January 2011


The news outlets are hootin’ and hollering about a “massive” snowstorm that is going to “blanket the lower Great Lakes and New England” Tuesday into Wednesday. The National Weather Service fired off the obligatory panic warnings with a Severe Weather Alert. I long for the days when that alert signal was reserved for an air raid attack or a nuclear meltdown. Now there’s a flash of lightning somewhere in the lower 48 and they fire off those stupid tones and send everyone running and crying like the god mode of SimCity. It’s stupid. But I digress.

The forecast they released predicts two to four inches of snow. This is a Severe Weather Alert? Show me a woman riding a bike in the clouds and we’ll talk.

I’m sure that at this stage of the game, even our friends downstate and in Boston would agree that two to four inches of snow in the northeast is no biggie. When did we become scared of Mother Nature?

I think the 24 hour news outlets are going to be the death of our country. I can get more reliable, less sensationalized news from various sources across the Internet. I typically follow U.S. News from non U.S. sources like the CBC, BBC and France 24. I even read the English version of Al Jazeera. These folks are not being controlled by corporations with a political intent and it’s good to get a perspective from someone outside looking in. Plus, don’t buy into the new American way of being hysterical about everything. I feel like the American news channels are controlled by ratings and ad revenue and that they hype things way beyond reality. Many buy into the hype and basically fear everything outside of their comfort zone these days but I enjoy trying to get a different perspective on it all.

The hysteria over weather this winter is kind of making me angry because there’s nothing we can really do about it. Make sure you have the basics stocked up, act responsibly and then simmer down and enjoy what Mother Nature is bringing us. That’s all you have to do. It’s actually fun to get snowed in once in a while. Worried about food? Cook or if you have to, pop open a can of pork and beans. Buy some C-rats if you’re super paranoid. If you can’t get out, you can’t get out. The sense of entitlement is futile when you’re messing with the elements. Just go with the flow and enjoy nature for what it is.

So what if the forecast turns out to be wrong and we get dumped on with three feet of snow in a day. We’ll shovel and scrape and get on with our lives and by April it’ll be melted and you’ll be enjoying the spring.

People need to chill, forget the ratings and stop buying into the hype. Seriously.

Bonus Track.

I think I need to get out and dance or something. Always a favorite on the dance floor back in the day, here’s Hazell Dean with “Love Pains”.

Notice the “Never Gonna Give You Up” percussion intro at the beginning. Hazell had teamed up with the Stock-Aiken-Waterman team for this tracks. They were known as the “Hit Factory” and used similar techniques in a LOT of records.

Saturday Night Dance Party.

Still one of my favorite dance tracks of all time, here is “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by The Communards featuring Sarah Jane Morris.



It was 1986 and I was a senior in high school. Having just finished lunch, we were in 5th period Senior High Chorus and as usual, the chorus was being rather cantankerous and rowdy. Mrs. Zentner, the choral director, seemed slightly more distraught than usual. She couldn’t get us to shut up so we could sing so she just barked out, “the shuttle exploded! The shuttle exploded today.”

The room went silent. I felt a lump in my throat like I was going to cry but I didn’t because I didn’t want people to see me cry. So I fought it back.

I don’t remember much of that class but I remember going into my 6th period chemistry class and saying to the teacher Mr. Shafer, “I can’t believe the shuttle exploded.”. Apparently he didn’t know because he jumped up with a start and looked panicked and then turned on the television. We spent the rest of the class watching the coverage of the Challenger Disaster.

For a geek that dreams of the stars, that day is burned in my memory forever. God bless those that lost their lives in the pursuit of exploration and the betterment of mankind.

I can’t believe it’s been 25 years. We will never forget you.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


It has been one of those weeks. You might think that I am about to write about how dreadful the week has been for me, but in all honesty, it has been a really good week. I hope this is a sign of how 2011 is going to be, now that we are nearly a month into this whole ’11 experience.

This morning as I was taking a shower, I found myself grinning. Granted, I still had a silly grin on my face from the dream (see previous post) that I had just woke up from, but I also found myself grinning because I was excited to be going to work. Perhaps the Vitamin D pills I’ve been taking (sunshine in a capsule, I guess) helped coax the inner smile out, but I am feeling a hell of a lot better at the end of this week versus the way I was feeling on Monday morning. It’s amazing what a few days and a few conversations with yourself can do. I ‘fessed up to some of my own personal hangups I have and I’m realizing that while I strive to live a healthy life (and I’m moderately successful at it, I suppose), I’m never going to have that lean, mean body builder body that I always thought I could have. Heck, I even had a little cub gut when I was still in my single digits, why I thought I could achieve something different at age 42 is beyond me.

