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Sleepwrite.

It was very early in our relationship when Earl discovered that I had a habit of sleepwalking once in a while. We still lived in the apartment and he found me standing in the walk-in closet of our bedroom. I was just standing there, seemingly asleep. He gently guided me back to bed, made sure I was tucked in and then went to back to bed. The next morning he asked if I remembered standing in the closet; I had no recollection of any of the event, but I told him that I have been known to sleepwalk once in a while. My mom tells of another favourite pasttime I had as a kid; I would shout out but be completely asleep. She’d check on me and I’d be making fighting motions in the air and be yelling about spiders or something. I wouldn’t let her turn off the light.

I still sleepwalk from time to time. Earl usually finds me in front of the window looking at the sky. Like before, he guides me to bed and I don’t remember a thing.

Apparently last night I added a new twist to my occasional nighttime activity for this morning my friend Greg alerted me to an e-mail I sent him shortly after midnight last night. The contents of the were a bit babbly and somewhat corresponded to a dream that I remembered having. I noticed that there were a lot of typos (something I try to avoid) and a strong element of incoherence in my dreamy prose, but apparently I was aware enough to compose the e-mail and hit send.

It would seem that having a computer near the bed is a dangerous thing.

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Snow Leopard.



209.365, originally uploaded by iMachias.

So as I mentioned last night, the latest version of Mac OS X (10.6), also known as “Snow Leopard” was released today. The ‘family pack’ arrived by FedEx as promised. So far I have upgraded two of the Macs in the house, I have two more to go tomorrow.

I’ll chat about it more in a techy blog entry, but so far, so good.

I was asked by someone what “Snow Leopard” was today and I found that question to be delightful. For those not familiar with Macs, “Snow Leopard” is the code name for OS X, which is like Windows on other PCs. “Snow Leopard” is the latest version of the Mac operating system, much like Windows 7 is the latest version of the Windows operating system.

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Dance.

It’s the weekend, so it’s time to dance. I have recently discovered a wide selection of dissertations, analyzations and uncanny inspections of various ABBA recordings strewn throughout the internet. So I decided to feature this remix of “Dancing Queen” from YouTube, which includes the “lost lyrics” of the second verse, lifted from a documentary video from the 70s and remixed by audiophiles across the world to make it fit back into the song. It’s kind of neat.

Here’s ABBA with “Dancing Queen”. (Listen carefully around 2:48)

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Tech.

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So tomorrow is the big release of the latest version of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system. Dubbed “Snow Leopard” (all versions of OS X have been dubbed with a ‘big cat’ name, whether used in public or not), this version focuses on speed performance and many changes “under the hood”. This has gotten me back in full blown Mac fanboy mode. To celebrate I resurrected a gifted PowerMac G4 that used to be called “Close ‘n Play”. It is now called “chaos”. I am typing my blog entry on this resurrected computer at the moment. It is working well.

Back in the early oughts I never thought I would be an Apple fanboy. As evidenced by this early blog post, my interest in all things Mac was definitely there, but my familiarity with Windows and developing interest in Linux was taking precedence back in the day. Today I’m all about the Mac, though I do have one PC in the house so that I keep my Windows skills in check for my job. It’s running Windows 7 (at the moment) and plays well with the network. While quite flashy and very functional, I have to admit I’d much rather do stuff on the Mac. I wish they’d give me one at work, but I’d rather settle for 100% of my salary first.

So tonight has been about being a geek, something that I find very comforting and relaxing. I can’t believe it’s the end of the work week already. It’s going to be a geek weekend for me (being on call and all), but I think that’s just what I need.

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Notice.

Today my co-workers began to notice that I have posted a photo on my cubicle wall.

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Printed out and photographed before being attached to the cubicle wall.

The picture is obviously of Lauren Tewes, a screencap of the credits from the first season of The Love Boat. Since I used the screencaps of Julie McCoy as an illustration of maintaining a positive outlook, I decided a reminder at work was appropriate.

It has done wonders. I haven’t snarled or yelled at or bitten a customer yet this week.

