March 2004

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.

Writing whispers in the dark.

It’s finally happened. I have confirmed that Earl and I are a “forever” couple.

I am writing in my blog while he snores away by my side. You see, we’re laying in bed. Well, I am laying in bed while Earl is already asleep. Perhaps you can hear him snoring. God love him, he snores loud enough to make cattle restless two counties away. But its music to my ears.

There was a time in my life when Friday night was “party night”. I would be spinning at the local bar, whipping up the music and feasting on the eye candy. But while I was setting the tempo for the crowd, I was so lonely. Oh I had friends and flings, but nothing everlasting. Until I met Earl. My life changed in so many ways when I met him.

And while we’re not big on the party scene anymore, its comforting to know that Friday night is still special… a nice dinner, a little internet surfing and then to bed early, Earl on my left, our cat Tom on the right, raindrops on the roof, while I ‘whisper’ in my blog in the dark.

Where’s the Beef?

I don’t usually write a blog entry from work, especially being the busy executive that I am, but I just had to write down this epiphany.

I like meat. Now get your mind out of the gutter. Of course I’m talking about the dinner table. Last night I had two cheeseburgers at McCrappys. Today I had a delicious turkey wrap (it’s called a ‘Perky Turkey’) with just hint of bacon. I haven’t felt this energetic, but more importantly, balanced in a long time. Is it possible that I was starving my body of necessary nutrients by eating a vegetarian diet? One can not find a clear answer through research, so I’m just going to go with what feels right. And right now, I know I feel good.

Mr. Hypocrite.

Earl is in Ohio through tomorrow night, which means that I’m fending for myself when it comes to meals. He’s the cook of the family. He likes to cook and make wonderful meals for us. When he’s out of town, I go into “popcorn mode” where I just of survive on a tub of well oiled popcorn for supper every night. Popcorn is my favorite food, especially when dripping with butter and various fatty oils. Plus, I was raised on popcorn. My mother felt it was a necessary part of every non-breakfast meal, whether it was a bowl of soup, a hamburger, a steak or the Thanksgiving Turkey, there was a bowl of popcorn, fresh from the Radarange, next to the main dish. Come to think of it, I may have had popcorn once or twice for breakfast too. Anyways, so now I live on popcorn.

Last weekend, after a particularly satisfying food binge, we promised each other that we would eat healthy this week. I was going to go back to my vegetarian ways. We were going to be thin and trim for our trip in June. I called him this evening to remind him not to go through the McCrappys drive thru and to go to Subway instead. (Typing that sentence makes me realize how I sound frightfully close to a nagging wife… lesson learned on that one.) After all, I had a wonderful veggie delite from Subway this afternoon for lunch while I was on the road and I thought he might enjoy the same pleasure I did. Of course, I neglected to tell him that I accompanied my veggie delite sub with a large order of Tater Tots, but I was never a stickler for details.

Well for some reason I just couldn’t face another bowl of popcorn tonight, Orville Redenbocker be damned. So I drove to McCrappys and ordered up myself a double cheeseburger value meal… large. The wench in the drive thru wouldn’t super size it for me, nor would she sell me a McRib because apparently McDonalds doesn’t feel that March is a month for McRibs. They suck. Apparently McDonalds is trying to get on the “health kick” and not offering super sized meals now because of that ridiculous “you made me fat” lawsuit. I knew I was going to feel guilty about going to McDonalds before I did it, so I drove two cities away to go through there drive thru window instead of eating at the McDonalds right down the street. Apparently in my little mind, crossing city lines wipes away any guilt that one can accumulate from betraying his lover and eating at McDonalds while his lover is suffering through another Subway sub. I don’t know what makes me think I’m married to Jared. So not only did I do a disservice to my vegetarian ways by eating two cheeseburgers, I went on a 45 mile round trip to do so. Bush Lite would be proud of my extraneous oil use! Great. Now I’m a meat eater AND a republican.

I’m going to fess up with Earl during our nightly “good night” call in just a little bit. I hope he’s in the mood to go to Tom Wahl’s this weekend to kiss and make up.

*Never one to assign blame, the fast food urge can be attributed to my blog friend Thomas’ eating an entire three pound tub of potato salad in one sitting. I couldn’t find potato salad, so instead I headed to McDonalds. Its *his* fault.

