Maintenance.

Our friend Iain recently found a bug in the mobile version of this nifty bloggy thing, which made me go into full on geek mode with the maintenance of this site. So I’ve done a little bit of house cleaning and the like around here. If you find any bugs, please don’t hesitate to contact me either through a comment to this blog entry or by sending me e-mail.

If you like the mobile version of the site, which can be seen from just about any mobile device out there, and wish to add this functionality to your WordPress powered site, please click through the button on the right hand side of this page. I really like the software that BraveNewCode develops and I highly recommend them.

Retro.

I have been in a bit of a ‘retro’ mood lately. That has to be the way I’m thinking these days because otherwise I’d have to admit that I am getting old and I’m certainly not about to do that.

It all started at the beginning of last week during my morning commute. Because I don’t like to go the same way twice, which by the way is very difficult to achieve when you do a daily commute, I have started breaking my commute into two pieces: half Thruway and half back roads. Both are the same distance both in mileage and in time, so it doesn’t really matter which way I go, but I digress.

As I exited the Thruway at one of the smallest interchanges they have (there is usually one lone toll attendant here), I noticed that with the lack of trees I was able to see an old bridge that appeared to lead right into the side of a hill. It wasn’t always this way and with a few more careful observations, I could see the online of where a road used to go before the Thruway. This got me to daydreaming about what life was like when the pace was a little bit slower and people were generally less impatient and kinder to one another.

I then started listening to the “70s on 7” station from Sirius/XM at my desk and found myself wanting to buy no less than 200 songs that I haven’t heard since the days of sitting in the back seat of my Dad’s ’71 Heavy Chevy as we listened to the AM radio together. (The station was 62 WHEN). I’m loving the older music a lot (it goes hand in hand with my ‘Stars on 45’ tastes) and this morning I actually changed the station in the car when NPR played a snippet of some new rap tune that is going to be the sensation of 2011.

Then to celebrate the holidays, Earl and I watched “White Christmas”. The story is a little hokey but the humor doesn’t have to be bawdy to be funny. I’m now in the mood to watch some more movies from that era. Not only do I want to be entertained but I also want to escape.

Some have noticed that my online presence is a little more erratic. One noted that my blog entries are becoming more regular. I say more here, and less there.

I guess when everyone wants it today and expects it yesterday, it’s good to take the time to write more than 140 characters or watch a movie that didn’t require a blue screen to be made or even listen to a song devoid of auto tune.

I guess I just like taking the old back roads.

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Chocolate.

It’s just around the corner from a New Year and naturally I have been thinking about resolutions. I’m not really feeling the need to embark on a bunch of resolutions for 2011 (say it with me, “twenty eleven”), but I do have some goals in mind to make the remainder of this life experience a little bit better for me.

Years ago I lost a bunch of weight and honestly I could never really tell you how I did it. I don’t remember what my eating habits were, outside of brief flings with being a vegetarian and paying lots of money to Slim Fast, and while I don’t really feel the need to lose a bunch of weight I do want to eat a little healthier and replace some of the bulk with a touch of muscle. Who doesn’t want to do that, right?

I have been eating protein bars and drinking protein shakes on and off for the past decade or so and can I just say that I am really, really tired of the taste of chocolate. Of course, this didn’t prevent Earl and me have from having a threesome with Godiva the other night but the chocolate Muscle Milk and the chocolate “Whey To Go!” bars and the chocolate “Dine-o-Right!” slabs are an exercise in monotony that can only be compared to folding piles of underwear. I mean, feeding people trying to eat healthy their weight in chocolate is suppose to make this whole dieting thing fun, right? Instead, it teaches us that eating chocolate is healthy and therefore it’s okay to take a walk across the Milky Way if we can’t get to that “Dine-O-Right!” bar.

