar record. Maybe Adelphia should be in charge of the Bush Lite’s search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. They’ve certainly brought me to the brink of going ballistic. I’ve had more conversations with the “friendly, knowledgeable technical staff” at Adelphia than I’ve had with my mother. I know all the field technicians well enough to feel that I could get intimate with them (just kidding).

I don’t really expect a lot. As the IT administrator for four computer networks separated by roughly 100 miles, I can understand the difficulties that can arise with these sort of things. But I’m paid a fair share of money to keep these things running. Time is money. Adelphia is paid obscene amounts of money to do the same. But they have this “Let them eat cake while I fan myself with my money” attitude that drives me crazy. Cable TV and internet access is as close as one can legally(?) get to a monopoly. As I was recently told by Ice Queen Katherine at Adelphia tech support during one of my latest tirades, “we’re the only game in town”.

That’s where you’re wrong sweetie.

Today a package arrived from Verizon. A brand new Verizon DSL modem complete with installation kit. My installation “ready date” is Wednesday. The DSL modem is sitting next to my computer, ready to purr it’s little bits and bytes in my direction. Thankfully, the stars, moon and sun have aligned in the seventh house and the high speed cable internet access is working fairly well today, with only one or two hiccups an hour. At least I had the opportunity to share my reason for blog laziness with you.

God willing, we’ll see what I can do tomorrow! πŸ™‚

Mental Health.

I took a mental health day today. Well, that’s not quite right. I didn’t call in sick or nothing like that. I took a personal day today and used it as a mental health day.

Work has been very busy the past week or so. Run, run, run. Everyone seems to be in a hurry. We have a couple of key projects going on at work and that’s keeping everyone on their toes. Plus, I had the brilliant idea of rearranging staff so now I’m interviewing people on top of upgrading the entire radio station automation system. My knack for task scheduling is unmatched, to say the least.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I am a road geek. I’m interested in maps and roads, and most specifically, big green road signs. I maintain my road geek website at UpstateNYroads.com. It’s a great way for me to perfect my web editing skills and I get to share my insight on the roads of Upstate N.Y. with other road geeks, road enthusiasts, road warriors and the motoring public at large.

So today I went to the New York State Department of Transportation photo log department in Albany. Since it was sleeting, raining, snowing and icing, the 200 mile round trip was quite interesting. Not exactly the mentally therapeutic drive I was looking for, but I made the best of it. The NYSDOT photolog department films every inch of highway every year or two for archival purposes. The earliest films they have are from 1975 and 1976, and those are the ones I wanted to take a look at. I was able to take a “virtual drive” up Interstate 81 (as well as some other roads) in Central New York as if it was August 1976. The magic of a film projector! Needless to say, I had a great, great time, and once the NYSDOT rep got over the initial shock of what I was using the research for, he joined in on the fun.

During this fun I cemented a suspicion that has been lurking around in my mind for the past couple of months. My memory is not picture perfect. Now, don’t get me wrong, if I do say so myself I have a memory that can put many others to shame. I remember stupid little insignificant trivial details. But today I discovered that I didn’t remember the signs from 1976 EXACTLY as they appeared on the film today. There were a couple I didn’t remember at all! So I accepted the fact that my memory is not picture perfect. But when all is said and done, I guess I’m as vague as always.

After the Photolog visit, I decided to take the scenic route home and enjoy the foul weather. Mistake. I had driven from Albany to Schenectady (at the most 10 miles) when I decided I needed a break. So I stopped at a barbershop and got a shave. I haven’t done that in a long time.

Feeling minty fresh and excessively pampered, I continued the trek to sunny (yeah, right) Amsterdam (15 more miles) where I stopped for lunch. Earl and I eat in Amsterdam when we’re in the area… at a small restaurant called The Windmill Diner. I couldn’t bring myself to eat there without him so I ate a Veggie Delight at Burger King.

I don’t think I need to tell you that I had to stop again 15 minutes later and beg for a restroom key at a grungy gas station. So much for BK.

I finally arrived home, completing an 1 1/2 hour drive in just short of 4 1/2 hours. Earl then promply called me and asked for me to pick him up at work because his ’03 Dodge Ram has lost its steam once again and is in the shop. Thank goodness it’s a company car… they can pay the bill.

So as I look back on my mental health day, I can say that I enjoyed myself very much. I feel rested and ready to take on the weekend.

Super Weekend.

As I write this, the Panthers and Patriots are tied with 40 seconds left in the game. I haven’t really been paying attention to the Superbowl, since the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t make it (I have to be an Eagles fan living with a Philly native, and I really don’t mind), but nevertheless I hear a hoot and a hollar once in a while from the family room… Earl seems to be enjoying the game.

We’ve had a super weekend. Friday night we met up with my Mom and sister in Syracuse for supper at a favorite haunt, Spaghetti Warehouse. We ate way too much food and drank way too much sangria, but we laughed and laughed and had a great time.

In fact, we were all in such good spirits (or perhaps the moon was aligned with Mars or something), that we set plans to get together on Saturday night to go to a Syracuse Crunch hockey game. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen my Mom and sister two nights in a row, but what the heck… 2004 is about living on the wild side.

We started out Saturday by driving to rural Parish, N.Y., right in the middle of the Lake Ontario snow belt. Rumor was they had over 60-inches of snow over the past week. Earl and I can safely confirm that the rumor is true. Lots and lots and LOTS of snow. It was like driving through a tunnel in a winter wonderland. The snow banks were higher than some houses!

Here I am standing next to a road sign.. which, by the way, is around twelve or fourteen feet off the ground…

After sliding around in Parish, we headed down to Syracuse to do some shopping at Carousel Center. I picked up some networking equipment for work and Earl picked up some goodies for the kitchen at Williams-Sonoma.

We were at the mall for only two hours, but quite a bit of snow fell while we were inside…

… that “shelf” of snow under Earl is our car. πŸ™‚

Afterwards, we met up with my Mom, slid our way up to my sister’s to grab her and then we all trotted down to the hockey game. We had a thoroughly GREAT time. It was nice to get together with the family. We laughed and cheered and just basically had fun. I’m looking forward to spending more time with them soon.

Today has been a lazy day. I’ve been messing around with computer stuff all day and Earl has been watching the Superbowl festivities since 12 noon or so. Here he is with another fan…

… and now it’s official, the Patriots kicked a field goal and inched ahead of the Panthers with four seconds left in the game. As a former resident of New England, I’m pleased.

A nice way to wrap up a Super Weekend.