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Geeking.

So Google started a “field test” of their new social networking product. It is called “Google+”. My friend John was kind enough to send me an invitation last night and I have been messing around with the interface like the dutiful beta tester I used to be during my spare time over the past 16 hours or so.

I’m not going to go into a full blown review of the product or even try to cover all of the features in this initial mention, because it would be unfair to the product and unfair to the reader. I will say that it has been a very long time since I have been excited about social networking software. I’m actually liking the poking around and seeing the different ways I can share my social networking stuff with those I reach out to.

“The user experience” is what drives Google+ to be so exciting to me; they have put a lot of thought into what a user does and how they want to interact with others online in dreaming up this experience. Long story short, it’s based on circles, and they have suggested circles to start with: friends, family, following, acquaintances and the like. I’ve only added two others: work and tech, the former for work colleagues and the latter for the tech people I follow online.

Some of the features that sets Google+ apart from Twitter and Facebook include a group video conferencing service called Hangouts that I haven’t tried first hand yet but I found to be quite impressive in episode 101 of “This Week In Google” on the TWiT network. I also find the interface, especially the mobile interface, to be far superior to what Facebook offers, even in Google+’s beginning stages. They are off to a good start.

I’m excited for when more people jump on board so that we can see what this new social networking platform can really do. I have a feeling this one can really be a game changer.

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Letter.

An open letter to Barbara Mac Ewen, Town Clerk for the Town of Volney in Oswego County, New York.

Ms. Mac Ewen stated that as Town Clerk she can’t sign marriage licenses for same sex couples because it goes against her beliefs.

If you would like to drop her a line, she can be reached through the Town of Volney website.

By the way, Earl and I have no intentions on getting married in the Town of Volney. At about 70 miles away, we have much more hospitable town clerks to choose from closer to home. The Town of Volney is near my hometown, and that is why this caught my attention. Their biggest newsmaker used to be the landfill.

Ms. Mac Ewen:

As a former resident of Oswego County, I am always excited when the towns around my hometown make the national news. Usually it’s the record amount of snowfall in the Town of Redfield or a huge salmon in the Town of Richland, but with this go-around, the Town of Volney made the news with your declaration that your faith will not allow you to sign marriage licenses for same sex couples.

This is quite unfortunate.

Setting aside the fact that you were elected to serve the people by the people, and this includes ALL the people in the Town of Volney, there is the clear separation of church and state, something that you seem to have lost in your many years as Town Clerk.

Your unfortunate choice of words when referring to gay and lesbian couples in the Town of Volney, (I believe you referred to them as “anybody like that”), help perpetuate the belief that Central New York is still in the dark ages and inhospitable to anyone that isn’t part of a straight, white family.

While my heart sinks when I read about the type of prejudice and hate that a part of your religious beliefs, I am joyful and thank all that is holy that you were not elected Fire Chief, for one must wonder if you would leave a gay couple of burn in a house because rescuing them would go against your beliefs.

I mentioned before that I am often happy to see the small towns of Oswego County make the national news. Unfortunately, this is not one of these occasions. I am thankful that I was able to move out of the area to a New York town where they understand the separation of church and state.

Best regards and blessed be,
J.P. Wing

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Talcott Falls.

So I’m back home from my day of exploring and I am feeling quite relaxed. Three days left in the work week and I am ready to go. w00t!

I meandered my way all over Central New York and up into the North Country today. Actually, I went out of my way to grab a photo of something that I have always wanted to capture in a picture.

Between Kellogg Hill and Watertown Center on Route 11 there is a sign proclaiming “Talcott Falls”. You have to look really quick to see it and there’s no convenient place to park to explore. There’s no park land surrounding these falls, it’s just the falls. As a kid we’d always jump to the proper side of the car to catch a quick glimpse and we were always excited to see how much water was coming over the falls.  Sometimes it would be an impressive display, other times it would be a trickle.

Today I parked along the edge of the road and walked down to where I could actually see the falls for more than a split second. And, it looks a little bit like this:

Talcott Falls

As you can see, Talcott Falls is never going to beat Niagara Falls in a competition of “who’s is bigger?”, but I felt that kid like excitement again when I walked down to where I could actually see these falls up close and personal.  I’m happy that I was able to grab a couple of photos.

After the falls it was time to head home so I got back in time for supper.  I took the opportunity to drive on one of my favorite roads in the state, NY Route 177, which goes from Adams Center to near Lowville. With the exception of Barnes Corners (blink and you’ll miss it, but listen to snowfall reports in the winter and you’ll hear it mentioned), Route 177 goes through nothing but farmland along the ridge of the Tug Hill Plateau. I find the wide open spaces to be quite comforting.

