Wednesday, December 29, 2004


We flatter ourselves, thinking we're the most advanced creatures ever to walk the earth. As someone who has a lot of respect for the other creatures with whom we share this planet, I don't think I'm as big an offender as others.

Even so, as with forces of nature, the things animals know and can do often greatly impress me. In fact, we know very little of the real intelligence and powers of the other creatures in this world.

One very intersting example: just a few minutes ago on ABC, they reported an interesting observation. Among the thousands of human victims of the earthquake/tsunami disaster, wildlife experts and relief workers have found no animal corpses.

Apparently, the animals were able to sense that something was coming, and they fled to higher ground before the deadly waves got there. So who are the smart ones?

We may have "higher intelligence", but the animals (well, we're animals--I mean the animals upon whom so many humans look down) clearly have skills and senses that are much more advanced than anything possessed by mere humans.


One closing note: I don't want to just jump on the bandwagon of what some might see as a cheap blog post. I truly wish to share my feelings on passing of Jerry Orbach. He was a talented performer who brightened my life, as talented performers can in ways big and small. From what I knew of him--gathered from a distance, of course--he seemed like a very nice, decent human being. I mourn his passing.

Oh, great. Just what I need!

The deadly Asian earthquake may have permanently accelerated the Earth's rotation.

So the tsunami deaths weren't bad enough? Now I may have to get out of bed earlier? Where will it stop?!

Yeah, yeah. I know, it's just milliseconds faster, but seriously folks... isn't that wild? So much force that it changed the earth's rotation? Holy crap, Batman!

This man is an embarrassment

On this morning: Bush to comment on tsunami disaster

This jackass has been mysteriously absent on the world scene, as the world tries to respond to one of the worst disasters in memory. I've always been proud of our country's quick response to disasters wherever they may strike. We have a long history of generosity and desire to help those in need.

Apparently, Bush needs to have people gather and advise him as to the right course of action. Later today, I'm sure he'll appear long enough to tell us how deeply moved he is, right before he goes back to not giving a shit. The amount of support we've offered is nothing compared to what we could and should do.

He doesn't even care about poor Americans, so why should I expect him to care about anyone else?

Oh, speaking of his lack of caring for people lacking millions of dollars, did everyone hear about this? Apparently, W and his cronies are considering a tax proposal that would "eliminat[e] the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance."

Why are they considering this? So they can "shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation" and "expand tax breaks for business investment."

So, once again, they are trying to give their rich buddies tax breaks. How? Well one way is by indirectly denying working people health insurance.

The other way will crush economies of states like mine. In New York, we do silly things like spending a lot on our schools. That's why we turn out more Westinghouse/Intel finalists than you can count. Well, take away that tax deduction, and the weight of those school taxes becomes crushing.

Also, we have a relatively high state income tax. It pays for lots of services, and those services help keep this state in excellent condition. Well, surprise, surprise. A large state that went solidly against Bush is in the crosshairs of a crushing tax change. Such a shock!

Bastard. I'm so glad I supported the efforts to knock him out of office. I hate that he won, but that's something we have to live with. I just hope the damage isn't too serious before his next four years are up.

This latest move may be a trial balloon they're floating to scare us, so what they really want will seem mild in comparison. They've done it before. Even so, let's not take a chance. Please write to your Representative and Senators and ask them to oppose this horrible plan. While you're at it, pushing for more help for the tsunami victims would be a good idea, too!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The bulb fell off the thermometer

Okay, so there's no bulb on the thermometer (do they even sell mercury thermometers anymore?), but it's very cold this morning.

My indoor/outdoor supergeek thermometer won't tell me how cold it is outside, and I know what that means. It managed to handle something like 10 or 12 degrees a couple of weeks ago, but now it has gone silent. From past experience, I know that means the batteries aren't functioning well enough (in the outdoor sensor) for it to do its job. That's how cold it is!

I wish I could stay home, but I can't. Not today. Wish me luck, everyone! I hope nothing important shatters when I step outside! ;)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

It's beginning to look a lot like (the day after) Christmas

This evening, here on Long Island, we started to get some snow. Our local meteorologists are predicting something between a dusting and 312 feet of snow, or something like that. I really have very little trust for their predictions.

A quick look out back confirmed the existence of the snow, as we can see in the lights hanging from the back of the deck's roof (yes, our deck has a roof over it--it's actually very nice), but the final accumulation is still an unknown...

So, knowing that the roads would be slick, we did what any smart boys would do. We went grocery shopping! :)

Oh, speaking of Christmas here on Long Island (as I sort of did in the title of this post), we went to check out the EAB Plaza Christmas tree. The snow and wind made it tough to get nice pictures, but here's a halfway decent one...

If you're wondering how this compares to the famous tree at Rockefeller Center, it's actually bigger.

Rockefeller Center tree=71 feet tall, 9 tons
EAB Plaza tree=90 feet tall, 14 tons (65 feet wide at the base, if that helps)

The EAB tree is about a mile or so from our house. To give this a bit more perspective, those buildings behind it are 19 stories tall. No, the tree isn't as tall as the buildings--that's a trick of perspective, making it look that way--but it is very large and quite lovely.

So, for any of you who are planning to visit us at some point, December visits may include a stop by the tree if you like. It's a nice little addition to the holiday season.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Friday, December 24, 2004

Tragedy strikes beloved Christmas figure

Washington, DC (AP)--The Defense Department, in a hastily assembled Christmas Eve news conference, announced what a spokesperson is terming "an unfortunate incident of 'friendly fire' that occurred as fighter jets engaged what was believed to be a hostile aircraft over northeast Maine."

While details are as yet unavailable, early reports indicate that an error at NORAD misdirected an armed fighter patrol to the well-known tracking of the annual visit of Santa Claus and his reindeer-drawn sleigh. Rescue teams have been dispatched to the crash scene, but early indications are that there were no survivors of the crash.

Based upon the limited information currently available, it appears that a pair of F-16 fighters engaged the "hostile target" with long-distance stand-off missiles. As the missiles impacted the target, the jets were rapidly closing on the target's position. Just after the missiles exploded on target, the fighter pilots indicated seeing a puff of red fabric and pieces of what appeared to be antlers.

The crash scene is spread over a large area, with charred pieces of sleigh and many presents being arrayed across a largely uninhabited area of northeastern Maine. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld extended his condolences to Mrs. Claus but placed some of the blame on Santa, stating that his failure to adjust his tradition to the current threat posed by terrorists was "reckless and invited just such a tragedy."

Heard this one?

Those of you who know me well probably realize that I have a rather twisted sense of humor. Having just checked the latest news online, I learned that police have now identified the man who jumped off the Empire State Building a few weeks ago. So what comes to my mind? How troubled the young man must have been? Well, yes, but only briefly. Or how shocked the onlookers must have been? Okay, yes, but, once again, only briefly (besides, they'd have a heck of a story to tell when they got back to Omaha).

No, what I settle on is a joke I enjoyed not too long ago. I wish I could claim credit, but, alas, it's not my creation. In fact, I don't know who wrote it, but I will share it here, so that you all may (hopefully) get a chuckle:

Two men are drinking in a bar at the top of the Empire State Building. One turns to the other and says, "You know, last week I discovered that if you jump from the top of this building by the time you fall to the 10th floor, the winds around the building are so intense that they carry you around the building and back into the window."

The bartender just shakes his head in disapproval while wiping the bar.

The second Man says: "What are you a nut? There is no way that could happen."

First Man: "No, it's true. Let me prove it to you." So he gets up from the bar, jumps over the balcony, and careens toward the street below. When he passes the 10th floor, the high wind whips him around the building and back into the 10th floor window, and he takes the elevator back up to the bar.

The second Man says, "You know, I saw that with my own eyes, but that must have been a one time fluke."

First Man: "No, I'll prove it again," and again he jumps and hurtles toward the street where the 10th floor wind gently carries him around the building and into the window. Once upstairs, he urges his fellow drinker to try it.

The second man says, "Well, what the hell, it works. I'll try it." So he jumps over the balcony, plunges downward, passes the 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th floors and hits the sidewalk with a splat.

