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Jammies.

I am writing this blog entry after just getting out of bed and throwing on a pair of pajamas to come down stairs and do the “it’s a holiday morning” thing. This got me to thinking ; this quite normal activity for me might actually be strange for others because I put on pajamas when I got up. I call them my “yuppie pajamas” because the top and bottom match, in lieu of wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants. I feel like I should be matching someone else in these things, kind of like I’m ready for a Christmas morning photo because they’re plaid. Pajamas always seem to involve plaid. I don’t know if it’s because of the flannel or because plaid makes people happy, but here they are, plaid.

I have mentioned before that I enjoy sleeping in the nude. Even if it’s 40 degrees outside and I’m in a tent in a sleeping bag. Wearing clothes to bed seems quite foreign to me. I remember as a kid I would always get out of my clothes in some manner during the night and then have to put them back on when I went downstairs to join the family for the morning. When I was 16 I spent the night with my grandmother and my aunt at the house while the rest of the family was at a cabin at the beach and my grandmother came in to check on me and made some noise about “my bare ass hanging out”. (I don’t like to think that my ass “hangs”, by the way, since some have said that it is one of my better attributes.) I just don’t want to get all knotted up in some clothes that are going to be covered by blankets anyway. And I like a lot of blankets; usually about 7, not including the sheets but definitely including at least two quilts.

So here I am in my matching pajamas which are keeping me warm after getting out of bed. I am ready for the holiday festivities to begin.

In plaid.

 

 

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North Country.



Great Sacandaga River., originally uploaded by iMachias.

Earl and I enjoyed the day in the north country on Friday. Now many folks think of New York as the Big Apple and many in the Big Apple think of the North Country as Yonkers, but when I’m referring to the North Country I’m referring to the part of New York State between the Adirondacks and the Canadian border.

It is my absolutely favorite part of the state.

We hadn’t been on a drive of this nature in a long while so it was good to sit in the Jeep and exploring the little towns that dot US Route 9 and US Route 11. We ate at locally owned establishments, picked up a cell phone charger at a _thriving_ K-mart that even still had it’s Little Caesars Pizza Station AND a K-mart cafeteria and we drove along a road where the ditch was Canadian but the blacktop was American. The cows mooed and munched in French.

All in all it was a very relaxing day.

To get where we wanted to go we drove through the Adirondacks. We stopped along Route 8 in the Town of Wells for a few moments in the woods; I snapped a few photos of the Great Sacandaga River. That’s the photo at the top of this entry.

The folks in the North Country seem to be nicer and more relaxed than further downstate. People refer to it as a “snowy Alabama”. I’d like to refer to it as home someday.

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Awake.

Earl and I have a vacation today tomorrow. Actually, later today, because it’s after midnight as I’m typing this blog entry. I am stoked because we have a vacation day on the same day and in the same city. He’s not in Buffalo, I’m not in the J-town. The jet set life has brought us to our lovely home at the same time.

We enjoyed a nice dinner together earlier this evening at one of our local haunts, a Greek restaurant called Symeon’s. The food was as good as always, though one does feel a tad bit rushed when they are there. They like to keep the people moving, I suppose. I had the fasolakia. I didn’t even have to look that up in order to spell it correctly. The iMac is complaining that I’m spelling it wrong, but I’m not. Okay, I’ll admit that the Greek appetizer platter was quite nice as well. I enjoy bits of eggplant and grape leaves.

Earl and I have no plans for the weekend. I have been wanting to find time to write because I haven’t been doing it enough lately. I find it a little bit frustrating, because I commute a total of about 2 1/2 hours a day but I have no way of writing down all the thoughts that are jumping around in my head. I commented to Earl today that I enjoy blogging during my lunch time, but I’m not completely comfortable with typing a blog entry on my iPad (even when I use the aluminum keyboard) because it just feels slightly awkward to me. The iPad is the bees’ knees for content consumption but it’s not quite there, yet, for content creation. I was thinking that I was going to make a case for some sort of laptop again but then I remembered that I already have a MacBook Pro and it’s currently in Buffalo with Jamie, who is DJing a party with it this weekend. My short term memory works like that lately.

I can’t really put my finger on the reason as to why I’m awake at the moment. I’m actually really tired, but the idea of being able to sleep in an extra day on this three-day weekend has me giddy with excitement. I have been doing some reading on a few tech journalists that I admire and trying to figure out how they do their thing so easily. I know they don’t blog on their iPads for the most part, they go the notebook route. I will probably have to do the same. Our friend Scott has one of the new 11-inch MacBook Air notebooks and I’m setting it up for him. It’s quite sweet but might be a tad small for my tastes. Jamie used to have a 13-inch MacBook but he gave that up for the iPad route. My MacBook Pro is a 15-inch model with the older style case (like my old PowerBook G4) and I really like it but sometimes it feels a tad big in the Acura. I wish the J-town had something like Panera where I could sit down for my lunch hour and be creative. The weather in these parts isn’t conducive to sitting at a picnic table. The snow drifts get in the way.

