Thursday, December 19, 2013

Santa's Pouch

This is what $250 worth of underwear looks like. How did I know what to get JB for Christmas? Easy. He took a Sharpie to the UnderGear catalog and circled the underwear models he liked. On the rest he drew mustaches, scars, eye patches and boobies. There's also a swimsuit or two in there for JB to wear on the cruise.

It was the least I could do after JB upgraded my geriatric
iPhone 4 to a 5s.

Now, in an ironic turnabout, I find myself stuffing underpants into a sock.
S

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Superstition

I'm not a superstitious person. My partner, JB, on the other hand is pathologically superstitious. A common complaint is the feeling that someone has given him "mal de ojo". The evil eye.

I've learned that laughing doesn't help him feel better. Quite the opposite, in fact. So my new course of action is to humor him while asking questions aimed at helping him recognize the actual source of his feelings of unease and paranoia.

"Evil eye? Who do you think would do such a thing to you?"

"I dunno. Could be anybody."

Well, I tried.

The primary cure for the ojo is a ritual involving a room-temperature egg and a bowl of water. The egg is passed repeatedly over the victim's body in an effort to draw out and absorb the negative energy. Like a magic ShamWow. Okay, like a magicker ShamWow.

You then crack the evil-saturated egg into the bowl of water. If the resulting soup appears to be looking back at you, you have your proof that you were cursed. And really, when does a raw egg floating in water not look eyeballish?

I've so far avoided actually performing this ritual on JB, although I did offer once. After exhausting all rational efforts, I was willing to give it a try if it would help him to feel better. But he declined, saying "I know you don't believe in that stuff."

Obviously this makes me unqualified to rub him with an egg.


Good thing JB wasn't home on Friday the 13th
when our black cat knocked over a mirror.
l

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Relighted

"Wow. It's so bright. And so... blue" JB said standing in front of the tree with his hand gripping his lower jaw. I knew what that meant.

Back in January I posted about spending an entire weekend snipping the lights out of our pre-lit artificial Christmas tree. (Delighted, January 2012.) This painstakingly anal endeavor has allowed us to wring at least one more year out of our fake tree investment. After all, this year's X-mas budget is tighter than Jack Frost's ball sack and I still have a ton of cruise-wear to purchase.

(A preliminary list of Big Gay Cruise party and T-dance themes was posted yesterday. It seems I need pirate gear and something that'll allow me to pass as a dominant top at a leather function. Oh, and gold lamé. And I still haven't come close to amassing enough swimwear for seven days.)

One expense we couldn't avoid this season however was new lights for the now-naked Christmas tree. At Target I steered JB toward the multicolor LED variety by telling him they'll last forever and pay for themselves with their energy savings. What a fool I am.

After having carefully wound eight strings of lights around our tree, I called JB into the living room for the plugging-in ceremony. It took all of five seconds for JB to declare the tree "too blue". So while I removed eight strands of blue-heavy LED lights from the faux Frasier Fir, JB went to Home Depot in search of a more balanced and subdued spectrum.

I have to admit, the incandescent lights he picked out do look better on the tree. So much warmer and prettier than LED lights. I hope they're not banned next year when half of them will inevitably need to be replaced.

This weekend I took the LED lights outside to decorate the railing of our balcony. I had to put them on a dimmer at 30% of full power to keep them from overpowering our tree and every other twinkling light in the neighborhood. And for fear the jetliners landing at Hartsfield Jackson would start diverting to Midtown. I probably shouldn't have used all eight strings.

Could be worse. It could be too red like our upstairs neighbor.
Except her place isn't decorated for Xmas. It's like that 365 days a year.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Yule Tied

During the holiday season, JB is allowed to stray ever so slightly from his standard flight attendant uniform dress code by wearing a holiday themed necktie. Last night I was shopping for an appropriate tie for him to wear to work.

I don't usually wear ties. Usually just for job interviews, weddings and funerals. But I found a tie that made me laugh and I couldn't resist buying it for myself. Now I just need a non-funeral opportunity to wear it. I really hope I get an invitation to a Christmas party.







Knowing StevieB's fondness for Christmas Penguins, I found just the right tie for him too...









Friday, December 6, 2013

The Juanita Strain, Part I

Arriving in Houston last week for Thanksgiving, JB's sister Dottie was already waiting at the airport for us. She drove us directly to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Not a real Mexican restaurant, we went to Pappasito's. Being conscious of my calorie intake, I ordered a small salad. Their small salad was still ridiculously large, but I suppose I was in Texas now. Instead of croutons, it came topped with cheese tacos.

Dot informed us that her husband, JB's brother-in-law, Juan, would have liked to join us but he wasn't feeling well. It seems he caught some sort of bug from their daughter who caught it from her sister's daughter who brought it home from school. But Dottie assured us Juan was on the mend and already in the kitchen, cooking up a storm for the next day's feast.

I felt strange imposing on them when half of the family wasn't feeling well. But Dottie was so excited to see her brother, she probably wouldn't have told us if they were all in the intensive care ward if it would have caused us to reconsider our trip.

Later that Wednesday evening all of Dottie and Juan's children and grandchildren came over for dinner. We ordered pizza because Dottie suddenly wasn't feeling well. I maybe had half a slice of the pepperoni and mushroom. I've been saving pizza as a reward meal which I wasn't even close to deserving yet. Plus I could hear Dottie vomiting through two closed doors. I didn't like the direction this holiday was heading.

The few glimpses I caught of Dot on Thanksgiving Day told me she was miserable. I recalled how only 24 hours earlier she'd given me a big wet smack square on the mouth. Rather than succumb to blind panic, I decided a scientific approach was in order. That afternoon as the various Houston-based members of JB's large extended family gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving, I surreptitiously began collecting information by asking subtle questions. Questions like:

  • "So poor little Juanita came home from school sick? What day was that, exactly?" 
  • "Sorry to hear you weren't feeling well earlier this week. When did you first start feeling ill and what were your first symptoms? Please be specific."
  • "Approximately how long between vomiting episodes? Are we talking hours? Minutes? And how many times would you say you barfed?"
  • "These bouts of vomiting and diarrhea you experienced... were they alternating or concurrent?"
  • "So you say you're still sharting? Fascinating."

Once I had enough data I began running the epidemiological calculations in my head. The results were alarming. Far from being a super-spreader, little Juanita was merely patient zero of a highly contagious, rapidly propagating outbreak, likely viral. Probably the new GII.4 Sydney strain of Norovirus I'd been hearing about. (I really need to stop spending so much time with my CDC friends.)

I then projected the results of my calculations forward into a range of likely personal impact scenarios. Of course, the best case scenario would be not getting sick at all. But I knew the probability of that was about equal to the other extreme of the bell curve: dying in a puddle of vomit and poo.

My projections weren't encouraging. The best realistic outcome I could hope for was making it all the way to early Saturday, perhaps even Saturday afternoon. That would make our scheduled flight back to Atlanta that afternoon an iffy prospect. But there was an equal chance of not even making it to Thanksgiving dinner that evening.

I decided not to share my findings with JB and hope for the best.

To be continued...



Thursday, December 5, 2013

For BosGuy

Working title: Peanuts You Bloody French Bitch

This is the clip I linked to in my previous post showing our airplane tray table. It tickles me so much I wanted to post the actual clip.