Back upstairs, the Bartender turns to the other drinker: "You know, Superman, you're a real jerk when you're drunk."

Chanumas fame?

Last month, I wished everyone a very happy Chanumas. I'm certainly not the first person to use that "word" and didn't think it all that unusual.

Nevertheless, or lesserthenev, I recently noticed in my statcounter keyword thingie that people using Google and MSN to search for references to Chanumas were hitting my site. In fact, when I first tried it in Google myself, my blog was the first hit. As of now, I'm near the top, only beaten by (and who knew there was a

Does this mean my blog is wildly popular now? Well, not by the number of hits I'm getting. We also know I didn't invent the term, but it's still apparently not in wide enough use.

This makes me wonder if we Jews are in danger again ("Molly, you in danger, girl"). Are the right-wing nutjobs secretly wiping out all signs of Chanukah? Do I need to hide the menorah? (As a gay Jew, I could really be in trouble!)

No, I think it's something less sinister but still somewhat troubling. People are losing their senses of humor! Come on, people. Make fun of life, starting with the holidays we worry about--malign them! :) Have fun with all of it! Don't let me be the only one twisting names and being silly! Living is fatal, so bring some silliness into it and enjoy yourselves!

(By the way, have you seen the Chanukah bush at Rockefeller Center? It's lovely!) ;)


P.S.--Rob, thanks for last night. You were wonderful and left us both feeling satisfied. ;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

More reason to love France

No, I really mean that--we now have more reason to love France! I never bought into the "Freedom Fries" stupidity, but I'll admit that I've always had some concerns with France. They're not the best of allies, but it's a beautiful country and the people aren't anywhere near as bad as they're made out to be.

In some ways, the French are way ahead of us. "How?" you ask? Like this. Gay men and women can't even get basic protections in many parts of this country, and France is making it a crime to even make homophobic statements. Bless their cheese-loving, frog leg-eating hearts.

By the way, yes, I am aware of our First Amendment protection of free speech, but this is hate speech. It may be a slippery slope to try to limit speech (we basically limit that to "incitement to violence" in this country), but I have to give the French credit for standing up to what they see as simple bigotry.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Now that's real gratitude!

Tonight, we went to give my nephew his holiday presents. He's a year and a half old, but he's already very literate. He said, "thank you, Uncle Jess," and "thank you, Uncle Marc," but the real thanks was yet to come.

My adorable nephew got some of his prized stickers and went to work decorating my otherwise drab shoes. I think he may one day be a famous designer. See for yourself!

Monday, December 20, 2004

I'm such a tramp

Today's crush: Chad Pennington of the New York Jets.

He's got adorable baby-faced good looks, and that hair flowing out the back of his cap just makes me drool. I always thought he was somewhat cute. Now, having watched him on the evening news chastising the sports reporters for whining and having noticed how well spoken he is, I have an instant crush.

He's cute, well built (I would assume--he's a quarterback in the NFL, after all) and well spoken? I'm getting aroused already.

Not only does he possess the rare ability to actually string together whole sentences, but he sounds rather intelligent. So what do you think the chances are that "three-way with late 30s/early 40s suburban gay couple" is on his Xmas wish list? ;)

My kind of doctor

I'm watching the Food Network's show Unwrapped. They were just talking about Salisbury steak and the fact that it's named for Dr. J.H. Salisbury.

Dr. Salisbury advised his patients to eat beef three times a day and believed that two-thirds of a person's diet should be made up of beef. So that led me to wonder how long this 19th century doctor lived.

Through the wonder of the Internet, I found some biographical information, from which I learned this: "Dr. J. H. Salisbury, 1823–1905"

82 years? In the 1800s? Hmmm. Pretty good run nowadays, let alone back then!

Maybe I should give this diet a try! I'll admit it has an appeal. :) If nothing else, just for fun, I should tell my doctor about this and add that I put myself on Dr. Salisbury's diet. That should get his attention!

This is ridiculous!

I should be thankful that we didn't get a blizzard, since the snowblower is in the shop. Actually, I am glad we didn't get a blizzard, but these temperatures are ridiculous!

When I woke up this morning, I looked at my indoor/outdoor thermometer and learned that, according to the remote sensor out on the back deck, the temperature was 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Nah. It couldn't be. The sensor must be off. I knew it was supposed to be cold, but 12 degrees??

Then I stepped outside. It was cold, that was for sure, but I still had my doubts. When I left for work, I checked the truck's external thermometer reading. 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Hmmm. Okay, maybe indoor/outdoor thingie was right. Still, this is crazy.

Oh, and I have yet another indoor/outdoor thermometer at work (yes, I'm a geek). It said 13.5 degrees F.

So, I ask you, how did this happen? This is Long Island, not Minnesota! What happened to the temperatures being moderated by our proximity to the ocean? (BTW, as I type this, the temperature is 24 degrees F in Minneapolis, as opposed to our current temp of 10 degrees here!)

Apparently, no one shared this near-the-ocean-means-moderation rule with the temperature gods. I can't wait for the temperature to go back up. I'm just glad we replaced this house's heating system last year. At least we won't have to deal with the old oil burner's knack for dying on the coldest nights of the year. As bad as this is, no heat used to make such nights a special joy! I sure won't miss that!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Important information

For years, I've steered away (literally) from buying gas at Exxon and Mobil stations. If they have no respect for gay rights, I see no reason to spend my money at their stations. Now, we have an update of the companies that respect us and the ones that don't.

First, a little ad for the organization that brings us this list, the Human Rights Campaign. HRC has been a force for equal rights for years and will continue to be one. I have a bias, having joined as an "HRC Partner" a while back, but I joined because I like what they do. So please consider supporting HRC (or People for the American Way, the ACLU, God's Love We Deliver or, really, any other worthy charity) this season. We tend to spend a lot of money on things that aren't really necessities in this season, so let's not forget where we can do some real good.

Now, without further adieu, here it is: The HRC Gift Buying Guide

Please use the list to guide your buying decisions (for gifts and more mundane items). Also, as one last note, please feel free to look here for more on the effort to get the leadership of Exxon-Mobil to pull their heads out of their asses. While there are plenty of companies who fall short of the mark, these folks have gone above and beyond the call to show their bigotry, deliberately walking away from equal rights protections.

Weekend update

We're screwed if it snows heavily. I know I said that the snowblower was all set, and, therefore, we were ready for the snow. After that, we noticed a strong smell of gas. We traced it back to the snowblower sitting in our garage. It was leaking gas on the ground.

So, on Friday, I called the equipment company we use for buying and servicing whatever we need around here (the snowblower, lawnmower, tiller, etc.). Jerry, the boss there, said we should bring it in first thing on Saturday morning, and they would fix it. He thought it might be a problem with the carburetor, but he assured me he could fix something like that and have it back to us in a few hours.

Unfortunately, after examining it, he told us that the gas tank was cracked. How that happened is beyond me, but it did. So he had to order a new tank. It wouldn't cost much, but we can't have the snowblower back until Wednesday.

Ready for a blizzard, everyone? :)


On to the happier parts of this weekend. After our adventures in attempted snowblower repair, we put together some plates of candy.

We make our own candy for the holidays and often mail it out to friends and family, but, this year, it was an abbreviated run, due to all that's going on (house construction, etc.). So we just did a drop-off service to a few people around here (sorry if we missed you, but we really didn't have a lot!).

We started at the apartment of a celebrity friend and his partner. The celebrity in question had a matinee that afternoon, so he wasn't there, but we spent a lovely visit with his partner.

After that, we went past our friend Jeff's. Jeff has been feeling a bit under the weather, so he couldn't come out to dinner and/or drinks with us. Since we still wanted to get the candy to him, I waited outside in the Explorer while Marc ran in and gave him the candy. I'd have parked and come in, too, but curbside parking in that neighborhood is very tough. So, since Jeff wasn't coming with us, this made more sense than paying for parking in a nearby garage.