A couple of people have asked why Julie McCoy and I give them the same story I outlined in the previous blog entry. I also add that if I was just a tad bit gayer, at this very moment I’d probably be a Julie McCoy on a cruise ship somewhere. Not that I think that being gay has anything to do with being a cruise director, well at least the kind on a ship, but it probably would lead my path in that direction.

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Home.

I dreamed about my grandmother last night. This is not an unusual event in my life as I often have vivid dreams and I occasionally dream about those that have passed on. The details of the dream are unimportant but the lingering feeling I had this morning after the encounter I had with my grandmother was reassuring and comforting.

Ever since we were children, my sister and I have commented that as far as grandmothers go we were pretty lucky grandchildren. While quite different in personality, our grandmothers both had a very common trait: they turned their house into a home. I’m sure most would say that of their grandmother; the feeling is not an uncommon one. I like to think that their influences contributed to who I am today.

Whenever you went to Grandma Country’s house you would smell something baking or cooking. Whether it was chocolate chip cookies, homemade bread or any given flavour of pie, Grandma Country could usually be found busy in the kitchen, and if she wasn’t there or elsewhere in the house doing some chore, she was in her chair next to the window reading a book, most likely waiting for the chime of the oven to signal when something had finished baking. My sister and I were lucky in that we grew up next door to my country grandparents and when we were younger we’d go over for milk and cookies and watch “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie.” There were rarely hugs or kisses from Grandma Country, it wasn’t really in her nature, but we felt loved and comforted and very welcomed into her home. It wasn’t a house she kept, it was a home.

Grandma City lived further away so we didn’t see her as much, but when we stopped by she’d always give us a big hug and a kiss and want to know what we were up to. Grandma City was the giver, she’d give anything and everything she had to help a person that needed help; her house was always open to friends and family. Grandma City didn’t bake that much, she was more in line with the arts and crafts and plants and she did all the really well. While Grandma City’s house was in a suburb and didn’t smell like baked goods, you knew you were always welcome there. Grandma made her house into a home. And it was comfortable.

Of all the things that are important to me, one particular one is making sure our house feels like a home. Earl and I are blessed, we have a newish house that is quite nice and I love every inch of it (even when the plumbing is acting feisty). Our old house, which was a 150+ year farm house, had the “warm” feeling built into it because it had housed so many people for a century and a half; this house has always been beautiful to me, but it’s only been the past two years or so that it has truly felt like a home and it’s only been the past six months or so that I have been able to say that I could live in this house forever. I always strive to make guests feel welcome here and I often entertain thoughts of having dinner parties or movie nights or all of that stuff. Unfortunately, where we live makes us out of the way for most of our friends and family and on the run the rest of the time, but I hope that loved ones feel welcome to visit us.

One of the reasons that I am anxious to meet Homer in Tucson someday is because his blog depicts a friendly place where friends meet and eat delicious baked goods. Like many of the bloggers that I read daily, I like what Homer seems to be. It’s one of the reasons that I enjoyed visiting with Sean and Jeffrey in Albany and visiting them from time to time, the apartment they had at the time felt very comfortable. The conversation was good, the energy was great. If we have a home that others feel they can’t visit then I guess I’m feeling like I have failed along the way. This is important to me. I suppose it’s because of the impending change of season where I get into harvesting/baking/get ready for winter mode.

Earl and I recently welcomed Jamie into our home. Jamie is attending school locally and is going to be a brilliant photographer someday. I admire him for the strength of his convictions and I it is my hope that Earl and I contribute to the foundation he needs to embark on this whole life thing. We share a lot of common interests and as I may have mentioned before, he reminds me of myself at that age. I hope that when Jamie is here he feels like he’s home.

I know Grandma would like that.

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Basics.

I am enjoying lunch in the park today whilst listening to a lively debate on the primary topic of discussion on the radio these days in the United States, that topic being Health Care Reform.

I feel the subject warrants capital letters.

