So it’s Halloween 2009. Since I’m on call for this momentous occasion I really don’t have a photo of a snappy costume to show off this year. This will probably lose me some gay points but I can deal with the pressure. Since I’m home tonight no one will point and stare. There might be some whispering but that’s fine by me.
I am proud to say that Earl and I are maintaining our record of the number of trick or treaters with the festivities this year. We are maintaining having ONE trick or treater in the past 13 years. One apartment and two houses; doesn’t matter, we’ve had one beggar bang on our door and that was the son of one of Earl’s employees who was brown-nosing. Lit up carved pumpkins be damned, no one treads on our door step. We didn’t even bother to buy candy this year. I figured if someone knocked on our door we’d poor some cake batter or kitty litter into their bag. That’d certainly get the neighborhood talking.
Earl and Jamie are off to the bowling alley for some cosmic bowling. I considered joining them but that would be way too tempting for the On Call Gods of all things Pager and some telecommunications catastrophe would have happened, so here I sit typing in my blog, burning CDs for the car and watching reruns of “Reba” (great show, by the way). To spice things up a little bit I am looking forward to the school clock collection shutting itself off for an hour so that the end of Daylight Saving Time can be captured properly.
While I was listening to old music today I stumbled upon one of my old favourites from the mid 1970s, England Dan and John Ford Coley’s “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight”. I still crank this song up when I get the chance.
From the release of the song in ’75(?) until 1993 or so, I thought one of the lines was “I’m not talkin’ about the linen.” I didn’t know that the line was really “I’m not talkin’ about movin’ in” until I saw my friend Storm sing the song with the radio at camp.
Looking through the comments on the YouTube video below, I’m happy to say I’m not the only one that thought that!
Today marks the third part of the geek-trifecta that was underway as Canonical released the latest version of Ubuntu Linux. One of the most popular desktop distributions of Linux, like it’s brethren Ubuntu is free to download, burn to a CD and install on your computer. On the desktop it is generally thought of us a replacement for Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X.
Now I know that last week I was excited about the release of Windows 7 and I’m always excited about my Macs (well, for the most part) but I have a special place in my heart for Ubuntu as well. There is a part of me that is suspicious of all things corporate. I don’t like not knowing what my computer is doing, how it’s doing it and who it’s telling my business to. I have a bit of an issue with Facebook and Google in this regard as well as I don’t quite fully trust “the cloud” yet, but with Linux you can see all the source code that makes up the operating system if you wish, so there is nothing to hide. There are no hidden switches, no secrets calls and no privileged code in Linux and to me that can only be a beautiful thing. Not only are bugs discovered faster, they are squashed even faster than that. And by the way, viruses are not an issue on Linux.
I’m going to install Ubuntu tonight on one of the non-Macs here in the house. I’ll probably yak on about how it went in a couple of days.
By the way, in the picture at the top of this entry I was enjoying my hot chocolate in my Ubuntu Linux mug. I have contemplated getting that symbol as a tattoo as a branding of my geekiness.
No matter what the economic climate is, we should always strive to make the world a better place. The pay cuts at work earlier this year sort of pissed me off. I have to admit that I was a little surprised to find out that the company was still having a United Way campaign.
Today I decided that I have it really good in life and to give back to the community, so I am continuing my United Way contributions next year. During the meeting kicking off the event, I answered a question correctly and won this t-shirt. It fits beautifully.
And it’s a reminder on how good my life really is.
So last week I was all excited about the launch of Windows 7. I proudly installed Windows 7 Ultimate on my computer, I hosted an official Windows 7 Launch Party and I was 99% sure that I was ready to jump back on the Windows bandwagon again.
Why, oh why, Windows 7, did you fail me this morning?
I attempted to install Google Chrome as my browser of choice on Windows. I dutifully downloaded the file and then ran it. Windows 7 bonked at me for my permission and I granted it.
Then the screen turned blue. I was thrown back to the days of yore. That’s right folks, Windows 7 shunned me by showing me the Blue Screen Of Death.
That’s just mean.
I don’t know if the blame lies with Google Chrome or with Windows 7. The betrayal of trust I felt with that BSOD made me remember why I switched to Linux way back in the days between Windows 98 and Windows Me. It also made me happy that my trusty ol’ MacBook Pro was sitting there, patiently waiting for me to come to my senses.