As I’m typing these random thoughts into this entry I’m reflecting on the blog entry I wrote earlier this afternoon, the one about giving thanks and not glossing over the Thanksgiving holiday in favor of the more popular Christmas season. During dinner I was quite excited to share some news about my work with Earl and he did the same. I told him that for the first time in a long while I have been able to come home and say without a trace of sarcasm in my voice, “I love my job”. I really do love my job and it’s a gig I hope to have for a long while. With Earl having his new career opportunities all over Upstate New York (they call him the Duke of the Thruway because of his offices being along the Thruway corridor), we have been having some thoughts as to how we are going to accommodate two careers in four different cities. It’s a challenge that we are both looking forward to come spring.

For now, I think it’s time to go to sleep, because this blog entry went in a different direction than I intended it to be.

Especially when my forehead bounced on the desk as I finally fell asleep.

Thanks.

With the constant reminders of the impending arrival of the holidays blaring in our ears and assaulting our sight, it stands to reason that I’m feeling kind of crabby with all of this frivolity. People wonder how one can be so cranky when it’s soon to be the most wonderful time of the year. I’m going to throw my two cents out there on the subject and then you won’t need to irritate me with such mundane questions about my mood.

I was taught that a good person is thankful for what they have in their life. In the New York State educational system of the 1970s I was also reminded of how important it was to be patriotic and thankful that we live in such a wonderful country. The pilgrims made a very dangerous voyage to this new found land and through their hard work, I am lucky to be enjoying turkey as a yankee doodle dandy. I was also reminded that in case the air raid sirens go off, grab your nap carpet and get under your desk, but that’s another blog entry.

This morning I decided to see what “terrestrial radio” has to offer these days. I have limited such listening delights to the sounds of “little radio station” in the city in which I work, but even this little treasure is guilty of what is irking me so. As I jumped around the dial, I landed upon three radio stations that are playing nothing but Christmas music (and don’t start telling me it’s holiday music, because ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ is Christmas music). I believe today is something like the 18th of November. Said stations went to all jingle bells on the 1st.

People, it’s not that time of year yet.

Driving through the little towns along my commute I see lit up snowflakes, blinking sleigh bells and tin soldiers bolted to telephone poles.

I have recently read articles, and I’m too lazy to add a link for your perusal so you’re just going to have to trust me on this, that mention that the retailers want to move the Black Friday sales to something earlier, like the 1st of November. Perhaps it was the 4th of July. Nevertheless, they don’t feel they are getting enough holiday traffic soon enough so what the retailers want to do is extend the holiday shopping season so that they can rack in more bucks. So the Christmas message is this – skip that whole Thanksgiving thing, it’s not important. Don’t be thankful for what you have, just run out and get more, more, MORE!

I don’t like that.

You see, I’m spoiled. I know I’m spoiled. I heartily admit that I am very fortunate that we are in a comfortable financial situation but in the back of my mind I know that it can be taken away at a moment’s notice at any time. I don’t take any of it for granted; I could give it all up if I had to and most importantly, I am very thankful for what we have. There are times that I don’t seem very thankful for that which we have, both materialistically and in other ways, but by gods, don’t skip over the importance of my opportunity to sit down with family and friends and tell them how thankful I am to be part of this whole life experience with them. I learned long ago that filling your home with expensive gadgets is a fleeting joy at best and that spending the entire day under the covers with your lover, ignoring the world outside of that moment, is much more preferable. I figured out that buying your mom an expensive serving set will make her smile, but singing her a song at the piano will make her heart fill with happiness. I know that sitting down and listening to a person tell you why they’re thankful, and then reciprocating, is a precious moment.

In today’s society we are all about what we can obtain. I think we should focus more on what we can celebrate, even if it’s celebrating that we are just getting by with what we have. And by glossing over Thanksgiving Day (or as we now call it in respect to our Canadian friends and family, “American Thanksgiving”) and force feeding us the Christmas holiday earlier than intended, you’re telling us that giving thanks is not that important anymore.

For the record, our holiday shopping is already under way (online shopping allows us that luxury without being subjected to the barrage of low-fidelity Christmas wails full of static). Our plans for our yearly shopping trip have been made. We know where we are going and that will take place in November. But in contrast to the neighbors that have their flashing icicles lit, the Santa Claus that randomly inflates and deflates over a blow up baby Jesus and a lit up reindeer that flashes faster than a Studio 54 disco ball, we are going to take the time to properly decorate our house in a tasteful, respectful manner for Thanksgiving. Menus will be planned, off-the-grid moments will be celebrated and good times will be shared.