All of this enhanced chocolate, and by enhanced I am referring to the addition of chlorine molecules so it’ll slide right through your pooper without adding any sort of nutritional value or consequence to your attempts at being svelte, has overloaded my taste buds so much that I am already cringing at thought of an Easter Bunny appearance and it’s not even January yet. Breaking up this monotony with a vanilla flavored bar or, Gods forbid a strawberry concoction that’s designed to make me giddy, is equal to getting dark underwear in that pile of whites that you’re folding.

I have decided to shun the chocolate fake-health bar, pass on the promises of powdered sugary health food and skip the protein with a nougat. I did a little research this morning and found that many of these things are no more than glorified chocolate bars (shocker!) so instead I just spent half of my lunch hour walking through the healthier choices of the local market and picked up some nuts, fruits, vegetables and a suggestion of turkey for when I want to walk on the wild side. Doing a little research and making sensible choices, instead of being force-fed (ha!) promises of sweet nothings and other empty promises has to work out (ha!) better for me in the long run, right?

Now it’s time to hit the bike. Or maybe snowshoe.

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Hysterics.

It was shaping up to be a pretty normal morning. It was time to head out on my hour-long commute. The sky was just starting to shy away from being pitch-black. Sunrise was still 30-45 minutes away, but that’s what happens at this time of year. I actually like driving in the dark. The “zen experience” I feel when driving is enhanced by motoring at night.

I hit the Thruway a few minutes earlier than I usually do. I was going to be able to relax and not worry about making it to work on time. The roads were clear, but the impending dawn revealed ominous clouds dead ahead.

Just as I was making my way over Shumaker Mountain I started hearing that familiar noise often heard this time of year: the pelting of ice and snow on the windshield. I fired up the wipers on their most infrequent setting. I slowed down a bit and made sure I had two hands on the wheel.

The ice continued and mingled with snow. The blackness of the blacktop was disappearing into a covering of white and the trees showed the wind that was picking up. I slowed down some more.

The sign led the way to my exit and as I urged the wipers to go a little faster, I noticed that my windshield had completely iced over. The car made that “we’re going through slush” noise and then the wind started blowing some snow around.

Now, if I was your average American in this day and age, I would immediately pull the car over to the side of the road, threaten to sue the National Weather Service for not warning me about this calamity, sue the Thruway Authority for allowing the blacktop to go away and then promptly starting screaming uncontrollably and then cry into my gloves, because it’s obvious that the foot or so of snow being blown around was the beginning of The Great Blizzard of 2010 (the third one!) and I was going to die right then and there.

But you see, I’m not an average American. Aside from that whole gay thing, I realize that we live just south of the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole and that means that when our part of the world is at it’s furthest point away from the Sun, otherwise known as “winter”, there’s a really good chance that I’m going to have to deal with inclement weather here in the Northeast.

I pride myself on the fact that my parents raised their only boy out of some pretty hearty stock and I’ll be damned if I’m going to get whipped up about a few flakes of snow and a few patches of ice.

Now I know that the folks down in the other part of the Empire State don’t get to experience blizzard-like conditions on a regular basis like we do up here in the part “that resembles a snowy Alabama” (to quote a blogger from the other part of the state), but nevertheless, life does go on, despite all the desperate attempts of the media to scare the beejeezus out of you.

I listened to a woman talk about how she just HAD to fly from Hartford, Conn. to Houston today and to accomplish this she was going to rent a car, make her way down to Raleigh-Durham, catch a flight to Chicago and then hopefully make it to Houston. I wanted to throttle her right through the radio. Just balls it up and drive to Houston. It’s practically going to take the same amount of time and you might see something between here and there. You might actually see that the world doesn’t revolve around the megametropolis of the East Coast.

Now, I might sound a little cranky in this blog entry and quite frankly I’m not. I have plenty of friends and family members that live along the East Coast and I love them.

Especially when they don’t buy into the hysterics.

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14.



Anniversary Photo., originally uploaded by iMachias.

