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Bueller? Bueller?

So I’ve completed my first week of back to school. It has been an interesting week getting acclimated with the schedule and doing that whole time management thing so that I am able to work and study, get to class on time and fit some playtime in as well.

For the first time since returning to college I have a professor that I really don’t care for. He seems like a nice enough guy in that he has a friendly demeanor and whatnot but he is completely devoid of social or lecturing skills. It’s like he becomes a pod person as soon as the class starts. His voice falls to this flat monotone and then for 50 minutes, four days a week he stands in the front of the room, writes on the board by banging his chalk like some warped IBM Selectric or crazy teletype machine and talks to the wall that’s holding up the blackboard. When he’s not talking to the wall, he’s talking to someone that’s apparently outside of this universe because he sort of has conversations with this invisible person. Today he told the wall that “they’re bored”. Once in a great while he’ll turn around and seem rather startled by the fact that he has a room of 30 students sitting there. Occasionally he’ll ask the wall if it has any questions and then he’ll move on without waiting for an answer. Today he forgot to take attendance and started beckoning the exiting students back into the classroom after half the class had left.

Surprisingly, the 50 minutes tend to fly by. Perhaps it’s because of the 30 students in my class, you see, all of them are guys. At least I have something to browse while he’s having a conversation with his chalk.

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Distracted.

My schedule is quickly falling into place as I make my way through my first week of this fall semester. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have an 8:00 a.m. health class (that lasts until 10:15) and then Technical Math at 12:00, before heading to work at 1:00. Since it doesn’t really make sense for me to head home between health and math, I bring along my PowerBook so I can catch up on my online English Literature course.

I’ve never been good at English Literature. While I absolutely adore English Composition classes and I often pass time by reading anything I can get my hands on, I really dislike being told what to read and then discussing the passage with a group afterward. I don’t know if it’s the loner in me or what, but I think of reading a story or novel as a personal experience. Each reader is going to glean something different from the passage and that should be left as just that, I don’t feel the need to hash out my feelings or perceptions with others.

Hence my recent post to the online classroom discussion board regarding a character that liked to hunt other human beings: “I felt the character was too stereotypical and I was unable to shake the ‘been there, done that’ feeling I had throughout the entire passage.” Truth be known, this story probably was the inspiration for an episode of Xena.

So while I sit here outside of the library in a little cubby cubicle type setting with my PowerBook, armed with the best of intentions as to complete my English reading assignments, I find myself distracted by the various things going on around me. College campuses world wide are populated with gorgeous men and this campus is no exception to the rule. Now I’m not standing out there like some weirdo with my tongue wagging nor am I trying to pull a Republican senator in the rest room (ew!) but I do appreciate the eye candy and I thank the universe for warm weather so I can see hairy legs.

I’m also finding that I’d rather be reading blogs instead of reading these English Literature assignments. Thank goodness the assignments aren’t due for another week and a half.

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Breaded Terror.

Has anyone notice that the expiration date on foods has started running out of control? Earl and I went grocery shopping a week and a half ago. We picked up the usual fare; bread, milk, orange juice, etc. It’s been 10 days and everything is still good. This seems rather unnatural to me. For example, I’m looked at our bread wrapper and it still has four days left in it, making it good for a full two weeks before it goes bad. I don’t trust this. It just doesn’t seem right. As I make my sandwich I’m constantly inspecting the crust and non-crust part (is that just called ‘bread’?), looking for the tell-tale signs of mold. There’s none to be found. I think this bread was engineered to last longer than a piece of wax fruit.

I have to admit that I have a bit of a phobia about food going bad. I can’t stand to clean out the refrigerator. Leftover gravy makes me weasy. I panic when we have bananas in the house. On the rare occasion that we buy them, I end up eating bananas like nobody’s business, overdosing on potassium in cosmic proportions lest the bananas turn brown. I mean, I seriously stress over the bananas turning brown, waking up in the middle of the night to get high on another hit of banana.

I remember the first time I saw mold. I was nine years old. I had grabbed a plain donut out of a box of donuts from the P&C, having devoured Grandma Country’s homemade donuts earlier in the week. I didn’t even glance at the donut, I just shoved part of it in my mouth during Scooby Doo on a Saturday morning. It tasted kind of odd. I turned it over and there were little pieces of green fuzz on the donut. I shrieked, startled the cat and hurled the donut into the fireplace. My father burned it the next day when he built our occasional Sunday fire. No one knew the donut was in the fireplace except me, and I watched that mold burn. Mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha.

