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Down.

So I was pretty pleased with myself. I had successfully completed 39 miles of my planned 40 mile long ride and it was only a few more moments before I could get out of the increasing blazing sun and into the relative coolness of the house. The ride had gone fairly well. I had found some quiet spots on the road that had let my mind wander as it tends to do when I’m riding my bike. I like getting lost in myself that way. It’s something that I don’t do enough.

I approached the traffic light slowly as it was red. I was in the right hand margin of the center lane, like any responsible cyclist would do. The right lane was for right turns, the left lane for those turning left and I wanted to go straight through the intersection so I was in the lane traditionally designated for that. I slowed way down so I wouldn’t have to come to a complete stop.

I saw the opposing side of the light turn yellow. There was a car coming from my right, very slowly, with her turn signal on, indicating that the driver wanted to turn left, back towards the direction I was coming from. Since the light was yellow and she was slowing, I figured she stopped.

I balanced myself a bit by riding slowly as I waited for the light to turn green. It’s easier to do that instead of getting unclamped out of my pedals. The light turned green and I picked up speed.

Except the motorist from the other direction decided to run the light. Then she saw me. So she stopped.

Directly in the path of my bike.

I couldn’t go left or I would have been mashed by the vehicles that were also going straight through the intersection. Going right wouldn’t have worked, because the rest of her car would have been in the way. The only way was down.

So I went down.

I couldn’t unclamp from my pedals before hitting the pavement, so the bike and I went down together. I landed on my right knee and skidded a little bit. My left foot then unclamped. I swore, A LOT. I looked up and the woman in the car that had stopped in front of me decided to continue through the red light. I jumped up, pissed and for a brief nanosecond, considered throwing my bike at the car that was starting to make it’s way across the intersection. But I decided not to. I jumped up on my feet and did what you’re suppose to do when you fall off your bicycle. I got back on it and rode home.

Earl listened to a really loud rant of mine when I walked into the door. God bless him. He puts up with a lot of crap from me. I profusely apologized for my outburst after getting myself together again and cleaned up. My knees are sore and one is scraped up pretty good but I’m not really that worse for the wear.

At least I was able to do 40 miles on the bike today. And that’s the part that made me feel good.

Limits.

I have been listening to the debates about raising the debt ceiling. I’m finding the various political commentators, with their differing point of views, to be quite interesting. I listen a little to the left, a little to the right. I’m surprised that it’s hard to find commentators that are traveling down the middle. Polarization of the people will do that.

There are a few things that I don’t completely understand about the debt ceiling limit and what will happen if it isn’t raised on August 2. If someone would care to enlighten me I would be thankful.

1. Why aren’t we controlling our spending more so that we don’t have to borrow as much money? There is a LOT of frivolous spending in progress within the government. Why aren’t people looking at these things? For example, in 2005 a bill was passed by Congress for the mints to start printing dollar coins to commemorate each President. A certain number of dollar coins must be made for each President, and they can only be made to commemorate those Presidents that have passed on. The law was written so that they can’t stop printing these commemorative dollar coins until all of the presidents have been commemorated. In addition, the Sacajawea dollar coin must be printed in a ratio of 1 to 4, for every four presidential coins printed, one Sacajawea dollar must be printed.

Have you used a dollar coin in the United States today? I didn’t think so. Yet, the U.S. mint still prints millions of these on an annual basis because Congress passed a law in 2005. They sit in bags in vaults in various secret places in the country, unused and unneeded. The amount of money used printing these coins, storing these coins, etc. is a waste, not to mention the actual value behind the coins.

2. I keep hearing that all of these domestic programs (social security, veterans’ benefits, etc) are going to be cut if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. Why aren’t we talking about cutting war efforts or even cutting foreign aid? Why are we cutting domestic programs first. Shouldn’t we worry about the citizens close to home? If we are forced to pick and choose, shouldn’t we pick and choose the ones that DON’T contribute to the country before cutting from our own citizens? Where is our sense of priorities?