I'm sure you AbFab fans have seen this before. My cousin is in her early twenties and never heard of Absolutely Fabulous. I joked that as a FHIT (Fag Hag In Training), AbFab was essential knowledge and made her promise to watch watch at least one episode. I suggested the episode from which this clip is taken. Now she's hooked.

Several attempts have been made to port this show to American television, but nothing ever gained traction. I suppose that's probably for the best. It's hard to imagine an American version being as funny.

I know the British accents along with all the slang and the pop-culture references make the dialog hard to follow. But in this case it makes this show even more enjoyable for me. I can watch the same episode over and over and each time pick up more of the humor. It just keeps getting funnier.

I'm dedicating this clip to BosGuy and his partner Sergio who are wrapping up what by all accounts appears to be an absolutely fabulous vacation in Brazil. Call it a hunch, but I get the feeling BosGuy also relates to this...






Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pie In The Sky

Since JB and I hosted my family last Thanksgiving, it was only fair that this year we spend the holiday with his family. So Wednesday morning we left the house with bags packed and one of JB's home-made pecan pies in hand. We walked four blocks to the nearest Marta station and took the train to the airport.

Exiting the security screening area juggling my duffel bag, coat, shoes, belt, laptop, ziplock baggie of liquids and a fucking pie; I made a comment under my breath that his family better appreciate said fucking pie.

"What did you say?"

Oops. The only time JB's artificial hip ever slows him down is when TSA agents wand his groin for ten minutes, so I was not expecting him to be right behind me. Then again, I wasn't expecting to be carrying an aluminum wrapped container with the same approximate density as plastic explosives through airport security on the busiest travel day of the year.

"Your family is going to love your wonderful pie!" I answered.

"It's not for them," JB said in a tone that indicated he wasn't fooled by my feeble attempt to cover my ass. I shut up and concentrated on literally keeping my pants up with my arms loaded until I could find a spot to put myself back together.

It turns out the pie was for the flight attendants working our flight to Houston. I was impressed by JB's thoughtful gesture toward his colleagues. Until I realized the real method to his madness when the free drinks started coming and didn't stop.

I wasn't really planning to get tipsy at 10:30am, but the relief of getting a seat on the plane, the prospect of spending four days with in-laws and the baby in the row behind me screamed me into it.

That explains why our tray table always ends up looking
like Edina's and Patsy's every time we fly.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm spending the holiday at JB's sister's house in Houston watching a stomach virus fell one member after another of the large extended family. My wish was to be able to make it through Thanksgiving dinner and dessert before falling victim to the scourge. It's Friday morning and I'm still feeling fine, and for that I'm thankful.


I probably would have eaten less if I hadn't assumed my body would never get a chance to absorb those calories.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Buzz

I have a ritual I turn to in those times when I'm feeling stuck. Like I've lost my momentum and I'm not sure how to get it back. And I'm juggling too many things at once and need to prioritize. When the things that I want to do don't cleanly mesh with the things I need to accomplish. For when I've taken my eyes off my long term goals and I need to refocus.

I shave my head.

Then, for a few days, each glimpse of my reflection shakes me back into awareness. Every breeze and raindrop is a reminder. Each time I get my shirt stuck on my stubble as I'm getting undressed is allegorical.

Then it starts to grow back.






Monday, November 18, 2013

Cycles

Last post I wrote about my love of the night sky. This one focuses on the Moon. Astronomers have a love/annoyance relationship with our natural satellite. On one hand, the Moon makes for an interesting target of study all on it's own. On the other, it's intense luminosity often drowns out the heavens making observations difficult.

Fortunately the Moon's orbit creates a predictable cycle that ranges between full and bright to dark and invisible. With clockwork precision, we get to experience both extremes and everything in between.

This lunar cycle is burned into our very core. It not only influences our language, folklore, calendar, art and poetry; it's been coded into our DNA since before our distant ancestors left their tidal pools to walk on dry land.

It's remarkable how unique our Moon is. While there are plenty of other moons in our solar system, it's the largest moon relative to its planet. For billions of years our Moon has kept the Earth's orbit stable enough to develop and support life. We can say with near certainty that we wouldn't be here if not for our constant planetary companion.

We had a gloomy, rainy weekend here in Atlanta, so I didn't get to see last night's full moon. My buddy, Gilbert, is visiting San Francisco and sent me this pic of the Moon rising over that beautiful city.


But I didn't need Gilbert to tell me the moon was full. You see, I've been keeping track.

A few weeks ago I was playing with the SkyWalk app on my iPad. With idle curiosity I decided to dial it forward it to February, 2014 to see what the sky would look like when our cruise leaves Miami. It turns out the Moon will be just a few hours past full, and just breaking the eastern horizon as the ship is scheduled to set sail at 7 PM.

This is how the sky will look on the third Full Moon from now.
This morning around 6:30 AM I was driving to work when the rain stopped. I saw the clouds break and there above the highway hung the moon. Just a few hours past full and about to set.




Friday, November 15, 2013

Looking Up

Living in the city, my best view of the night sky is
the StarWalk app on my iPad.
One thing I miss from growing up in Upper Michigan is the night sky. Being miles from the nearest street light, we took full advantage of having a free planetarium right outside our door. And sometimes even the windows. My bedroom had high, west-facing windows that reached up to the peak of the roof. When I wasn't asleep I was counting the identifiable constellations and stars in transit.

I feel blessed remembering how lunar eclipses and meteor showers were family events which warranted a temporary bedtime waiver and my mom's homemade kettle corn. One of my fondest memories is of being lifted out of bed by my dad, just getting home from his midnight shift, to witness a breathtakingly spectacular display of Northern Lights.

When I got older, eight or nine, I got a reflecting telescope for Christmas. I remember how excited I was to see the rings of Saturn, the moons around Jupiter and to explore the craters of the moon silhouetted along its terminator. By the time I came inside my clothes would be soaked with dew.

I spent my last night before leaving for college with a high school friend laying on a dock jutting out over her family's mirror-still lake, pointing at the satellites and meteors flinging between the constellations. After graduating from college, just before moving to Ohio for my first real job, I spent a night in a sleeping bag on the beach in front of my grandparent's cottage on Lake Michigan. I'll never forget how awesomely beautiful the sky was that night.

I haven't spent many nights since then looking at the sky. Urban living has its opportunities, but stargazing isn't one of them. On the best of nights I can see a few of the brightest stars and planets from the balcony of my condo in Atlanta. Occasional camping trips to the North Georgia mountains or rare visits back to the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin are the only glimpses that come close to the majesty I remember from my childhood.

I saw Comet Hale-Bopp on a trip back to Upper Michigan. I wasn't looking for it, and I wasn't even sure what it was at first until remembering the news reports. Some crazy cult believed they could hitch a ride on the comet by committing mass suicide. Freaks. I wasn't going home to stargaze. That was 1997, back when my mom first got sick.

But now we have a new comet visiting our neck of the solar system. Comet ISON is coming in hot to swing around the Sun on Thanksgiving Day. They say if it survives that hairpin turn, it may become spectacularly bright. Maybe even the "Comet of the Century". That would surly beat any Christmas light display your neighbor could come up with.

