The Chimes.

The holiday season is upon us, and I’m afraid of getting sucked up into the commercialism of it all. I’m not trying to sound like Charlie Brown, but sometimes I feel like the sock that’s added to the washing machine with two minutes left on the wash cycle. Floating around on top for a bit, then sucked down to the bottom of the pile by a big agitator fin. Well, maybe the agitator fin part doesn’t fit right, but sometimes I feel like the commercialism of Christmas is sucking everybody in.

When I was a youngster, Christmas marked a variety of things for my family. All four of us (Mom and Dad, my sister and I) would pile into the car for the annual Christmas shopping experience. It was the one time all year that my father set foot in any type of store, usually J.M. Fields. It was the one of two times that we would eat at McDonalds. (The other time being after our annual dentist appointment – my mother liked to watch us try to eat a Big Mac after being on laughing gas.) And it was my father’s annual trip to Central Farm and Tractor; the place we spent most of the time Christmas shopping.

It was also one of the few times during the year that my maternal grandparents came up from the city for a visit. As I look back, I realize how just a special time it was. My sister and I desperately trying to stay asleep until 6 a.m. and then running downstairs and looking at the few presents under the tree, as Mom was trying to remember where she hid the rest of them. Dad reading the pile of books he had purchased for himself during the shopping trip, looking up once in a while to contribute his favorite adjective-verb… “Huh”. And Grandma and Grandpa sharing the joy with us as opened our presents. We couldn’t actually start opening presents until everyone had their breakfast – french toast and orange juice. That was the rule. And then we would open our gifts, a game or two, some clothes, usually something crocheted by my grandma. As I think about it, we may not have had a lot material-wise as a family, but we did have love and I heard The Chimes.

My favorite writer, Erma Bombeck, often wrote about “The Chimes” around Christmas time. It’s the story of a young, poor boy, following in the footsteps of kings, queens and statesmen that were leaving gifts on the altar. Legend has it that the chimes would not ring unless a true gift of love was left upon the altar. The kings and queens left many riches of gold and fine silk. But the chimes remained silent. And then, this young, poor boy, moves up to the altar. He removes his only possession, his coat, and places it on the altar. The chimes rang beautifully.

As a young kid, I often heard The Chimes. I didn’t know what they meant at the time, but I did have the sense of being loved very much. My sister and I rarely argued. My parents did their best to give my sister and I a happy childhood. My grandparents were very nurturing. But as I grew older, something changed. My mother and father grew apart. My sister and I became teenagers, and well, teenagers don’t hear chimes, they want Atari! And while we were for the most part a loving family, it wasn’t the same as when we were young. As time moved on, we had plenty of material things, but it didn’t hear the Chimes.

As I moved through my twenties, I really took a swing at “commercial Christmas”. One year, I bought my parents a VCR. I was man now and I could afford anything! Good thing they didn’t see my face when the cops called about my bounced check. Another year I bought everyone what I would have rather wanted and didn’t really think about what they would have wanted at all. (“Mom, you really need a new calculator to balance your checkbook!”) And yet, another year everyone got a gift certificate. Boy, to see their faces light up when they opened up the envelope to see a $25 gift certificate to Papa Loon’s pizza emporium. Yeah, right.

But I did hear The Chimes one Christmas. It was Christmas 1991. I was working for Association for Retarded Citizens. I worked in a group home setting at the time, a home for ten mentally challenged adults. Because of the way Christmas fell that year, I was slated to work a 17 hour shift Christmas Day. I could have had the day off, but I opted to work, quite frankly, because I needed the overtime that would come along with working a holiday. After everyone was up and had opened their gifts, one of the folks walked up to one of my co-workers and gave her a present.

“Here, Linda. This is for you. I made it at day treatment.”

“Thank you, Jeanette.”, she replied as she opened it.

It was a construction paper cut out of a Christmas tree, colored green with crayons with little red dots all over it. On the back it simply said, “For Dinla” in huge, clumsy letters.