I’ve done this before, but I took a pic or two of the green energy being generated atop the Tug Hill. These guys make up the Maple Ridge Wind Farm.

IMG 2973

There was a thunderstorm at my back when I took this photo. That kept the rest of the drive quite interesting.

 

Exploring.

Today is my weekend and I am using the occasion to do something I haven’t done in a very long time: go for a road trip. I’m exploring the roads of Upstate New York in the Acura, letting the summer wind blow through my, er, beard as I stick to the back roads the best I can. So far I have been within a stones throw of three revolutionary war era forts, two nuclear power plants and an international border. ‘Tis a pity I didn’t being my passport along. I’ll have to stay in the states.

Just as I find my zen when I’m riding my bike, I find a zen, albeit a different flavor of it, when I’m riding the back roads in my car on a beautiful day. It doesn’t always have to be sunny, in fact, sometimes I thunderstorm or a twister can keep it interesting, but today’s mix of sun and clouds with the feeling of a storm coming on later today is keeping it right where I want it to be. This exercise is giving me the opportunity to purge my head of extraneous thoughts and get my mind where I need to be to kick some ass at my job for the rest of the week, plus fully comprehend the joy of last week’s passage of the marriage equality bill. Earl and I are actually talking about our honeymoon and coming up with a timetable for our celebration of marriage.

I’ve filled up on some Panera food, at a very nice version of the popular chain, I must add, so it’s time to get back on the road. I’m one of those annoying people that checks in on Foursquare, so if you go to the Foursuare site you can figure out where I’m going and where I’ve been. I think I’m iMachias on there.

Happy motoring!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Holiday.

One of my favorite songs post high-school, here’s The Other Ones with “Holiday” from 1987.

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Pendulum.

Last week I told you about switching from an iPhone 4 to the HTC Thunderbolt 4G phone from Verizon. The HTC is quite a nice looking phone, however, about three days into the gig it started rebooting. Randomly. And if got bored with rebooting it would just go to sleep and not wake up. Pressing the power button would do nothing. It’d just sit there, dead.

So last night after work I raced to the mall and took advantage of Verizon Wireless’ “15 Day Satisfaction Guaranteed policy”. I switched back to an iPhone. No questions asked. There was a small restocking fee of $35 for the HTC, but to make the switch back was worth it.

When the VZ associate asked why I was switching, I told him of the issues i was having with the Thunderbolt. He said that while he hadn’t experienced the issue, he had heard of others having similar problems. He said that they were either completely devoid of trouble or they were plagued with a lot of them, there didn’t seem to be an in-between.

This morning when I went to use the Personal Hotspot feature of my iPhone, I found that it made itself scarce and was no longer available for me. I called VZ support and they were able to fix the problem pretty quick.

I’m back in business. AND back on Instagram. 🙂

I guess once you go Mac, you never go back.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Disbelief.

I have to admit that I am still in a state of disbelief after New York’s passage of same sex marriage last night. The cynic in me thought it would never happen. I am delightfully surprised to be proven wrong. Thought I was very impatient for the process to take place, I think the sequence of events and the way in which same sex marriage came to New York will help avoid any situations like in California with their Prop 8 stuff and all that. I can’t imagine having my marriage taken away from me. It’s an odd feeling of comfort knowing that when I pass on I will still be married to the one I love. Married. Really married. No more worries about being at my loved one’s side when in need.

My mom called within minutes of the passage of the bill. She called to declare that she prefers that we feature chocolate cake at the celebration and that she hopes that she’ll get to walk down the aisle. We haven’t thought the mechanics through but I can say that my mom’s call meant more to me than I was able to relay over the phone last night. She’s a nut, but she’s nifty.

At work today I was daydreaming a little bit about Earl and I sharing health benefits for the first time in 15 years, opting for the best plan available from either company for the both of us. I thought about not being hassled at the border because one name is on the car registration and another name is on the passport. (The last time I crossed the border I had to show the insurance card for the car, which has both of our names, to prove that I hadn’t stolen the car.)

New traditions will be forged. For example, I’m rather proud of my last name and I know that Earl is proud of his. The proper tradition says that a woman never really has her own last name, she is using the name of her father and then the name of her husband. This is something that is not applicable to us. I’m sure we’ll come to a common thought. But these new traditions will never supplant that which is true today. It’s enhancement of the love we all share.

