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Retro?

Getting in the vibe for the weekend, I decided to crank up a rare Human League track from 2001. This single was from their latest album on a record label that went belly-up shortly from the release, hence, not many people in the states have heard this song before.

Here’s “All I Ever Wanted” by The Human League.

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Restoration.



Standard Electric Time., originally uploaded by iMachias.

This morning I finished the project of restoring one of my school clocks for my collection. This particular clock came from the elementary school I went to, more specifically, it came out of my sixth grade classroom.

The case and glass has several layers of paint splatter on it. I opted to paint the rim black to match the numbers and hands.

This clock was made and installed in 1955 by the Standard Electric Time Company of Springfield, Massachusetts. The hands on this clock are original, however, are not the style usually found on this style clock. As this clock was intended for a classroom in an addition to the school, I believe these hands were chosen to match the art deco stylings of the older clocks in the original part of the building, which was built in 1939.

Originally ran by a pendulum master clock (like a grandfather’s clock) in the principal’s office, the clocks in the house operate as originally intended with the click-click every minute, but are run by the Linux server in the basement. They click in unison and are synchronized to the atomic clock via the internet. I think it’s pretty nifty that a 55 year old clock (and it’s older siblings scattered throughout the house) are synchronized through modern technology.

This is the second newest clock I have in the collection. The oldest is from 1917.

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Determination.

“I’m so sick of being hungry.” So be honest, if you’re watching your weight, how many times has that thought crossed your mind on any given day? It usually passes through on it’s way to the next thought, “My gods that ice cream sundae looks delicious” or “I’ll skip the pepperoni on these four slices of pizza so I can stick to my diet.”

I think I have figured out that if you’re hungry all the time your body is going to rebel against your dieting and start storing food because it’s kicked into survival mode. Go too far in the other direction and you’re quickly popping buttons all over the cubicle.

Where’s the balance?

As I grow older I find that I have to be more and more attentive to what I eat. The metabolism that burned two Big Macs, a large fries and a big pop during a trip for a McRib rusted out long ago. Now it’s all about celery, lettuce and Trader Joe’s rice noodles.

Let’s face it, dehydrated mushrooms are not sexy.

Long ago I lost a bunch of weight and I really don’t want to get back in that direction. It’s no secret that I enjoy beefy guys, after all I really love me some bear, but for some reason I have this self-image of me back when I weighed 160 and when I look in the mirror it can be a sobering reality check.

I know I’m not alone in all this. I try not to whine about it that often, but counting calories and balancing fat grams and multiplying, dividing and doing basic algebra with carb counts is becoming quite tedious.

Tonight I jumped on my bike for maybe the second or third time of the season. It was my first time using my new cycling shoes and pedals. The ride was awesome, the shoes and pedals are excellent and my body feels really good after the 1 1/2 hour ride. Cycling gives me such a rush that I can not duplicate in the gym doing cardio, lifting weights or jumping on a trampoline.

I need to stay determined to cycle and to balance it all out, I need to keep doing the calorie mathematics.

Sigh.

A picture using the Linux computer. I feel good tonight. I hope it looks it.
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Fear.

I posted this quote from another blog last week in reference to the anniversary of the moon landing back in 1969.

Some people say that September 11, 2001 was the moment America best defined itself. I respectfully disagree. On the evening of July 20, 1969 we defined ourselves not by our fear of what could happen, but our dreams of what would happen, if we only dared to dream.

This is so true. Our society seems to be so fear driven these days and I really think it’s been full-tilt in that direction since 9/11. While eating lunch at the mall today the electricity briefly blinked on and off. This outage lasted no more than five seconds. This is not an uncommon thing; it’s hot outside, there are way too many air conditioners on and we are putting a lot of demands on the power supply. Sometimes there is just not enough juice to go around. I just went on eating my lunch but when it happened, more than one person near me gasped in horror and there was one middle aged woman who screamed like she had just been shot.

I found her reaction to be a little over-the-top. What is really sad about the situation is that it’s not the first time that I have heard someone react that way to a power outage in the past five years ago. My god, what would she do if there was something life threatening going on?