To this day I won’t buy a box of donuts from the grocery store and I don’t trust any “sell by” dates stamped on packaging. I subtract one day from the “sell by” date and chuck it out.

I’d rather make multiple trips to the market instead of risking another fuzzy donut.

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Dirty.

So another member of the Republican party has pleaded guilty to having gay sex in public places. This time it’s Senator Larry Craig of Idaho.

Color me shocked.

Before I delve into the whole hypocritical thing I have to stop for a moment and say that I don’t understand the attraction of having sex in a public bathroom. I have met and known many men whose crank is yanked by doing it in public but it’s something I just don’t get. First of all, there’s the whole sign/signal/woo-woo thing you have to do to let the person in the next stall know that you’re interested. Secondly, I treasure my parts very much and I’m not about the thrust him through a hole in a stall wall in hopes of finding Nirvana. God forbid Nirvana has teeth. Third, once you get the signs/signals/woo-woos worked out and everyone is on the same page and in the same place, there’s the whole logistics thing going on of straddling the toilet, not cutting your bare ass on the toilet paper ripper teeth and when all is said and done, doing a dismount that would make Cathy Rigby proud. I know some like the thrill of perhaps being caught and others do it in public so as not to ruin the rhythm of their bible beatings of others back with the church group but this whole public thing is not for me. Out in the wild in a private space with Mother Nature and a few friends: certainly. In an establishment that caters to that sort of thing: hey, if that makes you happy and everyone is on the same page, then go to town. In a public airport bathroom to the tune of muzak and flight delay announcements: absolutely not.

Now, how many of these politicians are going to be caught with their pants down before the American people wise up and say “Hey! These people are hypocrites.”? Perhaps one of the reasons these politicians fighting against gay marriage by proclaiming, among other things, that it’ll ruin their heterosexual marriage is because they think they’ll lose their stiffy if the gay becomes too accepted. The thrill is gone. On the other hand, and more likely the case, these guys are somewhat screwed up in the head after denying their true feelings for a number of decades.

I understand that things have changed dramatically over the last several years regarding coming out and all that is associated with it. The older generation had a different set of rules to play by and now, later in their lives, the rules are changing. Some choose to remain closeted so that they may maintain a well-established family, and you know what, that’s fine. I get that. But with all the different avenues out there for hook-ups (i.e. the internet, campgrounds, gay bars, etc.), I really don’t get the need to stop by the airport and look for some sex in a bathroom stall.

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Back To School.

The year was 1980. I was starting my first day in the “big school”. As a new seventh grader, I had to make the transition from being the oldest in the elementary school to being the youngest in the our high school, a building the housed and mingled grades 7 through 12.

I remembering worrying about what I was going to wear. Looking back I don’t know why I was worried about it, as I never was nor have I ever been any sort of a fashionista, but having returned from a shopping excursion at the now long gone Penn Can Mall the week before, I was armed with a week’s worth of clothes before anything would need to be washed. I remember arranging my clothes on the other single bed in my room and trying to determine which to wear on each day of the week. I don’t remember what I settled on, but I imagine it was typical of the fashions of the day, perhaps just a little mismatched.

Fast-forward 17 years. Today I’m starting my second full semester of college and I am excited beyond belief. Not knowing what to wear, I’ve gone through my clothes and settled on typical J.P.-wear. My schedule is a little different this time around, with several back-to-back classes on Monday, so my backpack is a little heavy with the books I picked up last week.

Back To School.

Time to learn me some skills.

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Weekends In The Woods.

So Earl and I are back from another delightful weekend at Hillside Campground in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. This weekend’s theme was “Bears In The Woods III” and I can attest with nary a trace of humor in my voice there were a lot of bears in the woods at camp this year. I believe it was a sold out crowd.

Mother Nature decided the bears needed to be well done on Saturday and kept it hot and humid with temperatures in the mid 90s. Luckily, Earl and I were on a site that was mostly shade this time so it wasn’t too bad. We even made an appearance in the pool and one of heeded our swimming rule: “Remember not to get your suit wet.”