After our stop at Jeff's, we tried to find Matt and John but had no luck with that. So we went to meet up with our dinner date, Byrne. We met him at his apartment, where he entertained us by sharing his 2004 French rugby calendar. (Okay, we saw it on the wall, and he handed it to us, so he could break our trance, as we were locked in place, staring at the wall and drooling!)

After that, we went to a great dinner at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. We had "catfish fingers" (fried in a delicious spicy batter and served with jalapeno tartar sauce) and guacamole for appetizers. Then we each got chicken fried steak for our entrees. Unlike most attempts at chicken fried steak, this was tasty and the steak was tender. It was a big meal, too. When the waitress asked if we wanted dessert, we all declined. We were too full!

After that, we headed to Posh. We knew, from having spoken to Patrick, that his dinner group would be heading there for drinks. So we got there about an hour before Patrick and our other friends and started having some drinks.

Byrne ran into his friend Jeff who was being joined later by members of his hockey team. Well, this was interesting. Gay hockey players. I wanted to see this.

As they arrived, I decided that it might be worth adding hockey to rugby as a favorite sport to watch. :) Some of these men were strikingly handsome (not to mention well-built). Byrne's friend Jeff was truly adorable.

After a couple of drinks, the rest of our motley crew arrived. The aforementioned Patrick was there, with his handsome and charming partner Greg (if you can't tell, these boys are two of our favorite people...actually, so are Byrne and Michael, so it was a good evening), along with Michael (whose alleged partner couldn't make it), Rich and... hmmm... was it Jason? Something like that. I'm so bad with names. Sorry. He was nice, and he was cute, but he was only there briefly. So the name didn't get a solid hold in my semi-reliable gray matter.

Anyhow, Patrick was true to form and started buying shots for everyone. Since I was driving, I was able to avoid his efforts at getting us trashed. In fact, he's a good friend and doesn't even offer when he knows I'm driving.

In the course of the night, we distributed more candy. I also enjoyed singing songs with Patrick and Michael. At one point, both of them were practically on top of me. They're both dear friends, not to mention very cuddly, so that was a treat.

I'm a little jealous of Michael, actually. He's heading for Waikiki in a few days. I hope he has a wonderful trip.

Today is a slow day. Marc's back from church and feeling a bit tired. So we may have a little nap in a bit. After that, I'm hoping to, as Benny Hill used to say, have carnival knowledge of him. ;)

That's about as far as the plan goes for today. That, dinner and maybe a DVD tonight. For all of the running around, it has been a nice weekend.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be HR Directors

With apologies to Waylon Jennings (at least I think that's whose song that was... or was it Willie Nelson?), I stand by the title. Sometimes I wonder how I got into this line of work. While it can have its rewards, there are also days like this.

There's a department head at my hospital whom I like very much. He keeps his department running nicely, he's a good guy, he's a war veteran. All in all, he's a decent guy. He's even one of the few people who not only came to pay a shiva call when my Mom died (for those of you not familiar with Jewish customs, think of it like a wake, except it happens after the funeral), but he also sat with me and offered real words of wisdom and comfort.

So today, after a decision was made at the highest levels, I was given the lovely task of letting this gentleman go. I was able to get him some severance pay and continuation of health insurance coverage, but it still stinks.

Given the way things have been going lately, I may be doing him a favor by separating him from this particular hospital ('cause we sure don't need "shades" to deal with our future... it's just not looking that bright!). Even so, it's not easy doing something like this to a good guy, and he's a good guy.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Interesting things at which to look

Yes, I said, "at which to look." Okay, I admit that I'd actually say "to look at" if I were speaking, but I wanted to be more correct. Now, we return to our regularly scheduled weblog.

So what was visually interesting today? First there was this:

I found it in my change and was immediately entertained. You see, one of my hobbies is numismatics. That's what I call it when I want to impress people. The rest of the time, I call it coin collecting.

This was just a lightly circulated example I found in my change, but it's the first time I saw one of these new coins in person. I'd seen something about them being issued, but this was the first one I'd received.

So what else was a delight for my eyes today? Alas, I have no picture of this, but it's a guy at work. He's a young guy who has an okay looking face but appeared to have a very nice, lithe body.

Today, we had our holiday party for the employees. He showed up for the party, but he apparently is in the Air Force Reserves; he was in the Air Force uniform at the party (I guess he's doing Reserve service this week). The shirt was adorned with a few stripes on the sleeves, but that's not what made me want to salute. The tight uniform pants, on the other hand... well, the salute I was ready to give didn't involve my hands at all! ;) My oh my, those pants showed things off very nicely.

So, there ya have it. Coin collecting and gayboy lust. What more could anyone need? :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Okay, I'm ready!

The ever-unreliable five-day weather forecast contains the possibility of snow. In fact, [insert ominous music here] there's the possibility of HEAVY SNOW. Uh huh. Maybe, but there's no one who really knows. They just make wild guesses.

Even so, it is December in the Northeast, so snow is likely to make an appearance soon enough. With that in mind, I went out tonight and dragged the snowblower out.

I've had many years of shoveling, and, since we invested in a snowblower a couple of years ago, I'm not taking a chance that I'll have to go back to the shovel again! So after fueling the beast (it uses a gas-oil mixture) and pressing the little priming button a zillion times, I got it to start. Actually, it was more like prime 3 times-pull start cord 3 times-prime 5 times-6 pulls on start cord-turn down choke in case it's flooded-pull 5 times-decide it's not flooded, reapply choke & prime 10 times-pull cord and finally be rewarded with the engine turning over.

The special moment of this beast's engine turning over comes with a cloud of smoke that may be visible in western Europe. It's such an acrid mess that I just took a shower so I could feel clean again! Fortunately, it's only this bad the first time in the season. Not that it's a pollution-free beast the rest of the year, but it's a lot better than this!

So it's a happy day in this house, and the ones around us, actually. You see, Marc and I have a long tradition of three-house snow-clearing.

On one side of us resides a couple in their late eighties. He's literally 50 years older than me, but he's the type who would try to clear his own walk if given the chance. So we make a point of beating him to it.

On the other side of us is a New York City Police Officer and his family. Whenever there's a storm, Joe (the officer) has to work. So his wife and kids are left to shovel. Not that they can't, but we like to be good neighbors.

So the snowblower is a vital piece of equipment. If it doesn't work, Marc and I are back to shoveling. That always was an onerous chore, but the passing years just make it look worse. Sore muscles from shoveling take a lot longer to recover nowadays! :)

They've got to be kidding!

I'm a science buff, and I find space exploration fascinating. Even so, some of NASA's projects really leave me scratching my head. Maybe this will work, but the Deep Impact mission doesn't sound like a big winner to me.

Maybe I'm just ignorant, but is this the best approach? Apparently, this mission will crash an object into a comet, so we can see what's inside.

Uh huh. Okay. There's a West Wing episode in which Josh says something like, Isn't this a theory of physics basically disproven by Wile E. Coyote?

My sentiments exactly. Maybe this will work. Maybe it really is the best we can do, but this seems so... well... dopey. We can't do better than this for a quarter of a billion dollars? (assuming we even believe NASA's cost number)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Patience is a rare thing, indeed

Today, I kept finding reminders of just how impatient people have become. It's everywhere. Our entire society is geared to instant gratification. Not only do we have to have everything, but we have to have it NOW!

It's sad, really. I bet the successful old Heinz ketchup commercial with the song Anticipation as its theme would be a flop today. To some degree, this goes hand in hand with the demise of good manners.

I see it at work all the time. Everyone needs to get an instant answer to whatever their petty little question might be. I'd understand the big stuff being a rush, but everything needs to be answered right away.

The same goes for virtually every aspect of life today. Look around us. Does anyone appreciate savoring anything anymore?

Believe it or not--and, if you know me, I'm sure you'll believe it--I even see it extending to sex-related matters. Many of the pictures I see are more revealing than ever. Now, if I want to look at porn... well, fine. I know where to find that.

But what's the deal with swimsuits, sexy posters, etc.? What's with the pictures that make it that much easier to see a hot guy's dick through his clothes? Another non-surprise: I'm quite the fan of hot guys with nice dicks, but, believe it or not, that's not the point.

