Friday, June 29, 2012

Pad Snap Friday Redux

My blog traffic has returned to a trickle after enjoying a brief spurt of Internet popularity. I'm guessing the PAC-PAD 1 (the Android tablet from Pakistan) isn't exactly taking the gadget world by storm. That, or Google's search algorithms have caught on to my evil plan to steal web traffic from the Pakistani Air Force.

In a desperate (some would say shameless) attempt to boost my flagging stats, I'm bringing back my most popular post ever. So on this, the last Friday in June, I'm reaching back one year to June 2011 to bring you a special treat.

The literary genius behind "Nice To See StevieB", StevieB is my blogger inspiration, mentor, role model and friend. And it doesn't hurt that he's hot. Smoking hot.

Last Spring StevieB experimented temporarily with moving his blog to Wordpress. Say what you will about Wordpress, it had some innovative mobile templates and was one of the first to specifically target the iPad.

Upon lightly running my finger across StevieB's bookmark, my iPad would display a summary of the five most recent blog posts. Also last June, StevieB went through an adorable phase of posting a pic of himself each morning in the same setting and pose.

A combination of the Wordpress iPad template and StevieB's morning pics resulted in this unintentional collage. Click the pic to see it in full size. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Click the pic to view full size. Do it. Do it now.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I was sitting in a meeting today when my iPhone started ringing off the hook. First it was my friend John, from Denver. Last I heard he was spending a couple months in France. Since I was busy I let it go to voice mail. But my mind started wandering, why is John calling me now?

A few minutes later, my phone rang again. This time it was my ex, Joe. Now I started getting nervous. Did something bad happen? My mind started racing though one worst-case scenario after another. Finally I excused myself from the meeting, explaining to my boss that I needed to take an urgent personal call.

I listened to Joe's message first. Then John's. Thankfully it wasn't the end of the world, just a stupid tech support call. It seems that on his way back from France, John is staying with Joe for a few days. John wanted to use Joe's wi-fi network, but kept fat-fingering the long security passphrase I wrote on a post-it note when I set up Joe's network.

Evidently, John offered to reset Joe's wi-fi password to something simpler and ended up locking the both of them out of the network. Now Joe is pissed at John and John wants me to walk him though fixing the router. I haven't called either one of them back yet, because I've had enough distractions at work for one day. We all know I'll be there tonight to fix Joe's network. All because John couldn't leave well enough alone. Jeez, you only have to type it once.

Yikes... Joe's calling again. Maybe it is the end of the world.

Dream Rut

What a stupid dream. Even though I'm not sure it was meant to be a comedy, I woke up laughing. This in turn woke up JB, who was not amused at all. "What's so damn funny?"

"I had a dream that all the gays went on strike."

"Like that John Stamos movie?"

"Seriously?? God dammit!"

JB is a walking IMDB o' the Lifetime Movie Network. Which really isn't that impressive. If you've seen one movie about a woman framed by her husband and sister for a crime she didn't commit struggle to clear her name and reclaim custody of her children, you've pretty much got the formula down.

It makes me sad I haven't had a big-screen dream in a very long time. I'm in a recycled made-for-TV rut.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Week That Wasn't

It started Tuesday morning. A mere tickle in the back of my throat. My first thought was that I was simply adapting to the comforting vapors generated when Scrubbing Bubbles gang up on Mr. Clean in a bathroom death match. But by Tuesday afternoon, there was no denying it. I was coming down with something.

From the minute I heard cats were spreading bubonic plague, I knew it was only a matter of time.

When JB got home from Lima Wednesday morning, he found me curled on the couch simultaneously sweating and shivering. "Why me?" I beseeched him.

"Do they keep it really cold in your office? That'll do it, you know. Have you been taking your vitamins? I bet you haven't."

He obviously didn't understand I was beseeching rhetorically.

At least he didn't try to blame the Evil Eye and wave his magic egg at me. Not this time. Although that might have been preferable to what happened next.

He gave me a pill and I washed it down with the bottle of water he handed me. "What did I just take?" A question I never fail to feel stupid asking. JB put on his reading glasses and held the unlabeled plastic vial of what appeared to be Skittles up to the light.

"It's either a Cloricidin, a Lunesta or a Gas-X."

"Good God! You don't even know what drugs you're giving me... my love?"

Notice how I tried to mute the end of my initially bombastic question into more of a tone of idle curiously? But it was too late. What the Starship Jumping Bean lacks in shields, she makes up for with her massive deflector array.

"You're the one who swallowed it!" he said defensively and pivoted toward the bedroom as he pulled off his tie.