That's still a big "if" at this point. There's also a chance it break up during it's first ever encounter with our Sun.  Either way, we'll know for sure in a few weeks. I have my fingers crossed for Comet ISON. I'd rather not let Hale-Bopp be the comet of the century.

Fare thee well, Comet ISON. Try not to kill too many crazy people while you're here.




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up

My bachelor weekend wasn't nearly the action-packed "freekend" I envisioned. Despite my modest efforts, the only trouble I managed to get into was blowing my discretionary budget on underwear.

The final payment on the cruise is coming up next week and between this and the ongoing kitchen renovations, I've had to tighten my belt a bit. Figuratively and literally... I can now use the smallest notch on my belt! But I don't because that causes my now-loose jeans to cinch up around my waist which looks so Jethro. So I figure I can either spend money on new jeans, slacks and belts or just buy nicer shorts to show off when my pants fall down.

On my way to the gym Saturday I stopped at a small clothing shop called "The Boy Next Door". I've been meaning to check out their swimwear selection. I was a bit intimidated by the, uh, skimpiness of some of the swimwear to actually try anything on. I decided I'm going to wait until just before the cruise to round out my swimsuit lineup. But only after first stopping for a couple of margaritas for courage.

Instead I left the gay boutique with $70 worth of underpants.

Saturday evening I accepted an invitation to watch the Alabama/LSU game at "Woofs", a local bear/sports bar. I would spend a lot more time at Woofs if it wasn't so dang smoky. They seem to be one of the last holdouts as most of the bars and clubs have gone smoke-free. I had to immediately do laundry and take a shower when I got home that night. Even my new underpants smelled of cigarette smoke.


I figure I'd save you from having to ask for a picture.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jesus Take The Wheel, Part I don't know let's say 133

The only thing not incredibly horribly sad about this story is the name of the town. Pflugerville.

If only someone could have seen this coming a thousand miles away. What surprises me is that all Killeen's pastors weren't killed.


"A Killeen church said three of its pastors were killed in a crash on Texas 130 near Texas 45 in Pflugerville on Thursday night.
"Grace Christian Center said on its website that “Pastors Terry, Jan and Steve” were driving from the airport. 
"Witnesses told police that one of the passenger van’s tires blew out, forcing the vehicle to leave the roadway and into a “violent roll into the median” about 7 p.m. Thursday.

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/killeen-church-says-3-members-killed-in-crash/nbLmR/

I can't stop saying it.  Pflugerville.





Friday, November 8, 2013

Freekend

It's a universal rule that the junior members of any group or organization get the dregs after the less junior members have their pick. As my partner JB gradually gains more and more seniority in his job as a flight attendant, he's more often able to hold his choice of plum rotations.

Now he's not what we call a "Senior Mama". Even after twenty-plus years, there are still a lot of senior mamas ahead of him. Some of whom I suspect once partied with Wilbur and Orville.

Whenever flight attendants gather, and if the topic of conversation should happen to drift to their jobs... HA! Oh my! Sorry, I couldn't keep a straight face there. Oh how I crack myself up...

As I was saying, whenever flight attendants gather they talk incessantly of nothing but their jobs.

For myself as an outsider, socializing with two or more flight attendants is like being in a car with a radio that only picks up NPR. Most of it is "blah blah duty free blah blah beverage cart blah blah asshole pilot blah blah blah" with the occasional interesting segment that usually starts just as you pull into your parking space.

The stories I really enjoy are the ones the Senior Mamas tell of the golden age of passenger aviation. Did you happen to see any of the television series, Pan Am? It's exactly like that except interesting enough to be picked up for a second season.

I'm always enthralled with their tales of adventure, imagining what these Senior Mamas were like as rambunctious teenage stewardesses with their original hair color. When their overnight bag was nothing more than a purse big enough for a bikini and birth control pills. When they would bond over group-vomitings before their biweekly weigh-ins. When they had to help hand-prop the planes while hungover on the hot Havana tarmac.

No, JB is not a Senior Mama. Not yet. But his years have earned him a modicum of control over his schedule and, for him, that means holding weekends off. Now don't get me wrong, I love JB and I enjoy the time we spend together.

But there's this thing about people who spend their 12 work days per month traveling to places like Barcelona and Dublin... First, the term "weekend" loses its significance. Other than happening to begin with the letter "S", they're just two other days of the week. Second, home is supposed to be dullsville. A place to unwind from their latest adventure and to catch up on the errands, chores and workouts leading up to their next.

I treasure my weekends with JB. But every once in a while I like to spend a weekend having adventures of my own. When I can sleep late if I want. Set my own schedule, or not. Maybe get together with my friends and leave the vacuuming and ironing for Sunday night. Maybe even Monday.

And this, my friends, happens to be one of those increasingly rare weekends. A free weekend. (A "freekend" if you will.) Before leaving for the airport today, JB made me promise to stay out of trouble while he's gone. Without asking for an explicit definition of the word "trouble", I agreed.




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hold The Door!

Every few months we get one of these emails at work. Another creeper incident. They call them "office creepers" and the M.O. of this species of criminal is to walk into busy office buildings in broad daylight like they belong there. They then raid the offices, cubicles and supply closets of small, high-value items and walk back out before everyone realizes their iPhones are gone while the BlackBerrys remain untouched.

The emails usually come with attached security camera screen-snaps of the creeper in action, often with oblivious coworkers cast as unwitting extras in the background.

"Look at him follow Kristy through the side door. Oh, and there's Thomas holding the elevator for him. Tom's so polite, what a dork! Hey Saeid, isn't that your laptop? Wait, was I carrying an iPad when I walked in here?"

Each missive ends with an admonishment to be on the lookout for office creepers. Do not let anyone without a badge "tailgate" behind you through an entrance. Always confront those who doesn't have their badge prominently displayed. Anyone seeking admittance without a badge must be directed to sign in with the receptionist.

Great. On top of everything else I do around here, I'm supposed to handle security too? I'm an engineer for cryin' out loud. Do I look like I went to mall cop school? Don't answer that.

Seriously though, the problem with asking the employees to police each other is that it requires them to unlearn so many of the things they've been taught not to do...

Remember that mandatory, three-day "Diversity in the Workplace" seminar? Well, I suppose it's okay to judge people a little based on their appearance, dress, grooming, perceived level of education, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation... basically whatever triggers that gut instinct they just don't belong. But only if you suspect they might actually be a criminal, behaving with criminal intent, or acting, you know, squirrely.

Oh, and HR wants to see you. Something about a "third strike".

And everything your parents drummed into you about politely holding doors open for others? Really? Did your mommy dress you and pack your lunchbox today too?

Here's the new entry etiquette: Before entering the building, scan your surroundings, being sure to glare suspiciously at other people. After swiping your badge, wait for the sound of the beep followed shortly by the click of the security latch solenoid. Now, crack the door open a few inches and toss in your laptop bag. Slowly and carefully continue opening the door just enough to fit your beer gut, glare suspiciously one more time, then shimmy through the opening. Once you've successfully slipped inside, turn your upper body and push your shoulder against the door with all your might to re-secure the latch. If the door fails to latch, check that the doorjamb isn't blocked by the fingers or toes of criminals/co-workers attempting to follow you in.

