February 2009

Clean Keyboard.

Clean Keyboard., originally uploaded by iMachias.

I have been a tech guy for a really long time. In fact, I’ve been using instant messenger and e-mail since 1984 when I used a service called GEnie to send e-mail to my cousin who lived 10 miles away. I have been connected to the world via computer since that first day of dial-up (and a huge long distance bill) and have always obeyed once cardinal rule: Never Get Thy Computer Wet!

This has all changed. A while back I saw a on one of the regular tech shows that I watch that you can clean your grimy keyboard by running it through the dishwasher. I thought this was outright blasphemy, but last year when I was cleaning out the cellar and throwing away old crappy keyboards I had inherited over the years, I found one that was particularly grimy. Since the keyboard was destined for the dustbin anyway, I decided to put the suggestion to the test and I ran it through the dishwasher.

That keyboard is now a prized possession in my server room!

Not only did the keyboard survive the dishwasher, it looked sparkly and shiny new like it had never looked before. I have now started up a “rotation system” with the keyboards in the tech center at work and have promised to replace any keyboard that I might bork by running it through the dishwasher.

Here’s how I do it with a couple of tips that I have found along the way.

  • I have that this works with both PS2 and USB keyboards. I HIGHLY recommend that you don’t put your entire notebook or laptop in the dishwasher to clean the keyboard. That’s just silly.
  • I have only put one Apple keyboard through the dishwasher and that was an older Apple Pro Keyboard with the black keys. I have another one (with the white keys, but still the older kind) that I’m going to try soon. If you’re interested I’ll post the results).
  • Do NOT use the ‘heated dry’ cycle. That will melt things.
  • I have tried this both by including the keyboard with the dinner dishes on a cycle and by running it through alone. Both work, but watch out if you have rice or something on your plates, it ends up under the backspace key and doesn’t make a very good at desk snack later on.
  • Allow your keyboard to dry with the keys facing down for ONE WEEK after you run it through the dishwasher. Don’t try to plug it in when it’s fresh and shiny as that will definitely short something out. Just pull it out of the dishwasher and put it on a dish towel or something with the keys facing down so any extraneous water can drain out.
  • As I said before, I’ve done this with USB keyboards as well as PC/2 keyboards. I have even cleaned a Dell keyboard with a volume knob, two extra USB ports and a bunch of extraneous lights without an issue.
  • I assume no responsibility for any experience you have with trying this.

Having a keyboard that’s devoid of the typical geek grime one finds on a heavily used keyboard is a beautiful thing. Happy cleaning!

Soup’s On.

There is something satisfying about a Thursday night to me. I don’t know if it’s the knowledge that tomorrow is the last day of the work week or if I’m cosmically tuned to the concept of Thursday or what, but I always feel most at peace (outside of the weekend) on Thursday evenings after work.

The schedule has been hectic this week; last night Earl and I worked on a “secret project”1, Tuesday night we went shopping for kitchens (as we are redoing the entire kitchen this spring) and tonight I’m going to work on some things in the cellar.

Earl has just started cooking supper. Tonight he is making homemade vegetable soup because rumour has it that there’s a member of the family that is trying to avoid eating meat. To help out with the project, I did as my mother trained me as a child and made the appropriate hor d’oeurve to go with soup: I made a really big bowl of popcorn. Microwave popcorn is not allowed in the house, I always make it with a popcorn popper, copious amounts of oil and too much corn. It came up pretty well, if I do say so myself. Making the popcorn keeps me out of the way and let’s Earl concentrate on his cooking.

It’s going to be a good Thursday night. It always is.

1 The fruits of my “secret project” will be shared soon enough.

… Money …

So on the way home from work I decide to do something really daring and start punching around the “terrestrial” radio stations on the old-fashioned radio in the Jeep. Traditional radio doesn’t offer much to a guy like me these days, what with all the merging and divesting and changing of the formats going on. There’s my old station that went to outright Top 40 and became very less gay, they play Britney Spears’ “Circus” 24/7. Sometimes they throw in a commercial or two to keep it interesting. There’s the “Good Times Rock ‘n Roll” station called “Oldiez” that plays that car cruisin’ music like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper and “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls. Then they play “The Twist” followed by “The Lord’s Prayer” by Sister Janet Mead. I think they should change their name from “Oldiez” to “Sybil”, as it would be much more apropro.