“It’s very nice, I’ll hang it on my tree when I get home tomorrow.”, Linda told her, with a tear in her eye.

“Really?”, she said with a twinkle in her eye.

“Yep. I promise.”

I heard The Chimes then. And in my heart, though I haven’t seen Linda in a good number of years, I just know that she still has that Christmas tree hanging on her tree to this day.

That Christmas I learned a lot of things. And it made me strive to be a better person. I called my Mom and Dad up and told them how much I loved them. I said a small prayer for my family and friends. I prayed for the soldiers that were returning from the middle east.

Nowadays, the holidays can become very complicated. My parents are separated, so that means separate dinners and separate houses and separate gift exchanges. My sister could be living anywhere between here and Boston so we need to get her schedule coordinated. Plus, Earl’s family lives in suburban Philadelphia, so we need to fit a 700 mile round trip in there to visit his folks, and we have all the nieces and nephews to buy presents for, and Earl gets sick (whoops, that’s a different story), so sometimes its easy to get caught up in the rush of it all. Gift receipts and wrapping paper and Target and bows and cookie platters… it goes on and on.

But every Christmas morning, when I get the camera flashing in my face, and my 41 year old partner jumping up and down with the glee of a ten year old because he’s excited to see ME open MY presents, I hear the chimes. When we sit down for cereal and orange juice, nothing too extravagant for breakfast Christmas morning, and we take the time to bow our heads in prayer, I hear the Chimes. When we pause for just a moment to remember our loved ones, thank our Lord and reflect upon what Christmas is really all about, I hear chimes. When I give him a clumsily wrapped gift of a coaster with two rolls of tape and 10 yards of wrapping paper, I hope he hears The Chimes!

This holiday season, take just a moment to enjoy Christmas for what it really is. Tell your family and friends how much you love them. Don’t give in to the urge to ‘flip the bird’ to the gal in the minivan that just cut you off on the Turnpike. Give that homeless person on the street an extra dollar.

Sit back, and listen for The Chimes.

It’s the MOST… Wonderful time of the year. And indeed it is. The festive spirit has finally hit me, especially with the return of winter weather. And the national weather service says we’re just going to keep on enjoying that winter weather for a while to come. Yippee!

Well we had a wonderful time at my father’s Christmas party. We had the opportunity to meet his new girlfriend, Karen, and her son, Colin. Both very nice people. I get a sense of ‘future’ with my dad and Karen, like there’s possibilities there. I’m happy that they’ve found each other.

It was fun hanging out with about half my cousins and their families. My aunt and godmother, who is being treated for breast cancer, seems to be doing well. She’s undergoing radiation five days a week for the next six weeks or so. God bless her, she is so strong. I found an old picture of us in my photo album this weekend while I was cleaning that I’d like to share. It was taken in 1988 when I lived in Boxborough, Mass. My Aunt Marg is on the left, my mom on the right. And I had lots of hair! πŸ™‚

Yesterday (Sunday), I finished up Earl’s Christmas shopping, which was fun. The mall was jammed packed, but it didn’t bother me a bit. I’ve been feeling a little more confident lately. I feel pretty good about what I got Earl this year, I think he’s going to be pleasantly surprised.

He gave US one of our Christmas presents this year. Yesterday afternoon I was trying to resurrect one of the scanners we had and it was just being a bugger. So he pulled out one of the presents – a new HP scanjet 4400C. This scanner is sweet, I’m very excited about it. (As you can tell from the picture I scanned in above.)

Tonight we watched last week’s “Dharma and Greg” from TiVo and also “The King of Queens”. I think Kevin James is rather cute. He reminds me of Earl. It’s not a bad show, I enjoy it more than “Everybody Loves Raymond.” We also watched Ellen with Mary Tyler Moore, nice touch to the show, but the humor seems rather forced in it. I’ve always been a big Ellen DeGeneres fan, but this series seems a little too formula for my tastes. We’ll see how it goes.