3. I am not a fan of welfare. I am very offended by the fact that people are actually saying it is unconstitutional for welfare recipients to be drug tested by the government, after all, I can be subject to a random drug test at any time at my job and I had to take a drug test to get the job in the first place. I’m sorry, but I believe that if you don’t contribute to the system, you don’t benefit from the system, plain and simple. These people that live off of Welfare for one, two, three or more years should be cut off from their funds and forced to grow a garden and find a way for themselves. Our lack of natural selection/the natural thinning of the herd through these things have overtaxed our resources in ways that we can’t even begin to comprehend. Call me cold, call me callous, but if you don’t put in, you don’t get anything out. And don’t attack me about retirees and the like, they’ve earned their place and their benefits. I’m referring to 25 year old baby machines that enjoy junk food on a check from the government that has been funded by our tax dollars. Here’s a cute story: when I was a baby computer maintenance guy I was hired to show a computer user how to dismantle, remove and then reinstall their high-end computer system of the time because they needed to hide it from the state inspectors when they were being inspected for welfare eligibility. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Being lazy does not equal being disabled.

4. If I were to go to the Apple store to make a purchase and my credit card was declined, I was be forced to not buy whatever doo-dad I was trying to buy. I could ask for an increase in my credit limit, I suppose, but if that was denied, I would have to stop spending and reprioritize my budget. As I have mentioned elsewhere in this post, we need to get our spending under control. Scare tactics of making grandma hungry because we can’t give her her hard-earned check are unnecessary.

5. And last, but not least, has anyone ever considered a flat tax across the board for all Americans? I don’t care if it’s an income tax or a consumption tax, but eliminate every deduction, every loophole, every piece of legislative bullshit from the tax code. You earn a dollar? 23% of that goes to the government. You earn one billion dollars? 23% of that goes to the government. If you have a social security number, you pay. I don’t care if you’re married, single, swinging from a chandelier, rich, poor and nasty and maladjusted. A flat tax across the board would eliminate a lot of this bullshit and the screams of “it’s not fair!” If you have a tax ID, you pay. Plain and simple. And, this is where Earl and I disagree, by the way, I don’t think that folks with kids should get a tax deduction based on the number of children they have. People are pumping out babies and taxing the system/resources all in an effort to lower their tax responsibilities. This has got to stop. Yes, we need to fund education so that we can perpetuate the species responsibly, but penalizing those that don’t have kids by making them pay more in taxes is just not fair.

I think I’ve reached my rant limit for my lunch hour.

– Posted from my iPad with BlogPress

Expression.

Yesterday I was sitting at one of the handful of traffic lights in the small city I pass through on my way home from work. It’s one of the few places in the town that has a right turn lane that is legal, most people choose to come up through the parking spaces on the street for a makeshift right turn lane. They must be in a hurry.

I noticed a PT Cruiser pulled up next to me. It was a black model and was in very good condition. It had the paint job where it looks like there’s bullet holes sprayed through the door panels. In the driver’s seat was a woman; I guess her to be about 70 years old. Her bleached hair was done up in a scarf. The scarf was leopard print. I could just make out the top of the blouse she was wearing; this was matching leopard print. Her glasses were of the cat eye variety and her lips were red. Well beyond the cougar years, at least the way I understand what that phrase means, I would say she was sort of a wildly dressed thin elephant. She was quite tan.

My first thought, which was a fleeting flash of thought, was “wow, what the heck is this old bat doing?” But after a few brief moments and a second glance at her appearance, I thought, “wow, you go girl.”  Many would say that her biological age suggests that she is past her prime. I think she is just extending it.

I like people that have the balls to express themselves, even if they are wildly dressed older women.

I occasionally wonder what I would be like today if I hadn’t been so hesitant and worried about what people thought of me. Would I be more apt to sing in public? Would I vocalize what I think are funny thoughts if I didn’t worry about whether they would generate a laugh? It’s been a while since I’ve truly given a damn as to what people thought of me; I might get a little worked up in the moment if someone is being particularly hateful, but I now know that anything that is said or done is fleeting and will be forgotten faster than you can say “squirrel!”.

Not to go on and on about politics, but I bet we wouldn’t have such a mess in government today if people were doing what they promised they would do when they were campaigning to be elected instead of doing what they think they should do to make people think better about them and get elected again. I think the folks in government should live life like many Americans choose to live it: live it for the moment, make that decision as if there were no consequences and do what you think is right, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make someone happy.

