“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.

At work today, Laurie, our Assistant News Director at the radio station, told me that Tuesday the 13th in Spanish has the same superstitious properties as Friday the 13th in English. So I shouldn’t speak Spanish today. I wasn’t planning on speaking Spanish, since I don’t speak the language, but what the hey. OlΓ©. I believe she’s as erratic as I am. She’s a good egg.

Earl and I just got back from Pier One. We’re working on sprucing up our dining room a bit, and we bought a nice wine rack for it. I’ve also purchased bunch of plants for the bay window and they’re coming along nicely.

Just got done watching Dharma and Greg. I have a renewed interest in that show. I’m loving it. The relationship is very much like Bewitched, my favorite show of all time. Add a bit of witchcraft and you’ve basically got Bewitched. That would be a cool dream sequence or something.

Speaking of which, I’m taping Bewitched again. We have one of those TiVo units with our DirecTV, so we can tape up to 35 hours of programming on this bugger, and it can be programmed to tape every Bewitched that comes on, which is way cool, so I’ve been kicking back watching Bewitched after work. Very relaxing.

I finally remembered the name of the tea I was enjoying so at work. It’s “Tension Tamer” from Celestal Seasonings. Very nice. I’ve been reading a bunch about herbs, and so I’ve been taking some herbal supplements that seem to be doing wonders for my mood and general overall well-being. I checked my blood pressure today and it’s the lowest it’s been in years. There’s something to be said for herbal vs. western “traditional” medicine. I’ve been drinking lots of herbal tea too, I think that might have something to do with my feeling better, rather than getting bogged down with soda, save for my one Pepsi Twist a day. πŸ™‚ I drank so much water and tea today I thought I was going to float away!

I can’t believe another airliner went down this week. Those poor people both on the plane (obviously) and in the Rockaways. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.

I’m not big on flying commercial flights as it is, and now it’s definitely car rides only if we’re going anywhere. Speaking of which, we’ve already made our reservations for New Year’s Eve. We’re spending New Years Eve 2001 in Philadelphia. We’re celebrating five years of marital bliss at the same time, basically at the scene of the crime. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait!

I’ve been thinking about Christmas which is just around the corner. I love the Christmas holiday so much. I think we’re going to go a bit “old-fashioned” on the outside decorations and use the big lights and keep it simple. I don’t like things that blink and sway and look like a big neon-light. Simple is better.

The geek in me is becoming very interested in this new Dreamweaver software I got for website management. Like let’s see what this button does.

Not much more going on – life is plugging along as usual.

As you can see, I have an editor keeping track of everything on the journal again.

Monday, Monday. So Good To Me.

I usually don’t write in my journal on Monday, just too shellshocked from getting through the work day I guess. But tonight I’m feeling pretty good!

I started drinking herbal tea at work today. Had a nice cup when I got to work… it’s some kind of stuff for daily stress. I can’t remember the name, I’ll have to get it tomorrow. But it tastes wonderful and just got me started off on the right foot. Work was pretty much non-eventful, but I was very productive and got a lot of my mundane tasks done early in the day, which is always nice. I don’t like the feeling of routine stuff hanging over my head, so I like to get it out of the way as soon as possible.

Earl got out of work really late tonight, and he begged to go out for supper rather than eat here at home. So off we went to Ruby Tuesday at Sangertown Mall. We haven’t eaten there in years. Now I remember why. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” O.K.

We also stopped into Circuit City and bought new video cards for our computers. We both have been wanting more robust cards for the computer, so I installed them this evening, and they seem to be working well. It’s disheartening because we purchased computers for the both of us within the past 1 1/2 years or so, but here we are upgrading already.

I’ve been using the IBM camera again, from a new angle… here’s what I look like sitting at the computer as I type this.

As you can see, someone feels he has to help out with my journal. πŸ™‚

So the geek in me is trying out a new web site management software package today. It’s called “Dreamweaver 4” by Macromedia. So far I like it quite a bit. It’s suppose to be more powerful than FrontPage, which I’ve been using for the past couple of years. Let’s see what I can do with it.The reason I’ve been getting involved with Dreamweaver is because I’m trying to broaden my horizons as far as software use goes. At work, the advertising agency part of the company is getting involved with interactive DVDs and CD-ROMs, and I’m going to be a big part of that. So I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the flashier stuff on the web and such.