If you haven’t cruised around the site in a bit, you’ve missed my first attempt at creative writing. It’s in the section called “Ponderings”. Since I suck at stand up humor (because I stammer and get my words mixed up sometimes), I decided to write about various things. Sort of like the gay male Erma Bombeck. She’s probably rolling around in her grave by that statement, but one side of me thinks she wouldn’t have minded. It’s funny, but somehow I know that I wasn’t her intended audience but boy do I enjoy her books. I miss her newspaper column “At Wit’s End”.

Deck the Halls With Vomit.

This Christmas marks the sixth festive holiday season that Earl and I have been together. Let’s see… 1996 was 1, 1997 was 2, 1998 was 3, 9, 00, 01, yep it’s the sixth holiday season together. I always lose track, because our fifth anniversary is the day after Christmas, so that makes six.

Where were we now. Oh yes, it’s the holiday season once again in our merry little household. The tree is decorated so festively. The outside lights have been up since the weekend after Thanksgiving, and are now blowing fuses left and right. (I don’t know whose idea it was to decorate the 25 foot pine tree in the middle of our yard, but why did we put the connecting plugs at the top?) The tinny little caroling voices are screaming through Mr. High Fidelity and No Bass Speaker in the mall. Jingle BELLS Jingle BELLS, JINGLE ALL THE WAY. All of these are wonderful clues that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But the real cincher on the arrival of holiday spirit is my partner Earl. God love him, his body just falls apart at the thought of the holidays. It’s like his warranty has expired or something.

Our first Christmas together, he warned me. “I always get sick around the holidays. Actually Rick (his youngest brother) and I take turns, he gets sick one year, I get sick the next.” And to think I was marrying into this festive little family the day after Christmas! The giddiness of it all! Because the way the holidays fell that year and because our families weren’t quite adjusted to their newest couple, Earl went to Pennsylvania for his family’s Christmas, I went up north to my folks and then met up with him Christmas afternoon. “I was sick yesterday, but I feel great today, since you’re here sweetheart.”

So I made it through a holiday season without actually witnessing “The Near Death holiday experience”.

The following year he was just stopped up in the sinuses a little bit. I reminded him, “Isn’t it Rick’s turn?”

“Aren’t you cute,” he replied, and proceeded to suck up the entire boxes of Kleenex into his nose. Had I not been holding his baby niece, she probably would have followed the Kleenex. The honk was heard as far away as Peoria, Illinois.

I don’t even want to mention the holiday season of 1999. Let’s just say I should have decorated the toilet seat instead of the bay window.

Last year, as we were getting ready for a Christmas party at my father’s, he broke the news to me.

“I’m having a stroke”.

“So soon? We haven’t even gotten the Christmas shopping done yet and the bills won’t be here for a month, how could you be having a stroke already?”

“You know, you’re going to feel really rotten when I drop dead into this wretched egg nog.”

“How do you know you’re having a stroke? Do you feel like Grandma Walton in that 1960s version of the Waltons movie?” I asked, trying to sound sincere.

“You know, you could show a little more compassion for a man who’s having a stroke. My left arm is numb.”

“Well then, it can’t be a stroke if it’s your left side. It’s got to be a heart attack”, I said, with all the wisdom of Nurse Needles.

“No, I’m not having a heart attack”, he nearly hissed back at me. I didn’t even know he could hiss. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”

So I didn’t.

I don’t like to sound insincere or uncaring, but I think that the inner child in him gets so worked up with excitement about the holidays that his body can’t take it or something. Maybe it’s because I have a somewhat twisted philosophy on sickness. I simply refuse to be sick. I won’t do it. I won’t catch a cold, I won’t harbor pneumonia and I refuse to take part in a flu epidemic. I am going to trudge through life healthy and that’s just the way it is. I try to introduce him to my philosophies on the matter, but he’s not having any of it.

This morning I noticed he started sniffling, so I suggested “Try some of the Echinacea. It suppose to boost your immune system. Or maybe you want to start building up on Cold-Ezze”.