For someone with any appreciation for anticipation, for the power of imagination to enhance what we see, for the value of a little waiting before being gratified, recent years have brought a disappointing lack of taste.

I find it hotter to see a cutie in tight jeans and a nice shirt than standing there with nothing left to the imagination. Doesn't anyone like their fantasy lovers (not to mention the real ones) to start out clothed, allowing a lot of making out before slowly peeling off those clothes to see what's hidden beneath? Or is that old-fashioned?

To get back to the non-sexual stuff, do you remember the fun of receiving an actual letter? Not e-mail. An actual hand-written note on paper! To this day, receiving a nice, hand-written note means so much more to me than e-mail.

In conclusion, I offer an admission. I'm as guilty as anyone else (aside from what I think is hot in men). I like using e-mail, and I use a cell phone to allow for quick contact. Still, when I sit back and take a moment to think (and at least I still do that on occasion), I regret where modern life has taken us. In many ways, life is much better than it was years before (however, I will save that for another post), but I do regret this little slide away from old-fashioned, relaxed civility.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Bokey love and self-love

It has been a fun weekend. The Bokey love? For anyone who doesn't know, Bokey is the nickname of my partner, Marc. Well, Bokey was frisky this weekend. So that certainly was the best part of the weekend--always nice when one's partner is feeling frisky.

The icing on the cake (like that term? it works so well in the glow of the aforementioned friskiness) was that I bought myself a Chanukah present yesterday. We went to the Apple Store, and I bought myself an iPod. I got the 20GB one, and I've been spending a fair amount of time copying CDs to the computer and, from there, to the iPod.

I love that I will have access to my entire music library this way. I have so many CDs, but I rarely play most of them. So this is great. Also, I got the little iTrip thing, so I can play the iPod through my car radio. I already tried it, and that's very cool stuff. I'll also use it with the radio in my office.

So even as I type this, the computer is busily copying over CDs. This iPod is too cool for words, and I'm glad I got it. It'll even work with a part of the Bose system in the new house.

All in all, a good weekend. I'm a happy camper!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Go do this!

In what will be a surprise to those who know me best, my direction to "Go do this" heads a post that is in no way sex-related. Rather, it's a good deed.

I'm sure many of you (as if I have "many" readers!) have given blood, as had I. What I hadn't done is gone in for a platelet donation.

Today, I went for the first time, having the procedure done at the Melville location of Long Island Blood Services. It's an interesting procedure. They hook you up to a computerized machine that has all kinds of turning thingies (like my fancy technical language?), including, somewhere inside it, a centrifuge. So, by the time you're done, the platelets have been separated and are ready to be used. They also took some red blood cells (200ml, but who's counting?), but they told me they'd instead take double the platelets next time since I have a good platelet level and can donate that amount.

The only weird feeling in all of it was when the machine first started. It took the first of the blood and then backwashed the tubing with saline solution. This being at room temperature, it made my arm and shoulder feel cold, but they had warned me that would happen.

Later, the reverses weren't cold, because it was just putting back my own blood that it had taken out, after it was spun out (to get the components it needed). Basically, the machine's job was to give me back the parts of my blood it didn't want! :)

Anyhow, the really important part is that one of these donations gives as many platelets as eight regular blood donations can provide. So go do this! It's easy--they even give you your own personal TV set to watch while you donate (at least where I was)--and you can help save lives. So go do this right away!!!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The best news in a very long time...

This morning, I learned that a dear friend, Patrick, received approval to be a Permanent US Resident. (Frankly, if he hadn't been approved, that might have killed what hope I have left for this country!)

The stress has certainly been greatest on Patrick, Greg and their families, but we, his friends, have been on tenterhooks for years, as well. I remember when I was a government official, years ago, asking Patrick if there was someone, anyone, to whom I could address a letter, setting forth my belief that the United States would do very well to claim Patrick as one of our own.

Patrick told me, more than once, that there was nothing I really could do. It was in his hands, and the hands of his lawyer(s), and we'd just have to hope for the best.

At this point, I'm just glad (make that, thrilled!) that it worked out right. After all of these years of his being a real, vital part of this country, it's about time we were able to welcome Patrick permanently.

We love you, Patrick, and we're so very happy you'll be here with us in the years to come! Congratulations, sweetie!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Happy Birthdays and Anniversary

Today (12/8) is the birthday of both of these lovely gentlemen. I believe they're both 29 this year.

Tomorrow (12/9--just minutes away, as I type this) is the anniversary of this sweetie and his other half.

So I dedicate this to entry to Byrne, Rob, MAK & Kevin.

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, and Happy Anniversary! May you all have many more happy, healthy years.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Greed & grammar

Two articles in today’s New York Times caught my attention. One was on the latest spending bill heading from Capitol Hill to the White House for the President’s signature. In the bill, like every one of these bills, there’s a pile of pork barrel spending. Among the projects is an allocation of $100,000 for the Punxsutawney (as in Pennsylvania, land of omniscient groundhogs) Weather Discovery Center.

So it’s not bad enough that we have to put up with this overgrown rat showing up to “predict” the weather once a year, but now we have to have our tax dollars spent on a museum dedicated to the only weather prediction method less reliable than the BS (not the college degree) they throw at us on the news every night? (Don’t get me started on the accuracy of the “five day” forecasts—a real pantload, if ever there was one!)

The icing on that cake? Phil, the aforementioned overgrown rat, is going (being taken, I would think, his driving in the movie Groundhog Day notwithstanding) to Washington, DC, for a news conference with Rep. John E. Peterson, Republican (PA), who plans to defend the grant.

So someone tell me again how Republicans are fiscal conservatives, please. Oh well, it’s not like we have a war to fight, terrorists to track down, children going to sleep hungry or an educational system that’s falling apart.

Oh, we do? Well, someone should tell the folks in DC. It seems to have escaped their attention.

Now, on to another fun tidbit from the Times. This is something that many of you have no doubt noticed. There is an article titled, “What Corporate America Cannot Build: A Sentence,” wherein the Times examines special educational programs designed to help employees and managers learn to construct sentences in English!

Is this a small problem? I think we all know that it is not. In fact, according to the article, corporate America is spending “as much as $3.1 billion annually on remedial training.” What a waste! Imagine if students actually learned the basics in school. How have things fallen into such disrepair in our educational institutions?

Certainly, spending money on groundhogs, instead of schools, doesn’t help, but I think a more fundamental change has made its way through our society. There’s a lack of respect for education (not to mention manners, but that’s worth an entirely separate post on another day) among many of the “parents” raising children today.

When my parents were growing up, they went to the New York City public schools. They learned to read and write, learned about history, learned basic mathematics, read the classics and received a solid educational footing on which to base their lives. The schools certainly are struggling more these days—and not just in New York City—but there’s a bigger problem. As a general rule, today’s kids aren’t held to the same standard as my parents (or even my contemporaries) were. Granted, there are exceptions, but the lack of basic literacy is appalling.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am an HR Director. In this job, I see many applicants who are doing their best to impress me. Well educated—or so their diplomas would suggest—men and women who present me with cover letters, resumes and writing samples that shouldn’t pass muster with an elementary school teacher.

According to the Times, the proliferation of e-mail as a primary means of communication has brought this problem to the fore. Quoting one educator, it says, “E-mail is a party to which English teachers have not been invited.” I understand what he’s saying, but, if we are to examine the entire problem, we might also want to examine who is teaching English to many of today’s schoolchildren.

A teacher—a very smart one, as it happens, who is just shy of earning his doctorate—recently sent me a note, saying that he “felt badly” about communicating some news to a loved one.

Felt badly? Are active and passive verbs and their modifiers irrelevant these days? The phrase is “felt bad.” “Felt badly” would suggest that one’s sense of touch is damaged. For instance, if we were observing a man placing his hand on the surface of a solid oak table and saying, “this feels just like pudding,” then we might remark, “my, he feels badly, doesn’t he?”