We spent much of the weekend hanging out with our friends Sean and Jeffrey and their site mates and our friends Brad and Brian from New Jersey. We also met another blogger, Rich, who was just a delight to talk with. First Earl came in late Saturday night so we had breakfast with him this morning. Earl and I love hanging out with Earl and I’m really happy that while things didn’t work out between first Earl and I years and years ago, we are able to maintain a good, solid friendship. Rich snapped a photo of Earl, Earl and I at breakfast. I stole the photo from his site.

Earl, Earl and JP

I really appreciate the fact that Hillside is it’s own little existence that’s really a step out of the daily grind of reality. If you want to get wild, there’s an opportunity to get wild. If you just want to hang out with lots of like minded guys, that’s easy to do as well. One of the great things is that there is a strong sense of community, especially among the “perms”. When Earl and I were packing up camp this morning, the guys across the road from us noticed we were struggling a little bit with pulling up the canopy stakes and offered to lend us a hand, which was much appreciated. We in turn wowed them a little bit when we flexed our muscles and moved the camper around by hand so we could easily get it out of the site.

All in all it was a great weekend. We’re heading back in two weeks for more fun!

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Flashy Camping.

Earl and I are situated at site 23 at Hillside Campgrounds. We are here until Sunday. Mother Nature is currently treating us to a spectacular lightning show, complete with thunderous accompaniment, but she’s decided not to rain on us. The light show is breathtaking, especially sitting in the middle of the woods in a popup camper.

There’s much that could be said about these escapism weekends we love so much here at Hillside, but I’ll save that for another time. Tonight we’re just going to hang with friends and more importantly, relax.

After all, Frankie says RELAX.

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Dab of CNY: Saranac Thursday Night.

I’ve often said that I’m a two beer queer. This has somewhat been proven to be a false theory during my recent trip to Prince Edward Island where I had seven beers with our friends that live on “the island”. I once again proved that to be a false theory this evening where Earl and I hung with our friends and I had four Utica Clubs. For some reason Utica Club just knocks me completely on my ass so I kind of think of Utica Club as more than one beer per cup but that might just be symantics.

Anyways, I’ve mentioned before that one of the favorite attractions of our area is “Saranac Thursdays”, the largest happy hour in the area held at the local brewery. Our brewery is the home of Saranac beer, as well as that old staple Utica Club (and their mascots Shultz and Dooley), the first legal beer released after the repeal of prohibition. Many men of my sexual persuasion like to drink those trendy beers such as Michelob Ultra and whatnot. Blah. Personally, I enjoy Utica Club. It’s probably obvious from this blog entry syntax.

Utica Club.

The evening started off innocently enough when a dilly of a thunderstorm blew though around 4:00. I was worried that this would put a damper on our happy hour plans at the Saranac, where we planned on meeting several people from Earl’s office and several people from my office. The last hour of work in the telephone company network operations center proved to be very busy, as expected, but that didn’t slow us down.

While Mother Nature blew through and did her Dena Dietrich “It’s Not Nice To Fool Mother Nature” trick with the lightning and thunder, Earl and I enjoyed a nice homecooked meal of steak strips and grilled peppers and rice. Have I mentioned that Earl is a fantastic cook? He rates right up there with Grandma Country. Anyway, I figured going to happy hour on a full stomach was safer than going to dinner on an empty stomach. This was later proven to be rather wise.

We met up with our friends Michael and Chris (Chris works with Earl) and Shirley and Ryan and his girlfriend Jacqueline (I work with Shirley and Ryan) and enjoyed the sounds of “The Band Charlie”. When we arrived the crowd was rather sparse, obviously tentative due to Mother Nature’s hissy fit that had since subsided.

Saranac 3.

Can I just say that if you have the opportunity to attend an event where “The Band Charlie” is playing that you should absolutely do so because they are clearly the best band we heard play at Saranac Thursdays thus far. A couple of weeks ago there was this battle of the bands thing going on where they all sucked and I could have wiped them out by playing Do-Re-Mi on a Fisher Price bell set but “The Band Charlie” is awesome. They use real instruments and everything. “The Band Charlie” kicks ass, go see them.

After Mother Nature gave us the “all clear” sign, indicating that the storms were over with a little bask of sunshine, the crowds started to fill in up to normal population levels. That’s when I started taking random pictures.

Saranac 1.

I just held up the camera and starting shooting in various directions paying no attention to what I was doing, as I learned how to do from Mark and Brian during GB:NYC this past Memorial Day. Here’s another totally random shot.