And with that unassailable logic I could only look down at the plastic bottle in my hand. The generic looking label said, "Agua".

"Is this water from South America... honey-bunny?"

"If Peru's in South America, then yeah." echoed the reply through two walls. I remember thinking surely that must be sarcasm.

And then it was Thursday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Professional Help

Last weekend, while friends in other cities were participating in their local Pride celebrations, I was being domestic. JB has his sister and her family coming to visit this weekend, and since he was in Venice, Italy (drinking wine, eating the best pizza he ever had in his life, you know, working) it fell on me to tackle some household chores.

Gilbert and staff.
For years my buddy Gilbert has been offering to give me the number of his cleaning service. I listen with fascination to him describe how his team of maids files into his condo, each carrying her own weight in cleaning equipment and supplies. As the queen maid immediately begins barking orders in spanish, the worker maids obediently divide and conquer in an frenzy of dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing and polishing. Twenty minutes later the squad is filing out, leaving his home magically transformed with nary a dust mote or orphan pube in sight.

Aside from making the interaction sound eerily entomological (ironic from a man with a debilitating ant phobia) I do admit being enamored by the luxury of it all. But while I'm a huge believer in playing to my strengths by throwing money at my weaknesses, the idea of hiring a cleaning service still strikes me as a little too self-indulgent. This coming from someone who adores indulging himself.

The other day I read an article about Mrs. Beeton's classic Book of Household Management. Written over 150 years ago, whole chapters are devoted to the hiring and firing of servants. I checked to see if it could teach me how to do laundry, but all I learned was how to hire a Laundry Maid. Too bad too, a Laundry Maid would have known better than to wash the white bathmat with the maroon shower curtain.

I'm going with "I meant to do that."
I returned to Mrs. Beeton's book to see if I can fix my mistake. But instead of bleeding colors, all I could find was how to treat apoplexy by bleeding from the arm with leeches. I don't even know what apoplexy is, but if I catch it I'm sure as hell not going near any leeches.

My mother raised four kids without the help of a single servant. Relying solely on the training provided by Catholic nuns teaching Home Economics, her household management strategy was to escape into a stack romance novels with a carton of macaroons and a thermos of "apoplexy medicine". Eventually, hunger motivated me to learn how to make my own damn Kraft mac & cheese. I caught on that keeping my own room tidy was preferable to stitches and tetanus shots. And simple schoolyard peer-pressure encouraged me to maintain my own hygiene and wash my own clothes.

So I wore a lot of pink growing up. Mom raised us to be self-sufficient, and I like to think that was her strategy all along.

What's next? Hiring sumo wresters to test my home against the danger of furniture collapse?
I'm sorry, but I'm completely capable of taking care of that on my own, thank you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Abstract Art

I think studies printed in scientific and medical journals are far too dry and boring for the casual reader who might otherwise have an interest in science. The eggheads would go a long way toward communicating their findings to a larger audience if they only added a few cartoons to their papers. Let me give you an example and tell me if you don't agree...

Sildenafil accelerates reentrainment of circadian rhythms after advancing light schedules

Abstract: Mammalian circadian rhythms are generated by a master clock located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei and entrained by light-activated signaling pathways. In hamsters, the mechanism responsible for light-induced phase advances involves the activation of guanylyl cyclase, cGMP and its related kinase (PKG). It is not completely known whether interference with this pathway affects entrainment of the clock, including adaptation to changing light schedules. Here we report that cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase 5 is present in the hamster suprachiasmatic nuclei, and administration of the inhibitor sildenafil (3.5 mg/kg, i.p.) enhances circadian responses to light and decreases the amount of time necessary for reentrainment after phase advances of the light–dark cycle. These results suggest that sildenafil may be useful for treatment of circadian adaptation to environmental changes, including transmeridian eastbound flight schedules.

In this study, Viagra was found to help hamsters suffering from jet lag.

No, I'm not joking.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jeff Bean Chaps My Ass

I think I have some cash in here somewhere...
Aw, screw it. You take American Express? No?
Then keep your fucking Girl Scout cookies.
I wrote the other day about needing a new wallet after JB washed my old one. Of course, it's my fault for not taking the wallet out of my pocket. In my defense, I only planned for my pants to be off for maybe ten minutes, twenty tops. But while I invariably get the urge to nap after sex, it seems ex-smokers like to launder.

I'm currently making due with a loaner wallet from JB's sugar-mama closet.

One of JB's closest friends is a seventy-two year old chinese woman. Just one the entourage of post-menopausal groupies who glommed onto JB back when he was an aerobics instructor. (I told him over and over that his shorts were too revealing, but he seemed to like the attention.)