On a related topic, must I forever endure first-person pronouns as the objects of verbs other than “to be”? “It is I” is about as far as “I” should be taken as an object. One more, “between you and I, blah, blah, blah,” and things are going to turn very unpretty around here! (Yes, I know “unpretty” isn’t a word. Allow me some Orwellian latitude, please. I’m ranting here!) :)

Okay, now I’m just getting agitated. Even so, this is basic. Lacking the fundamentals, how are we to excel as individuals and as a society? My use of our language is far from perfect, but that which I see around me every day truly fills me with despair!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

12,000 words, give or take

This weekend, we enjoyed two fun nights out with visiting (and local) bloggers. This is a wonderful group of people, some of whom already are friends of ours and some with whom we're only just becoming acquainted, people whom I hope to be able to sincerely call my friends with the passage of time.

So, rather than try to put this weekend's fun into words, I'll just share some pictures (and will let you write your own captions!)...

Okay, so feel free to offer captions or comments for any or all of them. :)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I probably should seek professional help

Today, I attended an all-day conference in Manhattan. To get there, I took the lovely Long Island Railroad into Manhattan. I don't read on the train, as that tends to make me feel icky (a medical term) and turn my complexion rather green.

I will, however, take short glances at what everyone around me is reading. This morning, a man was sitting across from me, reading Newsday. This is the second best use for Newsday, but I guess that's all he could do with it at the time since there wasn't a birdcage or puppy in need of housebreaking anywhere on the train.

Anyhow, glancing over, I saw that the headline was "I'm All Right," with a subtitle explaining that a New York City firefighter who was serving his country over in Iraq had called his buddies from the hospital after being wounded to let them know he was doing well.

So what thought came to mind? Was it "how great that he is serving his country, in addition to being a firefighter!"? Well, I thought that the other day when I first heard about this guy, but that wasn't what struck me this morning. So was it "how nice that he called his buddies!"? No, not that.

Actually, when I read "I'm All Right", what came to mind was a Kenny Loggins tune running through my head with a non-stop movie loop of a dancing gopher. That's a Caddyshack reference, if any of the more refined among you missed it.

So where does that leave me? A story about a wounded soldier, etc., and my mind immediately skips over to a mischievous dancing gopher. The soldier may be alright (my preferred spelling of the term, by the way), but I'm not sure that I am! :)


One last note: I love going into Manhattan. So many hot men are roaming free throughout Manhattan. When I'm elected Emperor, it's going to be very hard, so to speak, to choose which ones to molest. I mean, I have an excellent sex drive, but there's still just one of me. So I can command only so many to do my bidding!

I guess the cream of today's crop was this one maintenance guy who was working at the conference, putting things away as the day wrapped up. He looked like a slightly younger version of Daniel Sunjata. Just to be clear, Daniel Sunjata doesn't need to be a day younger for me to want to ravage him, but this young man upon whom my eyes feasted today was a jaw dropper. Aside from being quite handsome, he had long legs, upon which he had apparently had his pants sprayed, and his shirt could barely contain his lovely chest.

Everyone sing, So many men, so little time... (Of course, I'm not allowed to even try with any of the other men these days, but it's still fun to look and imagine!)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I remember a time when Republicans liked the environment

No, really! Maybe it was just the Republicans I knew, but there was a time when endangered species meant something and clean air was a common goal. Apparently, the bottom line is all that matters now.

Reading this article on the Bush Administration's approach to protection of endangered species of salmon, I am reminded, once again, that times have changed. The increased cost of protecting these endangered species of fish will be small compared to what's already being spent on the dam projects that are involved. Sure, an argument can be made for using the money for something even more important, like schools or blowing up people in foreign countries, but so much gets wasted on truly useless pork barrel projects that I really can't buy that argument. In the end, this is just the big business-fueled mentality that says these fish are insignificant and we need to do whatever is best for the bottom line.

Lest you think protection of the fish requires radical change, take a good look at the article. It outlines alternatives to dam removal that would allow both the functioning of the dams and provide an opportunity for these species to survive.

My favorite part of this is that the government "proposed including fish bred in hatcheries along with their wild cousins when calculating whether a salmon species is still endangered." This reminds me of every natural disaster movie where some government scientist thinks he can outsmart nature, and I say to myself, "Self, can anyone in the government be that arrogant? Nah!" Well, apparently they can. Not that I expect salmon to be the lynchpin of human survival, but it really does illustrate a contemptuous attitude toward the environment.

Will they never learn?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

An all-too-real nightmare

Among the various meetings I attend, as a senior-level hospital center administrator, is the “Executive Safety Meeting”. At this meeting, we discuss issues of concern under our roof, as well as planned preventive measures and alerts we’ve received from outside organizations and agencies.

Recently, we received a “Sentinel Event Alert” from the Joint Commission, an oversight organization I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Sentinel Events are major errors and other events causing what are euphemistically referred to as “negative patient outcomes.”

This particular alert, drawn from real events at hospitals around the country, warns of problems with “anesthesia awareness” and suggests some procedures to avoid this happening.

What is anesthesia awareness? (N.B.: This is where the squeamish among you may wish to stop reading. In fact, I almost wish I hadn’t heard of this!)

Anesthesia awareness is something that can happen when someone is undergoing surgery or some other procedure and has been given anesthesia to put them under and a drug to paralyze much of their musculature, so that the procedure may be completed.

The “awareness” part comes when the amount of anesthesia turns out to be insufficient, so that the patient becomes aware of what’s going on while the surgery is still going on!!! Unfortunately, the drug causing muscular paralysis is still working, so they can’t do anything about this, like start screaming. I don’t have much to add, except that the very thought of this is horrifying.

I’m glad it hasn’t happened under our roof, but the fact that it apparently has happened elsewhere, enough times for a national alert to go out, is sufficient to scare the bejeezus out of me!

Monday, November 29, 2004

An interesting development

Supreme Court declines Massachusetts same-sex marriage fight

As a lawyer, I know not to read too much into the Supreme Court declining to hear a case. Also, this certainly isn't the end of the fight. Even so, I find it interesting that the Supreme Court chose not to wade into these waters, at least for now.

Now, if only Marc and I were in Massachusetts!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Against the laws of nature!

No, this isn't about some new sexual position we've tried. This, actually, has to do with a trip to the supermarket (no, no sex in the aisles, either!). :)

Tonight, while grocery shopping, I saw excellent examples of an alleged vegetable of which I'd previously taken note but only in passing. Yes, I am speaking of broccoflower.

It's called broccoflower, because it looks like a combination of broccoli and cauliflower. I had heard that it actually was created as a hybrid of these two vegetables, but that apparently isn't the case. Amazing what you can learn on these Internets. (Do you think I owe W a royalty for using his term?) :)

Having seen it up close, I can confirm what I had suspected. As much as I find broccoli and cauliflower barely tolerable, this stuff is visually repulsive. Actually, it does bring one good feeling... a happy memory.

(This is where I go off on a tangent so sharp that you can almost hear tires squealing in the turn!) When I was a kid, we had a dog named Jet. Jet's birthday was on St. Patrick's Day.

Now, my Mom was an excellent cook, making all kinds of things from scratch, but one year Jet's birthday brought a real surprise.

Mom baked a green cake! Yes, green. Green cake, green icing--the whole thing was green, a birthday cake inspired by the holiday on which the birthday fell.

Knowing how good my Mom was in the kitchen, I knew it would taste good. The only question was, would Jet eat it? I should have realized that was a dumb question. Would Jet eat cake? Jet ate everything!

My Dad later described the scene as follows: Mom put down a large piece of cake in front of Jet. Jet looked at it, sniffed it, opened her mouth like a boa constrictor, unhinging her jaw to accommodate the entire piece, and vacuumed it in. Jet's only concern was how she could get more. :)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Happy Chanumas!

Yes, Chanumas! :) I'm Jewish, so Chanukah would apply to me, and Marc is Xian, so Xmas would be for him. Why combine the two? Because this year brings a combination gift.

Marc asked what I wanted for Chanukah (after all these years, we often just ask... it's easier than trying to guess!). I told him I wanted a photo printer.