Four of the ten or so primary stations in this area have gone to an all religious format. Sometimes I get a kick out of hearing what they have to say on these stations because quite frankly I find them exceedingly absurd. One of my favorites, “Faith and Hope for the New World” or something like that was offering financial advice to callers. The call I listened to was from a man who was over his head in debt and didn’t know how to deal with it.

The man was living under the following circumstances. He and his new bride had four children in five years. They lived in a small house in the country that they absolutely adored but it was a little small and far from the city where their church was. So instead of selling the house and relocating, they decided to rent the house out and then buy a new house in the process, something newer, bigger and located in the city (he didn’t say which, I’m guessing Paducah). Due to their financial considerations, owning a house, having four toddlers, etc., they were unable to come up with a downpayment for their new house, so they got an 80/20 mortgage to cover that. After a couple of years they realised that they couldn’t afford the bigger, newer house that was located in the city so they decided to sell it.

O.k., they have two houses, one presumably being paid for by the rent they are collecting from their tenant in the small house in the country and another house that they have two mortgages on and can’t really afford. They decide to sell the second house. So what do they do?

They rent an apartment.

That’s right, they rented an apartment so they could sell the new house, because they didn’t know that you could be living in the house when it was being looked at by prospective buyers.

So they are paying roughly three mortgages and rent on an apartment that is presumably big enough to handle two adults and four toddlers.

They were curious as to where they went wrong with their finances.

The kind gentleman on the “Faith and Hope for the New World” gently told them that they didn’t need to move out of their house until it was actually sold and that they should bag the apartment and move back into the house to save a little money.

He was way too kind, I would have just called them a dumb ass.

And I wonder why the United States is in such financial disarray today. Just think, this brainiac has made four more just like him for the next generation to enjoy.


The more I read about these government bailouts and stimulus packages and such the angrier I get. I am no economics whiz by any stretch of the imagination, and the universe knows I like to spend money, but it seems like the U.S. government is throwing billions and billions of dollars out like some weird, demented lawn sprinkler. The automakers need more, more, more; banks need more, more, more, big businesses that have apparently made bad business decisions needs more, more, more. All of this is the from the fear that if one large bank or auto manufacturer or other large company closes down then the whole big stack of Jenga blocks are going to come crashing down with them.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have built our economy using big Jenga blocks. Sometimes little Lego blocks stick together better.

Now I don’t want to see the U.S. go into a depression. I don’t want people losing their homes, their jobs or everything their life savings as they try to weather out this economic mess. But this money that the government is flinging out all over the place is going to the very people the created the mess in the first place. And where is it coming from? I have always suggested that we just print more money when things got bad, because I obviously have no handle on economics, but when I say that I’m told that you can’t do that because you’re flooding the economy with too much money.

Isn’t that what we are doing with these stimulus packages?

I know we are a big modern society now that thrives on big business and conglomerates and a Wal*Mart (Always White Trash, Always) on every corner. And I know that as a gay man I wouldn’t have the relative freedoms I have to be an outspoken gay man if I didn’t live here and now, but sometimes I really think that the small businesses from yesterday: the mom and pop stores, the small car lot in the village, the neighborhood bank, was a safer investment in our future.

Perhaps if we had stayed within that mindset, we wouldn’t be rewarding the greedy by bailing them out of their own mess.

Now excuse me while I go sock away more money in my mattress.

Back to Work.

It is 5:18 a.m. I am getting ready to head back to work after a week’s holiday. I guess I must be a little anxious about heading back to work because I could barely sleep all night. I kept waking up to see how much longer I had to sleep.

How I dislike alarm clocks.

My body naturally wakes up around 8:00 a.m. It used to be closer to 9, but now I seem to do well with waking up an hour earlier.

I think I’m going to take a nap. I don’t have to be work until 7.


Tonight we are celebrating Earl’s birthday! It seems like it always snows on this joyous occasion, but nevertheless, it is here and there is much cheering.

For the occasion, I share one of my favourite photos of us. It’s from 2003. We look younger.


After returning from Orlando we promptly went to Red Robin, where Earl enjoyed the free hamburger for the birthday boy without much fanfare. Tonight it’s about finishing the laundry and watching the snow fall.