“I hate that stuff. It tastes awful.”

“Yes, but sweetheart, maybe it’ll herd off this cold that you seem to be catching.”, I replied, trying my best to be the doting lover.

“No, I’m going to have a cold. It’s because of the holidays.”

Tonight we went on one of our annual “Ride Through The Snobby Section of Town and See The Lights” rides. Since today was such a beautiful, mild day, I took the opportunity to vacuum and clean the car, and I put an air freshener in it.

“That air freshener is a bit over powering, isn’t it?”, he nearly snarled.

“Why don’t you wrap it up in a napkin and put it in the glove compartment?”

He wrapped it up like a dead minnow and shoved it in the glove compartment, underneath all the manuals and everything. He then rolled down the car window and hung his head out like a sick dog. Since we live in Upstate New York, and it’s winter, I needn’t point out that it was 30 degrees. “You are going to get sick if you keep up the dog routine. Shut the window!”

As we held hands and enjoyed the beautiful Christmas displays, I noticed he was sniffling more and more. So we headed home, had a mug of hot chocolate each, and then I announced I was going upstairs to update the website.

“I’m going to watch a little television”.

I had just started up the internet connection when he dropped the news.

“My leg is numb.”

Always the concerned lover, I went downstairs and dug my fingernails into his leg.

“Ouch! What the hell are you trying to do to me?”

“I thought your leg was numb. I wanted to be sure.”, I replied, trying to sound as authorative as Marcus Welby, M.D. “If you don’t feel good, why don’t you lie down?”

“People lie down when they’re tired. I’m not tired. I’m numb.” he said, a little exasperated.

“You didn’t sleep well last night, maybe you need some rest.” I suggested.

And so he did. He actually took my advice. I just went and checked on him… he’s snoring away, once again making the cows down the road restless with all that noise. I just know he’s going to be all sniffly this week. And being the loving lover, I’ll be there pushing the Echinacea and Cold-Ezze… after all, what are lovers for? But isn’t it Rick’s turn this year?

Sigh. I’m still trying to get into the holiday spirit. Earl and I just got done watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which is always wonderful to watch. Thank goodness for TiVo. TV your way! πŸ™‚

Earl is downstairs making Christmas cookies and they smell wonderful. I haven’t figured out how to share a smell yet on my journal, but wouldn’t that be wonderful! I’ve been chatting with a penpal in the U.K. named Richard. He apparently stumbled across this site and dropped me a line. A very nice gentleman, I look forward to chatting with him more.

I spoke with my mother last night. She seems to be doing well; actually she’s doing much, much better than she was doing two weeks ago. I’m happy for her. Maybe she’s got the Christmas spirit in her! We’re looking forward to seeing her over the holidays.

My dad is having the family Christmas party tomorrow night. This is going to be very interesting since he doesn’t cook or anything. But it’ll be good to see a good share of my cousins and such. The family doesn’t get together nearly as much as when my grandmother was alive, it’s nice to hook up now and then. Gosh, I miss both my grandmothers. They passed away six years ago. My mom’s mom in December 1995, and my dad’s mom shortly afterwards in February 1996. They were both very special ladies. One could cook like there was no tomorrow, good down-home farm type breakfast, dinner and supper goodies, including wonderful cookies and other baked goodies, whereas my other grandmother was very artsy-craftsy with plants and yarn and all the sort of stuff. I have a good number of her Christmas decorations, and Earl and I put them up on the tree every year. We lived across the street from my paternal grandparents, so I saw them everyday; my maternal grandparents lived about 45 minutes away; and we saw them just as much and talked to them several times a week on the phone. I always felt like I had a special connection with them both, and I guess that’s why I miss them so much.

On a slightly selfish note, ever since going to New Hampshire I’ve been having cravings for Chick-Fil-A.