As we researched and shopped, we settled on the Canon i9900. It has received rave reviews, and the sample prints we saw were phenomenal.

During the course of the research and shopping, Marc decided that he loved the printer, too, and would have his own uses for it. So we had a discussion and decided that we'd split the cost and give each other half a printer for Chanukah/Xmas. :)

Today, we went to Micro Center and bought the printer. After the initial setup (which I actually went through, step by step, uncharacteristically reading the instructions first!), I started printing some pictures.

Despite the sample photos we'd seen, I still managed to be surprised by the truly amazing quality of the prints it produced.

Now, not only can I make great prints at home, but I also can do small proofs, tweak colors as needed and really decide what I want to enlarge, without having to go through uploads to Ofoto or smugmug or wherever (with the attendant prayers that their color balances look like my color balances--prayers that often went unanswered).

Marc and I (with help from Jeff who is visiting today) have been ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the prints for much of the afternoon. Needless to say, we're happy boys!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Isn't he cute?

Here we see Marc with our nephew, Owen, at today's Thanksgiving dinner.

Owen is about a year and a half old, and he is, indeed, very cute. Here, however, we don't see Owen's face. That's just as well, since he is trying to maintain a low profile.

Marc, on the other hand, we can see clearly. Cute! Cute! Cute! I'd ask him for a date, if we weren't already sleeping together! :)

I love this picture of him, so I wanted to share it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

"Old" house renovations

I know what you're thinking: "More crap about renovations? Geez!"

Well, tough patootie if you don't like it! This is my blog, and this is the level of boredom to which my life has sunk, so if you read this you're along for the ride. :)

Anywho... as we're doing the complete remodeling of our soon-to-be new house, we're taking care of a few things in our current home to get it ready to be put on the market. We're trying not to do too much, as we've been told it's not worth the effort. Apparently, a few flaws let people find reasons to haggle and that can actually help the sale process.

One of the things we didn't like at all was the kitchen floor. Much of the kitchen has been improved since we bought this house (new stove, new sink, new dishwasher), but the floor was just worn out. One part hardwood (that used to extend into the adjoining room) and one part ceramic tile, it all looked waaaaaaaaay past its prime.

So we got some really nice Duraceramic tile (a really nice looking tile that is a stone composite--holds up better than true ceramic (less chance of chipping) but isn't as cold or hard under foot), and it was installed today. So, without further delay, I present to you...

...the old floor...

...and the new floor...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Such a bad boy!

Marc's out of town, due to the death of his aunt. So I was left to my own devices for ways to maintain some semblance of a social life.

I invited a few different friends to come visit. I figured at least one would join me for dinner. If a few arrived, great. They all have met each other before, and a good time would be had by all.

Well, everyone (and you know who you are!) blew me off. It's okay, really. All three had already planned things to do, and I certainly understand that.

So I wound up having dinner with an old friend, his wife and their young son. We went to P.F. Chang's. Even though we got there at 5pm, it was already packed. The seating wench (I think that's the official title) said there would be a 20 minute wait.

Fast-forward 35 minutes, and my old friend's wife is getting mighty pissed. There's a table for four that has been sitting open for several minutes, right near us. Even so, when we ask for an update, the seating wench says it will be another 15 minutes before they can seat us.

That did it. OF's wife went over, sat down and told us to "get over here and sit down! Quick!" So we did, and Steve (my old friend) hid the pager thingie they give you when they tell you to wait.

A waiter and busboy quickly arrived and gave us drinks and noodles. We placed our orders, and no one ever said a word. I, however, Mister By-the-book, felt like a felon. I was waiting for the police to rush in and arrest us! :)

Oh, and when did the pager finally go off? About 50 minutes after we got there. We were well into the appetizers by then. It's silent--just vibrates--so Steve kept it hidden. I asked if he was enjoying it, as it was out of sight, but he swears it was just tucked under his leg. ;)

From a dietary point of view, I was a bad boy, too. P.F. Chang's isn't exactly on my diet. Then, to add to my misdeeds, I grabbed dessert before heading home. Next door to Chang's is a Cold Stone Creamery. I'd never been in there, so I decided to give it a try.

I ordered Chocolate something-or-other. With that, the young lady helping me took out chocolate ice cream from the case and mixed in other ingredients by hand. Apparently, that's how they do things there.

So I took it home and had some. Not bad. Not the best I've ever had, but not bad.

Oh, I also brought home some of my P.F. Chang's food. When I walked through the door, the dogs had their snouts right on the bag. I told them, "this isn't for you."

With that, Dodger stood high, put his front paws on his hips (or the doggie equivalent thereof) and said, "excuse me, Mister Man, but what kind of bag is that food in? A people bag? I don't think so. It's a doggie bag, and I'm a doggie, so fork it over!"

He had a point, so I split my leftover chicken fried rice between the three of them...and a good time was had by all! :)

Yes, it bores lawyers, too

Yesterday, I went to an all-day seminar on employment law. It was an update, and I try to get to at least one such all-day seminar each year. Sometimes I do more than one--I do shorter ones, too, usually in the evening, but these all day ones usually are more comprehensive.

Since this (employment law) is the main focus of my work, it's important to me to stay up-to-date on the most recent court decisions and legislative changes.

So I was sitting in one part of the seminar yesterday as the speaker was discussing "class actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act." I was absorbing the information, but it took an effort not to have my eyes roll back into my head. Two colleagues of mine--excellent attorneys, in fact--were sitting with me. I looked over to find them playing a game (they'd pick a movie star and then compete to see who could write down more of his/her movies in a limited amount of time).

I'm sure they were hearing the seminar info (as I can listen and do other things very often), but it was funny to see that I wasn't the only one being bored to tears. So, for those of you who have said (and I've heard lots of people say it!), "I couldn't be a lawyer. That stuff is too tedious/boring!," I have two things to say...

1) A lot of what we do is quite interesting; and,

2) When it comes to some of it, you're quite right. It's tedious and boring, and we think so, too. It's just the price you have to pay, so you have a fair chance of not screwing up by missing something!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Am I the only one who can't remember book names?

It seems like anyone/everyone can answer questions about what books they're currently reading. This, however, is something I often can't do.

I'm always reading something. Usually, I have a few (or several) books going at once. I'll read a little of one, then decide I can't wait to read one of the others and so on. So my night stand has a number of books on it at any given time.

Even so, I'm very bad at remembering the names of anything I'm reading. If the subject comes up in conversation, I can usually describe the types of books but not the names or authors. I feel like the other participants in the conversation must think I'm illiterate and trying to cover it up!

I reached a new low this morning when I saw David Sedaris mentioned on Salon. I finished one of his books a few weeks ago, but I couldn't remember the name of it. Then I looked at Salon's list. Mr. Sedaris had four books on it, but, after looking at the names, I still couldn't remember which one it was. Only when I clicked on a link so I could see the cover art did I remember with any certainty which book it was.

Sad. Just sad.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Rugby photos

At long last, here are some pictures from Saturday's rugby invitational:

It was a great day. Gotham won repeatedly, and a great time was had by all!

The entire set of photos can be found here. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed shooting them. I just hope you don't get as cold as I did! :)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Go Gotham!

The Gotham Knights were champions of the rugby pitch today. I'll have plenty of photos to share shortly. In the meantime, feel free to caption this photo yourself...

What are those ruggers doing (or about to do)? ;)

Shedding-induced psychosis

My poor, sweet Marc. Tonight, as I was watching the dogs do their business in the back yard, he came to the back door to show me something.

In his hand, he held a sample of one of the carpets we'll be having installed in the new house. On this was a little pile of dog fur.

The collection of fur didn't surprise me. The vacuum has yet to be run this weekend, and our dogs (especially Dodger) drop fur at a staggering rate. So, unless you walk in moments after vacuuming, it's not hard to gather up a little bit of fur.

Even so, I couldn't figure out what Marc was showing me. Was there a collection of fur in one spot, so he picked it up and was carrying it to the trash? I didn't think the situation was that bad in the living room just now, but it was possible.