Do I still recommend Windows 7? Oh, very much so. I need to figure out why Windows 7 and Google Chrome had their little skirmish this morning, but that all-too familiar flash of blue on my screen chipped away at the foundation of trust I had built with Windows 7. I still think it’s the best operating system to date from Microsoft.
But is that enough?
I have grown tired of trying eat healthy. Strike that. I have grown tired of eating food that is marked “healthy”. Protein shakes, snack bars, fiber nuggets, low carb this, no fat that, here a calorie, there a calorie, calorie digits four. I don’t know what that last one was but it seemed like it fit the rhythm.
Why do we obsess about what we eat these days? Am I alone in obsessing about this sort of thing? About a week ago I issued a household decree that I was going to eat normally. Another adjective that was fired off was ‘reasonably.’ I am going to eat a reasonable amount of normal food and be done with it.
Am I drinking sugar-laden soda pop? No. Am I eating a ton of junk food. Well, I’m trying not to but when McD’s is calling at 11 p.m. and you have two other willing people to ride through the drive thru with you sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. I compromised though, I didn’t get fries nor did I get a sugary soda pop.
A month ago my Twitter feed would read: “Eating lunch – a salad with a suggestion of dressing. Or maybe it’s just a hint of dressing. Either way the leaves are wet.” Now doesn’t that sound appetizing. For the past week I have eaten a homemade sandwich (usually turkey and mustard) on wheat, a small amount of chips and a couple of glasses of iced tea for lunch. Did I lose weight? No. Did I gain weight? No. Apparently I have been installed at 189.2 and the gods and scale have decided that my bulge ain’t budging up or down. I went on vacation for week. 189.2. I starved myself for two days. 189.2. I rode 10 miles on a bike. I rode 50 miles on a bike. I walked, I ran. I pooped.
I guess this is where I was meant to be. I might as well eat normally whilst I’m here.
I mentioned last week that on my way back home from Virginia that I had rediscovered country music. The trend has continued for the past 10 days; the presets are still under their new programming in the car and in the Jeep, my Pandora stations have been changed and I am finding myself thoroughly enjoying country music again. I find the music to help when I am working on various projects on the computer; the real musicality of country music doesn’t distract from what I’m doing. This is a good thing. I often find Top 40 and Adult Contemporary/Easy-Listening music to be distracting. Country is helping me process my thoughts.
One of the reasons for my return to country music is my discovery of Lady Antebellum1, a group formed in 2006. They are pictured above. If you want a closer look you can click on the picture to make it bigger. I mentioned in my post last week that I loved the song “Need You Now”. This is the first single from their second album coming out in January 2010. I have already downloaded the first album. It resides on my iPhone and in the car CD player.
Now here’s where I get a little deep.
I have written before that I grew up in rural Upstate New York2. Conversely, I have talked about living in big cities such as Toronto, Dublin, Oklahoma City, Denver and the like, heck, I even lived in suburban Boston for three years. While I really enjoy the idea of having so much available to me while living in a big city, I suspect that there’s a part of me that wouldn’t be overly happy for the long term while living in such an environment. I need open space, I need lots of wild flowers, fields and clear views of the horizon. Last night Earl and I were casually discussing the future and where he could go in his career and how it might involve a move. As we mentioned various places where we could live, I found myself saying that I would want to live outside of the mentioned metropolitan area: he’d mention Buffalo, I’d counter with Batavia or Medina; he’d mention Albany, I’d suggest one of the rural towns outside of the Capital District. I think that’s why Oklahoma City and St. Louis are high on my “preferred cities” list; they are good-sized cities that have more of a rural vibe about them. I like that. A relatively short drive out of the city and you’re back in the heartland.