The other day I was leaving the office. The second the door closed behind me I realized I didn't have my security badge clipped to my pocket. As I stood there frantically patting myself down, an attractive young woman exited right behind me. We didn't know each other, but I figured the fact that we just left the same office building might establish us in her mind as co-workers. I explained my predicament and asked if she could swipe me back in to look for my badge. As my luck would have it, another creeper alert had just gone out that morning. With a heart bursting with company loyalty, she dutifully told me to go fuck myself.

Did I roll my eyes? Did anyone hear me complain? That's not relevant to this story. The point is that I followed the rules and finally tracked down a security guard at the far side of the parking lot listening to talk radio in his truck.

The next day I was on my way to a meeting in a neighboring building of our sprawling, suburban office campus. This particular entrance is guarded by a receptionist so there's no electronic badge reader. Instead you hold up your badge at eye level, Agent Mulder style, as you walk past the receptionist's desk while her cyborg implant instantly scans your creds against a database of known office creepers, stapler thieves and butt xeroxers. If you come up clean, she nods and you continue on your way. I'm not sure what happens if you don't.

Only on this day the receptionist, who may or may not be an ex-navy seal, had her eyes closed. I thought about asking if she was okay, but didn't want to be the one to embarrass her if she was merely sleeping on the job. (Damn, that politeness again. It's bound to be the death of me or someone in my general proximity.)

I decided to interpret her sustained nod as a grant of admission and made my way to the elevator lobby. I could only assume the growing crowd waiting for the next lift were equally unverified as well. Fortunately the elevator requires passengers to swipe their badges before they can select a floor.

Then, just as the doors were beginning to close, in stepped an Asian man carrying a large cardboard tray full of mu shu pork cartons and rice boxes. "Five please," he said, looking in my direction. Gulp. The Executive Level. What to do? Security protocol clearly dictates I send him back to sign in with the receptionist he obviously just bypassed. But the poor dear so needs her rest...

"Five please," he repeated louder, as if my problem was a hearing one.

I sighed, swiped my badge, and pressed the 5 button, the whole while promising myself this would be my absolute last racial profiling. Ever. Cross my heart.

I spent the next couple days half-expecting to see my low-res surveillance photos in the next edition of Creeper Weekly. Forever branded the guy who swiped in the notorious mastermind of the Atlanta branch of the Chinese mafia to abscond with the CEO's iPhone and scotch tape dispenser.








Monday, November 4, 2013

Breakfast, Day 104

I just did the math and realized that tomorrow I will be on my diet plan for 15 weeks. I remember day one like it were yesterday.

At the beginning of October I switched from the 7-day-a-week plan to the 5-day plan. There were several reasons for this. One was that JB started Good Measure Meals with me, but he wasn't willing to commit to the 7-day plan. Being on a diet plan is very challenging for him when he usually spends three for four days a week away from home. Being on our own on the weekends gives us a buffer to catch up eating any meals he wasn't able to pack and take with him during the week.

Also, with October party weekends such as Gay Pride and Halloween coming up, I knew I was going to occasionally be straying from my diet. But the main reason was that it seemed the time was right to begin the process of weaning myself off the prepared meal plan and planning meals on my own.

The idea of course is that I'll choose healthy, balanced, well-proportioned meals similar to those I've been enjoying from Good Measures. Unfortunately it hasn't been working out that way. After being on the diet five days during the week, the weekend becomes a free-for-all. Last evening I gave into my basest of animal cravings and went to Fox Bros. BBQ. I did this after reading a review in Atlanta Magazine which declared their Frito Pie "Heaven in a bag." (It was.) I followed this up with one of my favorite desserts. (This I ate from a bowl ladylike.)

This morning I'm picking at my healthy Hummingbird Pancakes with a Frito Pie and Banana Pudding hangover. And I'm making a commitment to buckle down hard for the next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

I've been making great progress. I'm down 7% in body fat since last Spring. The results of my recent physical were the best ever, with all my numbers are in the normal range. (With the exception of low Vitamin-D.) The doctor didn't even bother trying to talk me into actually taking the Lipitor he keeps prescribing. That in itself is a huge victory.

So I'm not getting down on myself. I know I deserved that Frito Pie and Banana Pudding. But now it's time for me to get back on track. Because my work isn't finished. 104 days down, 103 days to go...

Doctor's orders: Get more sunshine!




Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Scary Job

I can't think of any job scarier than a Window Washing Werewolf's. With the possible exception of being the Assistant Regional Account Manager in Suite 430B right about now.


Ironically I was watching this alongside a Spiderman who was safely on the sidewalk next to me.




Happy Halloween

I don't believe in ghosts or spirits. But I do think the memories of departed loved ones can manifest themselves in our thoughts and emotions and influence the thousands of tiny, unconscious decisions we make each day. All of us are haunted by the joys, sorrows, regrets and triumphs of our pasts. But it's often the simplest expressions of affection that linger. The squeeze of a hand, an unexpected kindness, a whispered "I love you". Embrace the herenow because the interactions we have with each other today have the potential to embody a memory that lives hereafter.

I don't believe in demons. But I do believe in human beings and, being human, I'm apprehensive of the future unknown, afraid of the bad intentions of others and spooked by my own capacity for evil. But fear is not a reason to abandon reason. The effort of inventing monsters to explain and externalize the darkest parts of ourselves only denies us the best part about being human: our capacity for great good and our freedom of will to choose light over darkness and love over hate. For when we create devils into which to scapegoat the worst part of ourselves, we must inevitably create angels into which to banish the best, relinquishing responsibility and control of both in the process. We become nothing more than dry leaves drifting to the whims and mercies of invisible forces of our own creation or, worse, the creation of others.

This doesn't mean I'm not afraid of things that go bump in the night. It's just that in my experience, it's me stubbing my toe on the way to the bathroom.

And that is why I sleep with a nightlight.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chin Up

StevieB wrote an excellent post a few weeks back that I've been thinking about ever since. (Inspired Alignment). In it he writes about the excuses people make to avoid staying fit, and what inspires and motivates him to get to the gym. It made me think about my own motivation. And my excuses.

I admit to being one of those who suffers from gym insecurity. I suspect it's left over baggage from middle school P.E. class. To this day I can't hang from a chin-up bar without seeing someone behind me with a clipboard saying, "Done? Okay, we'll round that up to 2. Next!"

I know it's not completely rational, I understand that. I know the last thing on the radar of the other people in the gym is how fit I look or don't look, what kind of socks I'm wearing, the number of plates I'm using, my squat form, the size of my sweat puddle, the lewd noises I make under concentric load, etc., etc.

Or is it? After all, I can't deny I occasionally catch myself observing and, yes, sometimes judging them in one or more of these categories.

I know I'm making assumptions, but part of me thinks it's easy for someone like Stevie to dismiss the power of personal insecurity as a gym demotivator. He's hot and built like a brick Oklahoma storm shelter. I could work hours every day and not have biceps or pecs like that. And those glutes... I can't look at 'em without the urge to play them like bongo drums, Matthew McConaughey style.

But the thing about personal insecurities is that they're, well, personal. (Unless you blog.) I have no idea what goes through the mind of anyone else in the gym, but it's a very self-centered thing to worry about. And even if they are judging me, what they think doesn't put weight on my bar.