I think here in the states we really have this whole fear thing going on and quite frankly it’s become quite tedious. For example, Every. Single. Thunderstorm. is a severe thunderstorm. There are no regular thunderstorms anymore. Last week we had several “Severe Thunderstorm Warnings”, accompanied by an alert of the Emergency Alert System. Not one storm passed through the area and being on-call last week I was well aware of who was getting hit with storms and who wasn’t. No one within 75 miles got hit with a severe thunderstorm. A few scattered storms here and there, yes, but nothing that would be considered “severe”. A bolt of lightning and a clap of thunder is not severe. It’s just the way it is.

By the way, back in the day the Emergency Broadcast System was reserved for really important things like nuclear bombs, catastrophic floods, tornados and hurricanes. If the two-tones of the EBS were heard without the preceding “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System…” message then you were headed for the basement. Something bad was going to happen. With technology upgrades, the dire sounding two-tones of the days of yore have been replaced by something akin to “duck farts” and they fire the damn thing off every time someone has bad gas. No one takes it seriously anymore.

Now I know that really bad news gets really good ratings in the news business, especially when you have to fill 24 hours of a dozen all-news stations simultaneously, but we really don’t have to have a panic attack every time the power goes out or there’s a lightning strike. I won’t get into the whole “we are in Central New York and we get snow in the winter” thing that people get hysterical about.

Many have subscribed to the training(?) of living in fear, especially since 9/11. Small wonder people are stress eating, drinking and taking all manners of medicines to cope with it.

How about we start living in hope. And for goodness’ sake, stop sweating the small stuff.

By the way, I thought I’d share a picture of me smiling from the Apple Store at Eastview Mall in Rochester. Do I look hopeful or just mischievous.
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Accomplishment.

With the combination of a bachelor weekend and on-call weekend hitting all at once, one would think that I would get a lot accomplished around the house. And you know what? I did!

I did a lot of work on the computer today; I redesigned two websites, moved everything over to the new server on MacHighway (this blog should be quicker now) and overall I am quite pleased with everything that I did.

The Mac fan in my kicked into high gear as I’m finally connecting with my MacBook Pro the way I did with my old PowerBook G4. It’s taken a while but I can cozy up to it now. While I think that Windows 7 is the best version of Windows to come out yet, I still prefer Mac OS X. Windows 7 is good for what it does, but like the folks that prefer Pepsi or Coke, I prefer a Mac over a Windows-based computer. It’s just my preference.

That being said, I finally did something with the imachias.com domain that I have had parked for a while. Feel free to to take a look at the beginnings of what I have over there, all created on iWeb ’09. I had never used iWeb before, it’s a good little program for those looking to start their own website. I have a couple of ideas on how to contribute to the technology community, and imachias.com is one of them. I hope that someday it will grow into a valuable resource and be able to help someone somewhere.

I got a tweet from a secret admirer asking why I had moved over to MacHighway for webhosting. There are numerous choices out there that offer basically the same thing. The definitive factor for me in choosing Machighway was that they 100% powered by wind. That’s right, they buy their energy from a wind farm. While they offer local technical support, great hosting plans for the money and are based on Mac hardware, it was the use of wind power that was the deciding vote. Moving my various sites to my new plan has been a breeze (pun intended!) and I’m quite pleased.

I also worked on a couple of other websites… all to be revealed in good time.

And to think I also fixed the last plumbing concern in the house today too!

Life is good. That is something that needs to be said more often.

Music.

I have been messing around with my iPhone a little bit to get it to try to sound better on the car stereo but it’s just not happening. I have mentioned before about the challenges of getting a good sound on the car sound system with an iPod.

Last night I burned six new CDs for the car in anticipation of more road tripping. For the curious, they are:

  • “Emotional Technology” by BT
  • “Random Album Title” by Deadmau5
  • “Bring The Night” by Kaskade
  • “Strobelight Seduction” by Kaskade
  • “Love Mysterioius” by Kaskade
  • “90s Music” as selected by DJ Supercub, including:
    1. “Happenin’ All Over Again” by Lonnie Gordon
    2. “Right Beside You” by Sophie B. Hawkins
    3. “U R The Best Thing” by D:Ream
    4. “Back To Life” by Soul II Soul (technically 1989)
    5. “Happy (Full Gypsy Edit)” by Legacy of Sound
    6. “Save Me” by Lisa Fischer
    7. “Don’t Make Me Wait” by Loveland
    8. “The Love I Lost” by Sybil
    9. “Just Another Dream” by Cathy Dennis
    10. “Hold You Tight” by Tara Kemp
    11. “Running Back To You” by Vanessa Williams
    12. “Tonight Is The Night” by Le Click (who became La Bouche)
    13. “Tell Me When” by The Human League
    14. “Love Pains” by Liza Minnelli and the Pet Shop Boys
    15. “I’m Gonna Get U” by Bizarre Inc
    16. “Too Blind To See It” by Kym Sims

There you have it. Confirmation that I’m a gay man.