Saranac 2.

Earl and I hung with our friends, scoped out the crowd and jammed to the music. I drank beer, Earl drove. If you ever have the chance to go to Saranac Thursday, go for the people watching because it’s one of those settings where people from all walks of life mingle as they should, simply as members of the human equation. Class, status, dress, money, sexuality, color; none of it matters at Saranac Thursday. I fscking love it. And it’s very rare that you’ll hear me say this, but I feel a little bit of home turf pride while we’re there. I love the people Earl works with, I love the people I work with and I love the fact that we recognize people from various area interactions (restaurant servers, bartenders, bank tellers, toll collectors, etc) at Saranac Thursday. It gives me a tinge of “hometown pride”. I even told Earl that I could live here the rest of my life and only complain about it slightly.

Afterward, Earl took me, well us, to our local haunt, Zebb’s, where we had Supper #2, consisting of chicken wings and loaded fries. I think I talked a lot. I don’t really remember. I did find this charming picture on the camera though whilst I was uploading to the blog. I thought I’d share.

Saranac 5.

So remember, look us up on a Thursday night and join us at Saranac Thursday. It’s a guaranteed good time.

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Gmail.

I have a tendency of using multiple computers in my life. Between having a PowerBook, an HP laptop, multiple servers, a Mac in the music studio and my work computer, I never know where I’m going to check my e-mail from. To solve this problem I have abandoned the use of mail programs that reside on a computer and have opted to use the web-based mail clients instead. There are several to choose from including Hotmail, Yahoo!, AIM/AOL and Gmail. I decided to run with Gmail from Google.

I dislike it.

Now I know that anything Google does is the bees knees of the geek set. I love their search engine, I love their calendar and I love their photo editing software, Picasa. I get Google. But I just can’t wrap my head around Gmail. I find the interface maddening.

First of all, I have this tin-foil hat thing going on with messages being archived forever. This isn’t necessarily a fault of Google, as all of the web-based mail clients do this, but for some reason when I see messages such as “You don’t have to delete your messages, ever!” as an advertising point, I get nervous. Somewhere, someone is reading some seedy message that has been sent to my account (obviously in error) and I don’t like that. As I work for an internet provider, I can confidently say that there are no secrets on the internet, but for some reason that whole “store it in the cloud” thing makes me nervous. That’s not Google/Gmail’s fault however.

What I really don’t like about Gmail is the interface. With efforts in simplicity and trying to look like the Google default homepage, Google has made the interface somewhat non-standard. I haven’t found a way to drag and drop files where I want them. I have a hard time finding the print button and I don’t like the way the messages are grouped into discussions.

Surprisingly, I like Hotmail. Even though Hotmail is part of Microsoft, for some reason I don’t get as nervous about them storing my old e-mail. I figure they’ll lose them sooner or later like most Windows users lose their files from time to time. I’ve been a Hotmail user since the days before it was owned by Microsoft, so using their software is like wearing a comfortable shirt. In addition, Microsoft has tweaked the interface enough that it’s now much like Outlook, which we use at work. Again, it’s the comfortable shirt thing.

I’m thinking of moving off of Gmail and onto Hotmail. I know it isn’t the trendy thing to do but for me I think it’ll work better, and after all, I like doing my own thing.

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My Own Little World.

Here it is Wednesday and I’ve barely even thought about my blog. Usually I’m stumbling through life and running across scenarios that just sing “Why, this is blog worthy!” but apparently I’ve been stumbling in the wrong direction because there hasn’t been much that has tickled my fancy this week.

I think it’s because I’ve sort of just been living in my own little world. Life has settled down to a routine for the past couple of weeks and I’ve found the experience somewhat enjoyable. I’m a loner at heart and quite frankly I am quite content to amuse myself (please note that I avoided saying ‘playing with myself’, though that is enjoyable as well if I must be blunt) and if I see something occur in any given situation, I may have my own little chuckle at the absurdity of it but then decide that my point of view would be too whacky for public consumption. There are few that can keep up with the way that my mind works, with my hyperspeed jumps from topic to topic and a point of view from a different seating area. Thank goodness Earl can keep up with it all.

All in all, all is well in the life of J.P. and Earl. In fact, it’s downright glorious. It just glorious in a mundane sort of way.

And that’s not a bad thing.