I have to remind myself that a small but not insignificant fraction of that StevieB hotness is the result of years of dedication and discipline. Even if that does entitle him today to feel totally secure about himself inside a crowded gym doing concentration curls in front of the mirror wall, I suspect he may not have started out feeling that way.

And he didn't let that stop him.




Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Fuzz

As of a few hours before the Halloween party last evening I still had no idea what I was going to wear. I was beginning to resign myself to spending the evening in the Disturbing Penguin mask. Then on a whim JB and I stopped at one of those Halloween shops that pop up in abandoned Rite-Aids this time of year. In there I saw this costume and it reminded me of the conversation last Halloween I had with my friend about dressing up as a bachelorette party stripper cop.

If I had more time I would have gotten hold of some tear-away velcro pants and a g-string. Maybe next year.

Not my real chest hair.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Let's Get Physical

I needed to schedule a physical by the end of the year. When I called in September I was told that the first opening my doctor had was February 2014. Seriously?

This never would have happened with Dr. DILF. Oh how I miss him. He always found time to fit me in. I could email him a photo of a weird looking rash and never had to wait long for a response. Once he replied from a ship off the coast of Antarctica. What he was doing there, he never said. Probably stuffing Lipitor in mackerel and feeding them to penguins with cardiovascular risk factors. Because that's the kind of guy he was.

I explained to the woman on the phone that it was important for insurance reasons that I get the physical done this year. After some time she was able to set me up with my doctor's colleague's physician assistant.

This morning I showed up early for my appointment, filled out the paperwork and was ushered to a wing of the office I've never seen before. I was weighed and measured, given a gown and told to undress. The PA was nice enough. I never had full physical exam by a woman before, but we're all professionals here.

But when it came time for my hernia check and prostate exam, the PA called in a nurse. I guess she didn't want to be alone in the room with me while she violated me. It was kind of surreal.

(Weirder even than the time my insurance changed and I had to switch to a doctor referred to me by my friend, Larry. That guy gave me a surprise prostate exam while I was lying on the examination table. One minute he's palpating my spleen asking "Does this hurt?" and the next he was spreading my cheeks. I called Larry when I got home, my voice still quivering. Seems Larry didn't see anything strange about that. I told Larry he needs to find a new doctor.)
I guess that would explain the
O'Keeffesque decor.
And the gown.

My genital and prostate exam this morning took twenty seconds that felt like twenty minutes. In case you were wondering, my prostate is fine. And my penis always looks like that around women.

Maybe it's just me, but the worst part of a prostate exam comes when they hand you the tissues. And then just stand there talking to you while you're supposed to remove the excess lube from your crack, the whole while expected to hold up your end of the conversation.

So you wipe, but then of course the biohazard trash can is all the way across the room and your underpants are around your ankles. I'm beginning to suspect doctors live to watch that.

Except Larry's doctor. He wipes you.

As I left, a little shaken but with a clean bill of health, I stopped to look at the sign outside the office. My doctor's colleague is a gynecologist?





Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Modern Conveniences

This morning while packing my lunchbox, I stooped to retrieve my breakfast and lunch from the wine chiller only to find it full of wine. Of all things. I found my missing meals luxuriating inside our spacious new refrigerator. Wow, I thought, life is returning to normal.

Not quite. The new refrigerator is in the foyer next to the bathroom door. It's still wearing its appliance condom as JB refuses to let me peel the clear protective sheath off the stainless steel until the fridge is safely ensconced in its new fridge hole. We still have no idea when that will be.

The new appliances were delivered Friday. To give you some idea how poorly laid out the existing kitchen is, the delivery guys struggled quite a while to remove the old, broken down fridge. I tried my best to help a little by disconnecting the gas stove the night before, since that needed to be moved out of the way before the fridge could be slid out of it's niche. But then we discovered there was no way the fridge would fit through the entrance of the kitchen, even with the fridge doors removed.

We ended up hoisting the fridge over the counter and sliding it across into the living room. When that ugly old thing was finally out of the house, the guy asked if I wanted them to take the stove too. I hadn't considered that because a new stove was not one of the appliances we purchased. But I decided I may as well take advantage of their offer and gave them an extra $20 to haul it away.

So we now have no stove and a fridge that doesn't fit into our empty husk of a kitchen. We're seeing a few more contractors this week, but it's going to be a quite some time before normalcy returns to Casa Midtown.

In the meantime I'm attempting to embrace the process and focus on the positives. For example, a brand new kitchen will be well worth the temporary turmoil. I now have a place to keep my food and my wine. And a guy could really get used to being able to reach the refrigerator from the toilet.





Monday, October 21, 2013

"I'm A Big Ol Bear!"

I'm looking for a costume for a Halloween party next weekend. I'm kind of over the horse head mask. And the unicorn head mask. I do have a penguin head mask I haven't worn yet, but it's way more disturbing than the others. It looks like something Hitchcock would have dreamed up had he included murderous penguins in his aviarsonal. Not only does its beak look like it could accidentally peck somebody's eyeball out, it's menacing expression suggests it has every intention of doing exactly that.

I started looking online for a kinder, cuddlier costume when I came across a cute fuzzy bear costume. I love it, but I'm not sure I want to spend that much for a Halloween costume. Although I suppose I could maximize my investment by attending Furry parties and conventions. Heck, a bear costume might even come in handy on the Big Gay Cruise. (Relax Stevie, I'm joking.)

The reason I like this costume so much is because it reminds me of the kid in The Onion video: "Finding Masculine Halloween Costumes for your Effeminate Son":



I browsed online for a while looking at different options. Slutty cop. Slutty pirate. Slutty alter boy. I began to realize Amazon's recommendation algorithms have my sense of humor computed to a high degree of accuracy when they suggested this unlikely combination of items...




I would totally spend $38.66 to go to a party dressed as Daffy Christ. "Judath... you're dithpicable!"




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Man With Something Extra

I started replying to comments on yesterday's post, but decided this deserved a post of its own.

Blobby: "As it stands, even if successful, 1 out of 3 Gregs are not the best odds. Better to cut your losses and run from anyone with that name. : )"

Talk about odds, TWO of the Gregs had three nipples! Now I never judge someone by physical characteristics he has no control over. But...

Jeez man! Unless tweaking that thing gave me a full-body orgasm, I would have made an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon before it grew its first hair.

Have you been with a guy with an extra nipple? It's awkward. It's not like I expect anyone to bring it up in casual pre-coital conversation. ("You enjoy nipple play? Well then, have I got a treat for you!") So unless the A/C is blasting, it's almost always going to be a surprise.

And when things get intimate, you're never sure if you're supposed to ignore the thing or give it equal time. No matter which choice you make, you're going to start second-guessing yourself. Usually when you're suckling his abs. (Some guys have treasure trails, other's have milk lines.)

My advice, should you ever find yourself with a polytheliac: Pause a moment to discuss the elephant in the room. Try to put yourself in his shoes. Express genuine interest and curiosity. Excitement even, if you can. Ask if he gets stimulation from playing with it. If he does, go for it! And if he doesn't, ask why on earth it's still there.

According to Wikipedia, one in eighteen men has an "accessory nipple". (I adore that term! Accessory nipple. Actually makes it sound like something you'd see a surgeon to have added rather than removed. I picture Rob Lowe's character on Behind the Candelabra throwing in a free accessory nipple with every chin implant.)