Rain.

So I’m sitting on the front porch at the house at the moment. It’s shortly before 11 p.m. on a Saturday night. Earl is Indianapolis on business; he is entertaining customers by taking them to the Brickyard 500 tomorrow. He just sent me a message, he’s playing pool at the moment. I hope he is having a good time.

Once upon a time I would be just starting a DJ set at the local gay bar and doing my best to fill the dance floor with sweaty, shirtless men and women bumpin’ and grindin’ and/or dancin’ frenetically to the beats I pumped into their ears. The bar would be packed and the vibe would be intense. Tonight there is probably a smattering of people listening to an iPod. There’s a reason I don’t go out to that bar anymore.

As much as I resisted, on-call week has been an emotional turbulent week for me. I blame it on the lack of sleep. I had a busy day today but I’m in good spirits. The difference is that I was able to deal with all the crises in my home, rather than having to drag myself to my cubicle after only a few hours of sleep. I complain about it a lot. I guess someday I’ll stop.

To continue the home improvement projects that Earl and I started last night by fixing our leaky shower, I repaired the toilet in the upstairs guest bathroom. The job involved the complete disassembly of the toilet, but when all was said and done, everything was put back together and working beautifully. I am pleased with this. There’s only one more bathroom project to do and that’s fix the handle on the toilet in the master bathroom. I’ll have that accomplished tomorrow.

My other big tasks of the weekend are technically based; the first one I completed today as jpnearl.com now resides on a new server with a new hosting company. The site is running on an Xserve in the states now. My former hosting company was good but they didn’t provide the amount of space or bandwidth that this company provides and since I guess I’m a Mac boy for the most part I feel better for running the site on a Mac.

Tomorrow I’m going to be working on Cubster’s website for his clothing line, Unbearable Clothing. Once it’s ready for prime time I’ll put a link up.

So I’m sitting on the front porch listening to the rain and feeling the gentle breezes. I’m a little lonely tonight but nothing dramatic, but I look forward to being off-call come Monday morning. I have been avoiding listening to or watching the news or reading overly negative blogs over the past 48 hours or so. My friend at Spirit of St. Lewis talks about his loss of center and focus and I found myself in much the same boat. I have to turn it around.

Life is too good to immerse or lose yourself in negativity.

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Balance.

Today was a relatively quiet day at work. A couple of my colleagues had the day off, but those of us at the office today worked together well and collaborated. The spirit of teamwork I felt today was a good bit of rejuvenation.

The phones weren’t especially crazy today, in fact, I expected to be a little busier than we were. As everyone said goodbye at the end of the regular 8 to 5 shift, I wished them off with a “have a good weekend” and began finalising the few things that needed tending to as I was scheduled to work until 6. While I enjoy the folks in my department very much, I revel when I’m in the center alone between 5 and 6 during my on-call weeks. I like the peace and quiet and the opportunity to embrace my tendency of being a loner.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

Mother Nature must have been tricked with Chiffon because several storms passed through the area. The phones started ringing like crazy and because of the time of day, I was working solo. No worries, really, just work my way through it and do the best I can do.

That’s when Todd, a DSL customer, decided to read me the riot back because he couldn’t send an e-mail that had over 50 full-sized pictures attached to it. He was clocking in around 60 MB on the e-mail attachment, something that is a bit of a no-no in the tech world. He didn’t like my answers to his questions, he couldn’t really understand what I was trying to explain to him and he was just not a happy camper. As other phones were ringing, I politely asked if he could hold for just a moment; he said he didn’t need my help anyway, proceeded to tell me why the company I work for is deficient and then slammed the phone down.

Have a nice day.

I shrugged it off; life in a Network Operations Center sometimes goes that way and that’s just the way it is. I learned not too long ago not to let it bother me, I did the best I could do and that was that.