If that was the case, it still didn't explain why he was using the carpet sample to carry a "doggy dust bunny" to the trash. So we stood there for a moment. I looked at the fur, then at Marc, then at the fur, then at Marc.

At that point Marc broke the silence, saying, "that's what it will look like on the new carpet." With that, he dumps the fur in the trash, walks back to the living room and puts the carpet sample back in with the rest of the renovation material.

I love the boy, but somebody get a net! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Being charitable is hard work

As you know, if you're among my millions thousands hundreds tens couple of regular readers, we've been gutting the family house, in preparation for moving there and selling our current house.

One item we were unable to move out on our own is my Mom's piano. It's an upright piano that has been in the basement rec room since some time before I was born.

I didn't care about getting money for it. I just wanted it to go to someone who would make good use of it. I figured my Mom would like that, and I certainly couldn't stand the thought of it being destroyed or sent to the dump.

So I put an ad on craigslist that said it was free to anyone who could offer it a good home. I was thrilled when, immediately after I placed the ad, a charter school in Jersey City, New Jersey, contacted me.

Apparently, they have a couple of keyboards for their music students but not an actual piano. I spoke to the music teacher and the principal and told them the piano was theirs. All they had to do was get someone to move it out of the basement and onto a truck to bring it to them.

Today, I got a call. They had found movers who would move the piano, and it was within the limits of their on-hand petty cash ($250), thus alleviating the need to go through the bureaucratic process (and delay) of vouchering payments and such. So we scurried over to the house and prepared for the arrival of the movers.

When the movers arrived... well, it sure wasn't United Van Lines! There were three guys. One looked like the lead singer from Dexy's Midnight Runners but not as healthy looking. The second appeared much like Jerry Garcia not long before he went to that great pot party in the sky. The third guy is more or less irrelevant, since he came in, took one look at the piano and announced that he wanted no part of it.

So these two guys alternated between trying to figure out how to get the piano up the stairs and bitching about how it wasn't worth $250. Finally, after about 15 minutes of trying, the Dexy guy said he was going to call the school and demand more money.

Our contractor, who was trying to help them (and quite obviously knew more about moving heavy objects than these "movers") watched the guys walk up the stairs and then said, "they're not coming back." I said, "well, we'll see what they say."

Silly me. Manners like that apparently were beyond these guys. They didn't say a thing. Instead, they just drove off without another word, having been advised by the school that they didn't mind a little higher price but didn't have extra money on hand at the moment.

Yet another example of You get what you pay for! (Shouldn't that be, "you get that for which you pay"? Never mind. No time for digression into an exploration of grammar.)

I spoke to the music teacher, and he was both embarrassed and apologetic. I told him not to worry about it.

So he said they'd find someone else and give this another try.

Yet another rule now comes into play--one which served me well in my dating days--"If at first you don't suck seed, try try again!" ;)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

That's some serious sound!

With our gutting of the soon-to-be-new house, we decided to get a nice stereo system. Something good, with serious power, crystal clear sound and the ability to interface with multiple sources. Also, it has to be able to handle multiple rooms.

So I checked out what Crutchfield has. I went to Harvey Electronics. Harvey is an interesting place. I'm surprised they let me park my Ford Explorer in their parking lot. Clearly, they're aiming for the Rolls Royce crowd. I really didn't like their attitude much.

I had looked around a fair amount before and after my Harvey visit, checking out various makes of equipment. Then, last night, while running my paws through the pages of Smithsonian, I saw an ad for the Bose Lifestyle 48 Home Entertainment System.

Since there's a Bose store not too far away (in Roosevelt Field Mall--the store being mere feet from where Lindbergh's plane lifted off, for the history/trivia buffs among you), Marc and I decided to pay them a visit this evening.

We checked out the Lifestyle 48 system. We also listened to various speaker choices. I brought several CDs with me, and we wound up popping Rufus Wainwright into the L48 and listened to him through the Jewel Cube speakers (after having watched a DVD and marveled at that).

Okay, that got me pretty excited. Then we listened to Tears for Fears' "Sowing the Seeds of Love" through the Bose Acoustimass speakers. It was all I could do to keep from coming in my pants. Unbelievable! We backed down the store, so we could see how clear and rich they were from 20-25 feet away (the rough depth of our future living room). Still, unbelievable.

Unfortunately, the price isn't exactly small for all of this. Doing multiple rooms, with installation costs, will run several thousand dollars. Even so, this may just be worth it. After all, we're trying to have everything "just so" in our new home. So what if we can't afford to eat when we're done, as long as we can starve to beautiful music? :)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Randall's Island and Brooklyn

Randall's Island and Brooklyn: I went to one and saw a show about the other (and a girl of the same name).

Yesterday, I woke up alone. It's a rare event, and I really don't like it. Marc had an overnight strategic planning retreat for work. He went out east on Friday and didn't return until yesterday afternoon.

So I went to a rugby match alone. When he got home, I mentioned my observation that he wasn't the only one missing from the match. A number of the really hot ruggers were missing. Now, one could simply say this is based on it being a "B side only" day, but I could think of another reason! ;)

So, anyhow, here are a few rugby pictures...

For all of the photos, go here. It's a smaller set this week (because I only watched one match--and it was half the usual length), but I think I got a few good shots.

After rugby, I went back home. Marc arrived just in time for us to jump on a train and go see Brooklyn the Musical. Brooklyn has received mixed reviews. Some reviews were, in fact, quite bad.

Even so, I was very pleased with the show. Many Broadway shows we've seen have been real dreck (in case you don't know Yiddish, "dreck" roughly translates to "shit". I used the word dreck, so I wouldn't have to use the word shit on my nice, clean blog). So, anyhow, many shows have been dreck (glad I didn't say "shit"? As if I would ever use such a word!), as I said--shows with truly stupid or non-existent plots and scores that sounded like high school students wrote them. Major shows with major ticket prices that have left me feeling robbed by overrated producers/writers.

Having been to so many shows with horrible, non-catchy tunes, I was very pleased to hear good, original songs sung by performers with lovely voices. It made for a nice evening.

Today was a day of chores--cleaning out my grandmother's apartment, shopping for lighting fixtures, etc. This was followed by a nice nap (always a good thing). Now it's time to make a late dinner.

All in all, a good weekend.

Oh yeah, one last thing. I've been a member/supporter of the Human Rights Campaign, People for the American Way and for some time. To that, I added the ACLU this weekend. I/we can never give up the fight for equal rights. Join me/us, and keep fighting for equal rights for everyone!

Friday, November 05, 2004

A Christian nation?

No offense to Christians, as there are many good people among you, but I'm quite fed up with hearing about how this country was founded upon Christian (or even Judeo-Christian) principles.

I realize that things like reading and education are out of fashion, but it might do all concerned some good to read what the Founding Fathers actually stood for. Do you not believe that they were as much for freedom from religion as they were for freedom of religion?

Well, I have some news for you. Some of our most revered Founding Fathers were not big fans of religion. Name one, you say? Ever hear of a guy named Thomas Jefferson?

He was President of the United States back when learned men held the job.

President Jefferson wrote, "I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythology."

What's this? A Founding Father who didn't sound like a born again preacher? Can this be?

Any others? Hmmm. Have you heard of a guy named George Washington? Well, he said a few interesting things, none of which today's GOP seems to know or care about. How about this...

He declared that the government gave "to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." Really? To bigotry no sanction?

I wonder what he'd think of state governments saying certain people can't have the same protections as others. Yes, I'm talking about those scary gays. Don't want gay marriage? I might understand that, but the laws meant to deny any similar rights/protections to gay men and women are appalling. My partner can't be protected under law because we're both men, despite our having a more dedicated and lasting relationship than the majority of straight marriages (a fact, based simply on adultery and divorce rates, as compared to the years we have been together)? If you don't think there's something wrong with this, then you're either addled or blinded by bigotry.

President Washington added that the United States government "requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens."