We need to relax after our vacation.

JetBlue 668.

So I am sitting on JetBlue 668 headed back home after five days and nights at the House of the Mouse. I hear it’s snowing like crazy at home. I am ready for the end of winter. We are almost there. Thank goodness for the trip to Oklahoma next month, it’ll give me another much needed boost to my psyche.

I need a gig where I travel a lot. I would be a happier person.

I found myself in a pondering state of mind between attractions at Disney. I won’t write about everything I thought about here; my thought processes are my own and are probably long and boring to read. Suffice it to say that I have a few adventures up my sleeve that I’m making plans for.

Quick aside – I must have a thing for flight attendants and Christian apparently enjoys redheads with big moustaches. Just sayin’.

I have begun meditating again. It’s about time that I practiced what I learned all those years ago. I have added the exercise to my daily quiet time. I am also using the MindWave program on my iPhone. I think meditating quiets my mind much more than the MindWave does. I sort of think of the MindWave as the saccharin way of getting to a meditative state. It’s artificially induced and not quite the same. I’ll probably discontinue that for a while in a week or two so I can compare and contrast.

I have given up alcohol completely as of last Monday night. My last drink was a Mojito at Bongos at Downtown Disney. There are a couple of reasons that I stopped – one of them being that with the way I play I should be sober at all times; the other reason has to do with my health. My forever existent beer gut does not need encouragement. I have no issues with those that enjoy a drink, it’s just not for me right now.

I also gave up pop and eating meat. Well, at least I am trying on both accounts. This will be my third serious attempt at giving up meat. I’m planning on the third time being a charm.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom.


Yesterday we ventured over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the day. The timing was good, it was the warmest day this week and the park was open for extended hours for resort guests so we were able to make a day of it without feeling rushed.

I mentioned earlier that Epcot is my favorite park here at Walt Disney World, but I no longer think that’s the case. Animal Kingdom takes top billing for me now. There are a number of reasons for this: there are no french fries available (to maintain the safety of the animals), which keeps me a little healthier, I love the layout of the park and the whole jungle theme (it doesn’t feel like a theme park, it feels like you’re in a really busy place in the woods) and most importantly, I think there are some very valuable lessons to be learned amongst all the fun and animals and games and such and even if only 10% of the visitors ‘get it’ after they leave the park then the world will be a better place.

I love animals. I have always loved animals. I’d work with animals but I can’t fathom to see an animal hurt and I’m really bad at biology so that was never an option for me. And while I don’t enjoy a zoo, I really enjoy the way that the animals appear to be living at the Animal Kingdom. They seem happy. There are no monkeys behind bars in an abnormally small cage throwing their poop. There are no guests trying to feed the monkeys a neon coloured circus peanut. Instead there are seemingly authentic and large, expansive areas where the animals are spending much of their daylight hours doing things that make them content. Yes, they are probably sick of hearing every caravan that goes through on a safari playing the same tape over and over and over again, but the area is big enough that they can hide behind some rocks or turn their back and not partake in the showbiz angle of their life if they don’t have to.

The folks at Animal Kingdom say that they train their animals to come in and out at night and such through natural behaviour. Not once did I see an elephant in a hula skirt trying to dance on their back legs to “Surfin’ U.S.A.” What I did see were some beautiful birds at the “Flights of Wonder” show doing some great things but more importantly, just being birds.

Each time we visit the Animal Kingdom we always take the train ride over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where they have exhibits on conservation and an area where you can mingle amongst the gentler animals and visit with them. Earl had a conference call for work so I went in alone and had a nice chat with a couple of animals. When the animals aren’t in the mood to chat with the guests they can hide under a pavilion out of reach. Several goats went in and out while I was in there. One sniffed through my pockets to see if I had any goodies in there. I also made a goal to do something constructive with an area of the backyard this year. I have a couple of bird feeders already; I need to do something more to give back to the folks that are living in the woods around the house.