As a gay man I was always hesitant to mention where I grew up, especially when hanging with the gays from the big cities. I always felt that I didn’t fit in. It was very rare that I would talk about the fact that I spent my single-digit years growing up in a 10’x50’ (with 8’x40’ addition my father built) mobile home that was surrounded on two sides by an electric fence (to keep the cattle and horses off the lawn). Sunday mornings were spent with my cousins racing through barns in wild games, after-school time was spent hiking in the woods and jumping in and out of the cow pasture (and once in a while being chased by an ornery bull). When Dad got home from work we’d do the chores and supper was served promptly at 6. You know what? I really like the smell of “fresh country air”. Was I embarrassed by these things when I was hanging with the urban gays? No. I just didn’t think that it made me gay enough (whatever that meant) and it made me feel like more of an outsider.
This runs contrary for a person that doesn’t even look at the same wall when everyone else is looking at the ‘big picture’.
I think one of the reasons I’m enjoying country music again is because it touches my rural roots and helps me remember and connect to the person that I really am, which is buried under layers of who I thought I was suppose to be. Others have talked about trying to fit into a pre-conceived stereotype of how they were suppose to act as a gay man. I’m guilty of that, especially back in the mid and late 1980s when I was first getting my bearings on the whole gay thing. And some of these things have stuck with me throughout my adult life.
I have mentioned before that I never thought that I would figure out this whole life thing, even at the age of 41. I don’t think that we ever truly get it figured out before it all ends, but you know what, I really think that I’m on the right track again. The high I felt after returning from my vacation last week has continued to linger. There has been no post-vacation crash, and aside from a few minor bumps here and there at work (that were really not a big deal once they were put into perspective in my head), I still feel amazing.
And I’m more proud than ever to say that I really am a country boy at heart.
1 It did not escape my notice that all three members of Lady Antebellum are incredibly hot.
2 By ‘Upstate New York’ I am not referring to Yonkers, Westchester County or even Poughkeepsie, but what I consider to be the true ‘Upstate New York’, the heartland of The Empire State, far away from the Big Apple.
I know typing that title is going to make my Mac fans gasp in horror but at the very least I can proclaim that last night I was a PC. It was last night that we celebrated all things geeky with a Microsoft sanctioned Windows 7 House Party.
Our party was a happy hour.
Now I know that visions of nerdy types with pocket protectors drooling around a laptop in a dimly lit room instantly come to mind when one thinks of a party celebrating a computer operating system, but this wasn’t the case at all. Thursday night Earl and I planned out a relatively nice menu for the event that was pulled off well. The only problem with the food was the vegetable tray; apparently the catering service we ordered it from had new help or something because the broccoli was frozen broccoli that had been cooked and was turning brown. It was arranged quite nicely but it looked, tasted and smelled awful. The ranch dip was bleu cheese and the tomatoes looked like they had already hit a politician. So we skipped the veggie plate but the rest was quite nice. Beverages flowed, conversation ensued and fun was seemingly had by all.
The actual Windows 7 part of the party went on a little longer than I anticipated. I set up my Lenovo desktop computer in the living room and used our 42-inch plasma television as a monitor, which was great for the presentation. There were several themes that you could pick from for your party and I chose to focus on the media capabilities of Windows 7 and the User Interface enhancements. I went into instructor mode and kind of lost myself in the demonstration a little bit in that I was really enjoying it; Earl said he never realised that I could show computer stuff like that because usually I shove him aside and hastily click click click my way through his latest technological problem. I told him that I would remember that conversation and in the future be kinder when he needed help from me.
At the end of the night I gave away some Windows 7 swag; everyone got enviro-friendly shopping bags with the Windows 7 logo on them and I had some drawing for door prizes, including a puzzle and a deck of cards. The grand prize was a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium Edition. I think that was well received.
All in all the party was a great success. I have to admit that spending yesterday finalizing ideas of what I was going to show off during the little presentation really made me appreciate Microsoft’s efforts to make the Windows 7 experience simpler for their users. Last night I made constant comparisons between Windows 7 and it’s older siblings and it’s biggest competitor OS X. It is obvious that Microsoft was inspired by Apple on some of the new User Interface elements of Windows 7 (the Dock-like taskbar being one of them), but as I said last night, I have used every version of Windows since Windows/286 and this is clearly the best version of Windows I have ever used. It looks good, it feels solid and it behaves itself. And ironically, the company doesn’t feel as Draconian as Apple these days.
I have pretty much made Windows 7 my main operating system of choice. So I guess it’s true, I’m a PC once again.