At a holiday gathering not too long ago, one of my family members asked what I was doing for work these days. I still can’t believe when I tell someone what I do, because it’s something that I used to really want to do when I was a young teen geek. I write programs. I (along with a bunch of other very talented people) maintain network monitoring systems that give smart people the tools to monitor the dialtone for millions of people across the country. That’s wicked cool. I speak Unix. I speak Linux. I speak Solaris and I write in code (PHP and Perl, to be exact). I make data connect. I’ve come so far from the BASIC programs I wrote in the mid 1980s to where I am today and it’s something that I still can’t believe I do and actually get paid for it. When 5 p.m. arrived this afternoon, I could have stayed at my desk at least another two hours continuing on the project I was working on. Granted, it would have made the night seem rather short, but I could have easily stayed and worked and actually enjoyed it, until I realized how much I was missing my husbear and family.

I have been a lucky man for these 42 years. I have tried many things. I’ve been a radio personality, I’ve worked as a caregiver and I’ve been a geek in some capacity all of my life. Each step along the way, however curvy the road has been, has brought to me where I am today.

I would usually say that I am a lucky man, in fact, I just did in the previous paragraph. More importantly, I am a grateful man and I’m also a happy man.

It has been a good week.



I almost always remember at least one of my dreams on any given night. I have a dream journal that I write in from time to time, even if it’s a bullet list of the images or themes I encountered in the dreamscape that night. I occasionally find it amusing to go back and read these journal entries. I wouldn’t dare share them with others as I’m afraid I’d end up in some nut house making rag rugs with blunt scissors. I like to give the appearance of functioning in modern society.

My dreams alternate between wild, whimsical and theme-laden. Last night’s story seemed to feature a cross of all of this. In the dream I had continued with my radio career and had eventually made my way to where many celebrities of my age end up.

I was selected to be Richard Dawson’s replacement of “Family Feud”. Apparently I was skipping the hosts that have had the duties since Mr. Dawson, I was the chosen host and there was going to be much excitement.

One of the families on my first outing was a row of shirtless frat boys who were drinking a lot of beer. The other family was your usual Midwestern family with a ma, pa, kids and a grandma who needed to kiss me on the lips because that’s what Richard did.

We got into the mechanics of the game, which were pretty true to what we know on television and the sound effects were the old ones and the board flipped instead of being electronic. I was having a grand old time being host but towards the end of the game the grandma that had kissed me couldn’t figure out the buzzer so she wanted to arm wrestle with one of the bearded, shirtless frat boys. For this I apparently changed into a tux and read the question into the microphone and the grandma yelled out ‘beep beep beep’ and started arm wrestling the dude. This all seemed quite normal and I think I might have yelled out “Survey Says!” really loud because it was then that I woke up.

There is some symbolism in there that I’m still mulling over but for the most part I woke up with a big smile on my face. I had fun last night!

I think it’s time to change my aspirations and start watching Game Show Network again.

Oh, one curious thing: in my dreams I almost always have a full head of hair and just a mustache. I wonder if this is how my subconscious or soul or whatever sees me, kind of like the way Neo controlled the way he looked in “The Matrix”. Interesting.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


One of my goals for 2011 was to know my limits and then do what I can to expand them. For example, I have this irrational dislike for toothpicks. They friggin’ freak me out and if anyone near me is using one I feel inclined to go ballistic and do what I can to assure that said person will swallow the vile device. I realize that this is a limit of mine and while I still can’t tolerate the sight of a toothpick, I no longer feel the need to buy a pistol when I see one in use.

I have this thing about money. I find it fun to spend. With a big, hard shove from the husbear, I have garnered a huge disinterest in credit cards, mainly because I feel like our financial status is a huge game of Jenga and if I place a credit card anywhere on the stack someone is going to take their paw and knock the whole thing down, reducing my life to living in a mobile home* and eating ramen noodles with lots of butter and the water drained out.

While I refuse to go into any sort of credit crunch again, despite the urgings of our local bank, I do like shelling out cash as much as possible. I tip at Dunkin’ Donuts. I’d probably tip at McDonalds if they ever came back to the counter. I buy two of everything, including things like windshield washer fluid and antifreeze, because 2012 is just around the corner and lord knows we’ll need antifreeze during the big armageddon.

Like most Americans I enjoy spending money but I do it faster than I should. So I have resolved this little bugaboo of mine by setting limits via allowances. My wallet is crammed full of Dunkin’ Donuts rechargeable cards, Tim Hortons cards and the like. I put a weekly amount on the card and then I stick to it. When it’s empty, we are done until the next allowance. I’m thinking of instituting this approach for my iTunes music and app consumption as well because at times I can get a little haywire with that.

It’s not that I can’t control my spending, because I suppose I could if I tried, but doing it this way, with the whole allowance card system makes me think twice about what I’m buying and it hones my budgeting skills in some way.

For some reason I think this approach might work for calorie consumption, but Richard Simmons did that whole deal a meal thing a long time ago and in all truth, I don’t think deal a meal has a card for a Friday cookie from Dunkin’ Donuts that has been saved up for with careful planning throughout the week.

* no kvetching about mobile homes, because I grew up in one and in all honesty I’d live in one again if I needed to. Earl, on the other hand, would rather not think about it at all.

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The other day I was thinking to myself that I have lucked out as I didn’t feel the mid-winter blogs blahs that usually make their debut sometime in January. Apparently this was some sort of jinxed thought because for the last couple of days I have been feeling those winter blahs.