Expressing yourself. It’s a beautiful thing. I remarked to Earl that I miss writing in this blog like I did years ago. I bought an ergonomically correct keyboard tonight so that I will be more motivated to write when I’m at home instead of saving my writing time for that moment when I’m parked in a parking lot somewhere during my lunch hour, thinking how much I would love that chocolate chunk cookie but sipping on unsweetened iced tea instead. I like expressing myself through my words as much as I like expressing myself through my actions.

Describe a picture, even if it’s hanging on a completely different wall. And then don’t worry about what the others say or think. You’ll be glad you did.

Shade.

Since the humidity has returned to the area and the sun is doing it’s best to turn the whole thing into a sticky soup type mixture, I found myself a shaded patch to hide in during my lunch hour. It is quite comfortable.


One of the things that I have noticed about this new vantage point is that it is situated directly behind the Burger King I mentioned yesterday. The drive thru here is quite busy. The McDonalds across the street has one of those newfangled dual drive thrus, where they make you think they can take two people at a time, but they really can’t. It’s just one surly person jammed into a back corner of the store who now has the responsibility of pressing a button to bark at either lane one or lane two. People think they’re moving faster. They’re not. I have noticed that quite a few folks are afraid to use the “outside” lane of the drive thru. Creatures of habit, I suppose. The nuggets still taste the same regardless of lane choice.

The seagulls are nowhere to be found today. They must have moved to the Burger King closer to their native land, having found a more habitual way to get their fill of fries.

Though there are no seagulls, there is a little purple flower sitting by itself in the brush that is providing the shade for me today. The flower is pointing downwards. Perhaps it has already done it’s duty of providing a means of pollination.

One of the life lessons I’m concentrating on lately is to separate my emotional response from my rational one. It is one of the things I admire the most of Earl and other key figures in my life. I remember so many folks screaming during a discussion in the past. I yell a lot. I’m not really worked up, I just sound it. Perhaps I should sound like I really feel.

Perhaps I should sound like I’m enjoying the shade.

Still in private beta and not opened to the masses, some tech journalists are declaring Google+ a failure because traffic is down slightly. These are the same tech journalists that were throwing tantrums and hissy fits because Google was asking corporations/businesses/”brands” to not use the service yet as they want to focus on the individual. Those that didn’t play by the rules were asked to leave. Perhaps the journalists who live on ad views and web traffic along picked up their toys and left. I suppose they’ll find another pool to be shallow in elsewhere. But I hardly think that Google+ is dead. Granted, my connections list isn’t huge over there but I’ve been having some pretty good conversations with others and I have met some people with differing viewpoints that have made start looking at very sides of a topic, including the debt-ceiling brouhaha. I’m finding myself not on Twitter nearly as much and my Facebook use down slightly (which wasn’t that stellar to begin with). I’m anxious to see where Google takes Google+. One just has to remember that they are an ad based company with really cool technology to do that first and foremost objective best. Once you keep that in mind, you can adjust your approach to the new service in the best way you see fit.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Observations.

I am officially halfway through the work week and this makes me feel quite good. In a way it’s like wishing your life away, but there is just something that is rather satisfying about knowing that the weekend is closer to reality than it was a few days ago. We don’t have any particularly huge plans for the weekend but nevertheless it’s good to think about sleeping in and the like.

The seagulls that are usually present at the other shopping center I occasionally frequent at lunchtime have made their way to this one, further from the lake I suspect they haunt. They are loud. It seems that they are attracted to Burger King, as they like to circle the fast food restaurant at both locations. They seem to ignore McDonalds. Perhaps they don’t like apple slices in their Happy Meals. I don’t know why people go to McDonalds expecting healthy choices. When I was a kid we knew better. I still know better. I saw “Super Size Me”. It’s not a myth and it’s not like the Happy Meal apple slices are grown on a tree hanging over the drive thru speaker. You know what you’re getting when you go to McDonalds. Grow up.

A good friend from high school found the grave site of one of our high school English teachers and shared a photo of the site on Facebook. I found this kind of touching, especially since this English teacher was notoriously difficult in his ways. He was pretty good at making you feel like crap if you didn’t meet his expectations. He retired halfway through my senior year of high school. The final week of that semester he admitted to the class that he enjoyed “an older gentleman with a touch of gray around his sideburns.” His eyes were wistful when he said that. Since the class had only three students in it, not many were able to hear this. I giggle when I see others post on Facebook that he was after the girls. I didn’t need the gaydar back then (though it was working) to know better. He seemed too upstanding to make sexual advances at anyone at school, especially students. He was too lost in his literature.