Recently widowed and filthy rich, Violet is constantly showering JB with random gifts she picks up on her travels. As we don't have much storage space to begin with, most of this merchandise goes directly into the sugar-mama closet.

I was surprised to find three wallets in there, still in boxes and all with designer names. While none of them met my exacting standards, only one of them was a bi-fold. As I removed the supple leather from its packaging, I found a tiny price tag tucked inside. $95? I took a closer look.

"Violet does a lot of her shopping in China, does she?" I asked JB.

"I suppose so. Why?"

"I've just never seen a genuine Geoffrey Bean wallet before is all. This would go great with that Rollex."

"Don't touch the watches! Just pick a wallet and get out of there."

It's not a bad wallet per se, trademark infringement and fair labor practices not withstanding. Even though it was the slimmest wallet I could find in the sugar-mama closet, it's still way too large and bulky for my taste. It's uncomfortable to sit on, so I find myself putting it in my desk drawer at work. Invariably, I only remember doing this as I attempt to pay for lunch.

And even after I go back to get it, I can barely see my money down in the bottom of its deep folds. Paying feels like spelunking. If that weren't enough, I feel a little self-conscious about using it in public. Like Geoffrey Beene might see me and create a scene at Starbucks.

So yesterday I spent some time shopping on the Internet for a wallet. Something minimal, yet traditional enough to tell every cashier that I know damn well how old I am. And I think I found one that fits the bill, so to speak. It's called "Slimmy". Judging by the name, I think I might like it. I'll know for sure in three to five business days.

Finally! A wallet that won't make my butt look big.
What's that? Yes, I am aware it's not a magic wallet.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Hilarious Heartbreak Of Bibliofecosis

Poor Gilbert is probably still confused.
The interesting thing about the Internet is that, no matter how odd and alone you thought you were, online you're bound to find kindred spirits with whom you can share any hobby, interest, fetish, condition, disorder and/or dysfunction one can possibly imagine. Probably millions and millions of them.

I'm not necessarily saying this is a good thing, just interesting is all.

In this particular instance I didn't need the Internet to find my kindred spirit; I shared a tent with her. As we packed up camp and loaded the sleeping bags into the car after a lovely weekend in the mountains, my BFF Julie said, "I need to stop at a book store on our way back to town."

"You need to buy a book?"

"No. I need to poop." As Julie elaborated on the reliable impact that visiting a bookstore has on her impacted colon, it began to dawn on me she wasn't being sarcastic. Then it clicked, and I suddenly felt less alone in the universe. "Wait..." I interrupted her, "book stores make you hafta poo too?"

"Oh my God, every time!" As liberating and comforting as that bonding moment was, when the dancing was over I was left with more questions than answers.

Thanks to e-publishing, constipated bibliofecophants face increasingly
limited options. For them, the future looks bleak. Don't be surprised
to soon see these people reduced to huffing Hallmarks at Walgreens.
Like anyone faced with the uncertainty of a probably trivial but possibly deadly medical condition, I turned to the Internet for reassurance that I was normal and everything was going to be okay. But that wasn't meant to be, not this time.

It turns out that Julie and I are far from the only ones plagued with this puzzling affliction. There's even a fancy latin-sounding term for it, which proves it has to be a real thing: bibliofecosis. (That is, if Urban Dictionary counts as a definitive resource, which -- when it reinforces my belief system -- I pretend it does.)

My informal online research began to reveal a pattern. For many people it's the big chain book retailers, while others find smaller, used book stores do the trick. Some have noticed that public libraries consistently pull their poo trigger. Even among those who didn't initially go there for that specific purpose.

Still others admit to being compelled to move when in a record shop, only it isn't the music making them dance. Curiously, this only applies to stores selling vintage vinyl, as the newfangled digital compact discs don't seem to produce the effect. I'm still waiting for data on iTunes downloads.

I even found more than one mention of greeting card shops, or even just a stroll down the greeting card aisle in the supermarket, prompting insistant peristalsis.

But why? What is it about being surrounded by stacks of paper, ink and glue that seems to tickle the pelvic splanchnic ganglion? While theories abound, they all fall neatly into two opposing categories: psychological vs. physiological.

Conspiracy theorists suggest
that popular potty training
books such as "Everybody
and "Once Upon
A Potty
" are actually a
desperate plot hatched by
Barnes & Noble to entice
the next generation of
customers back into their
brick and mortar stores.
Presumably compelled by
the sudden, inexplicable
urge to shit.