Techno simplicity.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been feeling a need to get back to the simple life. Now, I don’t want to do it Paris Hilton style, or even Eva Gabor style (though I do think that Eva and Zsa Zsa were much more fabulous than the Hilton girls), but I am trying to keep life as uncomplicated and organized as humanly possible.

It started with my computer late Sunday night. When we switched to Verizon DSL a month or two ago, we received a free subscription to MSN Premium. I sort of poo-poo’ed it, since I was in a Linux brat phase and tossed the CD aside. Well Sunday night I installed MSN Premium on my computer and I must admit that I like it! I must be a sucker for marketing or easily distracted by pretty baubles, because I really like the layout of the screen, the integration of e-mail and the “sidebar” stuff, including a list of my unread messages, a list of who’s currently online, my upcoming itinerary for work and the MSN Radio Station service which has a fabulous 80s channel on it. It’s more geared for the computer novice, but if the winsupersite guy can use it, so can I. And he’s such a big geek he gets to write about it for a living. If you ever want to IM me, I’m on MSN/Windows messenger. Click the icon on the left side of my blog screen to say hey.

The washer woes continue. As I always say, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux“. After meeting the washer repairman yesterday (who wasn’t really my type), nothing has been accomplished. Apparently something is rubbing between the inner and outer tub, though he couldn’t find anything. It was not really comforting that he could shine his somewhat feeble flashlight through the outside of the tub and see into the washing machine. Talk about cheaply made! When he took the bottom panel off the washer, a screw and an important looking rubber gasket fell out, which was reassuring. The Frigidaire tech support guy that was coaching the repairman over the phone thinks that a tub support arm broke, but the only way to find out is to completely disassemble the washing machine, removing everything but the door. Then he has to, as he put it, “crack open” the sealed outer tub and see what’s wrong. Then he has to put in all new parts because it’s suppose to be sealed. And that’s if there’s something wrong with the tub, it could have something to do with a strut breaking a cement brick. Lovely. For a washer that is now 123 days old, this can’t be good. I called Frigidaire (now Frigidaire by Electrolux) and told them I wanted a new machine pronto. They had to wait for the repair guy to fax over his report, which he had done, but the faxes only print once a day and that’s at 2 a.m. Talk about customer convenience. Then the matter has to go to the “replacement review board” which will determine if I’m worthy of a new machine or not. I must say that the thought of there actually being a board called the “Replacement Review Board” is rather frightening. But not to worry, this should all be cleared up by 2012.

So, I’ve decided that tomorrow night I’m going to take a stroll through a used appliance store and see if I can find an old GE Filter-Flo washer …

…from the 70s. Those machines were indestructable. Or maybe an old Westinghouse like the one my mom used to use the garden hose in. A knob or two here, lots of water there, and viola! Clean clothes.

If anyone wants a slightly used Frigidaire front loading washing machine, have I got a deal for you.

A Fu-tastically Simple Voyage.

Earl and I have been very busy today planning our trip to the Great Plains in June. We’ve made a couple of modifications to the itinerary and are leaving the “desert run” off. Instead, we’re concentrating on Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska. We’re hoping to make this our “Americana Trip”, where we see the sights and sounds of the good old Midwest. Enjoy some country fair blueberry pie. See some cows. Admire the corn fields. Frolic in a wheat field. Maybe spot a severe thunderstorm or two. I know it sounds terribly simple, but we are really looking forward to the trip.

Being vain and all, I’ve already begun preparations by letting my goatee grow out so that it can be hacked down to a fu manchu the week before we leave. (For those with a J.P. facial hair score card, please make the appropriate notations.) It’s was around 45 pounds ago that I last had the fu manchu / handlebar type mustache going on, and I think it will be a welcome addition to my thinner face. And besides, it seems to fit in with the Great Plains vibe we’re looking for. I’m glad Earl is tolerant.

I’ve been on this simplicity kick for the past couple of days. It seems like life is becoming way too complicated with the ringing and singing of cell phones whereever you go, barcodes replacing price stickers in the grocery stores, twelve combo meals to choose from at the restaurant, etc. I’ve even been overwhelmed by my computing experiences flinging myself from Windows to Linux to Mac to Linux to Windows to Linux to Mac to Windows. I feel like I’m in sensory overload or something, so I’ve settled down onto Windows (since I’m trying to squeeze two more years out of this computer); I’m shunning combo meals at McCrappys and opting for a Subway salad and I’m just trying to take it nice and easy.