I have just corrected the sentence structure in that previous paragraph three times because I guess the ghost of this teacher still scares the bejeebus out of me.

The drive thru line at Dunkin’ Donuts was about six cars deep. I don’t use the drive thru anymore, even when it’s raining. Whenever I walk inside for my unsweetened iced tea the place is empty. “No lines, no waiting” as I used to say on the PA speaker at Hills when I opened up my register. If people walked inside the store instead of barreling through the drive thru, there might be a slight reduction in carbon emissions and some extra calories might be burned. I haven’t had a chocolate chunk cookie treat at lunch time at all this month. That, along with some other modifications to my eating habits, have resulted in a five pound weight loss since my birthday. This makes me happy.

Lots of people are asking when Earl and I are getting married, now that our Facebook statuses indicate that we are engaged. I smile just thinking about it. Earl quips that he’s a bridezilla but he really isn’t. Neither am I. We are just two guys who love each other unconditionally. 60s sitcoms used to talk about typical weddings. I can’t think of any wedding that was typical. Everyone does their own thing and we’ll do the same.

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Bristled.

Alec Baldwin was answering random questions for a while this morning on Twitter. I usually don’t participate in this sort of thing because I think it’s really weird when a person says “OMG SAY MY NAME ON TWITTER SO I CAN BE GIDDY” and then the celebrity complies. There is usually a squeal from Ms. Caps Lock after this time-stopping deed has been completed. But since Mr. Baldwin is a political activist of sorts I decided to ask a completely random question.


This is not entirely out of character for me to ask and honestly, I don’t find it all that odd. As a man that is obsessed with facial hair (lord knows I love me some furry faces) I am also equally obsessed with the removal of the scruff. I believe the way a man chooses to remove his naturally growing fur speaks a lot about him as a person, especially in the United States. (I’ve never been able to test my theories in other parts of the world).

I blame my father. My father has been clean shaven for as long as I have been alive and as far as I know, every morning he went into the bathroom and used a can of shaving cream and a razor to shave. My father is one of the most upstanding, honest men I know and therefore I equate this method of grooming with guys that give a damn about themselves, the world and are generally good citizens. There are exceptions to every rule of course, but my casual, completely unscientific observations over the years since making this personal determination have fit these assumptions about 90-95% of the time. Men that choose the use electric razors fling themselves through life working at putting on a quick façade to fit the situation at hand and then move on to the next situation to be whoever they need to be there, grinding away at their chin with a miniaturized lawn mower in between appearances. I see those guys as politicians, CEOs and men that own places like “Carl Tucker’s Used Cars”.1 By the way, back in my wild, single years, I dumped a few guys, even a very rich one, because of this theory. My hunches proved to be right.

I have been doing a lot of listening of talk radio during my commute this week, simply because I want to wrap my head around the debt ceiling crisis and listen to all sides of the story. The new Jeep has satellite radio, so I have had the opportunity to listen to channels dubbed telling names like “Left”, “Right”, “Patriot” and “Power”. The arguments on both sides of the fence are interesting. I listened to Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson speak about his thoughts and I think I agreed with him. He is a proponent of a “consumption tax” versus an “income tax”. Anything consumed/purchased/etc is taxed 23%. Buy a banana for $1.00 and it costs $1.23, with $0.23 going to the government. Flat tax across the board for all citizens regardless of economic status. Spend more, pay more. Spend nothing (damn near impossible in today’s world), pay nothing. No income tax. No grave tax. No exemptions. No loopholes. Just a consumption tax.

Makes perfect sense to me.

I would wager that Gary is a blade man. He seems sensible in his libertarian ways. New Mexico re-elected him as a governor and they don’t seem worse for the wear.