Before I knew it, it was six o’clock. I finished up the loose ends, powered down the laptop and packed up to head home.

The phone rang.

I wondered if I should let it go to the service and let them page me in 20 minutes or should I just deal with the issue right then and there.

I answered the phone.

Her name was Judy and she had a new computer. She couldn’t get her Outlook Express to work.

Sigh. I hate the Outlook Express calls. You see, like the parody of tech support people from SNL, I find dealing with Outlook Express to be a little degrading. It’s not a good e-mail program, it was never a good e-mail program and unfortunately much of the world is still using it.

Judy explained her problem to me and was very vague in the error messages. Worse yet, she was using Outlook Express’ evil cousin, “Windows Mail”, the default program in Windows Vista.

Double ugh.

I walked Judy through the steps of troubleshooting when it turned out her problem was a simple typo in her configuration; we fixed it and presto she was up and running.

Judy thanked me over and over again for my assistance, called me by my name without mangling the letters and then told me to “Have a nice weekend! You’ve been very helpful.”

“You have a nice weekend too, Judy. Thanks for calling.”

The ying and yang of the callers. I needed the kind voice of Judy to end my work day.

Rest.

What a week it has been. I think I need a vacation.

Picture 9.png

Wait, I just got back from vacation!

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Admission.

I can’t remember if I have admitted this before here on my blog and quite frankly I’m too lazy to do a search on past entries, but today I found myself daydreaming at my desk at work about a dream I had long, long ago when I was a teenager.

I wanted to be a backup singer for The Human League.

 

human_league

 

That’s right, I once dreamed of being a touring backup singer in The Human League, probably best known for one of the definitive songs from the 1980s, “Don’t You Want Me” and a whole slew of other tracks here in the U.S. including “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” and “Human”.

In 1984 I purchased a Yorx Stereo (complete with recordable 8-track) at the local Ames. One of my very first purchases with my own money, my Yorx stereo had a turntable, the aforementioned 8-track, a radio and a cassette deck in it. It even had detachable speakers that could sit on a bookcase.

That Yorx Stereo played every Human League 12-inch single I had in my library (which was each title released to date) and it played each album over and over again as I studied and learned each lyric, each version of every single and the smattering of harmonies found on their records.

Why The Human League, you ask? Well, there are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, if I don’t squeeze my balls hard I sing baritone and I tend to linger more in the bass range. Some find this surprising. I have only sang tenor on a few occasions when singing in part of a group and that’s where the uncomfortable ball squeezing has had to come into play. The lead singer of The Human League, Phil Oakey, sings comfortably in my range, something that was a rarity in the days of Duran Duran and the likes of Boy George (and especially today!). The only other singer that I could really sing with in the pop world was Pete Burns from Dead or Alive, and while I loved their music, I KNEW I could not get away doing the Pete Burns thing in the small farm town in Central New York I grew up with. At least The Human League was relatively popular and yet they were eccentric enough to stand out in the crowd. Plus, all of their music was electronically derived. THAT was wicked cool to me, being a gadget geek and all. In addition, The Human League had a very “80s” look to them. I knew I couldn’t pull off Phil’s lopsided haircut but I could wear the slightly daring style that they did and not get beat up in school. (Funny that I didn’t get my first leather pants for another 20 years or so).

So yes, back in the day I had dreams of singing backup vocals for The Human League in concert. They came to our area back in the late 1990s during a rewind tour with Howard Jones and Culture Club. Working in radio at the time, I tried to pull some strings to get backstage and meet them but they had no interest in meeting anyone. Honestly, my hopes were dashed and I childishly punished them by pulling their catalog from the music rotation at the station for a while. While I knew I wouldn’t be able perform with them, I thought it might be whimsical to share my dreams with them before or after their performance, but no, it was not meant to be.

The Human League still performs live from time to time. Perhaps I’ll catch them at a future gig and share my little daydream with them. After all, these are The Things That Dreams Are Made Of.

In honour of my remembrance of this little daydream, I share one of their tracks. This is the single that preceded “Don’t You Want Me”, it’s “Love Action (I Believe In Love)”, also from the ‘Dare’ album. This track is actually part of a longer instrumental called “Hard Times”, which wasn’t released in the U.S. until later in 1983 on the Fascination! EP.