I’m hoping by putting the logo there it’ll calm down my appetite for it in some weird way, but I guess not. We’re going down to Pennsylvania Saturday to visit with Earl’s family, so we’ll have to stop in Allentown, Pa. on the way down and get some Chick-Fil-A! πŸ™‚

I deleted Yahoo! Messenger off of my system last night. I’m a strictly ICQ type of guy, so if you want to drop me a line, go right ahead. I have it open whenever I’m at the computer. My ICQ # is 125628700. You can see my ICQ status from the index page or my journal pages.

Earl and I watched Survivor:Africa last night and I was quite happy to see Brandon voted off. I know, I know, I wasn’t going to watch Survivor this time around. I will admit that it generally sucks, but I felt a certain amount of wicked glee by seeing Brandon voted off; if Lex (the biggest horse’s ass to ever hit a reality tv show) gets voted off next week; then I’ll watch it to the end. If he doesn’t get voted off, I’m giving up on it and vomitting in toilet.

“It’s the most… wonderful time… of the year!” Happy Holidays!

Earl and I have had a festive weekend as it may be. Yesterday we began and for the most part, completed our Christmas shopping. We always have to do it with a big bang, so we decided to go to a mall I hadn’t been to in 10 years.

In Nashua, New Hampshire.

Now, if you look at a map of the United States, you will see that Utica, New York (the closest city) is a drive from Nashua, N.H. Who cares! As a matter of fact, it’s 4 hours away. So we jumped into the car Saturday morning and headed to New England. One tank of gas later, we were there at Pheasant Lane Mall.

One of the most beautiful things about Pheasant Lane Mall is that they have a Chick-Fil-A. I think I’ve mentioned before that I absolutely love Chick-Fil-A. Not to sound hypocritical, but the vegetarian deal goes on HOLD when I’m near Chick-Fil-A. Ideally, that would be my only exception to the rule, but I’m still wrestling with that a little bit. If you can go to Chick-Fil-A, GO! Best fast food that can’t be beat.

I lived in the “Mass-Hampshire” area back in the late 1980s when I worked for Digital Equipment Corp. So I was pretty familiar with the area, and I had been to Pheasant Lane before. But wow, how things have grown up around there! We used the debit card until it had skid marks on it and managed to buy all of the necessary Christmas presents except for the ones for each other. I have an idea of what I’m getting Earl, and I’m going to pick that up this week and then I’ll be done done done with Christmas shopping.

We drove home in a pretty good snow storm last night, and got home around 12:30 a.m. I made the mistake of going the “back way” through the Berkshire mountains on Mass. Rt. 2. I forgot how twisty and windy those mountain roads could be, especially with a lot of snow falling! The was the first snow storm for the Impala, so I was pleased to see that it handled very, very well.

Why is it that people forget all laws, rules, etc. on the road when the snow begins to fall? A one way street is still a one way street. Turn signals are still required. Stopping in the middle of a travel lane is prohibited. The New York Thruway can be a pain in the snow too, because there’s a lot of out of state drivers that are in an absolute panic when it comes to driving in snow. I grew up in the Upstate New York snow belt, so it doesn’t really bother me to drive in any snow conditions, but some people get so crazy! And the crazy people usually have Jersey plates on their car.

Today we drove into town and picked up our Christmas tree, a beautiful wreath for the front of the house and a nice table centerpiece. The tree is currently “falling” so we can decorate it tomorrow night after work. With the snow on the ground and the tree in the living room, it’s beginning to feel like Christmas. Finally. Of course, Mr. Weatherman says it’s going to be 60 by the end of the week again, so who knows.

Otherwise, today has been a lazy day with us doing laundry, etc. The geek in me is trying to figure out how to switch over to Linux here at home without losing any of my functionality, but I’m not having any luck with the webcam part. And the webcam is important to me. So I’m going to keep working on that issue. Hopefully I’ll find an answer soon. I’ve used a bunch of the main Linux distributions before, but I’m trying to find the one I like the best. Right now I’m leaning toward RedHat 7.1.