Family and friends have shared wonderful thoughts on the subject via Facebook. These things make me smile. Within moments from our status updates we were getting “likes” and comments. I guess I’ll always be an outlaw as far as Earl’s family goes, but a good outlaw, I guess. At the very least I took one step away from the “uncle in the aunt slot” status.

This is one of the occasions where love has drowned out the hate, something that is becoming unfortunately less and less common in our world. I hope this has been the reversing of a trend and that all of our brothers and sisters across the country will be able to share the joy we are feeling today.

Panera.

Photo on 2011 06 24 at 19 40

I am sitting at the local Panera, where I believe that the natives have finally learned that it is not appropriate to ask for fries with their meal. They still haven’t broken the habit of standing as far away as possible from the counter before being called upon to place their order, but I can share a big sigh of relief that no one mentioned wanting fries with their happy meal for their screaming kid that is taking his pants off whilst standing on a chocolate chip cookie.

Even though it’s Friday in many parts of the world, it is Tuesday night in my world and tomorrow is a workday for me. It’s my quarterly turn of on call. Longtime gentle readers of my blog may remember the old job where I was on call every few weeks and on the brink of insanity under all circumstances. They newish gig I have doesn’t foster that type of response since on call isn’t nearly as involved as it was with the old job. I’m feeling good.

Other parts of the family are out exploring the world tonight. I’m in the mood to chase a thunderstorm. It seems like Mother Nature is giving me the opportunity to do so. I took some shots of an impressive line of clouds on the ride home.  It looked something like this.

 

IMAG0040

The bark was much worse than the bite, because there was hardly any lightning and thunder, nary a tornado but plenty of rain. We get rain with everything now. It’s like the sprig of parsley on a mediocre dish. Rain always comes with the landscapes in these parts. One of my co-workers from the Dallas-Fort Worth office commented that he didn’t know it was so much like the northwest in these parts. I said that it usually isn’t unless this is the new norm.

I have received quite a few emails and tweets about my marriage post (the post previous to this one). Since writing that post the New York big wigs have announced that the NYS Senate will vote on the same sex marriage bill (they call it #SSM) tonight. Should the vote be the right one, I will be proposing to Earl before morning. We have dreamed about having a big shin dig. I think it’s high time that we finally did. I hope all of our family comes from all parts of the world to share the celebration with us.

I posted such random things when I am at Panera. I just noticed that the Turkey Focaccia sandwich looks less appetizing than your standard grilled ham and cheese made with welfare (yellow) cheese. At least cheese in a can would have spruced it up a little bit. Perhaps they need a sprig of parsley.

Earlier in the week I shared a few comments about some of the podcasts (netcasts) from the TWiT network. I have adjusted some of listening habits and am now focusing on TWiG, “This Week In Google”.  The regular participants of that particular podcast rock. I am a fan of geek girl Gina Trapani. She is an out lesbian, writes a book now and then, writes plenty of articles about all things tech but most importantly, she loves Chipotle and isn’t afraid to dance to a little bit of “Glee” like we all do. Along with CUNY professor Jeff Jarvis,  they join Leo LaPorte to talk about all things Google and the cloud. Google has made a few missteps along the way and I’m not a huge fan of ad-based products, but I have to admit that they write magnificent code, and ever since switching to my Android-based HTC Thunderbolt, I’ve learned a few good tips here and there.  I hope to shake Gina and Jeff’s hand someday. I think they make wonderful contributions to the community.

By the way, I’m becoming a bigger fan of the Google Chrome web browser. I actually run Chromium, the open source version that doesn’t have the Google branding in it, but it still allows me to sync with my Google account. It’s all good. I figure Google doesn’t have enough time to sit down and read my stuff. There are other more interesting people in the world.

And last but not least, I caved in and trimmed my mustache back but left the beard untouched. I have a habit of chewing on my mustache when it’s long. The trimmed ‘stache with big beard makes me look trendy. Especially when I have my hat to the back.

 

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Marriage.