It wouldn’t be a theme park without at least a couple of rides, so later in the day we rode Exhibition Everest. We actually rode it twice. As we were approaching the “standby” line three very nice looking ladies gave us their FastPass tickets for an hour later, so we waited the 60 minutes in standby and then got in the FastPass lane and rode again two minutes later. Exhibition Everest is a very impressive roller coaster and I HIGHLY recommend that you ride it. It’s not so violent that you’re going to feel sick afterwards but it will boost your pulse rate for a bit and it’s a really good time. The first time I rode, a young girl from the ‘single riders’ line joined me and she told me it was her seventh time riding that day. She was a pro, didn’t scream once (I might have screamed once or twice but I didn’t sound like her) and impressively wrapped her Minnie Mouse ears around her leg to hold them in place whilst we were whipped around the ride.

All in all yesterday was my favourite day thus far here at Disney. I’d be content to go back again today, but there is one more park for us to visit.


Spaceship Earth., originally uploaded by iMachias.

Today we spent the day at Epcot. The first thing we discovered is that Disney is no longer doing the “Leave A Legacy” etched pictures at the entrance. Existing photos are still up but they’re not taking any new ones. Earl and I have two different photos on the walls; the first is from 2000, the second is from 2007. The guide that looked up our location showed the full colour photo from 2000: I was a lot bigger (and clean shaven) and Earl had red hair and a big red beard! Good times.

Our first stop was Spaceship Earth, which has been completely updated and totally appeals to my geek side. The presentation has to do with communications through the centuries. I like that a lot.

The minimum wait for “Soarin!” was 160 minutes, so we didn’t make that ride today. We ended up spending most of the day in the World Showcase. I was pleased to see that they updated the “O Canada!” Circle-Vision 360 film. They kept elements from the original film but updated the music and many of the scenes. The song (“Canada [You’re A Lifetime Journey]” remains the same but is now sung by Canadian Idol winner Eva Avila. The “O Canada!” presentation makes me teary every time I see it. I needn’t go into the reasons why this is so. I’ve said it many times.

The France presentation was experiencing technical difficulties (and they were kind of haughty about it), but outside of that we went to the show that each country offered. I recognised some of the singers in the “Voices of Liberty” a cappella group at the “American Experience”. They are amazing vocalists and it’s good to hear traditional vocals without crazy runs and/or electronic augmentation. During one of their songs it hit me why I feel the way I do about “God Bless America” and my revelation is going to be a separate blog entry that will appear next week.

The one disappointing part of World Showcase was in Norway; they were having a very hard time managing the crowd and lines for their Viking Ship attraction. I don’t know if it’s the layout of the waiting area or guests being goofy or what but it seemed very chaotic and uninspiring. Out of all the attractions in World Showcase, and since the updating of “O Canada”, Norway now seems the most dated. Mexico was a little weird too; the sites and sounds of Mexico now have Donald Duck and a couple parrots hootin’ and hollerin’ all over the brilliant cinematography. I don’t know why they added this to the mix – probably to make it a little more fun.

Overall I was impressed with the updates to “World Showcase” since our visit in 2007. It was an enjoyable afternoon.

Afterwards we went to “The Land” and took the boat tour through Living With The Land. I really enjoy the educational aspect to the attractions at Epcot. I think this is what makes it my favorite park here at Walt Disney World.

Tonight we went back to Downtown Disney for supper. We enjoyed a late meal at the Rainforest Cafe. The jog this morning and the jog tomorrow morning will make up for the calories, I suppose.


Queue., originally uploaded by iMachias.

Today was spent at The Magic Kingdom, which is now apparently called “Magic Kingdom Park”. Since we conquered Tomorrowland last night, we spent most of our time in the other themed areas of the Magic Kingdom.

We went on our usual selection of attractions: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad. We also hit the Country Bear Jamboree, Philharmagic, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted House and It’s A Small World. The Hall of Presidents was closed, I have a feeling they’re adding President Obama to the mix.

Later this evening I commented to Earl that the human race isn’t disappointing me too badly on this vacation, cell phone use has been discrete and non-intrusive for the most part. I’m somewhat impressed.

The park was quite busy with it being a National holiday and all but enjoyable nonetheless.

On the recommendation of Greg in Connecticut we went to Bongo’s at Downtown Disney for dinner. I found it to be quite nice. I had my first cerviche (quite tasty) and I discovered Ironbeer Soda. It’s not quite birch or root beer or cream soda, but it was quite tasty. I highly recommend it.

There was recently an article on MSNBC proclaiming the return of beards and moustaches; the male population here at Disney supports that fact. I’ve been taking fan photos. I’ll have to share them once I sort them out.