The one nitpick I have is that everyone likes to pervert the word “Armageddon” to describe everything. They’re saying that on the 2nd of August, when the debt ceiling apparently will explode, that it’ll be Armageddon for the United States. Social Security payments will stop. By the way, that’s absolutely horrible and I think that anyone that paid into Social Security should absolutely get Social Security; perhaps we should lighten our foreign aid and take care of the people here in the U.S. until we get our ducks back in a row, but I could go on about that forever. Back to the Armageddon thing – please stop using that word to describe everything. 10 inches of snow is not Snowmageddon. The 405 being closed is not Carmageddon. A lack of venti cups at Starbucks is not Cappageddon. People, calm down with the “geddons”.

Anyways, I’m betting that most politicians currently in D.C. are electric razor users — grinding away at their chins twice a day so they look good for the public. Perhaps they should take their time and groom themselves properly in the morning so they can put their best face forward all day without having to sneak into the shadows to get ready for their next appearance.

And by the way, Alec never answered my question.

1 Bonus points to the person who picks up on the relatively obscure pop culture reference.

2 None of this refers to those that choose to be scruffy in any manner. That’s a whole separate topic in my world.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Family.

Today is the 25th of July. That means that five months today people all over the world will be celebrating Christmas. The vast majority of them will be celebrating with family and friends in some manner.

This past weekend Earl and I made our way to a couple of family gatherings. Appropriately, we had a gathering on each side of my family. It was good to get together with my relatives. It was a nice reminder as to the good side of the world; there was much discussion about New York State’s new Marriage Equality law that went into effect yesterday. There were many questions as to when Earl and I would be taking the big step of legalizing our union. It still boggles my mind in a way that we are even talking about this. Perhaps I have been too cynical over the years.

The best thing about seeing the family over the weekend was the connecting aspect of it. If ever asked what I am thankful for, I will have a very long list to relate and one of the top five would be that I am a lucky man, for I have a family that really does love me.

I wish every family would show the warmth and acceptance that Earl and I enjoy from our families to their gay family members. Perhaps if we got beyond that little hurdle the world would be well on it’s way to becoming a much better place.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Pack The Floor.

I’ve posted this track before, but I stumbled across an extended mix of it on YouTube and it got me feeling thinking about the original track again. This song used to PACK the dance floor back in ’92 (before it was released to radio in the U.S. in ’93). It’s actually the song that got me into my modest music production. My version of a radio edit of this track was played nationwide.

Here’s the original ’91 radio edit of “That’s What Love Can Do” by Boy Krazy.

Inspiration.

Since my birthday a couple of weeks ago I have been striving to be a little bit healthier in my ways. This is a never ending battle for me; I love eating – I love the taste of food. I love the activity of eating, so it’s important for me to retrain myself to make healthier choices that are still enjoyable to me. I am continuing my cycling and my twice a day walks during my breaks at work and I have been doing my morning exercises. Every morning I hop on the scale to see if I am making any progress in this latest effort to be healthy. My reaction can vary wildly from day to day; one day it’s a smile, another day it’s a silent cheer and yet on another day I can burn a few extra calories by drop kicking yet another scale across the lawn.

I think the key to being healthier in my eating habits is by seeing results. I’m a results oriented kind of person. When it comes to our own weight and sense of feeling good, I think most of us are. The results from our healthy efforts must outweigh the satisfying taste of diving into our favorite food with wild unabandonment. Lack of results have discouraged me in the past — I once rode 105 miles on a bike ride and gained two pounds. This really discouraged me. It took me a little while to get back on the bicycle but I got past that and I made significant strides in my health after I saw the results of the second ride. It’s one of the reasons that I continue to ride today.

Jumping on the scale on a daily basis can be disheartening. Fluctuations in both directions in our weight is common; many say not to weigh yourself on a daily basis but rather on a weekly basis. I have a variation of this; I weigh myself daily to keep in mind which direction I’m going but I focus on a weekly number, taken on a Wednesday morning. My last official number indicated good progress, the unofficial number this morning showed me that I am definitely off to a good start. I needed that result this morning, which is the first time I’ve unofficially been under my first hurdle, to be my inspiration to continue.

No dropkicks today.

In the past I have resolved to eat healthy during the week and then given myself permission to relax about that on the weekends. I’m not doing that this time around. I think remaining focused and remembering how much better I feel today versus a couple of weeks ago is more important. Portion control and keeping the carbs on the low side are my main efforts. More importantly, staying somewhat active and not eating out of boredom is also key.

I have taken a good first step in the right direction. I’m looking forward to taking that second step.