Earl and I are just kicking back and relaxing this weekend, which is kind of nice. Yesterday we went to Syracuse so he could get his haircut. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t tend to need to spend time at the barbershop. πŸ™‚ And he really likes getting his haircut at the barbershop at Shoppingtown Mall, so that’s where we went. I wouldn’t mind apprenticing there someday, we’ll have to see if that works out. From Shoppingtown we went on to Barnes and Noble. We spent about an hour there going through books and such, I ended up buying four of them, and Earl bought a management book. I’ve become very interested in a more natural lifestyle… using herbs and meditation instead of pharmacutical based medicines. I don’t know if it’s what’s been happening in the world lately, or if I’ve been feeling this way since the whole Y2K scare, but I really feel the need to get back to my roots. I can’t help but think that it’s better for my body! I’ve had this rash on my legs for the past year; just a couple of red spots, but it was itchy. The doctor suggested a steroid cream, which I put on but then I couldn’t pee well for some reason. So then he suggested cortaid. Well that hasn’t been doing squat. So I did some reading and decided to just put Aloe on it. This was two days ago and it’s showing signs of going away already.

I’m also finding the importance of water. I’m trying to drink a lot more of it, and you know what, I feel better! On the decedant side, I have found Pepsi Twist… apparently it just came out this week. So I’m drinking one a day, but only if I drink at least four glasses of water beforehand.

Here it is November 1st already. Christmas is next month! Egads!

Earl is in New Castle, Pa. this evening on business. He drove down with a couple of work associates. We have an agreement… we’re not afraid to fly, as long we we’re with each other. So he drove since I couldn’t be with him. A little kooky, huh.

In his absence I’ve been catching up on odds and ends around the house. Wrapping up my final ebay shipments. Picking up around the house, that sort of thing. I think I’ve given up selling on ebay for a while. (Buying too!) With the economy bouncing around so much, I don’t think people are really in the mood to be buying other people’s junk. So, I’m going to let it rest a little bit.

I did spend the past half hour singing my lungs out to one of the “Godspell” CDs I have. I love that show. I wish I could be in it again. Actually, the first time I was just in a musical review of it, so we didn’t get to act it out, just sing the songs. I think it was a fund-raising dessert theatre or something. I want to be in the full fledged show this time around. Earl’s been bugging me to get involved with community theatre, but I haven’t done it yet. Maybe I’ll have to pursue that a little bit. My stint at SUNY Fredonia kind of broke my self confidence in half when it comes to performing. In high school, I was in all the select choruses, Area All-State, All-County and all for both voice and tuba. (Yep, I played the tuba, and I loved it). I auditioned for SUNY Fredonia twice, the first time for voice, in which I was not accepted, and the second time for tuba, which I was accepted (honestly, I think I was accepted because there were no other freshman tuba players and an orchestra sounds funny without one). To make a long story short, when I arrived my freshman year, I was put in “remedial singing lessons” (after being in all these select choruses!) and my tuba professor completely hated me (I think it was the gay thing, but I can’t be sure – the feeling was mutual, I despised him), so he humiliated me by making me play scales in front of my entire conducting class. And just for the record, I got a 4.0 in remedial singing with a “what the hell is he doing in this class, he should be in performance!” next to my grade on my transcript. SUNY Fredonia was such a waste of my time, and unfortunately my parents’ and my money.

I was always expected to go to college after high school. My parents hoped for the best for me, as all parents naturally would. Don’t get me wrong, I love to sing! I love to make people happy by entertaining them. But I realized about 1/2 way into my senior year of high school that I wasn’t sure college was the way to go. My grades in high school were excellent; I was in honor society, I was in numerous extracurricular activities (mostly music related), I loved school. Everyone expected me to go onto college, so that’s what I did. Fact be known, I wish I had gone to BOCES half day like the other vocational students did and become a barber. I was afraid of being labeled a hair-dressing fag. So I didn’t pursue that career path. To this day, I wish I had, and I just might start getting on that path some day soon. When I turn 40, I’d like to have my own barbershop, be my own boss and just do my own thing. Hell, I could be a singing barber just like in the old days.

I protested and didn’t watch Survivor tonight. It seems scripted and rigged to me. I really don’t care about these attention grabbing whackos. That Jeff Probst is just all too serious about his job. “The tribe has spoken”. Whatever. The tribe spoke to me too. Survivor is so 20 minutes ago. By the way, I taped Wonder Woman off of FX in the mid 1990s, and I have Jeff Probst doing commentary between the episodes. He was a geek then too.