And I will be thankful that we are able to do so.

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Arrogance.

As a lovely way to start off the week, my workday is filled with corporate meetings of varying banality. One of the meetings involved an IT guy who seems very knowledgable in his contribution to the common corporation we work for and I looked forward to speaking with him. Part of his presentation including a software demonstration.

The problem is, he is using a Mac. And as an rabid Apple fanboy, it pains me to start this paragraph with “the problem is”.

I made a comment stating that I noticed the MacBook Pro that he was using to accomplish his tasks and that I was an avid Apple products user as well. My supervisor, who is an avid Windows user, also made a comment stating his surprise that he was using a Mac for his company business, since we are very much a PC world inside the corporation.

“I’m using a Mac because they gave me a PC. They claimed it was top of the line but it’s still a PC.” His voice was dripping with that holier-than-thou attitude that one occasionally hears from a Mac user and quite frankly, makes me cringe. A lot. Because it’s that attitude that gives us Mac folks a bad name.

Here’s my deal. I love my Macs, I love my iPad and I love all the iDevices that I have in my home and life. I have tried to switch away from Mac but the old adage of “Once you go Mac…” (or something like that) is very much true and I find the cohesiveness of my computing experience with my various portable devices to be quite nice. I am excited about the rumors about Verizon Wireless getting the iPhone in the fairly near future. And quite frankly, using a more expensive Mac in Panera or wherever is a bit of an elitist ego boost for me, because I feel like I have spent our money on the best possible computing experience. The hardware feels better, the software is more intuitive and it really does “just work”.

But I’m certainly not going to poo-poo random PC users and make them feel any less special or important in their computing experience because overall, the Mac is just a tool. I choose to use my computer as a tool to get whatever I want to get done, done. Others choose PCs as their tool. We both get to the same websites, we both type documents and we both exchange e-mail, it’s just that they have their way on their PC and I have my way on my Mac.

I have been known to roll my eyes and groan on more than one occasion when asked to help someone with a computer issue. The groan and eye-roll usually indicates that said user is using Windows Vista, but I digress. I have also had to bail out many Mac users in my day.

Folks with the uppity attitude about their Macs give all us fanboys a bad name. I just want to get my work or play done on a system that doesn’t crank about it.

And I want to do it without an attitude.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Transportation.

I am witting in my usual parking space for my lunch hour. The difference today is that in the next spot over is a horse and buggy. The folks that drove it in went to McDonalds. I would share a photo of this horse and buggy but the camera app on my Droid has crashed twice and refuses to speak to Twitter today. I’ll post it once I get home and I can hack into the phone.

I find it ironic that I am complaining about technology whilst parked next to a horse and buggy driven by an Amish couple.

The horse just dumped. So did the Droid. Otherwise he is well behaved and just standing there, pooping occasionally.

The buggy has a sturdy build and has a couple of blankets in the passenger area. I like that, blankets in the car. I do the same thing. If my name was Linus I might have a safety blanket in my stash, but alas, I do not.

I am fascinated by the fact that I am parked next to this horse and buggy. I’m not surprised, after all the town I grew up in has hitching posts at all the major fast food establishments. But it is fascinating.

Waiting.

Dear Dunkin Donuts in the J-town,

Since March of this year you have been a part of my daily routine. In the early days of this J-town experience I would go to the World’s Best Subway(TM) for a predictable meal but that grew somewhat expensive so I decided to start packing a lunch for the days I worked in your fair city. I decided to visit your establishment on a daily basis to pick up a large unsweetened iced tea with lemon. On days when I was in a particularly madcap mood, I would also order a chocolate chip cookie. A few weeks ago there was a misstep that shook me to my very core, as you gave me a toasted bagel with some offensive pink goo instead of my madcap chocolate cookie, but aside from one nasty run in with some sweetened coffee concoction, you have been right there for me with my large, unsweetened iced tea with lemon.

Yesterday, in celebration of the unseasonably warm temperatures, I decided to park the car and walk inside your establishment to purchase my iced tea. The plan to walk would be the extent of my frivolity, but I was planning to tell you to keep the change as I completed my purchase. This would have been a 10% tip for you.

I waited at your counter, lamented to my next madcap mood when I gazed over the chocolate chip cookies and then discovered there was one important element missing from the service with a smile.

It was the person that was suppose to wait on me at the counter.

Now there were four suspects milling about the food preparation area. One was yelling into her headset. Presumably she was speaking to someone that couldn’t comprehend that you do not sell Whoppers at Dunkin’ Donuts because she kept yelling “That’s at BURGER KING!!!”. One was shuffling muffins around but two young ladies were chatting and texting, even though they were wearing their uniforms.

I waited for four minutes.

As the clock, which looks quite industrial and is made by the Chaney Instruments company, by the way, clicked to the fourth minute, I made an abrupt 180-degree turn and left your establishment. I made my way across the road to the Rock ‘n Roll themed McDonalds where apparently all the men are required to wear Elvis sideburns and ordered a large iced tea from there, which saved me $1.00 and was served to me faster than you can say “two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun”. There was smiling, there were sideburns and there were no cell phones. Customer nirvana.

I decided to give you one more chance today and feeling particularly adventurous, I was going to go for the gusto and order a brownie with the daily iced tea.

Again, disinterest of the customer that was standing at the counter waiting was a recurring theme. I waited five minutes, per the Chaney Instruments clock you have, and again, I made a 180-degree turn and left and went to the McDonalds, where today’s theme was apparently ZZ Top beards and indulged in my adventurous mood by adding a plain hamburger to my order of a large, unsweetened iced tea with lemon.

There were plenty of smiles, a hearty thank you and I deposited my change in the Ronald McDonald Home fund.

I am sorry, dear Dunkin Donuts of the J-town, but I am breaking up with you. Your disinterest reminds me of the feelings I had for my girlfriend in the latter half of my senior year of high school and quite frankly, I know that means no one is going to get any.

Fondly,
ME

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Voting.

So yesterday was Election Day in the United States and like the good American that I am, I did my patriotic duty and joined Earl as we headed to the town hall to cast our votes. Last year our town hall was the beta tester for the new electronic voting machines that made their official debut last night and I have to say that I am still very, very uncomfortable with these new machines. I was very vocal to everyone that would listen about how I felt about the machines and many of the Important Voting People agreed with me.

Here are my issues with the new electronic voting machines:

1. They are suppose to be more accessible for those that had a hard time pulling the lever next to the name of the person they wanted to vote for. To remedy this situation, the new system involves taking a magic marker and colouring inside a little dot next to the name of the person that you’re voting for. If a voter does not have the dexterity to grab onto a lever and pull it down, I doubt they’re going to be able to wrap their fingers around a pen and colour neatly within the dot.

2. Any shrouds of privacy have been removed. In the old days, you went into this booth like device where a big, red handle awaited. The voter then swung the handle to the right, and hopefully it would close the curtain behind you, turn on the light so you could see what you were doing and reset the machine to ‘zero’, all with the swing of that red handle. Now you are given a scorecard with the aforementioned magic marker and herded over to a cubicle with flappy sides which is in very close proximity to other voters. There’s no privacy. Anyone can look over your shoulder. I saw that the person standing to my right was a staunch Republican because he had coloured in the Republican dot on his row. He had even marked one dot per column, where in some cases there were two columns requiring only one vote between them. So not only did I know his vote, I knew he was doing his vote wrong1;. By the way, the mechanical machines would not have allowed him to pull too many levers down.

3. This is one is the biggest concern for me: these electronic voting machines are electronic, do not print out a receipt and have been programmed by human beings using a closed source program. I firmly believe that any programming code (otherwise called source code) used on a publicly owned computing device for the purpose of voting in our elected officials should be programmed with open source code where anyone could see what makes the machine tick. I don’t trust our government so I’m sure as heck not going to trust a company working for the government using trade secrets. The fact that there is not that much stink made about this sort of thing makes me angry in unmeasurable ways, however, I’m not surprised because the majority of the population is too lazy to think and would rather be spoon fed their media and thought processes.

Prior to the introduction of these electronic voting machines I felt a sense of honour and duty whenever I cast my vote. I was making a difference and old people using older, proven technologies were making sure that my vote counted. When I walk away from casting my ballot now, not only do I feel dirty from having to basically choose from the lesser of two evils, I feel cheated as an American because I have no idea where my vote went and if whoever wrote the program in the first place approved my vote based on their parameters.

Like electronic toilets and sinks2 in public wash rooms, we have taken a step backwards in one of the most important elements of our country.

1 I watched this man feed his scorecard into the machine, and it did not complain about the errors of his vote. The mechanical machine would have never let that happen in the first place. One is left to wonder, did his entire ballot get nullified or just that vote?

2 In the past three months, I have seen at least six boys or men become dumbfounded because the manual sink wouldn’t turn on when they thrust their hands under the spigot. I had to turn the sink on for one young lad who was old enough to grow peach fuzz because he kept going from sink to sink and said they were all broken.