Wait... One in eighteen???

So why am I giving advice to you sluts? You should be telling me. And to the one of my readers who has a 33% chance of rocking an accessory nipple: I love you man, stand proud and don't ever change!

BosGuy: "I love this post, and by the way, WTF you doing w my buddy Damian anyway?"

Damian was my dermatologist's assistant calling with my lab results. That suspicious mole... accessory nipple.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The L-Bomb

BosGuy has an interesting post about the "L" word. No, not that L-word. It was about being hesitant to be the first one in a relationship to say "I love you". Although I suppose it could apply to lesbians too. But where I imagine it's part of their initial mating ritual, gay men seem very timid about prematurely dropping the L-bomb... or having it dropped on them.

BosGuy's perspective is that he doesn't understand this hesitancy. Granted, he's in a long-term relationship. As am I. At this point in my relationship, "I love you" seems hardly more than just another way of ending a telephone conversation, interchangeable with "Catch ya on the flip side" or "Tootles!"

And it's the perfect text message for those times when you want your life partner to know you're thinking of them but you have no other information of significance to convey. Such as, "Don't forget to make an appointment to get that suspicious mole checked" or "Someone named Damian called for you. Who the fuck is Damian?"

In which case "I love you" is the reply.

But I remember being single and in the dating pool, and I can recall very well that feeling of trepidation and apprehension. Once I went out with this guy, Greg. (The third Greg. Not the first Greg with the third nipple, the second one. I mean, the second Greg with a third... 'Kay, not important.) We'd been dating for about three months and spending every night together.

Smart, handsome, funny and professionally successful, Greg 3 was exactly the kind of guy I always dreamed would fall in love with me back in the thirteen-year-old-girl dreams I had in my early twenties. Okay, he was a little shorter than I dreamed. And if I did dream about nipples I'm pretty sure there were exactly two. But otherwise Greg 3 fit the fantasy.

The problem was that my tween-age dreams were always of the handsome prince falling in love with me and taking me away to live happily ever after. When they really should have been about us falling in love with each other.

One night over a romantic candlelit dinner, I began to suspect Greg 3 was about to drop the L-bomb and immediately my stomach went into knots. And when he said those words, I freaked. Internally. On the outside I was cool as a cucumber. Only when a cucumber has cold sweats, it's called "condensation". I forget my exact response but it was probably something like, "Oh... that's so sweet! Like that dessert tray. I don't know about you but that tiramisu is calling my name."

A banana split would have been more symbolic. Within a week Greg 3 and I were history.

For the life of me I can't recall when JB and I first said "I love you". Or even who said it first to whom. All I can surmise is that it must have been the exact right thing to say and the exact right thing to hear at the exact right moment in time.






Monday, October 14, 2013

Rocking With The Fishes


Pride weekend was a blast. The weather was perfect and it really seemed like a good time was had by all. And the Friday night kick-off party at the Georgia Aquarium is always a good time.

I wound up with a couple of extra tickets but was easily able to find some takers waiting outside to get in. The guy was so grateful to be able to join his friends inside, he wanted to pay me for the tickets. I said I was just happy they were going to get used, so he offered to buy me a drink inside. I was surprised when he followed through on his promise, not once but several times that evening.

One of my favorite moments from the party was giving my buddy Gilbert a hard time. The guy has no poker face and I can always tell the instant he sees something he likes or smells something he doesn't. At one point I noticed him squirming and asked him what his problem was. He insisted we relocate to a different section of the aquarium. Turns out he was dodging an ex.



 
As he attempted to keep a low profile in the crowded, festive ballroom, I noticed a slideshow being projected onto every wall in the facility. I then read a sign explaining that the photos being displayed were a live stream of random Instagram pics tagged with #AtlantaPride.

It only took another minute before Gilbert's face was on all the big screens. It took him all of ten seconds to incriminate me in the dastardly plot to out him to four thousand of Atlanta's gays, a healthy percentage of whom might be happy to throw a drink in his face.

I was guilty as hell, of course.



Love to see Coca-Cola getting in on the festivities.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Parade

What a beautiful weekend for Pride in Atlanta, and this morning feels the most perfect of all. Getting ready for the parade today, I was reminded of a moment from last year. After the long, stretched-out parade ends, the spectators fill in behind the last float and follow it down the parade route to Piedmont Park. This is when the truly massive scale of Atlanta's Pride attendance becomes evident.

Pride brings in people from hundreds of miles of the surrounding South. I forget what an incredible island of tolerance I live in and how different gay life is once you drive just a few miles outside of Atlanta.

I watched the parade next a couple of young women from North Georgia. I'm guessing they were about 18 or 19 years old and they told us how much they were really enjoying their visit to Atlanta for Pride. When the parade ended, we watched the throng of spectators walk past and waited for an opening to join in. There were hundreds of thousands of happy people walking down Tenth Street.

One of our new friends turned to me and said something I can't forget: "This many people can't all be wrong."

"What?" I asked. I noticed there were suddenly tears in her eyes as she added, "I mean, God wouldn't send this many people to hell, would he?"

I flashed back to a time long ago when those exact kind of questions weighed heavily on my mind. In that moment my empathy kicked into high gear. I knew exactly what she was feeling and which pieces of her life-long baggage she was beginning to consider tossing overboard. And all I could do was hug her.

"No He wouldn't," I whispered in her ear. "There's no way."







Monday, October 7, 2013

The Frigidaire Gap

From the minute we moved into our condo, we knew the kitchen would need work. The layout was awkward with lots of wasted space. The refrigerator was tucked between a laundry closet and the counter, making the far corner of the countertop and the cabinets beneath totally unusable. If that weren't enough, the refrigerator would shift and its door would slam into the oven door handle, eventually knocking it completely off.

But at least our freezer had an ice-maker. Until one day in 2008 when the delicate mechanism built itself a solid ice cocoon and slipped into cryogenic hibernation. I kept waiting for it to emerge as a beautiful crushed ice dispenser. It never did. Since then I've been manually filling ice cube trays with tap water and transferring them across the kitchen, trying my best not to spill the entire way. Like a caveman.

And two weeks ago when the rest of our fridge's internal workings joined the ice-maker in frosty heaven (I hope), we knew it would be kind of silly to just stick a new fridge in the same awkward place. Even if we were so inclined, the dainty size of our fridge-hole drastically limits our replacement options. Refrigerators, like the Americans who feed from them, have gotten nothing but wider since our basic almond freezer-on-top Frigidaire left the assembly line in the 80's.

Fortunately we weren't without back-up refrigeration. I removed the bottles from our wine chiller and turned it down to 40°. This has been where we've been keeping our pre-packaged Good Measure meals. Last week during a gym workout I complained to Gilbert about the eroding standard of living at Casa Midtown:
"Our refrigerator is dead and I can't even get it out of the kitchen without first disconnecting the gas range and pulling that out of the way. The only fridge I can find that would fit is from some kid's dorm on Craig's List. I have no way to make ice cubes and no freezer to keep them. And there are wine bottles all over my house."
"Wine bottles all over? How's that different than any other day?" he quipped.
"These are full."
For the past two weekends JB and I have been shopping for refrigerators. My only requirement is an ice-maker. It doesn't need to crush the ice or expel it through a door orifice into my waiting glass. I just need consistently formed cubes which don't stick together when I reach for a handful. It's been two weeks since I've heard the soothing sound of ice clinking in a manhattan glass. Do you know what that does to a guy? Two weeks!