Well, after a hell of a day at work, I’m writing in my journal before calling it a night. I’ve come to decision to rid the workplace of as much Microsoft product as possible. That means reworking all the servers to Linux, but I think it’ll be worth it. Now my Microsoft Exchange server seems to be self-destructing. I haven’t done anything to it, just run back ups and that’s it. But it’s getting cranky on me, and it’s making me look bad and I don’t like it!

Talked to my mom tonight, she’s doing pretty good. She seems to be in good spirits, I’m glad she’s getting through this. My dad is having a Christmas gathering for his side of the family. That should be interesting to say the very least. He doesn’t cook. Everyone else is bringing the food.

Earl and I have decided to do our Christmas shopping out of town again, this year’s target: Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, N.H. We always go out of town for Christmas shopping because we’re more energetic and focused in unfamiliar territory; and I haven’t been to Pheasant Lane Mall since 1990 when I lived in New England, so we’re going to give that a whirl. πŸ™‚

We watched “Survivor: Africa” tonight, and I don’t know why. This has to be the worse edition of Survivor. I don’t like any of the people on it. I couldn’t care less who wins the money. And I must say that Brandon is an absolute disgrace to gay society. He is soooooooooo stereotypically gay. Just what we need, a bearded drag queen running around squealing. And Lex is an absolute ass. They’re trying to make him be a good bad guy like Richard Hatch, but I’m not having any of it. He’s just a jerk. And at least Richard represented the gay world fairly well, he didn’t run around yapping about how cute Brad Pitt is (who isn’t in my opinion) and he could grow a decent beard.

Well I’m going to call it a night.

A lazy day today. Earl and I spent yesterday in Syracuse. We started off the day by cleaning his office at work, so that he could get more organized, then we headed off to Syracuse and stopped by Shoppingtown to get his haircut at the barbershop. It’s a real, honest to goodness barbershop, that I just hang out in because, well, I have no hair, but it’s fun to b-s with the guys. We then headed over to my mother’s to see how her recovery from her procedure was going. She seemed to be in good spirits. Spent a couple of hours there just hanging out and chatting. She seems to be doing very well, I worry about her. We had the opportunity to meet her buddy from work, Chad, who’s a car salesman. He’s very nice as well.

After cleaning Earl’s office yesterday morning, I was in the mood to get our “wreck room” organized, so I took six hours and cleaned out the computer room. The garbage men are just going to love me tomorrow when they pick up all this stuff! At least the room looks somewhat liveable again. Let’s see how long we can keep it this way.

Earl made a great dinner for our Sunday afternoon. He loves to busy himself in the kitchen. I haven’t been playing vegetarian very well this weekend, I had turkey yesterday at Mom’s and chicken today with Earl, which was delicious!

I’ve fired up ICQ again, after being so busy for the past couple of weeks. I love to chat online, so feel free to drop me a line. If you’re unfamiliar with ICQ, you can get to me by following the link below. For all you internet newbies, ICQ is much like AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger.

I’ve started the facial hair thing again, and I’m going to keep track of it online like I did before. Not sure what my goal is going to be this time, but we’ll just have to see what grows on me. πŸ™‚ You can take a peek here.

Well I am sitting here patiently waiting for Earl to arrive home for Indianapolis. My week of bachelor life, as hellish as it has been, is coming to an end and I couldn’t, quite frankly, be happier about it.

My mother’s surgery went very well. She only had about 50% percent blockage in one of the arteries of her heart, so they were able to clean up what they needed to without having to put a shunt in there. Which is good. Quite a bit of cholesterol on her artery walls, so they prescribed lipitor to deal with that. I suggested she go vegetarian like me (or I should say Mostly Vegetarian), but I don’t see that happening for her. Oh well, to each his own.