Earl and I decided this morning that we have become completely domesticated (house trained?). The washing machine decided to fling itself apart during it’s high speed spin, which was rather inconvenient, considering the washing machine is only 123 days old, and was quite pricey. It literally scared the shit out of the cat, who was in his litter box when it happened, which is situated next to the washing machine. Hopefully, Frigidaire will get their little butt out here soon and fix it because it’s still well within it’s warranty period. It’s quite amusing how much drama this washer breakdown introduced to our household. “How are going to wash clothes?” “Are you going to the laundromat while I’m in Ohio?” The washing machine has been the topic of conversation all day. We’ve spun old washing machines tales from our youth. “My dad wouldn’t buy us a new washing machine to replace the broken one when we were kids so my mom dragged in the garden hose through the window to fill it.” “We had a washing machine that weighed clothes so you knew when it was full.” We’ve discussed the reasons we bought a front loader instead of the traditional top loader. We’ve tried to figure out why the washer broke. “Maybe I put in too much bleach.” I’ve threw out my useless knowledge about how Hotpoint washers were really made by General Electric which were made by Frigidaire which is really made by Electrolux. To an innocent bystander, it would be terribly underwhelming.

To us, it’s simply home.

Happiness on the horizon.

Well Earl and I planned out our annual vacation today. We’re flying into Kansas City and then driving to Oklahoma City, Santa Fe, Denver and then back to Kansas City. Right smack in the middle of tornado season! It’s going to be a fun trip and an excellent way to relax and see more Americana. Honestly, I can’t wait. It’s giving us something to look forward to. It’s all puddle-jumper flying, which I honestly enjoy more than the big jet variety. The flight attendants on puddle jumpers are extra nice because they’re bucking for a career upgrade. With enough smiles, they’ll earn sufficient frequent flyer miles to get upgraded to the two and three digit flight numbers.

Come to think of it, there’s a lot of traveling in our future, with Earl in and out of Ohio on a weekly basis, plus, I’m driving to Iowa in April for a computer training course. I’m really looking forward to that, as I’m going to be able to integrate spending the night with Earl in Ohio into the trip. A little nooky on the open road is always nice, especially when it’s with my lover. Not that I would nooky without Earl, but it’s the thought that counts.

Something wonderful happened while I was at work today. The sun came out. There was a little grumbling and hissing in the office, as we haven’t seen the sun in quite a while, and my co-workers forgot what computer monitor glare was like. We have these vertical blinds that are allegedly very stylish, black on one side, white on the other. Of course, they flip the blinds around so the white part is facing in, and then I have to be all Queer Eye and fix them so that the black is facing inwards. These silly heterosexuals never understand the importances of these things. As I’m typing this paragraph, I realize that I use the word “hissy” quite a bit. It’s not that I feel hissy, I just like the sound of the word. There are certain words that just sound funny. Like pip. I defy you to use ‘pip’ in a sentence and not at least giggle on the inside. Or ‘popeet’. Do you remember the ‘popeet’? It was some storage device that compacted upon itself for easy storage when it wasn’t full of junk. It looked like a fat crazy straw with a bunch of ridges. An accordian type thing. Come to think of it, I think I had an ex fling that called me ‘popeet’. What the hell was he saying about me?

Anyways, tomorrow is Friday and of course that creates a warm glow in everyone. It’s nice to feel the positive vibe again.

It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day.

After my miserable day yesterday, I had nowhere to go but up when it came to my mood. And I’m relieved to say that today was absolutely stellar compared to yesterday.

I started the morning by having a long chat with God again and it helped considerably. I kneeled in our formal living room on my meditation pillow. I closed my eyes. I cleared my mind. I felt surrounded by positive energy and a white light. Not a Star Trek transporter white light (though that would be way cool), but rather a pure, unadulterated white light. That was nice. While I had God’s attention, I asked for assistance in losing the last five pounds I wish to lose.

Surprisingly, I maintained my good mood and didn’t fall down in an emotional heap when I saw the car this morning…

Yes, Mother Nature decided to give us one more spurt of winter to the tune of 12-inches of snow. There are thunderstorms in the forecast for the weekend, so at least spring is on the horizon. Had it been yesterday, I probably would have had a major hissy fit about the weather, but today I just let it slide. Life is much too short to worry about things that you can not control. And besides, half of it melted by this evening.