For his part, JB seemed completely ambivalent. He shot down my first suggestion: the high-end touchscreen model preloaded with helpful kitchen apps. As I fully expected him to. I learned long ago to always lead with the Papa Bear option and let Goldilocks believe that rejecting the Baby Bear choice was her idea.

But then, in the second Home Depot, he pulled the handle on a gleaming, stainless steel Samsung side-by-side. The interior LED lighting ramped from 0 to 100% illumination, casting sparkling ripples in the pools forming in his gorgeous brown puppy-dog eyes. I could almost hear the choir of angels harmonizing in his ears. He stood there for five minutes closing and opening the refrigerator door.

That's it, Goldie, take the bait. Oh yeah, that feels just right, doesn't it.

They're delivering our Samsung on Thursday. And it's going directly into storage until we settle on a contractor we can entrust with tearing us a new fridge-hole.



Friday, October 4, 2013

133 Days BGC

My first batch of motivational gay cruise swimwear arrived this week.




Me: "What d'ya think? Think I'll be able to pull these off?"

JB: "Honey, I'm not even sure you'll be able to pull these on."




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Change Of Pace

My gym is closed this week for "renovation", so I spent my gym time last weekend scoping out other LA Fitness locations in the area. Judging by how nice some of these other facilities are, I doubt a week will be enough to make a dent in that dump.

I got on the treadmill at the Georgia Tech gym and was momentarily stymied by the instrumentation panel. Fortunately it sensed my presence, recognized my befuddlement and began offering helpful on-screen guidance. Turns out what I thought were "speed and incline" buttons were actually changing the volume and channel of the TV.

I wonder, are we getting new treadmills at my gym? The one I'm used to using there is pretty basic. No integrated television, no iPhone dock, no personal cooling system and no high-resolution touch screen display. Just an oval ring of red lights to represent my position on a virtual quarter-mile track. How am I supposed to visualize my imaginary progress using 1980's technology? I'm still sweating to Pong while people going to other gyms have A.I. trainers and a menu of the worlds most scenic running trails beaming into their Oculus Rifts.

My gym definitely needs an upgrade. As other gyms have obviously been modernizing, I think this one has been skating by simply due to the clientele. While every gym has some amount of gayness, this one is full-on gay. My buddy, Gilbert, will deny that's exactly the reason he goes there. And he'd be lying. It's a "see and be seen" kind of gym. You can go on a Saturday afternoon and be confident you'll see the same crowd later that evening in the clubs.

I miss those boys already.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Really?

Ah, Fall.

While I do sometimes miss the brilliance of the Autumn foliage you see up north, Fall has become my favorite season since moving to the South. I think because I loved the Summers in Upper Michigan so much, Fall up there was nothing more than the abbreviated harbinger of Winter.

Down here though, Fall is different. The seasonal change signals the end of Summer's oppressive heat and humidity. The hazy skyline turns crystal clear and the Golden Hour begins to align with Happy Hour.

Even though I've never been a huge sports fan, the Friday night sounds of high-school marching bands stir something inside me. And every Saturday is made for watching college football, even if the games are just the background noise to conversations with friends.

The weather in Atlanta isn't always cooperative, but it seems you can rely on more perfect outdoor days in the Fall than in any other season. That's why I think moving Pride from June to October was a brilliant decision on the part of the Atlanta Pride Committee. While Pride is still two weekends out, the neighborhood bars and restaurants are already in the spirit, and rainbow bunting is everywhere.

Yesterday was spent with friends walking from pub to pub and enjoying their outdoor patios. When JB got out of the shower I surprised him by being dressed in my lederhosen. He asked, "You're not going out like that, are you?" Was that a dare? If it was, he lost.

As an introvert, I'm not usually comfortable being the center of attention, but yesterday I soaked it up. I only got one negative comment toward the end of the day when we stopped at one of the local gay bars. Some snooty queen looked me up and down and in a tone that dripped with contempt said, "Really?"

That became our catchphrase for the rest of the evening. Not just the word but the tone and inflection. My abs hurt from laughing.

Last night I put the lederhosen back in storage for another year. I'm hoping that the next time I put them on will be in Munich.



Friday, September 27, 2013

Breakfast, Day 60

Wow, sixty days. The diet must be working because this week Mister "I can do it on my own" JB started on his own Good Measure Meals plan this week. He says I'm motivating him. Yeah, motivating him by once again trading the title of lightest person in the house. Does everything have to be a competition?

No, but what fun would that be?

I think we both have an irrational fear of being "the fat one". That's a whole other topic I might cover someday.

This was yesterday's breakfast. This morning's oatmeal was not photogenic.

After passing the symbolic 200 lb milestone more than two weeks ago, I plateaued at 199. I learned a while ago I shouldn't let plateaus frustrate me because it's often during these periods I notice progress in other aspects.

But two weeks seemed to be pushing it, and I finally snapped. After tossing and turning for a while Sunday night, I quietly got out of bed, dressed in the dark, snuck out of the house and drove through Taco Bell for one of the Cool Ranch Taco Supremes I saw advertised on television earlier that evening.

It wasn't that delicious and I immediately felt weak and ashamed. (Actually, I was feeling weak and ashamed before I got in the car.) But then – and I don't want to jump to any conclusions – the next day the scale started moving down again. The plateau was broken!

That blood pressure alone is reason enough to eat
like this every day. I can't believe my doc wanted
 to put me on blood pressure medication.

Progress since Breakfast, Day 1 (July 30): 18.1 lbs lost.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Smell Of Decompression

This is what I get for laughing at Stevie B when it happened to him.

On Sunday I decided to get handy in the kitchen. A few years ago I installed some halogen puck lights beneath the cabinets above the sink. This replaced the original fluorescent fixture which, while it did the job of helping me determine if I sufficiently rinsed the glassware, failed in so many other ways.

Since the sink part of my counter faces out toward the living room, I found it difficult to hold conversations between the rooms. The light from the cold, bright tube would shine directly in my eyes and my guests became faceless torsos with a brilliant halo. I could never tell if I was having a dinner party or a near-death experience.

The Grundtal halogen pucks from IKEA were a dramatic improvement, focussing their light directly down upon the work area. But the tiny halogen bulbs were in constant need of replacing. As soon as I changed one, another would burn out. Out of six lights it seemed there was always at least one that was out, usually more.

Last week I was down to one functional Grundtal puck. Replacement bulbs at IKEA are reasonably priced. But that means driving over there, parking in the deck and walking past the wafting aroma of cinnamon rolls and meatballs. That's before entering the maze of a store which has a way of making me feel like a rat in a Swedish lab conducting research in Attention Deficit Disorder. And not the brightest rat in the lab either. One of the stupid ones that goes in for just a bite of cheese and – by the time he does find his way out – is pushing more flat packs of dense particle board than he can fit into his little rat car.