One of the things that boggles my mind is that there is a school of thought that says that you should have to work for basic health care, meaning if you don’t work at all you’re not entitled to getting any sort of health care whatsoever. Yes, I believe that the successful individual is the person that contributes to society and I do not believe that those of us that do our best to contribute to the experience should tow the line of those that don’t. I also FIRMLY believe that you will be a healthier person if you work at something, no matter what you are doing. When you _live_, you’re _alive_, when you sit like a bump on a log, you merely exist and your body shuts down. However, if you are living then you surely deserve to keep on living and if that involves some sort of health care to move things along, then you should be entitled to it.

There is a part of me that wants everyone to be healthy and free and happy and just one step short of a circle singing “Kumbaya”, but that is not reality. The reality is is that there are some people that won’t or can’t work for whatever reason. Honestly, I don’t believe that my taxes should go up and I firmly believe that my quality of health care should not go down because of the choices others have made with their life. Do I have an answer for all of this? No, I don’t. If I did I could probably be the first openly gay bear President in the United States.

Our health care system is broken. I know that and it is very apparent for many that I know. Earl was recently in the emergency room. He has good health insurance. Early in his visit when it was determined that there was nothing critically wrong with him, he asked about being discharged from the emergency room. They said they couldn’t do that because if he dropped dead his family would sue the hospital and try to make a lot of money. (We probably wouldn’t do that as I don’t believe in the ways of the litigious society we have become, and I heartily thank my parents for that attitude). Therefore, they kept Earl for a few more hours. His health insurance didn’t really cover much because yesterday we got a bill in the mail for nearly $2,000. We are fortunate in that we’ll be able to pay that bill sooner or later. I know a lot of people who would find that bill devastating. I don’t believe that the health insurance companies have the right to determine what gets paid and what doesn’t nor do I believe they have the right to second guess the medical professionals. I believe THAT is where Health Care Reform is most needed. I have seen people have both knees replaced and then have their insurance company deny them the prescribed physical therapy after the fact, forcing the recipient of the new knees to figure out how the damn things work on their own. I myself have removed my own catheter a week after surgery down there in those parts because my health insurance company thought they knew better than my urologist. I find the health insurance companies to be evil and I know that I’m not alone and I know that I have extremely limited experience on the subject.

Do I believe in socialised medicine; a “one size fits all” approach to Health Care Reform in the U.S.? I don’t. I believe the government should provide a basic plan that isn’t going to bankrupt an individual if they do anything further than ponder a parking spot in the emergency room car park. Some argue that you can walk into any emergency room and they’ll take care of you no matter what. Good luck with that. First of all, the emergency room isn’t designed to treat the common cold and when used as such it screws it up for everyone else and secondly, the hospital will nag you so bad for payment afterwards that you’ll seriously consider death to be the more peaceful option of recovery.

I hope this debate comes to an end soon and I hope that the right folks realise that everyone needs the basics of health care, regardless of their gender, nationality and socio-economic status.

Right now I just have my fingers crossed.

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Attitude.

Successfully navigating your way through life is all about the attitude. Sure, the big, scary world out there can throw some pretty mean crap your way, but it’ll always be something you can handle one way or another and you’ll always be the better for it.

Because I always enjoy a good visual aid, I will demonstrate. Actually, I’ll let Ms. Lauren Tewes1 from “The Love Boat” demonstrate.

You should always approach life with a warm, friendly, inviting smile.

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Once a given situation is assessed, a determination must be made. If at all possible, you should continue to smile brightly, letting the warmth of your charisma light the room.

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Life would not be the challenge it was meant to be if there wasn’t a curve ball thrown in your direction once in a while. Keep on smiling, but perhaps you should add a slight glare to your stare to let others know that you mean business.

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If the situation warrants a little more aggression, keep on smiling, but let them know that you really mean business. You might want to cock your eyebrow a bit. That always adds a touch of assertiveness to your stance, but remember, if you’re smiling on the outside, you’re smiling on the inside.

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Always keep that smile and take life as it’s meant to be: rewarding and challenging. Once the credits roll (or in this case, a superimposed anchor crosses your face), feel free to look away to the next challenge. But KEEP ON SMILING.