When asked about this
allegation, a B&N assistant
manager -- speaking on the
condition of anonymity --
first laughed, then got
kind of sad and quietly
admitted to putting fake
"out of order" signs on
all the restroom doors
during her shifts.

As you can imagine, the psychological camp leans decidingly Freudian. I've also noticed that most of the psychological explanations are expounded by people who never experienced this phenomena themselves, but feel the need to tell those who have that we're cuckoo-cuckoo-cocoa-puffs.

The most common psychological theory is that we've conditioned ourselves by reading in the john. It goes like this: If one's feeble brain repeatedly experiences the activity of reading concurrently with the activity of pooping, it will inevitably form a neural link between the two activities. Performing one would then trigger a subconscious urge to, uh... two. I call this the "Pavlov's Log Effect". (With humble credit to fandango_matt at MetaFilter, although I'd like to think I could have come up with that one on my own.)

While this may sound plausible at first blush, many bibliofeco... (bibliofecophants? ...phytes? ...philes?) Many bookstore poopers insist they've never made a habit of reading on the toilet. I myself think the PLE theory is -- pardon the term -- bullshit.

Every morning I read dozens of blogs while I sip my coffee and... Wait, bad example. Okay, at work I'm predominately a knowledge worker. If reading in the bathroom caused reading in other contexts to bring Dan Brown a-knocking, well, I guess I'd pretty much be crapping everywhere. This would have a noticeable impact on my job performance, not to mention the professional image I strive to project.

To follow through with this absurd logic, I'd also have to drop a deuce every time I launched fowl from a slingshot, or gave a pig a black eye.

The most important thing to remember about bibliofecosis is that it's not contagious.
Unless it is. In which case, the most important thing to remember is that
you didn't get it from me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Good Bi-Fold

I had to say goodbye to a dear friend last week. After JB washed my wallet, I held out hope that it could be saved. But after drying it carefully, it soon became apparent by the way it started disintegrating into tiny crumbs of leather that it was a goner.

It took me a long time to find that wallet. I still remember that day three, maybe four years ago, as clearly as if it was yesterday. Absently trolling through the Marshall's bargain bin, I didn't choose my wallet, it chose me. Like a pound puppy.

I'm kind of particular about wallets. And keys. Anything I have to carry in my pockets really. Maybe it's my gay side trying to make sure my jeans look right. I'd rather have visible panty lines than obvious pocket protrusions.

But mostly when I think about pocket cargo, I think about my dad. If I have to share any traits with my father -- and everyone says I do -- it's definitely not going to be this one.

My dad always -- from my earliest memories of him to some of my last -- carried more keys than a janitor. And his keys had more rings than the Olympics. I can still picture him reaching into his pocket, fishing around for the rabbit's foot, and pulling out the endless chain of keys like a campy birthday clown performing a magic trick. I'm guessing there were at least fifty keys in his pocket at any given time. I can't imagine he even had that many locks.

It was easy to get into trouble as a kid, because I could always hear Dad coming. And I could tell from the tone and jingle pattern if he was in a hurry or just strolling casually, allowing me to accurately estimate the urgency required to re-stash his Penthouse or pistol and assume an innocent demeanor.

He carried other things beside keys. There was the "lucky rock" he found in his youth on the shore of Lake Superior. A smooth shiny agate. I don't know if it was smooth and shiny when he found it, or if it turned that way after decades of tumbling in his pants. And always a cigarette lighter. Nothing as sentimental as the rock, just a disposable Bic. A swiss army knife. And a handful of things that served no obvious purpose, but that he knew he'd need the minute he threw them away.

In contrast, I carry the minimal about of keys I need for the current task at hand, adding or removing keys as necessary to the small flexible chain. (A metal keyring doesn't collapse right in the pocket.) I despise today's bulky electronic car keys.

And then there was Dad's wallet. More of a filing cabinet really. I still don't know how he could sit on that thing for so many years without suffering some sort of incapacitating back problem. But I don't think his generation took their posture as seriously as ours, bending over for semiannual scoliosis screenings like it was the gonorrhea of grades K-thru-8.

So now my search begins for a new wallet. My needs are deceptively simple: A bifold (triflolds need not apply) just large enough to fit a few bills of US currency and about six plastic cards, including my driver's license. I don't need a fancy laminated ID flap for my license, I'm not an FBI agent or Doctor Who.

I don't carry photos in my wallet. (And really, who does anymore?) Any sort of photo album had better be removable, because it would go straight in the bin. And please, no zippers, hidden pockets or any other bulk-enhancing fanciness.

Wish me luck.