Meanwhile, at my convenient neighborhood Home Depot, 20-watt G4 halogen bulbs are $5.99. Each. And I need six. Lost in the irony of my struggling with basic arithmetic in a light bulb aisle, a friendly bear in an orange apron asked if I needed assistance.

"Thank you, yes! What's five-ninety-nine times six?"

Having offloaded that task I awaited the result. The helpful orange bear took my dead bulb and held it up to the light as if it was a factor in the calculation. It was during this awkward escalation from simple math to algebra that I realized the answer was moot. There were only three G4 bulbs left hanging on the rack.

"Scratch that. Where can I find under-the-cabinet task lighting?"

So this weekend I replaced the Grundtals in my kitchen with energy-efficient and, most importantly, low-maintenance LED puck lights. Since I was going to have to reset the microwave clock anyway, I went ahead and replaced one of the kitchen electrical outlets with the GFCI safety outlet the home inspector told me I needed back when I was closing on the place. I did this while giving quiet thanks that at no time in the past ten years have I or JB been electrocuted in our kitchen. I promised myself that this New Year's I'd make that anti-procrastination resolution I've been putting off.

When I was finished, I snapped the circuit breaker back on and basked in the glow of my self-satisfaction. That's when I noticed a slight but distinctive aroma of electrically-generated ozone. I sniffed all around my handiwork but couldn't trace the source. I figured it was probably just that new-LED smell.

It was only last night that, after reaching fruitlessly for a handful of ice cubes, I realized what I smelled was very likely the immaterial spiritual essence leaving the still-twitching corpse of my refrigerator compressor.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Men In Hosen

This weekend was the official kick-off of the 180th Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Germany. This year I chose not to join my friends on our annual beer & sausage pilgrimage. My vacation days (and budget) are earmarked for February's Big Gay Cruise.

But Sunday, with nearly all my friends out of town, I found myself wistfully reminiscing about last year's trip. I even went so far as pulling my lederhosen out of storage and trying them on. I sent a pic to my friend, Alice, who tried to convince me to come over to her restaurant in my Bavarian getup. I considered it for a minute but chose to stay home. Maybe next weekend.

While putting my lederhosen away, I decided I need to take them to a good tailor for some alterations. The leather has relaxed considerably since I first tried them on last year. What was then claustrophobic are now feeling a bit loose. I'd like to say the diet has something to do with that, but I noticed this relaxation occurring as last year's festival progressed. I guess they're kind of like a baseball glove. They're getting more comfortable as I wear them in, the laces just need to be tightened a bit.

Also one of my suspender buttons popped off last year in the gay tent. I kind of expected those buttons to be the weak link, but it was still a great excuse to get on my hands and knees. I never did find my button but the pants came with a couple spares. I just need to remember where I put them.

I don't see why I need to rely on these buttons to fasten the suspenders when I can't imagine why I'd ever need to detach them. I'm going to see if they can permanently attach the suspenders to the pants and keep the buttons as purely decorative.

I'm also considering asking if they can replace the buttons on the inner fly, beneath the flap, with a zipper. This would make trips to the urinal troughs much simpler, perhaps allowing me to better focus on the scenery. While I'm at it, why not have them put in velcro for affixing the flap? While this may spoil the "authenticity" of my fancy pants, I'm not worried about their resale value. I don't foresee my needing to buy another pair of lederhosen in the near or distant future.

One last modification I'd like to make to my lederhosen came to me during last year's festivities. While I never once felt unsafe in Germany, a large crowded event like Oktoberfest is bound to attract pickpockets. And after a gallon of beer, I don't need anyone's help losing my wallet or dropping cash while reaching into my pocket for a Tic-Tac.

It occurred to me that the best place to keep my cash and cards would be in a zippered pocket placed strategically behind the decorative chest strap that connects the suspenders. (I'm sure there's a German word for that thing. Brustgurt?)

I'm going to get a zippered pocket installed in the backside of my Brustgurt.


A good pair of lederhosen arelike a classic car.
It's does them good to take them out for a spin
every once in a while.




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nowhere Fast

Of all equipment in the gym, the apparatus of which I've always been most circumspect is the treadmill. At some point I ran the numbers in my head. Factoring in both my lack of physical coordination and my gym-induced social anxiety, the risk-to-benefit ratio was just a little too high. With "risk" defined as the potential spectacularity of failure.

On the elliptical machine I could miss a step and probably no one would notice. Whereas it would be pretty hard to miss a clumsy ox slamming ass-first into the back wall. Especially when there would probably be a ten second pre-show consisting of flailing, cursing, thumping, more cursing and various skin-on-rubber squealing noises.

I always thought that if I wanted to run, I'd do it the way God intended: on a synthetic, all-weather track wearing Nike Shox. Running on anything else just wouldn't be natural. Especially a machine which can trace its lineage directly to the belt sander. Only instead of 00 grit, this belt is coated with staphylococcus.

But recently I've been making an effort to overcome my fear of the treadmill. The unusually wet summer combined with a brand new pair of fluorescent lime-green Nike Free runners has made the option of running indoors seem more attractive. And even when the gym is busy, it seems there's always an available treadmill. Sure, the LED display may be fritzing, the belt might resemble a large strip of vulcanized bacon and it only inclines on one side, but it beats having to call the "only 20 minutes when others are waiting" police.

And yes, at first it was almost everything I was afraid it would be. The sensation is less like running and more akin to having the rug continuously pulled out from under me. And if I found running without going anywhere to be disorienting, that's nothing compared to once I get off the treadmill. I feel like I'm walking uncontrollably fast, like one way or another I'm destined to slam into that damn wall.

The first few days on the treadmill I spent power-walking while familiarizing myself with the location of the emergency stop. I then worked my way up to power-walking without white-knuckling the control panel. And then I got fancy, hands-free power-walking through a simulated alpine pass.

That was yesterday. I have yet to get up the nerve to actually run on the thing. Maybe today. If you workout at LA Fitness Ansley Mall, you may want to have your iPhone ready. Things may get spectacular.

Monday, September 16, 2013

BearBuds

I admit it, I'm a follow whore. When I first started on Twitter, I always felt compelled to "follow back". It just seemed the polite thing to do. On the few occasions when I did unfollow somebody, it was usually because of some offense they committed.

These days, politeness isn't foremost on my mind when I fire up my Twitterric app. I know I need to do some maintenance and pruning of my list of Twitter follows. Just like I know I need to go through my 200 gigabyte iPhoto library and delete all out-of-focus, duplicate, double chin and naked selfie pics. It's on my to-do list.

If I had to rely on my Twitter timeline, I would have chopped the list a long time ago. But early on I discovered Twitter's private lists. At first I used lists for organizing and categorizing the people I follow, but it soon became clear that was way too clerically anal, even for me. One list quickly became my favorite and it's now my default timeline. I call it "BearBuds".

Since BearBuds is really just my list of favorite people, one does not necessarily need to be a bear to be on it. But unlike who I choose to follow, I'm very selective of who goes into my favorite list. Only 6.6% of those I follow make the cut. Don't worry, if you've read this blog more than twice, chances are you're on my BearBuds list.

I've decided to occasionally spotlight members of my exclusive list here, starting this week. Since it seems to be a fairly incestuous group, chances are you're already following them. But if you're not, you can rest assured their tweets meet Pac's highest standards of quality.