I’ve been raving about Windows XP for the past couple of months, ever since I got the beta version, but I’m beginning to become disenchanted with it. It’s literally falling apart at the seams. My Outlook Express no longer works, it crashes everytime it tries to check mail. So I switched to Outlook, which is notoriously slow (even on my Pentium 1 gHz machine with 512MB of RAM), so now I’m using good old reliable PC-Pine, a derivative of Pine on Unix. It reminds me of my old VAXmail days when I worked for Digital. I see a switch to Linux in my future. For the non-geeks reading this, I’m sorry you don’t have a clue as to what I am talking about. Not to sound elitest or anything. I’ll explain it to you someday if you drop me an e-mail.

It was nice to be back to work today after a day off. I must say that I sincerely enjoy my job, and I don’t really dread going to work at all. I’ve had jobs that I hated but trudged through because of the need for money. It’s nice that my current job is not among that number.

By the way, here’s what I’m looking like these days.

I look like I was colorized by Ted Turner! Other than that, not too bad I guess.

I am writing in my journal and talking to Earl on the telephone at the same time. He wasn’t very pleased with that, so I finished the phone call before continuing.

What a week this has been. Last night my sister called, my mother was on her way to the hospital. Seems she had a slight heart attack, and they have to do an angioplasty (or however it’s spelled) tomorrow morning. Ken was kind of enough to give me the day off from work (which I knew wouldn’t be a problem, because he’s one of the nicest boss-type guys I ever met) so I can be with Mom for her surgery. She’s doing very well. She’s such a worry wart (which I inherited by stroke of luck), I think all the stress of life has brought this upon her. I need to teach her to meditate. Maybe I’ll give her some incense sticks to calm her a bit. Get her to relax her mind.

Earl, by the way, is in Indianapolis, Ind. (I like to use the old state abbreviations) on business through Thursday night. True to our agreement, he drove all 12 hours rather than flying out there. He said he enjoyed the drive. I should have given him the digital camera so he could take road geek pictures for my road web site, but I didn’t think of it until now. I miss him so much while he’s gone. I become the consumate bachelor, eating microwave popcorn and Pepsi Twist for supper, having dirty clothes on the kitchen table and the cat and I eating out of the same bowl. He’d have a fit if he knew what the house looked like while he was gone.

By the way, being the odd duck that I am, I still call the microwave the “radarange”. Remember the Radarange by Amana? My grandmother had one since the late 1960s (you had to lock it and wear lead gloves to use it – just kidding about the gloves), and then my father won one in a raffle in 1978 so we had a radarange too. People make fun of me when I call it the radarange, but it’s fun to be different. Those machines were HEAVY and cost a hefty bundle, not like the $70 throwaway ones you find in Ames these days.

The geek in me recently became intrigued with the new Macintosh operating system OS X. Now, I have never been a Mac fan, as I’ve always found them to be too elementary and pretty for my tastes, but this OS X looks interesting as it’s built upon Unix. And if you’ve been a faithful reader of my life on here, you’ll know that I’m a fan of Linux, which is a Unix-like operating system. For those not geekily oriented, its like having a GE washing machine instead of a Whirlpool. It does things in a similar way, but it’s a whole different machine underneath.

I’m really groovin’ on the TiVo too. I’m watching more television than ever, what with all the Bewitched episodes I tape, Golden Girls, then our weekly favorites like Dharma and Greg, Judging Amy and of course The West Wing. If you don’t have TiVo, get it!

I changed the colors around on the site to something a little more masculine. I’m liking the look. πŸ™‚

Well, here it is a short work week. Earl and I are planning a trip to Pennsylvania at the end of the week for the holiday. We haven’t seen his folks since Labor Day, so it’ll be nice to see everyone.