It’s time to ramp up the Vitamin D.

I’m in the mood to ride my bike and feel the summer sun on my body. I’m in the mood to lay down on a field of dandelions and watch the clouds drift by. I want to swing on a tire swing that’s hanging off a sturdy tree with just a hint of that fresh country air scent that I love so much. I want the return of Amish pie day and I want to swim in a creek. Naked.

Yesterday it was just shy of 20 below (Fahrenheit) when we awoke but the sky was crystal clear and the sun was shining brightly. While I’m not going to go swimming naked in a creek in that kind of weather, the sun still warmed me from the inside out. This is good. Today it is 50 degrees warmer at 30 but it is drab, grey and slushy.

If I can’t have the hot, I’ll settle for the clear and cold.

There is a restaurant nearby that updates the number of days until spring on a daily basis. This little display gets me through these feelings of the winter blues.

In the meantime, I’ll hope for the cold and sunny and daydream about dandelions and tire swings.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


31 people were killed and over 100 people were injured in an explosion at the busiest of Moscow’s airports today. Russian officials are calling it a terrorist attack.

Sigh. This really bothers me for a couple of reasons: I have family members that have flown through that airport on numerous occasions and people I love work for the airline industry. I am so tired of this perverted obsession with airplanes and airports. Like everyone else, I wish the terrorists would just stop it. My heart sinks whenever I hear of this sort of thing. I really think the human race has somehow shifted into reverse on the evolutionary PRNDL selection of gears.

I used to love to fly. There a few things more thrilling to me than getting into a two or four seat plane and soaring high above the earth. I used to find flying on a commercial flight to simply be a watered down experience of that thrill but now it’s become such a pain in the ass to fly that I have decided that I will drive to wherever I want to go unless there’s an ocean or something in the way. To me that’s very sad, but it’s reality. I hate the idiocy that has permeated the airline industry.

One of Alec Baldwin’s blog entries recently mentioned his thoughts on the airline industry and I found it to be most accurate. Referring to the airline industry after 9/11, Mr. Baldwin said this:

“The airlines were quick to take advantage of the new climate of security at the expense of all else. Whatever shreds of elegance were left in the US airline industry (most of it gone after the death of Pan Am) were yanked out and replaced with the public school bus system we fly on now.”

That really describes what flying is like now. Passengers are herded like cattle into a ridiculously minimal amount of space carrying obscene amounts of luggage, food and snacks to avoid any extra fees, with the hope that they won’t be left out on a Tarmac for five or more hours while the TSA tries to figure out the best way to blast passengers with an unhealthy amount of radiation for “security measures”. It’s a small wonder that more flight attendants aren’t popping open a beer and sliding down the emergency slide. The combination of security concerns, the declining sense of personal responsibility (especially with the passengers) and the lack of any sort of class with what was once a fairly classy venture has made the thought of getting onto an aircraft somewhat intolerable.

Now, I bitch about the state of the American airline industry because I don’t buy into the security theatre nor the corporate cutbacks of the airlines. No backscatter X-ray machine would have prevented the Moscow attack today.

This is sad, because as I said before, I like to soar. I wish others shared that feeling with me.

I grieve for those affected by the Moscow airport attack today. I hope I love long enough to see this kind of thing come to an end.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


An undoubtedly random post again, the second one this week.

The husbear returned home last night and there was much rejoicing at The Manor. He works hard. He makes me proud. But when he’s away things are a little off kilter. I am surrounded by family and friends that make me smile, but the husbear is in a class all by himself. He is one of a select few that truly get me.

We were awakened by the sounds of a plow truck this morning. As the driveway was being cleaned out, it was noted that about 8 inches or so of snow fell last night. The commute this morning wasn’t horrible, but schools were canceled anyways. Parental litigation fears fuel this absurd approach to snow days. One of the local schools has used up their season of snow days already and it’s only mid January. They will be complaining when their spring break is taken away. When I was a kid we were tough. That’s what all the old people say.

Nevertheless, today has shaped up to be a gorgeous day. Let’s hope the picture I want to appear below actually does so.

A view from the Jeep in the parking lot at work.

I did a little research on calories and found that my Friday cookie treat is more than double the calories of a McDonalds hamburger. So today I went for the hamburger instead. Plus, there is less sugar content.

One would hope that a hamburger had less sugar than a chocolate chunk cookie, but with today’s food wizardry it’s hard to tell. Perhaps I should eat an apple or something. At least I had a vegetable in the form of catsup, as we were properly taught in the 80s.

The Jtown McDonalds is being revamped and no longer looks like a traditional McDonalds. I guess they’re replacing the rock ‘n roll theme with a more basic plywood and temporary food stand theme but I assume they have other plans for the finished product.

Today the workers raced to put the eyebrow on the rebuilt exterior of the building before the 25 MPH winds and several inches of snow returned, as predicted by the National Weather Service.

If the pictures appear as ordered in this entry I will be quite pleased. This iPad thing might catch on after all.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad