Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Rewind - 1 Year Ago

Last year JB had to work over Christmas, so I went along with him on his trip to Brussels. (Best Christmas Ever) While we were there, we found a cozy bar with a warm fire where could watched a holiday light show projected on the side of an old cathedral.

I captured a bit of the show on my iPhone. On the flight home, I edited this short clip and added music.


Where will I be this Christmas? It's looks like we're going to Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Hot Cookie

I remember listening to the story in high school with a curious mixture of revulsion and fascination. It actually led me to believe it was a common college fraternity ritual to hold a circle-jerk around a cookie.

It turned out that in my seven years of frat life (I really liked college, okay?) the cookie legend remained just that; more illusive than Sasquatch, cafeteria food fights or panty raids that didn't end with a restraining order, sexual harassment refreshers and twenty hours of community service.

Not sure what brought this random memory to the surface.

In other news, it looks like Stevie B did some holiday baking yesterday. His mouth-watering iced lemon cookies look so scrumptious, I've been having daydreams about them.

It always starts the same: The sweet smell of wafting citrus
with a hint of,  is that... cloves? Ooo, risky! I like that. 
First a tentative lick of the icing,  followed by a tiny nibble...
From there I vary it.

Smart, hunky, sexy, funny and he can bake. That Stevie B really is the total package.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Flickr Shock

JB said, "Don't get me anything for Christmas." It smells like a trap.

He's feeling guilty after wiping out his flexible spending account and then some on a new pair of no-line bifocals with designer frames. Absently I say, "Got it. Nothing for Christmas" and return my attention to my Amazon shopping list.

A few weeks ago JB flew off the handle when I said I planned to buy myself an iPad 3. You know, sometime next year when there is an iPad 3. "No more gadgets! What's wrong with the iPad you have?"

"It's an iPad 1?" I reply sheepishly, caught off guard by the vigor of his disapproval and the obscurity of the question's point. How could he understand? He and his fancy iPad 2.

The hypocrisy wasn't lost on me last week when JB, during a TV commercial break, dropped a hint about wanting another new camera. Maybe a Nikon this time. (Nikon? Until now JB has strictly been a Cannon man. I will never understand his attraction to Ashton Kutcher.)

And honestly, who can truly be satisfied with only six digital cameras?

I blame myself. When I met JB nearly 15 years ago, he was practically Amish. He didn't have a computer let alone an e-mail address. He thought my mobile phone was a frivolous luxury used mainly to flaunt my disposable income in a feeble attempt to deny my natural place in the social strata. And he didn't own a camera.

On our first Christmas together I bought him a camera. It was a simple, compact, point-and-shoot affair that used something called "film". If you wanted to see the pictures you took, you had to wait. Sometimes days.

He seemed to like that camera. On our first trip with it, the little plastic part that covered the flash fell off. But the camera still worked. What I failed to appreciate was that the 4,000 volt capacitor circuitry for the flash was now exposed. I remember framing the shot and saying "Say cheeEEESUS CHRIST!!" as every muscle in my body contracted simultaneously. I remember seeing sparks. And I remember seeing the camera fly about 20 feet through the air before bouncing and rolling another 20 feet on the ground. I'm not sure if the camera still worked after that. We were afraid of it.

I felt bad about breaking JB's camera, but he wasn't concerned. He took it back to the camera shop where I had bought it originally and came out with a better camera. No charge. He has a knack for exchanging things. I don't know how he does it, I really don't. Because I opt to wait in the car when these exchanges go down.

(He once bought a vacuum cleaner and used it for a couple months before it stopped sucking. After asking me to troubleshoot the obviously defective appliance, he was incensed to learn he had to buy replacement vacuum cleaner bags if he wanted to continue supporting his domestic habit. He returned the vacuum to Lowe's Depot – stuffed full of dirt – and exchanged it for a new, sleek bagless model. No charge.)

"I'll have these back to ya
in three days, toots."
For some reason I can't remember, he then took his newer, better camera back and exchanged it. This cycle continued until JB was the proud owner of his first 35mm SLR. Then he had two. Then one year for his birthday I got him his first digital SLR with a whopping 64MB memory card. Because only cavemen wait to see their pictures.

It might have been around this time when JB decided he wanted to become a professional photographer. (Evidently all flight attendants need a secondary career. He didn't have the patience for a realtor's license, and I refused to let him sell VitaJuicePlus to our friends.) It's not that he didn't make any money as a photographer, he did make money. It's just that all the profits went back into more photographic equipment.

So I find it ironic that while I'm still stinging from my pre-emptive iPad 3 denial, I'm clicking the "Buy it Now" button for another new camera for JB. What can I say? Cameras make him happy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Perpetual Calendar

Between renovating my bedroom and decorating for the holidays, I managed to concentrate the clutter into a single room in my house. As usual, the casualty is my "Den"/"Guest"/"Computer"/"Gift Wrapping" room. It's were I usually sit in the morning to drink coffee and catch up on y'alls blogs.

This has gotten especially challenging now that my fortress of solitude is filled with boxes and piles of stuff. Yet I still manage to find my way to my Aeron chair, coffee in hand, and... wonder where in the hell all this stuff came from.




Part of the problem is that I have a hard time letting go of things. I have so much stuff I need to throw away, but just can't bring myself to do so. Case in point: This calendar from 2009. Why throw out a perfectly good calendar that will be useful again in 2015?



Each month was personally autographed by the appropriate team member.
It's been three years and I still get aroused by the smell of Sharpie.

Oh Seth, I'll never forget that wonderful May we spent together.

What I wouldn't give to spend Christmas in July.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Don't Be Alarmed

I know it's been I while since I posted last. A combination of work demands, home improvement projects and the cold & flu season have kept me from my blog. Plus I've just been really lazy.

My plan was to get the bedroom floor completed and the heavy Eddie Bauer bedroom suite reassembled before JB returned from his trip over the weekend before Thanksgiving. Of course, the floor was only half completed and everything from the bedroom was stacked in the living room -- including my lifeless body -- when JB got back from his trip.

I'd started feeling sick during that weekend and by Monday I was out of commission on the sofa. It was Wednesday before I started to rally, and since Thursday and Friday were a work holiday, I focussed on getting the bedroom finished before JB's head exploded.

I'm very happy with the results, but it was definitely more work than I anticipated. Among the many surprises discovered when pulling up the carpeting, the most distressing had to be finding all the phone and sensor wiring for the security system. At this point I had no choice but to snip it all out. I knew this would disable the alarm system, but I didn't expect it to knock out our phone and Internet. Oops.

The good news is that I'm not only an Electrical Engineer, I also work in the telecom industry. The bad news? That means squat. Who has ten thumbs and is colorblind? You guessed it... moi. I relied on simple trial-and-error to reconnect the tiny color-coded wires until I found a dial tone. It's a miracle my router didn't burst into flames.

I have yet to total my expenses, but the new (wireless) security system more than doubled the cost of this project, including the flooring materials and all the new tools I needed to install it. JB seems pleased with the new floor but made me promise to not take on any new home improvement projects until after the holidays.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scope Creep

We've all taken on projects that end up being a lot bigger than originally anticipated. At work we call this phenomenon "scope creep". At home it's called "Oh for the love of God, what now?"

For being the one who's been complaining, cajoling and -- dare I say -- nagging about the carpeting for years, it's ironic that the JB suddenly got cold feet now that the engineered compressed resin and fiber board planks started meeting the subfloor.

Sure, he thinks the master closet looks great. But now that I'm crossing the threshold and expanding into the bedroom, he's having second thoughts. Last night he suggested waiting until after the holidays.

There are a couple fundamental issues at play here.

One is that we're having difficulty agreeing upon the orientation of the faux wood planks. Should they go North/South or East/West? For JB this is nothing more than a simple aesthetic decision. I'm having trouble explaining to him that this decision impacts where in the room we start laying planks, how much cutting and waste there will be and whether we can make the layout flow from one area to another without seams.

Another issue is that this project is forcing us to make decisions we aren't (more specifically, he isn't) prepared to make. For example, there's a vanity in our master bedroom which we rarely use. Since we only have the one bathroom we don't want to get rid of it completely. You know, in case of a Bridesmaids style Brazilian food emergency. But it's much larger than it needs to be and it's made of that cheap, tacky cabinetry that construction contractors use to cut costs.

We've often discussed removing it and now we have to make a decision: do we wrap the new flooring around it, or do we yank it out now? Sure, we can agree to disagree, but that won't get the job done.

Then there's the havoc such a project wreaks in the rest of the house when an entire room needs to be emptied to pull up the carpeting and install the flooring. This is also exposing a secondary problem which has always been present in our relationship since the first day we moved in together twelve years ago.

Stuff. Together we have too much stuff. Normally it's packed into nooks and crannies or stacked precariously in the back of closets waiting to avalanche down and smother the poor soul who's only mistake was hesitating longer than the maximum two seconds required to safely open and close the closet door.

Normally all of our stuff is not in our face and can be blissfully ignored. Domestic harmony reigns. But now it's scattered around the general living quarters like an episode of Hoarders.

As every conceivable surface is now covered with stuff, we're having to use our stuff as the surface for other stuff. Last night we ate spaghetti on a stack of board games we never play, many still in the shrink-wrap. That's how I know we have two different versions of Cranium. (Regular and "Primo Edition".)

I'm hoping this project will prompt us to shed some of this stuff before JB has a nervous breakdown in the process.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Closet Wood

I've been planning to install wood flooring since we moved into our condo nine years ago. The carpeting wasn't in bad shape when we moved in, but hasn't fared too well over the years.

Sure, some of it is just normal wear and tear. If I were the finger-pointing type I could easily cast aspersions toward my two cats or wine drinking husband. But if I did, they could counter with the snow-globe conflagration of 2008 and I don't want to give them that opening.

You accidentally focus the sun's rays onto the drapes and berber one time and you're forever labeled a pyromaniac. The Fire Inspector said it could happen to anybody. But he could only keep a straight face for a few seconds before he and the rest of the ladder company burst out laughing. One of the firemen slapped me on the back as he guffawed through his breathing apparatus. Based on the size and longevity of the hand print, I'm guessing he was the one who busted down the door.

Whereas our front door frame was shattered into splinters, there really wasn't much damage to the carpet. Just a small scorch mark that Julie said looked like a cat butt-scoot. I was able to fix it with a pair of nail trimmers. Unfortunately not before the insurance agent found it necessary to cut out a square foot sample from the middle of the living room to take back to his insurance laboratory. This explains our creative furniture arrangements since then.

This weekend I actually began the project of replacing the carpet with flame-retardant, wood-like laminate flooring. I started in the closet because I lacked self-confidence and -- taking a cue from the instructions on my box of Just for Men -- thought it best to first test my handy-manliness in an inconspicuous area.

This is also the location of the litter box and, while one of our cats is half blind, the other is just fat and lazy. They treat the litter box as more of a suggestion, an abstract concept representing eons of feline subjugation by a clearly inferior race.

I probably should have hired a contractor to do this work. And a hazmat team. This morning I woke up with every muscle aching. My knees are raw and even my nipples are sore. (I know, weird, right?) But so far I'm happy with the results.

Fifty square feet down, 1,250 to go.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rinse, Spin, Dance, Repeat

A few months ago I wrote about my new Samsung washer and dryer combo and being surprised by the interesting tune it plays to let me know when a cycle is complete. (Rinse, Spin, Dance) I finally got around to recording this electronic ditty. It turns out I could have saved myself the effort and just linked to one of the many, nearly identical videos others have already uploaded to YouTube. Just try not moving to this beat.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Whack

Whenever I hear the term "edging" my first thought is always, "who has time for that?"

So when I was gifted with an extra hour of time on Sunday, I decided to splurge it on myself.

Within ten minutes I'd misjudged my first approach and tumbled right over the edge. By minute twelve I was sound asleep. When I woke up two hours later, it was already getting dark.

Later I asked a friend about his Sunday. His day began with a long run, coffee with friends, then brunch before getting a head-start on work for the week to come. Followed by a beer bust.

Me? I jerked off. I really need to work on my time management skills.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Tale Of Two Gourds




On Halloween I carved a pumpkin.






Evidently, the pumpkin I carved bears a spooky resemblance to a Canadian man's inflamed testicle...






The good news is that the testicle tumor, while it looks unfriendly, was found to be completely benign. Which is more than I can say for my pumpkin five days later...







The bad news? Both the testicle and the pumpkin met the same fate: tightly sealed in a Hefty bag and tossed in a dumpster.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Harley Halloween

The second year in a row of my new Halloween tradition: Giving words to Shar-Peis who can't speak for themselves.


See more of Harley's adorable Halloween costumes over at Nice to see StevieB.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy... Holidays?

I'm having to make do without the India-based members of my team as they take the day off to celebrate the first day of Diwali. This made me feel bad for my Indian co-workers here who are coming into the office like it's just any ordinary day.

As soon as I got in, I ran into my buddy S. (I'm not protecting his anonymity, it's just that his name is really long and probably spelled exactly as it sounds.) Trying to get into the spirit, I wished him Happy Diwali. He thanked me then explained he and his family don't really celebrate the holiday as they're Christian.

Okay, so it's a little more complicated than I thought. Since I never want to offend anyone, I'm going to stick with the inoffensive* "Happy Holidays". Then if I get a funny look I can say, "You know... Halloween?"

Or as S. calls it, "Monster Day". His wife is due to deliver their baby any day now and yesterday he told me that he hopes the baby's not born on Monster Day. It took me a minute to realize he meant October 31st. I explained that my brother was born on Monster Day, so I know what he means.

This exchange was fresh on my mind when later in the day I got a text from my Sister: "Today is Scott's birthday. He knows how to text now, here's his number..."

You mean my busy-body-know-it-all Sister – who somehow has the impression I own neither a calendar or an address book – got a birthday wrong? Call it a character flaw, but the opportunity to correct her was too sweet to pass up.

"No it's not. Scott's birthday is next week." Send. Wait.

"Oops. Well, I'm being proactive then."

"If by 'proactive' you mean 'wrong', yes you are. ;-)"

I haven't seen the statistics, but I'm convinced the incidence of domestic violence has surely declined since the invention of the emoticon. It makes me feel bad for my parents' generation who had to resort to using their actual emotions to qualify their snarky comments, often with tragic consequences.



* Except for my Fox News-watching uncle who finds the use of "Happy Holidays" to be highly offensive.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Knight Shift

After months of preparation, you'd expect my project deployment would go off without a hitch. Unfortunately it was far from hitchless. With the official start of the production shut-down scheduled at 11:59PM Friday night, I was looking forward to crawling into bed sometime before sunrise. In reality, it would be 2:30 Saturday afternoon before QA would finally sign off and I could go to bed.

Earlier Friday evening I made a grocery store run to stock up on supplies. Canned chili, Vitamin Water and Halloween candy. At 9PM I fired up the VPN to begin some prep work. Around 10:30PM I ran some tests and realized I'd overlooked a very important step. I'd forgotten to request our Systems Operations team to create the new directories I was going to need to install my software on the production servers.

This was a rookie mistake. I looked at the clock and frantically called the Systems Operations after-hours emergency number. How was I going to explain this? I breathed a sigh of relief when Bob answered the phone. I'd worked with Bob for several years at my previous job, back in those magical start-up days when every Friday ended around a keg of beer on the roof.

After explaining my dilemma, I asked Bob if he'd been to any chess tournaments lately. His kids are chess prodigies, or so I can only assume by the way he describes them. In the time it took for Bob to bring me up to date on his kids' latest achievements, my directories were ready with minutes to spare.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Premature Panda Meets Crush Bunny


In response to StevieBunny's post at Nice To See StevieB. I'll make up the two hours of sleep this weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Step By Step

I sure hope that light ahead is the end of the tunnel.

With this week comes the climax of a project I've been working on for the last three months. I know better than to believe next week will be dramatically different. In fact, I'm expecting it to be just as frenzied as a few of those inevitable roll-out bugs need to get urgently squashed.

But I am looking forward to some sense of normalcy to return to my work pace, when an attempt at a restoration of balance can be made to my life.

I can tell I'm spending too much time at work when JB starts expressing resentment. We both know it doesn't make sense. As a flight attendant his work takes him away for days, sometimes weeks at a time. During those times it's never occurred to me to question what that means to our relationship, or if he's going out of his way to avoid spending time with me.

In some ways it seems self-centered. How many times do I have to say, "This has nothing to do with you, this is my job"? But I know JB well enough by now. His life revolves around taking care of people. Even his job reflects this. If one of the pleasures of his day is preparing a nice meal only to eat alone again in front of the TV, it's going to take its toll after a while.

But there's always a plastic-wrapped plate waiting in the refrigerator for me.

Since my health kick this past Spring I've been wearing a pedometer. As an engineer, I like working with data. As a geek, I like getting it wirelessly. So of course my pedometer periodically uploads my activity to the Internet. It's tiny enough to easily wear daily, and it's expensive enough to constantly worry about losing or laundering. A few weeks ago I thought for sure I'd lost it. I couldn't find it anywhere.

I was relieved a few days later when my pedometer emailed me to let me know it hadn't detected any movement from me. It was concerned I was dead and about to notify my next of kin. The fact it was updating to the Internet told me it was somewhere in my house and within range of its wireless charging base. Sure enough, I found it attached to a pair of slacks I'd put on one morning then decided to change out of because they're getting too tight.

And is it any wonder why my pants are getting tighter? Look at my activity on a typical day from last week:

1,412 steps taken.


What are we looking at? You're seeing me get up in the morning, getting ready for work, walking to my car, then walking from the parking lot to my desk. You're seeing me take a late afternoon bathroom break with a stop at the vending machine on the way back to my desk. Then you're seeing me walk to my car, back into my house and getting ready for bed.

Compare this with one of my better days from a few months ago:

11,208 steps taken.

Here you're seeing me sleeping (yes, you're supposed to wear the device to bed if you wish to monitor your sleep) with a couple trips to the bathroom. Getting up and going for a morning run. Going to work and taking several breaks throughout the day. Coming home and going for a nice walk after dinner.

This is what I'm looking forward to getting back to in the weeks to come.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Critical Path

Our software release schedule for 2011 was published internally over a year ago. That's why I find it inexcusable that the Project Manager overseeing the upgrade of the network configuration management system for which I'm responsible is expecting his second child at the worst possible time. Seriously, how can his wife's due date coincide exactly with the code lock-down date tomorrow? Someone obviously neglected to add an ovulation category to their Microsoft Project. And he calls himself a Project Manager.

No really, I'm happy for them. I definitely am a believer in "family comes first" and am trying to pick up the slack without complaint. And I've been moderately successful so far if you don't count all the complaining. After leaving the office at 2am this morning, I was happy to see the 9am scrum meeting was postponed to this afternoon. While sleep would be an obvious choice, I've opted to use this free time block to update my blog.

Okay, so I'm updating my iPhone to iOS 5. But while I'm waiting for that to finish, I thought I'd post.

Isn't it nice when porn brings back fond
memories of your first experience? What
I wouldn't do to go back in time and stop
myself from throwing away the original
packaging for that computer.
I was surprised the Apple home page is still dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs. Knowing how businesses usually take maximum advantage of web traffic to optimize revenue, I thought it was very cool of Apple to do that.

But after a week it's starting to feel a little awkward. Especially when yesterday's Lion update froze my MacBook for a few uncomfortable minutes, leaving me powerless to Steve's ghostly monochromatic gaze.

I got a creepy feeling during those two moments that it maybe wasn't my computer being uploaded with new instructions, maybe it was me. Wouldn't that be the Ultimate App? I began imagining Steve Jobs' final moments, strapped into one of those giant Lawnmower Man gyroscope gizmos, laughing maniacally as his essence uploaded itself to the net.

The boing of my MacBook rebooting shook me out of my B-movie daydream. Time to get back to the office. The Apple Store is on the way.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pride Atlanta 2011

It was Gay Pride here in Atlanta, and it was a beautiful weekend for it. This is the second year since Pride was pushed back from late June and, speaking for myself, I prefer it in October. June is always so hot and wet. I know, but not the good kind of hot and wet.

The only thing worse than standing in the rain during a two-and-a-half hour parade is seeing the poor, soggy drag queens waving forlornly from drenched floats, mascara running into their ruined shoes. One year I barely escaped a flash flood when the storm drain at the intersection I was watching from got clogged with feather boas and sequins.

This weekend's weather was perfect. Unfortunately I missed out on the parade yesterday, opting to catch up on some work instead. This is do-or-die week on my project so I thought it best not start it with a post-pride hangover.

But I did make it to the Pride kick-off party Friday night at the Georgia Aquarium. That was fun.

I learned Whale Sharks aren't whales, and there's no such thing as a free brunch.

This was a convenient people-watching spot, where I could enjoy a cocktail
while watching a never-ending supply of gays stream by on conveyor belt.
Industrial cruising under the sea. (Cue steel drums.)

I was impressed that the World of Coke, adjacent to the aquarium,
got in on the spirit of the celebration.


Saturday was spent hanging out with Gil, Larry and JB at various bars with outdoor patios. There was a slight breeze that felt wonderful, and the day ended with a perfect sunset.




Wednesday, October 5, 2011

* Different


Head In A Jar

Assuming you're viewing my standard template, you may have noticed I added a randomly rotating tag line to my blog header. I played around this this last year when I added a shopping days countdown script during the holidays. (I plan to combine the two scripts when I get some time.)

I intend to gradually add tag lines when it tickles my fancy, but as a starting point I populated the script with a few random title cards from Futurama. I love Futurama. I don't watch a lot of television outside of flipping around the various History Channels until I find something non-history related. But heaven help the reality-addicted homo who fucks with my Futurama season pass on Tivo.

Anyway, I wanted to add attribution links to the tag lines to give proper credit where appropriate. The ones I steal shamelessly from Futurama will link back here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Neigh

I worked late again last night. I'm afraid it's going to be like this for a few more weeks as a project deadline looms. It wouldn't be so bad if I could focus exclusively on my project, but it never works that way. Yesterday my work got pushed two places down the stack by reactive requests from upper management. By the time I got those out of the way it was nearly 6pm.

When I finally got home around 10pm I found a package at my door, the first wave of Halloween novelties from Archie McPhee. Inside was an assortment of gnarly hillbilly teeth for JB. (He's looking forward to using those at work.) A yodeling pickle for my ex, Joe. (A Christmas gift, actually. Don't ask my why, he's just really hard to shop for.) And a mask for my costume idea #1. I just need to find a willing partner to help complete the ensemble.

What do you think?

Horse top ISO bottom
Me: well-bred, fun-loving social drinker who enjoys nuzzling.
Likes: studs, shoes & appletinis. Dislikes: fillies, flies & smoking.
You: great ass, strong back, able to remain bent over for long
periods of time with minimal access to fresh air. Own tail a plus.
Looks not important.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October Optimism

Wow, October 3rd already. I've always liked October. When I was a kid, it marked the beginning of the easy slide into the holiday season. The month was dominated by the escalating spookiness of Halloween, climaxing in an orgy of miniature candy bars and corn syrup.

As an adult, the sugar element of Halloween has been replaced by its social elements. While the anticipated party invitations never materialized last year, I think it was because I wasn't mentally prepared for Halloween. I put hardly any thought into a costume and I wasn't really in the spirit. So while I don't have any specific plans or invitations yet this season, I'm optimistically preparing nonetheless. I've already ordered a costume online which should arrive this week, and I picked up a few decorations on my last visit to Pier 1.

When buying my new washer and dryer the other day at Lowe's, I was tempted by the display of illuminated, animated inflatable yard ghoulies. JB shook me back to reality by reminding me we live in a condo. "Don't be an idiot." He's probably right.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Oral Intercourse

The exceptionally gifted Tony at West of Mayberry wrote a great post recently about dirty talk in the sack. (Speak Porno. Don't Listen.) After pausing for a while on "who else can hit you there?", I started thinking about the art of erotolalia. This may come as a surprise to some of you but between the sheets, Pac is a man of few words.

In fact, my vocabulary seems inversely proportional to my level of arousal. I consider myself lucky if by third base I still have access to the basics like "fuck", "yeah", "slower", "faster", "harder", "oops sorry about that" and "get off my balls". Beyond that my ability to vocalize devolves into a random series of grunts, moans, gasps, snorts and clicks. (Although I'm pretty sure that last one is my trick knee acting up.)

I could be cheeky and say it has to do with blood redistribution, but I'm not Tony. I guess talking dirty just isn't my thing. Now JB on the other hand... JB is a talker.

I always found it interesting how JB — who can't be bothered to read subtitles of a foreign film or the instructions on a bag of microwave popcorn — keeps drawers full of gay erotic novels. The ones with hundreds of pages and not one picture past the front cover. When it comes to porn, it seems our roles are reversed: I'm the one who wants to turn off all higher brain function and be spoon-fed. After all, if I were in the mood to work for my nutt, I'd be going after the real thing.

But I have to admit that once I started reading these stories, I was hooked. And as I continued to explore JB's trashy library, I began to experience déjà vu. That's when I realized where JB was picking up his distinctive coital commentary. Unless you're going to tell me "let daddy do the driving" is just a coincidence?

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy filthy, nasty sex talk from my partner. Just as long as he doesn't make me feel obliged to reciprocate. In general I tend toward being a man of action rather than words.

That sounds more heroic than saying I'm ADD and not good at multitasking.

It's not the dirty talk itself that distracts me, it's the pressure of being put on the spot to think of what to say. I'd want whatever I say to be effective and appropriate to the moment without being cheesy, repetitive or cliché. I'd want my words to pack an erotic punch while still not offending any potential sensitivities my partner may have regarding his body image, gender notions, spiritual attitudes, ethnic stereotypes or mother. And I'd want to do this all while maintaining an erection.

Or I can just hand the keys to my animal hindbrain, cross my eyes and howl like a gorilla who got his bananas locked in a Samsonite. (Oh yeah, I had to reach way back for that one.)

At a bar a few years ago I hooked up with a hot guy who took me back to his place. Things got pretty intense and just as we hit the short strokes, he caught me completely off guard by shouting "SAY SOMETHING DIRTY!"

Sadly the moment was lost when the only thing that came to mind was, "You've got dust bunnies the size of cantaloupes under your bed?" No, I didn't say that.

I didn't say anything.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Metaquestions

My friend Jim over at Jim's Stuff was asking questions yesterday. To be more specific, he was asking questions about questions. Handsome and inquisitive... that's hot.

One of the reasons I keep Urban Dictionary bookmarked is because I can often find words I need that ought to be in Webster's but aren't. At least not yet.

(The other reason I frequent Urban Dictionary — along with WikipediaIMDB and Wikizilla — is to decode StevieB's pop-culture references which I know must be hilarious, but often zip right over my head. This used to make me feel like this until I realized StevieB is sublimely this. Oops, wait... I mean this.)

I'm a big fan of meta-thinking, so Jim's post is right up my alley. I once got so overwhelmed by my to-do lists that I made a list of my lists. I called it my meta-list. Then I crashed for two days and forgot where I put it. Anyway, the questions Jim was asking were metaquestions; questions about questions. For example, why do people feel the need to ask if they can ask you a question?

      (Hey... did I just ask a meta-meta-question?)

            (Ooo, and what kind of question was that?)

I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If you haven't heard a Yooper speak, just imagine a scene from "Fargo" or "Strange Brew", and you'd be close. Not exactly, but close. Yoopers have a habit of ending nearly every sentence with ", eh". For example:

   "I could eat pasties every day of da week, eh."

I'm not sure if "eh" is a word or just a sound, but it has the effect of turning the most straightforward, unequivocal statement into a question. I've always wondered, what drives our instinct to speak like this? Is it simply a way to add emphasis to what we said, or are we looking for affirmation?

Considering the instinctive response is, "You betcha, eh," I'm guessing the latter. You'll notice this response to the original statement-cum-question comes punctuated by its own verbalized pseudo-question mark, soliciting further affirmation. This results in social exchanges such as:
   "Cold out dair, eh."
      "You betcha, eh."
         "Ya, eh."
            "Worse den last year, eh!"
               "Oh ya think so, eh?"
                  "Fer sure, eh."
                     ...
I call this an "infinite yoop".

But my primary concern is this: how insecure do you have to be that you need affirmation for practically every thought you express to others?

I'm just grateful my college roommates helped train me to overcome my yooper speech characteristics with their persistent mockery and unrelenting ridicule. And I'm happy to say I no longer require this type of constant affirmation.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Google±

I don't like feeling left out of the loop when it comes to cool, new things. So I was excited yesterday when I saw Google finally blessed me with Google Plus access. After clicking on the "+You" and setting up my profile, I started having second thoughts and stopped short of adding any friends.

After all, it's been so long since I've checked my Facebook that I have no idea what half the people on the planet are bitching about. I've been specifically trying to avoid the family drama playing out on Facebook, and now my family seems to be divided between the "sign this petition demanding Facebook return to the old design" camp and the belligerently indifferent camp.

If I did participate, I'd have to side with the latter camp. I've been on Facebook long enough to see several design tweaks and evolutions. If Facebook never changed, its membership would still be limited to college students and these people would have to find something else to complain about.

It's obvious that some people really dislike change. What gets me are the ones who think they're entitled to immunity from change. I'm all for taking a stand, but pick your battles. It's not climate change. It's not Darfur. It's Facebook. Of all the ways of making life more complicated and disappointing, the surest is expending much more energy resisting the inevitable tide of change than adapting to it.

Do I really need another social network? If I do this Google+ thing, it's going to be what Facebook originally was: a fun, happy place to connect with like-minded friends. Back in those heady days when the power and possibility of the Internet heralded a future of utopian optimism. Those carefree days before I realized it doesn't matter how far away I move away, I can still experience all the instantaneous, unbuffered right-wing dogma, domestic strife and hormonal imbalance my family has to offer.

As I considered all of this, I noticed a little red "1" in the corner of my Google+ home screen. A notification. Already? I've only had a Google+ account for five minutes. I haven't added a single friend. You'd think my life experience up until now would have taught me to be wary of red flags. Evidently not, I clicked it.

Someone added me to their circle. My sister-in-law. Make that ex-sister-in-law, now that the divorce is final. The same person who recently unfriended me on Facebook because she wanted to sever all ties with the family of her ex-husband and make a fresh start.

Sigh.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Septemblur

It's not often I start a blog post with the title. In fact, I find the title is usually the last and most difficult part of any post. Usually it's half-assed because I'm done writing and I want to hit "publish" and move on. Or it's something I think is witty and appropriate at moment but later makes me wonder what I was thinking. And when I occasionally change the title after publishing, Blogger maintains a ghost of the original title in the URL. I kind of like that.

I try to look at my calendar first thing every morning. (Okay, but at least tenth thing.) I hate being surprised by alerts for an early meeting I'd forgotten about or, worse, were scheduled since the previous evening as my boss has a habit of doing. Working with off-shore teams in India, meeting opportunities tend to push the traditional boundaries of the business day.

Something caused me to do a double-take at the calendar this morning. September 22nd? Already? Wasn't it just August? What happened to Summer? What have I accomplished? What's the Guinness Book record for consecutive rhetorical questions?

It doesn't help I've been under the weather all month. Bronchitis and a sore throat finally sent me to visit my new doctor. (Still working on a name for him.) A week later and the antibiotics don't seem to be helping. I really can't wait to feel normal again.

I'm reminded of the Fall of 2003 when I returned home from Mom's funeral with a scratchy throat. By the time that particular rhinovirus finished playing my body like a pinball machine, it was 2004. What I learned from that experience was how much the mind affects the body and it's ability to protect and heal itself. I felt like I let my guard down, and paid the price for it. It's good for me to remember that.

So here is today: September 22nd. The final day of Summer. With exactly 100 days left to make the most of 2011. And with new resolve, that's exactly what I intend to do. Just as soon as I take care of one last thing I forgot to do yesterday...

Happy Birthday, Dad, I miss you.

7-year-old Pac and Sis with Dad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rinse, Spin, Dance

We've known this day was coming for a long time, but there was finally no putting it off. It was time to say goodbye to our old washer and dryer. And by "say goodbye", I mean go to work while the JB stayed home yesterday to wait for Lowe's to take away the 18 year old Kenmores and leave a shiny, modern Samsung laundry duo in their place.

Out with the threadbare, elasticly-challenged tidy whities, in with the sleek, platinum, front-loaded Baskits.

For the past few months, the dryer still kinda worked but it wouldn't cycle off by itself. JB lost whole nights of sleep worrying about me wandering off leaving the delicates tumbling ad nauseum until they finally burst into flame taking the house with them. I can't blame him, it sounds like something I'd do.

It was bad enough when the dryer did work, it would stop with a loud, jarring buzz. Not exactly a buzz, the sound was reminiscent of when I was fifteen trying to learn how to drive stick. It was enough to make anyone's hair stand on end. Anyone but me, evidently because I rarely heard it. This was a constant source of friction in our household. I can't count the times JB would leave the house to run errands, but not before leaving strict instructions: "When you hear the buzzer, take the clothes out of the dryer, put the wet clothes from the washer into the dryer, and fold the dry clothes. Got it?"

"Yeah, yeah." Bzzzz. Whatever. It was only an hour later hearing the sound of JB's key in the lock that my hair stood on end.

When the dryer finally refused to run at all last week, I considered trying to fix it. It was obviously a problem with the timer, maybe I could find a replacement on the Internet and replace it myself like I did a couple years ago when the heating element fried. But JB nixed that idea. He didn't want to spend the next six weeks in the laundromat. And he finally wanted to get a good night's sleep.

So Sunday we went washer and dryer shopping. I'd much rather spend an afternoon at the Apple Store, but JB promised margaritas if our mission was successful. As is typical, I was drawn to the units with the most light-emitting diodes while JB was looking for a bargain. I was shocked when the sales associate informed us that, to his knowledge, none of the 2012 models are Wi-Fi enabled. JB looked at me like I was nuts, even after I explained how a laundry app would be helpful for reminding me when its time to change loads.

We compromised on the Samsungs after seeing they were on sale. And shiny. And call me prejudiced, but I don't think I've ever seen a dirty Japanese person. I recalled news reports from the latest earthquake showing people brushing dust off their sleeves even as they dodged falling debris. What is Kenmore anyway? Sounds suspiciously Irish.

When I got home from work Monday, the old washer and dryer were on their way to the farm and the new Samsung Laundry System was all hooked up and ready to fluff with honor. "How do they work?" I asked, expecting to see stacks of freshly folded laundry.

"I don't know yet..." JB answered sheepishly, holding out the instruction manuals. Twenty minutes later, the first load was spinning at a blinding 1200 RPMs with a soothing, barely audible jet-engine whine. Contrast that with the Kenmore which spent every spin cycle plotting its escape the laundry room, banging against the walls like Meg Ryan faking an orgasm.

Then into the dryer. We opted for the default "normal" setting, mainly because I was still only halfway through the washer's manual. The technological miracle occurred when the clothes were dry, and the machine stopped on it own. Then it began.

"Ding." Nice.

"Ding, ding, ding..." Okay.

"Ding, ding, dah, ding, dah, ding-a-ling-a-ling..."

The electronic concerto continued for another two minutes as JB and I looked at each other with disbelief. Just when it sounded like it was finished, the next movement would begin. It sounded like a classical ice cream truck. I half expected a mob of high-brow children to rush through the door, waving tens and twenties.

"Oh hell no..." I flipped open instruction manual for the dryer. "There's got to be a way to shut this music off."

"You find it annoying?" JB asked.

"You don't?"

"Can you make it louder?"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sleep Impact

As Pac's Pad approaches its first anniversary, I'm learning something interesting about keeping a blog. All those annual cycles and patterns I always suspected are now backed up with documentation, and sometimes pictures. That's how I've confirmed I always manage to get sick this time of year.

The JB is funny about contagious illnesses. Half of his brain is aware they're caused by germs that can be spread from person to person and that, regardless of the type of germ, doctors will try to cure you by writing a prescription.

But the other half of his brain runs on a mixture of Mexican superstition, voodoo and sweet agave nectar. On this side of his mind, people can -- and often do -- cause illness or give you other types of bad luck by making you the target of their "ojo", or evil eye. For this the cure is a ritual involving prayers, a cup of water and a chicken egg. I'm not kidding. Wikipedia says:
"Mexican folk concepts of disease are based in part on the notion that people can be victimized by the careless or malicious behavior of others.[citation needed]"
All I know is that my huevos are sleeping on the couch. Is that citation enough?

This is how I ended up in the living room yesterday morning around 5:30 when I was awakened by a noise outside. Our condo is relatively secure, with controlled access to the lobby, hallways and car port. Once inside this common area, the only way an intruder could enter our home is by breaking in through the door from the hallway or by climbing onto our balcony and breaking in through the one of the two sliding glass doors into either the master bedroom or the living room.

Although we live on the first floor, our balcony is elevated about sixteen feet above the tree-lined courtyard. Okay, the real-estate listing called it a "tree-lined courtyard". It's a parking lot. Theoretically, a burglar, rapist or evil clown could jump the property fence or, if he's really lazy, follow a car in though the gate, then climb onto our balcony and break into our home. The climb to our balcony would probably require some sort of ladder or grappling hook. That is, unless there were a large vehicle, say a truck or SUV, parked directly underneath. Which there usually always is.

Now that I've detailed on the Internet how rapists can break into my bedroom, allow me to continue my story.

Knowing the balcony is a possible point of entry, I always keep alert to any noises coming from outside. So when I heard someone moving around out there yesterday morning, I was up like a shot. I instinctively reached under my bed for the baseball bat, only to jam my fingers into the side of the couch. Fuck, that's right. As I sat up and my eyes focussed through the sliding glass door, I saw a shadowy figure which I instantly recognized. It was JB. Naked. Watering the plants. And not with the watering can.

He stood leaning forward with both hands on the balcony rail, pissing into the plants with quite a bit of overshoot falling into the darkness below. There may or may not have been cars parked down there, I desperately want to believe there weren't. I shudder imagining how that association tribunal would go down.

If I didn't know JB any better, my first reaction would be to slap some sense into him. But after dealing with his sleepwalking for fourteen years now, I can confidently pass along this advice, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation: It's very important that you do not attempt to wake the sleepwalker. Unless you're into water sports, wait until the urine stream comes to a complete stop, then commence slapping.

And when the stream did finally stop, JB didn't go back through the door into the bedroom, which he left wide open. He turned toward the living room door and began walking. Powerless to do anything to stop him, I watched him walk right into the glass with a thunk! That distinctive kind of bone-on-glass thunk that says, "Grab the Bible and a baggie and meet me at the dumpster, we're having a birdie funeral as soon as the twitching stops."

Being the compassionate guy I am, of course I burst out laughing as I watched him bounce backward two steps before shaking it off and trying again. Thunk! Before he could muster a third attempt, I unlocked the door and let him in.

"What on earth are you doing out there?", I asked.

"Using the restroom," he replied absently, yet with full certainty of my being an idiot for asking such a stupid question.

I led him back to bed and a minute later he was snoring. All day at work, I couldn't wait to get home and tell him about his early morning adventure. At first he didn't believe me, as I knew he wouldn't. But I had proof. No, I didn't take any video. Although I thought about it, and even had my phone in my hand the whole time. I just couldn't bring myself to record him.

Instead I showed him the schlong print on the sliding glass door, complete with dribble.


Stay tuned for next week's episode when Pac asks a Home Depot associate in which aisle he might find their Mexican-strength chicken wire.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/14

Most of the guests had already arrived and more were still trickling in. One thing I liked about that apartment on Greenwood was how spacious it was, but now it was feeling rather cramped. With all the cars parked along the street and guests still arriving, it was going to be hard to pull this party off as a surprise.

I was amazed at the turnout considering the short notice. The invite had only gone out that afternoon. I was overwhelmed by this display of love and generosity, and I said a silent prayer of thanks to God for bringing such wonderful friends into my life. Into our life.

But I also realized they probably needed this get-together as much as I did, and I think they were grateful for the opportunity to celebrate. This was backed up by the fact many of my friends brought guests, some of whom I was meeting for the first time. I'd told my friends they could bring guests, but I honestly never expected even half of them to show up at eleven o'clock on a Thursday night. Yet every single one of the friends I invited was there, plus some new ones.

Some people brought food, others carried bottles of wine and cartons of beer. My friend Laura, ever the leader, took charge organizing the food into an inviting buffet. Hot Toddy, of course, took on the job of bartender without waiting to be asked.

I took the phone call outside on the deck, hoping JB wouldn't hear the sounds of a lively party going on inside his own house. Despite feeling I've lost all control over the event, I still wanted it to be a surprise to him. After hanging up, I rejoined the party. "Ten minutes!" I shouted over the music. This seemed to ramp the party up another notch as I grabbed the cold beer Toddy held out for me.

I gave up any notion of trying to turn off the lights or shouting "Surprise!". I decided it would be enough just for JB to walk in on this amazing spectacle. And the look of bewilderment on his face when he came through the door told me we'd hit a home run.

JB always looks handsome in his flight attendant uniform, even at the end of a long trip. And this one was longer than most. He let go of his rolling suitcase to wipe away tears with the back of his hand as one friend after another welcomed him home with hugs. Toddy put a glass of wine in JB's hand.

It was one of the funnest and happiest parties I'd ever been to, let alone hosted. And it was over in the blink of an eye, with the last of the guests leaving by 1am. Most of them had to work in the morning, after all. When it was just myself and JB, I wrapped my arms around him and, for the first time since hearing his voice on Tuesday afternoon, lost my composure. "Don't ever do that to me again!" I said into his shoulder, half laughing and half sobbing, my tears absorbing into his starched white shirt.

"I sure hope not!" It wasn't much of a promise, but it was the best he could do. I knew he wasn't about to quit the job he loved so much, and I was proud of him for that. I was just glad he was finally home. Three days later than scheduled, but he was home.

Hard to believe that party was ten years ago today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For, Pac

I was looking forward to Fall, but instead got a case of seasonal whiplash. I know it's just a temporary weather fluctuation and I'm sure we'll have plenty of sweltering days left before Winter. It doesn't help I've come down with a chest cold just as the air turned cool and damp. I've also been putting in some late nights at the office the dark drive home is a jarring change.

After having what seemed like most of August off, JB has been flying his ass off and is currently on a 7-day trip. As is typical, those little luxuries of bachelor life that smack of sweet freedom when I'm deprived of them lose their shine when the quiet loneliness sets in. Little things...

  • Like being able to watch the History Channel on the HD flat-screen in the living room instead of being exiled to the old standard-def plasma in the bedroom. (Every night this week I've fallen asleep on the sofa immediately after turning on the TV only to wake up and find Tivo turned the channel to record one of JB's reality programs anyway.)
  • Like being able to go out for beers after work. (Beside being slammed with work projects and getting home late, this cold has me wanting nothing more than to cocoon. Any energy I might have left at the end of the day would be better spent at the gym than the pub.)
  • Like not being pushed and pecked to pick up after myself and do little chores after a long day at "work". (As I run out of clean clothing options, as the cats stand by their empty dish judgmentally glaring at me, and as this place begins to remind me of what my bachelor hovel once looked -- and smelled -- like; I'm reminded how much JB does himself around here when he's not flying.)
  • Like being able to choose whatever tickles my fancy for dinner rather than having my menu chosen for me. (And shopped for me. And cooked for me. And ready and waiting for me when I get home from a long hard day.)

Maybe by writing this down, it'll stick in my mind when JB gets back home next week and has the rest of September off.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Spamily Flame Night

It's been a week of bad decision-making on my part. Which means my long weekend will be all about damage control. It's bad enough when a holiday weekend starts out with a long list of household chores. Now I have to add formal apologies and ruffled-feather smoothing on top of that.

I need to remind myself that these situations can be learning experiences, and that I need to better manage in the future how my emotions guide my actions.

Let's start with a hypothetical example. Say your best friend, while on a business trip, has the opportunity to casually socialize with your long-time online crush, even before you ever got the chance to meet said crush in person. Should you:

a.) Encourage the meeting, taking satisfaction in the idea that two people you respect and admire have the opportunity to become friends because of you? 
b.) Encourage the meeting, but secretly worry that your online crush might find your best friend attractive and that your best friend might take the opportunity to get back at you for that time you slept with his ex?

c.) Prevent them from meeting by not bothering to help arrange it at all? 
d.) Encourage the meeting but tell your online crush that your best friend has pesticide-resistant crabs, then tell your best friend that your online crush is self-consciously germaphobic so please don't call attention if he hesitates to shake your hand or use the same toilet seat?

In this completely hypothetical example, I chose D. And now I feel a passive-aggressive twinge of guilt about that. Hypothetically.

Now for a less hypothetical example. Earlier this week, I publicly snapped at a family member. By "publicly snapped", I mean I cyber-pantsed him in front of family, friends, complete strangers and a handful of career politicians.

Somehow, after my dad's funeral in Feburary, I made it onto my uncle's (Mom's brother) right-wing political rambling e-mail list. After months of silently deleting conspiratorial missives regarding our President's citizenship status, and how Barak Hussein Obama wants to sneak into the homes of capitalists to rape them in their sleep... I finally had enough. It didn't help I just got home from a particularly unproductive evening at the bar knowing my best friend was crossing time zones to hijack my fantasy life... er, sorry. Suffice it to say I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind to be sorting through my inbox.

I love my uncle, and don't believe for one second that he's a bad person. I know he's just forwarding whatever resonates with his beliefs, and that he doesn't write this crap himself. Although he does often add his own thoughts to the top, like "Yeah! Where IS the birth certificate?" or "Yeah... How come Obama didn't have any girlfriends in high school?" or the ever-witty "WAKE UP AND THINK SHEEPLE!" And every single e-mail ends with the same inspirational quote by Edmund Burke.

He doesn't seem to understand how ironic that quote looks under a message like this:

Wow, a two-fer. How... efficient.

Maybe it was the volatile combination of liquor and jealous sexual frustration, but for the first time Tuesday night I finally took my uncle's favorite quote to heart. He'd just sent another rant about illegal immigrants, this time about a wily Mexican named "Jose Illegal" and an unfortunate "American" named "Joe Legal". (I quote "American" because Joe could actually be of Irish, African or -- like my uncle -- Croatian descent. The term "American" as used in the e-mail should imply a nationality, not a race.  "American" can be used to refer to a race when speaking about indigenous peoples including those of Mesoamerican descent which, ironically, include the majority of people from Mexico.)

Whatever merit this moral parable might have carried in a legitimate discussion about immigration policy and the abuse of public tax dollars was lost because of the names given to these two characters. I mean, you can't possibly have a hispanic-sounding name and be "legal", right? If they chose "Jose Illegal" and "Jesus Legal" then my beef would be moot. Okay, maybe not.

I know I've made fun of the JB's family on occasion, if only because I mistakenly thought my own Wonder-bread family suffered from a lack comedic appeal. But I love JB's family as much as my own, and at that moment I let my emotions get the better of me. I hit the Reply button and -- very politely, I thought -- told the story of my partner's family.

I wrote about JB's mom who, as a young single mother reeling from the untimely death of her husband, had the audacity to move to the U.S. from Mexico, intent on giving her children the opportunity for a better life. And how her children are all fine, upstanding, hard-working, tax-paying American citizens, with children and grandchildren of their own. Although I admit to expressing dismay with some of them intermarrying with Italians (not that there's anything wrong with that) and others becoming Republicans Party campaign volunteers (which is just all kinds of wrong).

Okay, I may have hit the "Reply-All" button. Then maybe added a bunch of friends to the BCC. And copied my ex, Joe. (Which seemed funny at the time.) It crossed my mind to wait until morning before sending it. For a few seconds.

The next day the shit hit the fan. Understandably, several of my uncle's like-minded friends on the CC list took issue with my response. The overwhelming whine was "this isn't about legal, tax-paying Mexican-Americans, this is about illegal immigrants."

"Perhaps, but the e-mail never made that distinction, resorting instead to inflammatory stereotypes and over-generalizations," I would say if I were crazy enough to actually respond to these people.

A few of the responses actually took a swipe at my homosexuality, which I guess I implied by referring to my "Mexican husband". I even got an automated response from one of the U.S. Representatives on the original CC list, telling me that she only responds to e-mails originating from within her congressional district. (Don't ask me how she determines that.)

Then my cousin called in tears, angry that I broadcast my response rather than replying privately to my uncle or calling him on the phone. Evidently, it's okay to "broadcast" offensive, ignorant nonsense, but it's highly inappropriate for the recipients to rebut using the same forum.

Then all sorts of feelings came to the surface which took me by surprise. Evidently there's a significant chunk of my family that think I don't like them and believe I'm a snob who thinks he's above them. What? That was news to me, as I've always felt they looked down upon me. Especially considering some of their attitudes toward Mexicans. And gays. And (I'm guessing by pure extrapolation) gay marriage to Mexicans.

My cousin went on to accuse me of "starting trouble" in the family and demanded I apologize to her father.

Sigh.

Of all my family drama, past and present, it was only a matter of time before it was my turn to grab a giant spoon and help stir the pot. Yes, I'm going to apologize. But I'm also going to try to use this opportunity to foster a better mutual understanding which is obviously sorely lacking.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll get off that damn mailing list.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Year of Scruff

I know I've been slack keeping up with my blog of late, as my job has been demanding a majority of my time and attention. After putting in enough hours last week to make up for my recent trip to Chicago, I was looking forward to a relaxing weekend. As usual though, JB had made other plans.

On Saturday we went to a cookout at a friend's house in honor of some other friends visiting from Spain. I've known Pedro for several years, but this was the first time meeting his new boyfriend. They're both very nice and a lot of fun.

After an entertaining (and sexy) discussion of how Pedro and Carlos met online, I started reminiscing how it was exactly a year ago I first installed Scruff on my phone. I haven't logged into Scruff in months, but I credit the app for having made a significant impact on my life.

Believe it or not, all my hours on Scuff never resulted in any actual hookups. I've shied away from local woofs and gravitated toward hot furry men from distant lands. I treasure the friends and crushes I've made around the world, one of whom has become one of my dearest friends. In fact, it was he who convinced me to start my own blog.

Later Saturday night I fired up Scruff and logged in. I said "hi" to a few friends and went to bed. On Sunday JB made plans for us to visit some other friends for another cookout. While there, my phone started buzzing in my pocket. When I got a chance to check it, I saw several Scruff messages from a bear named "Mad Leather Cop". The pics were filthy. And hot. And familiar. Then he wrote, "My bf and I are visiting from Madrid and think you're sexy. Got any pics?"

Pedro obviously didn't know it was me he was woofing. My fault for not showing my face in my profile pic. I responded by saying "Sure..." and sending a pic of Pedro and me taken during Saturday's barbecue. We had a good laugh. This morning I noticed I had messages. More nasty pics from Mad Leather Cop.

Gulp. Logout.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This 'Too Shall Pass

Many think this saying is a biblical proverb. But it isn't found in the Bible.

"This too shall pass" (Persian: این نیز بگذرد, Arabic: كله ماشي‎, Hebrew: גם זה יעבור‎, Turkish: Bu da geçer) is a proverb indicating that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary. The phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets, and is often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by the simple words. Some versions of the fable, beginning with that of Attar of Nishapur, add the detail that the phrase is inscribed on a ring, which therefore has the ability to make the happy man sad and the sad man happy. Jewish folklore often describes Solomon as giving or receiving the phrase. The proverb and associated fable were popular in the first half of the 19th century, appearing in a collection of tales by the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and being employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became president.


This weekend I was prompted to ponder the meaning of this proverb as I took a few days off work to spend time with the Chicago branch of JB's family to celebrate the wedding of one of his nieces. I was a bit apprehensive, as my past experience with these folks has been mixed.

It helped to remind myself that we'll only be there for a few days and I resolved to make the best of the situation. While there were a few tedious moments where my separation from Jerry Springer shrank to an uncomfortable 1º, overall I had a nice time and I'm glad I went. And true enough, the long weekend is now just a memory.  Fortunately I took lots of pictures...



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Spare Room

I always think the best way to get myself out of a rut is to buy my way out of it. Some call it retail therapy, I like to look at it as investing in self-improvement. So in an effort to reclaim a room of my house, I dropped a bunch of cash on a scanner. Sure, I could have gone with paint and new furniture; and that would have been a wonderful idea. But my therapy typically comes in the form of consumer electronics.

This particular room doesn't really have a consistent name, it depends on the purpose it's currently serving. Sometimes "guest room", sometimes "office" and during the holidays, "gift wrapping room". Once or twice since moving in, it's even served as "Pac's dog house". But lately it's just known as "the junk room". With two people and at least as many cats in a 1,200 square-foot condo, it's not like we can spare an entire room just for junk.

How did it get so bad? I think part of the reason is that we haven't had house guests lately. It seems the only time I'm motivated to clean that room is when we're expecting an out-of-town friend or relative for the weekend. And even then only when their plane is on final approach. I'm sure I can dwell on the reasons for our lack of visitors, but I have enough insecurities at the moment.

I could blame JB's addiction to useless "stuff", but that wouldn't be the best argument to bring up when writing about how I self-soothe with gadgets. People who live in glass houses shouldn't have a dedicated "stone room".

Sure, there's stuff that legitimately belongs in a "spare" room. Two desks, each with an IKEA lamp and Herman Miller Aaron chair. You know, in case one of us actually needed to work and, in doing so, made the other feel left out and unimportant. In nine years we only occupied both desks once, the day we brought home the chairs. Which makes it even more ironic now that when JB wants to work on the computer, he asks me to set up the iMac on the dining room table.

Book shelves, a filing cabinet, a futon, one of those doorway chin-up racks that's never been used because it only fits one door in our place and no one wants to work out in a linen closet. There's the Cuisinart blender, KitchenAid mixer and Le Creuset cookware that never really found their place in the kitchen. Over there is JB's bike which he loves too much to keep in the garage, but not enough to ride.

And stacks upon stacks of paperwork waiting to be filed. Tax returns, receipts, statements, articles, medical records, etc. Granted, this one's all my fault. When it comes to record-keeping, I become an obsessive-compulsive hoarder. Whenever I try organizing my paperwork I break into a cold sweat, gripped with fear that I'll get audited and won't be able to show the IRS agent that lemon bar recipe I cut from the April '03 McCall's.

It's yet another personality aspect I inherited from my dad. When confronted about his stacks of trash, he would claim he not only needed every single sheet of paper, but that it was completely and systematically organized. He would take pride in being able to produce -- on a moment's notice -- a random dental record from 1978 just for the fun of it. Handy in case any of us kids went missing in the stacks.

But me? A hoarder? It's not quite how I expected to land a gig on A&E. Inside the Actor's Studio maybe, or Celebrity Ghost Stories. Sorry, Dad... This is one personality trait-slash-disorder I refuse to accept.

JB was skeptical at first that a four-hundred dollar document scanner was absolutely necessary. Did I say "skeptical"? I meant livid. But at 25 pages per minute, I was scanning old paperwork faster than my shredder could keep up. By the end of the weekend, my hoarding went 100% virtual. Unless they create a series about extreme hard drive fragmentation, you won't soon see me on TV getting extracted from my home by social workers in hazmat gear.

What a feeling to get an entire room back! It's like building an addition to my condo for the bargain price of $400. So now what? I could invite family to come visit I suppose. Or... a dungeon could be fun.