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1 When I was a youngster I noticed that Lauren was not enjoying the filming of her appearance in the credits for “The Love Boat”. Personally I love Lauren Tewes. I have always found her to be a pretty woman and there was always a part of me that hoped she was as perky in real life as she was as Julie McCoy. Sure she had her problems, but she got through them and more importantly, she became a permanent part of pop culture. You’re not gay if you haven’t been a Julie McCoy for some group of people at one time in your life.

Update: I found this while seeing what Lauren was up to these days. I’m right, she rocks. For more information: Garden State Equality.

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Inconspicuous.

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Earl and I are just back from Geno’s Steaks in South Philly. We try to get a “mushroom provolone wit” at least once a year during our trips to these parts.

One of the things about Geno’s is that it’s VERY U.S.A. centric. There are signs all over proclaiming that “we want our country back” and “You are in America and you must order in English.” They even feature Freedom Fries. I’m cool with this in that I think it’s great that as U.S. Citizens we can proclaim our pride in our country in any way we feel appropriate, much like I do on my blog. So I keep my mouth shut and try to blend in with the local culture. (I don’t succeed in this very well.)

After ordering and receiving our steaks we moved on to the fries and drink window, where Earl placed an order and asked if I had any dollar bills. I pulled out my wallet and started fumbling through my money clip when the woman behind the window noticed me. (Ed. note 23 Aug 2009: looking at Geno’s site, it’s Betty I’m referring to.) She looked harmless enough; I’d say she was in her mid 50s and had been through the course of life. She was efficient in what she did and had a hardened, Philly appropriate demeanor I suppose.

“WHERE IS THAT MONEY FROM?” she barked out the window. Numerous pairs of eyes were suddenly on the bald guy that was trying to keep his mouth shut whilst standing at the window waiting for his “pop” in “soda” land. I kept the “u” out of the local flavour I was trying to drink in. She was referring to the ten dollar bill I had in my hand.

The bill she was referring to is pinkish-purple with wording in both English and French. Of course, it’s Canadian money.

Startled a little bit, I jump in my skin but quickly regain composure. I think I heard a smirk from Earl, but I can’t be sure. I barked back at her, “it’s from Canada”. I looked at her as I said it with a smile, she smiled back at me with a twinkle in her eye. She took me for a Canadian and appeared okay with that.

I didn’t bother to correct her. But I kept my fries as Freedom Fries. I didn’t want to push the point.

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Seized.

Bristol Station.

One of the things that I forget about my blog is that people actually read it. I am referring to people that are “out there”; the silent ones that don’t make any comments or send me e-mail but rather people that have found something likable about my blog and tune in on a regular basis to see what I have to say. I am flattered by this but this occasionally catches me off guard, especially when I’m at a family gathering and I’m telling a story or doing some part of my schtick and my audience acknowledges that they read this on the blog. I sometimes forget that this cyber-world ties into the real world.

For those that read silently (“lurk”), I thank you. It is much appreciated.

Earl and I are in Earl’s hometown today for a family gathering; it’s birthday weekend for both my father- and mother-in-law. It has been good to see everyone, catch up and hang out. We also met our newest niece Mackenzie.

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Rick and Helen are the proud parents of this beautiful girl. She’s a charmer and I believe the first redhead of her generation.

The party was good. The conversation was interesting, ranging from the benefits of taking a cruise to Alaska to Obama’s Health Care Plan to Cash-for-Clunkers. I have a bit of a culture difference from this side of the family when it comes to Canada; I blame it on my love for that country and the fact that I grew up close to the border under the influence of various Canadian broadcast outlets. They say I talk funny too.

The power of Facebook was prevalent through the party. I’m not quite as active on Facebook as I used to be but it’s still a good way to keep touch with friends and family. Because of my blog, I was treated to a few YouTube videos of various family members belly dancing or playing spoons at a wedding reception. I found it all amusing.

Earl and I are now relaxing in our hotel room. It wouldn’t be a trip to Philly without a midnight stop for cheesesteak; we’ll probably head into Center City for a little while before calling it a night.