I must admit that I’m confused by the U.S. Government this week. They’re screaming about how this new Airport Safety bill is going to make the airlines that much safer for the Thanksgiving holiday. Say what? While I am all for improved airport security, I find it a bit disconcerting that all of these security improvements are going to take place over the next month or two, not the next three days. I’m not a big fan of flying commercially as it is. I guess I’m odd… I’ll jump out of an airplace and skydive but I don’t like stepping foot onto a 767 or whatever. Figure that one out. They’re just something very impersonal about flying over the United States instead of driving through it I guess. I’ve always been a big fan of roadtrips. And not always by Interstate, I like the backroads too. To see what America is about I guess. I don’t cherish the idea of getting on a plane in Syracuse in 33 degree weather and then getting off a plane in Orlando in 70 degree weather. I like to see the subtle change between the two destinations. Besides, it’s unnatural for the body to go through such a climate shock. So I’ll keep my feet on the ground for now I guess.

I’ve been on this herbal kick for the past couple of weeks. I’m trying to enjoy the natural side of life instead of putting all this medicine in my body. Blood pressure medicine. Cholesterol medicine. Blah blah blah. I’ve been doing my yoga regularly, plus churning away at the tried and true exercises (push ups, sit ups) and I’ve lost three pounds. Well it’s a start. I’ve been reading on the internet where Norvasc (bp medicine) caused cancer in lab rats. Well, I’m not a lab rat, but I’m not taking any chances. I was taking lipitor for my cholesterol, but I read where it can wreak havoc with your liver, so you should have a blood test every couple of months. Hosanna! Sign me up! I’m not a big fan of blood tests as it is, but the last couple of experiences about through me over the edge.

I went to the local vampire clinic (which shall remain nameless – lest I be held liable). No one there, easy – I’ll go in, get stabbed, and leave. Well, the nurse that was taking my blood smiled at me, and gave me a nice toothless smile. Whoa! What’s up with that? She must have left her teeth on the nightstand or something. So she begins pounding on my arm like she was beating bread dough and said… hmmm, we can’t find a vein here. Stop the show. If you were to look at my arm, you can clearly see the veins all over the place. A drug user would kill for my arm. So, apparently Miss Summer Teeth just blindly stabbed, and the routed the needle around until she found something red that would fill the vial. Nice. After Ms. Dagger got done, my arm began swelling up a bit, and then she put a piece of gauze over it and said keep it elevated. By the end of the day, I had a black and blue mark from my wrist to my shoulder (or to put it bluntly, asshole to elbow).

So the next time I had to have blood drawn for this ridiculous cholesterol test, I went to a different location of the vampire clinic. I thought that Ms. Gummy Grin wouldn’t be there since I was at a different location. WRONG. Apparently she’s a floater so she can spread her joy throughout the land. So I went through the same ordeal again, though I’ll admit that it wasn’t as bad. The black and blue mark was only around for a day or two, rather than the week long badge of courage from the last time.

And that’s when I decided that enough is enough. So I’ve been researching herbal remedies. And I must admit that I feel much better than I did before. I have more pep and zing in my step (and as a gay man, that’s quite a sight to behold!) I’ve been taking: Garlic (odorless of course! – did you know that studies have proven that garlic is STILL the best form of birth control), Echinacea (to boost up my immune system), Ginko (to increase my mental alertness) and Ginsing (to give me energy). Over the past eight years or so, I’ve developed a sort of stammer a bit. It’s not a stutter per se, but I say words that begin with the same letter as the word I’m trying to say, but the word that comes out is in no way related to the conversation at hand. For example, “I’ll have a piece of press for dessert”, instead of “I’ll have a piece of pie”. I sometimes have the remix thing going on as well and get stuck on a word (like “I’m getting jig jig jig jig jiggy with it”, instead of just “jiggy”). My doctor had me go to a neurologist, who did a bunch of tests, including a CAT scan, an MRI (where you get to play “hampster in the paper towel tube”) and a sleep deprivation test that involved no sleep for 24 hours, and then resting on a couch while the test administrator banged some books and flashed a strobe light in my eyes. That was tons of fun. They thought I might have dyphasia, but nothing conclusive came of it. But since I’ve been taking herbs, I’ve been saying all the right things to all the right people without remixing.

Needless to say, I’ve been moving along with these herbs and I feel much better. Let’s see how it all pans out.