Work was a breeze. Actually, it’s a hectic time. We’re airing a local hospital’s radiothon for the next three days, so there’s extra stress in the office as we’re trying to get the broadcast to happen without a hitch, while we raise $20,000, $5 at a time. It’s a great cause, and to the stress I say “piff”. Once I adopted that attitude, work was easy.

I was noticing the oddest things today. While I was trying to find the beauty in everyone, it seemed like I was seeing butt cracks everywhere. People leaning over in their chair. Secretaries leaning over the trash can. Here a crack, there a crack, everywhere a crack crack. I don’t think I’m enjoying this lo-riding pants fad very much. There’s no reason to share your crack.

To add to my cheery disposition, Earl told me tonight at supper that he’s cancelled his plans to go to Ohio this week. So he’s going to be home all the way through Monday. Very nice. I think I’m getting through this little bout of crankiness.

Attitude adjustment.

I have to take a moment and admit that I had an absolutely cranky day today. Miserable. Frustrating. Things at work just were not going my way. I was feeling very overhelmed. I had a couple of class A hissy fits. Plus, it started snowing again and there was needless hysteria.

So when I got home, I decided enough was enough. I seriously needed an attitude adjustment. So I jumped into the Jacuzzi. I contemplated pouring some bubble bath into the tub, but I wasn’t in the mood to clean-up the mess. So I meditated and read the latest book by Sylvia Browne. I asked for all the negativity to leave. I asked for help in finding my positive vibe again.

I know tomorrow is going to be a better day.


Earl and I had a wonderful weekend. I guess what “they” say is true, absence does make the heart grow fonder. It’s sure nice to have him home.

He met up with me Friday night at my Aunt and Uncle’s house outside of Syracuse. I cobbled together a computer for them and installed it, amongst pizza and wings for supper. It’s always nice to get together with the family, and I enjoy helping out with what geeky talents I have.

Saturday morning was the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Utica, and since I work for a radio station, we had to be part of it. Living in Upstate N.Y. can make a St. Patrick’s Day parade interesting, especially when it’s snowing so hard that you can’t see two or three floats ahead of you in the parade. And to keep things really interesting, one is decked out in full winter gear, complete with ski mask and gloves. In fact, your gloves impede your dexterity, so instead of throwing a tootsie roll or two, you end up throwing a couple dozen. At most parades, children are begging for candy, at the Utica St. Patrick’s Day parade, children are cowering in fear of being pelted by large amounts of Dum Dums.

After the fun and frivolity of the St. Patrick’s Day parade (who was that masked man?) Earl and I headed off to Rochester, because it’s rare that we do anything close to home. We had a wonderful meal at Champps in the EastView Mall in Victor and then did a little shopping. I say a “little” shopping. Actually, Earl (with a little coaxing from me), bought a new set of cookware from Williams-Sonoma and I (with a little coaxing from Earl) bought a new Toshiba e805 PocketPC to replace my Sony Clié. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying the Clié, in fact, it’s been a little trooper, but I felt that I had outgrown it. It was a base model so it didn’t have a lot of room for expansion, and I was really feeling the need to jump on the WiFi wagon. And I never felt that the Clié was the sturdiest piece of equipment I owned, so instead of getting a bigger and better Clié, I jumped onto the Microsoft bandwagon and switched to the PocketPC platform. Quite simply, I love it. I love finding WiFi hotspots. And I can’t believe I’m admitting it, but I like Windows Mobile much better than PalmOS. I’m already ten times more productive on my new Toshiba than I was on any of my Palm-based gear. And Earl gets the Clié, which he is absolutely delighted about because it’s in color and has a lighted screen.

On Sunday we were just basically lazy. Did some grocery shopping. To keep things interesting I smashed a $25.00 bottle of vitamins in the “Nature’s Way” section of the store. It wasn’t intentional of course, but my hand went spastic when I picked it up and flung it across the aisle. I had a quick flashback to 1975 when I knocked over a display of glass quart-bottles of 7up in the P&C and my mother shrieked at me and gave me a smack. Earl said I looked like I was going to cry when I dropped the vitamins. Maybe I need therapy after all. Always the honest guy, I went to the service desk and told them I saw someone smash the bottle of vitamins and they better call for a clean up. Just kidding, I ‘fessed up and they didn’t even make me pay.

We watched the third Indiana Jones movie on DVD before calling it a night. It was a relaxing weekend, which is just what the doctor ordered.

I was in good spirits when I went to work this morning. And to my delight, I was still in good spirits when I arrived home this evening. Life is good.