I vividly remember my first kiss. Now I’m not talking about the first kiss I had, sometimes in the late 1970s, when I stole a kiss from a girl named Lisa behind one of the airplane hangers on a Sunday afternoon. I’m talking about my first _real_ kiss, which took place in a 1982 Dodge Omni, behind Alumni Hall at SUNY Fredonia in the fall of 1986. It was quick, a parting gesture of a fantastic evening of a lovely dinner in the small college town. His name was Steve and he looked like Herbie, the one who wanted to be a dentist. Though I had kissed many times before that moment; heck, I had even copped a few feels, removed a bra or two and even tried to do it a few times before then with a lovely girl named Kristi, that kiss in the 1982 Dodge Omni behind Alumni Hall was just a confirmation of what I had known all along. I like guys. It was like the protective cover had been removed from the pane of glass and I could see ahead clearly for the first time in my life.

It was in November 1995 when I first saw the huge fireworks in my head. I had seen a sparkler or two along the way up until then, but the moment I spotted a man named Earl standing in the corner opposite of the DJ booth I was working in, I saw huge fireworks exploding in my head and I knew that I was somehow, somewhere, going to spend the rest of my life with that man. I just knew it, and I wasn’t going to accept any other answer along that path. Luckily, Earl knew it too. After a bit, the “happily ever after” came to life and we had a small, private commitment ceremony at Penn’s Landing late in 1996. Though the ceremony did not take place in a church, we opened our hearts to each other and to a “higher power”; many in this part of the world call him God. Personally, I think he’s much more than any “him” would aspire to be, so I just think of all of it as a Higher Power. I figure if man is the best that this world can do then we have fallen way behind in the curriculum.

I talk about fireworks and first kisses and the like because the New York Senate is debating whether to approve legislation for same sex marriage again today. I will be the first one to tell you that I am tired of hearing about the debates of the topic. I’m sick of reading about people doing and saying hateful things all in the name of their love, the only love that is valid. I’m weary of people saying that if it is legal for me to marry Earl, my one true love, then somewhere in the country, someone must be allowed to marry their cat because it feels right to them.

I imagine that my grandfather saw fireworks when he met my grandmother, and that applies to both sides of the family. I remember the slightly mischievous grin my grandfather got when he sat at the dining room table next to my grandmother. I remember the way my aunt’s eyes would light up when she saw my uncle, I am able to decipher the excitement my father exuded in his own unique way of expressing himself when he sees his wife (either version 1 or version 2). I see love and it is the same kind of emotion that fuels the fireworks that I saw this morning when Earl was making my lunch in the kitchen. The same fireworks I saw in 1995 but even stronger. I tell him everyday, “I fell in love with you today.” And it’s true.

I believe that the folks that protest same sex marriage have varying motivations that all share the same undercurrent: fear. I believe they fear change. I believe they fear obsolescence. Perhaps they fear that if nothing mean and nasty happens when a gay couple gets married that this must mean that there are more inaccuracies in their beliefs. I understand that this lack of vengeful response from a higher power might rock their faith. I get that; they believe out of fear, not out of love. “If I don’t do this, then something really bad is going to happen to me for eternity.” If that’s their belief then I say great, whatever gets you through the day. Just don’t impose your beliefs on me. My business is not your business. And marriage shouldn’t be a governmental business. The folks that scream for smaller government are always wanting government to intervene on gay marriage. If it weren’t for the fees for the license, the government wouldn’t care less. They just want the filing fees and the like.

We have no desire to get married in a church. We believe that the higher power is everywhere and that it is not confined to a man building full of lavish adornments. When we get married, and we definitely will, it will be a celebration of our love and a symbol of the commitment we have lived for the past 15 years. That commitment deserves the legal recognitions afforded to our heterosexual counterparts, because the government has made it their business. Our love is just a strong, if not stronger, than all the straight marriages that we know.

Living in constant fear must suck. If people lived with a motive of love, celebrating all that was around us, instead of telling the world how wrong it is for us to love someone of the same sex, when we know that we were made this way, the world would be a much better place. There has been more bloodshed in the name of religion over any other reason.

There is going to come a day when I am going to have to make decisions for Earl and/or vice versa. Luckily, we have legal paperwork in place to grant us the ability to do so, but the legalities of this only extend so far because we are not able to get legally married. (Heaven help anyone that would try to stand in my way. The only thing that will ever keep me apart from Earl is death, and if necessary, I will go to that point in a most spectacular fashion to protect the one that I love.) Can a married couple imagine what it is like to be kept apart from their hospitalized spouse? Can a mother or father imagine what it’s like to have their kids taken away because the government hasn’t sanctioned their love? I didn’t think so. Imagine how you would feel today knowing that the government was voting on your right to legally love someone. Think about that for a moment.

Today the New York Senate will most likely vote on this hot topic. Let’s hope that they vote with their heart and their conscience and not out of fear.