Today Earl and I are celebrating the 14th anniversary of our commitment ceremony. It was a cold, windy day on December 26, 1996 when we stood out on Penn’s Landing, along with Rick and Helen, and said some homemade vows and exchanged our rings. There were tears, there was laughter and there was a “toot toot” from a passing boatload of Marines. Even though it was the day after Christmas, our ceremony was festive all unto itself.

And that festivity has never stopped.

Up under my picture in the right hand column of my blog it mentions that I still see fireworks when he walks into a room. That statement is still so very true. No other person in the world can make me blush and smile the way he does. When my spirit soars, it soars highest because he’s right there beside me, supporting me and loving me along the way. I may be bald and much of his red may have been replaced by grey and lord knows we have had some adventures together but what’s most important is that everything we’ve done, we’ve done together. I am truly blessed to share secrets with this man and yet we hide no secrets from each other. We finish each other’s sentences, we sometimes try to out stubborn each other but it’s all based on a strong foundation of truth and most importantly, undying devotion and love. They all said it would never last. The funny thing is, we’ve only just begun.

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Relax.

One of the important elements of Christmas that has been missing for us the last couple of years is the ability to relax and enjoy the holiday for what it is. The tinny tunes (yes I said ‘tinny’) always go on and on about the hustle and the bustle, but when you’re in a hustle and a bustle the entire year, one needs to find the opportunity to just sit down and relax a little bit.

Luckily, Earl and I found just what we needed for this Christmas holiday. We didn’t do much of anything during the day yesterday, save for me wrapping all the gifts I needed to wrap. I didn’t get worked up about having to do this chore and subsequently the presents looked rather presentable this morning under the tree. There were no wads of paper disguised as a convenient carrying handle on the gifts; boxes were wrapped in rectangles and I even took all the leftover scraps and made a clever looking wrapping for one of Earl’s presents. It didn’t look white trashy or anything.

Since Jamie was headed to his parents today, last night Earl, Jamie and I had our Christmas Eve dinner and as usual the husbear cooked quite a feast. Then we watched “Despicable Me” before calling it a night. We were quite relaxed when we hit the hay, but honestly who can sleep on Christmas Eve night? This morning we made our way through the presents this morning and there were quite a few surprises. In 1982 my sister and I were wide-eyed when we unwrapped our Atari 2600; this morning I as wide-eyed when I unwrapped myAtari 2600 and 10 classic games all contained inside a classically styled joystick. Other retro gifts included a turntable, so I can record my 12-inch singles into MP3 format. Jamie and Earl both enjoyed their gifts as well, then Earl made breakfast and Jamie was on his way to see his folks. Earl and I relaxed for a bit before heading up to a low-key Christmas celebration with the country side of my family. I enjoyed the visit very much and Earl and I took the long way home to admire the lights on homes as we made our way back through the countryside. Someone tried to kill us by running a stop sign and causing me to slam on the brakes and put the Jeep into a skid, but I was so relaxed that I was able to handle the ordeal without even so much as a curse or racing of the heart; one hand went to protect Earl and the other just controlled the skidding Jeep. Being relaxed helped me deal with it in an intelligent sort of way. So tonight Earl and I are now just bringing Christmas 2010 to an end in a quiet way. Phone calls have been made, messages have been exchanged and most importantly, love and good cheer has been shared. Sigh. Life is good. In fact, life is very good.

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Shopping.

So last night Earl and I went out and did what I sincerely hope is the last of the holiday shopping experience of 2010. Naturally, we will probably shop like crazy after the holidays, because that’s what we do for our anniversary (our commitment ceremony anniversary is Sunday), but hopefully by then the Christmas carols playing over the speaker have come to an end and once again there will be nothing but an uptempo ditty designed to get your heart racing over the latest sale assaulting our ears.

Phew I write a lot of words in a sentence. I’ve come a long way since “See Jack run.”. But I digress.

Last night we went to the local Target. I hinted at stopping at K-mart but Earl gave me the “really?” look (in a butch way, Brett) so we opted for Target. The place was a bit of a madhouse. I will never understand why retailers don’t have all of their registers open at this time of yea, because if you’re not going to max out number of checkout lanes opened during the holiday rush, you’re never going to max them out and quite frankly that’s fiscally irresponsible. Plus it makes me cranky. Why buy register 16 if you’re not going to use it?

One of the things that bothers me a little bit about Target is the outdated practice of making you pay for electronics items in the electronics department. They have the technology to tie everything together inventory wise, in a database that was probably free. They also have the technology to make sirens go off, doors close and lights flash if you have something you haven’t paid for. They also have the technology to make your cart wheels lock up and refuse to turn if you go in an unauthorized area with said cart. Why then do I have to pay for an electronic gadget, the size of deck of cards, at the electronics counter? I had to stand behind a woman who was trying to buy a digital camera. She wanted to know if it had wi-fi for her cell phone and if it came with ink. I just wanted to buy the (insert electronic stocking stuffer here) and get on with my shopping excursion before I lost Earl, because he has a habit of running wildly through the store with a cart as soon as I get out of his sight. I can turn to pick up a bag of kitty litter off the shelf and go to turn back to put it in the cart and he’s gone off somewhere on the other side of the store like frozen foods or by the guns.

I don’t know if the woman found the ink for her camera.

One other thing I noticed is that today’s shopper has no idea on how to navigate the checkout lanes that are two deep. They are designed so you can progress through them without having to mingle with other lanes of waiting people.

Perhaps they need to put up gates.

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Sears.

I’ll admit that I’m a geek. I want to shop at this Sears just because it has the really retro logo on it. I told Earl that the old Sears logo has a Jackie Kennedy swoop look to it. He agreed.

This store is in Santa Monica.

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Spirit.

I can finally say that I am feeling glimmers of the holiday spirit that we are suppose to feel this time of year. I wasn’t really feeling much of anything, outside of anger, because I was feeling too much stress. I was worried that I wasn’t going to find the right gift for loved ones, I didn’t really want to travel all over creation for 15 minute stops here and there,the thought of going to the mall depresses me and quite frankly I think I would have more fun shopping online if I had a credit card reader built into the keyboard and the website in question made a “ching-ching” noise when you clicked submit. Pavlovian response and all that.

My mood changed late last week and continued to improve through the weekend. I blame it on that awful show “Glee”, because as ridiculous as elements of the Christmas episode plot line were, there was still a healthy dose of good cheer in there.

Simplicity is what it’s about. In a world of flashing lights, blaring music, friends youve never met and bits and bytes of love, one has to remember that you can make this holiday season whatever you want it to be, and to me the answer was simplicity. Don’t try to dazzle Earl was an outrageous gift, give him something that you think he’ll truly enjoy. Sit on the sidelines and watch a group of friends travel across the state to be with one of their own, just to play some Wii, eat some food and laugh a lot. Go to the holiday party and chat with the cousins who have always loved you for who you are. Share some tears with loved ones just because the appreciate the words you wrote in their Christmas card. Simplicity. That’s what it’s about. And I’m feeling it; I’m simply feeling the holiday spirit.

At lunch time I often get an iced tea from the Dunkin’ Donuts closest to work. Like all fast food establishments, it’s a crap shoot as to who is going to open that sliding drive thru window. Sometimes it’s a raging bitch of a woman who’s been making the donuts since 0500, other times it’s a girl so stoned that she’ll hand you a puppy and think it’s a glass of iced tea, but from time to time there is a crusty ol’ gal that sounds like Suzanne Pleschette and calls me ‘hun’. She’s always got a smile on her face and one time when I was in the store I heard her say she had to leave on time to go to her other job. Working two jobs sucks, but shes there smiling and doing her thing.

Today she opened the drive thru window and I wished her a Happy Holidays and told her to keep the change from the order. The amount I gave her isn’t important. The genuine smile and the “thank you” said it all.

I simply shared some of the spirit I found. The simplicity of a smile.