The Founding Fathers were, as a group, religious men. Many were practicing Christians. They also were quite clear that every American was to have the freedom to practice their religion, as well as freedom from the oppression of living under the rules of others' religions.

Now, we are faced with a government making laws on the basis of Christian beliefs. I can respect faithful Christians, but I cannot respect their judging my life and trying to limit my rights on the basis of their beliefs.

Perhaps these people who seek to judge me and infringe upon my rights will someday take the trouble to truly learn about their country and find that, despite their favored politicians' propaganda, the Founding Fathers would not favor their efforts. Shame on everyone behind these un-American acts.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

New digs

As I once mentioned before, I've worked for over a year in a lovely structure that has housed Human Resources (or "Personnel", as the ancient sign on the building says) since long before I got there. It looks something like this:

Yes, and it's as lovely inside as outside. The building groans ominously when the wind blows, and my office was so lovely that various visitors have actually commented that the surroundings were beneath my education and experience. Well, as nice as that was for my ego, it wasn't exactly a morale booster, since I still had to work there.

Today, the HR offices got moved to the main hospital...

The new office is great. Here are a couple of shots of my new digs:

As you can see, the floor is two different colors (due to some damage they once had to repair--apparently, they couldn't get a matching color). Even so, considering the fact that the old office had nasty, ancient carpet that no machine could get clean, this is a far superior surface for supporting my feet:

Oh, and did I mention that this office comes with my own private bathroom (not to be confused with My Own Private Idaho but still nice):

The icing on the cake? Before I ever got in, the Director of Housekeeping/Grounds, along with members of my staff and his staff, had gotten much of the office set up. Things were on my desk...

...and my diplomas, pictures, etc., were on the walls...

I'm not a tough boss. Yes, I've had to fire people now and then, but that's a rare thing. Decent employees get excellent treatment from me--I'm more often getting them raises than issuing discipline.

So I like to think this type of gesture is made because I'm liked, not because I outrank these folks. Either way, it was nice to walk in and find so much done. I really only had to go through some boxes and put things where I wanted before I could be ready to get to work.

The only downside of this move is that my not-so-hot office furniture really looks crappy in the new surroundings. Oh well, that's a small thing. Overall, this was a good move.

Now, the question is how long until the big bosses decide HR might work even better in yet another part of the campus. :)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

And now for something completely different

As much as I feel like I could go on and on about recent political developments, that would get tedious. So I think it's time for a musical interlude of sorts.

This is Bernice...

And this is a new song in her honor (to the tune of "New York, New York")...

Bernice, Bernice, she's a hell of a hound,
Her left ear's up and her right one's down,
She goes outside and digs holes in the ground,
Bernice, Bernice, she's a hell of a hound.

Yeah, that's what I've got for you today. It's hard to be cheery after last night, but singing to the dogs in the morning as I get ready for work can help brighten any mood. :)

Okay, stop it. It's not funny.

This obviously is some sort of elaborate joke being played on me. I don't know how my friends are doing this. Even Marc seems to be in on it!

Come on, guys, I'm sure you got a chuckle out of it, but that's enough.

I might believe this is true, but you really went overboard. George Bush won re-election and the GOP gained ground in the Senate, so they have complete control? That's just silly.

I mean, if that happened, Scalia could replace Rehnquist (assuming his health will keep him from returning) and John Ashcroft could be made a Supreme Court Justice. Now how stupid would that be?


It's 5am. I managed to get some sleep but had to come take another look at the results to see if anything had changed.

It looks like the worst of all worlds. Unless a miracle happens, Ohio will go to Bush. So we have to deal with four more years of this train wreck of an Administration.

On top of that, the Senate appears to be moving in a more Republican direction. So that should take care of the Supreme Court for the next few decades.

I can't even begin to express how upset I am. Even so, I'm going to go back to bed and try to get a little more sleep. Maybe I can cry myself to sleep.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Just can't blog--too tense

I know this is an entry, but I just can't do a real one. I've always been interested in government and the electoral process (I even worked in government for about a decade).

More importantly, I always had faith that things would work out. Even if my preferred candidate didn't win the election, I felt that our system would assure that nothing too radical would happen. The intricate balance crafted by our Founding Fathers and refined with occasional, well-planned Constitutional amendments would keep things from swinging out of control or too much into the hands of a small elite group.

I always had that faith... until I watched our current President and the evil cadre with which he has surrounded himself. So I'm as nervous as a whore in church, waiting to see if the efforts of people like me (in my case, that really just amounted to persuading people I know and giving money to the DNC, to Kerry's campaign, to and some other organizations), combined with sufficient good sense on the part of the American people, will swing things out of the hands of the right-wing zealouts now dishonoring the Bill of Rights, trashing the environment, lining the pockets of their wealthy friends and pissing off our allies.

So I'm on edge. I'm not watching the election coverage. It does me no good to listen to these media nitwits talk for hours about nothing. Actually, I want to lash out at the media. I think they've done a terrible job. Who decided that these pea-brains should be paid piles of money to talk? Most of them aren't terribly bright.

Well, that's as much typing as I can do with my fingers crossed. :)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Important information for voters!

In a last-minute move to ensure a smooth Presidential election this year, a new plan has been put in place.

Kerry-Edwards supporters: You must go to the polls tomorrow, November 2, 2004.

Bush-Cheney supporters: You vote one week later, on November 9, 2004. Don't bother going to the polls tomorrow.

Ralph Nader supporters: First, wipe your mouths. You're drooling all over yourselves. Okay, now go with the nice men in the white jackets. They'll take you to a happy place where you can feel better.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Go see him! That's an order!

Even if I can't give everyone who reads this orders to go, you're crazy if you don't take this opportunity to go see Mario Cantone in his one-man Broadway show, Laugh Whore. You may know Mario from Sex and the City. He has also been in Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, as well as having appeared in various TV programs besides S&TC. Okay, before this starts sounding like the biographical summary in Playbill, let me get to the point...

Mario is a riot! We've seen his act leave people rolling with laughter in a comedy club setting on many occasions, but this was on Broadway. It draws a different crowd, especially as this was a matinee. Despite the wide spread in ages and backgrounds (just listening to these people talk at intermission, you could hear the diversity), the reaction was uniformly one of hilarity.

Don't miss this show. I've seen many Broadway shows that I thought weren't worth a fraction of the ticket price we paid. Mario's show, on the other hand, is worth every penny and then some.

So why are you still reading this? Go buy some tickets!

Friday, October 29, 2004

One for Mr. Obliquity

The man behind one of my favorite blogs has said such sweet things about my photos that I decided to dig up one I liked from a couple of years ago.

I took this photo in New Hampshire during a long weekend trip Marc and I took. I guess it depends on the computer screen, but it doesn't look as rich on my laptop (which I am using to post it) as it does when printed.

Anyhow, I hope everyone likes it (and I hope it looks good on your screens!).

Thursday, October 28, 2004

This passes for excitement in my life

Tonight, I stopped at a new business that just opened in our little town. It's called Wing Zone.

While others are somewhere in Manhattan, drinking their weight in vodka, I'm reveling in the excitement of talking on the cell phone, asking Marc what kind of wings he wants.

For the record, I've never seen such a variety of chicken wing flavors. In the end, we just went with regular Buffalo wings.

I had a choice of five spiciness levels: mild, medium, hot, hotter and nuclear. Since I wanted medium, I chose the middle of the five levels: hot.

They were a little spicy but not overwhelmingly so. More importantly, they had a nice taste. They weren't cheap, at $9.99 + tax for 15 wings. I mean, they're just wings. It's not like I got 15 hamburgers for $9.99!

I guess it was worth it. I didn't have to (and Marc didn't have to) make dinner, and we had something tasty to eat.

I know, I know. It's all too exciting to take. Yes, kids, if you play your cards right, you can be like me! But be careful. Life at this pace can be a lot to handle! It's not for the meek! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

It's the Great Pumpkin!

In case you missed tonight's eclispe, here's a photo...

I don't own a telescope, so I had to use one of my regular camera lenses. Even so, it looks pretty good, I think.

By the way, I didn't do anything to the color (no Photoshop tricks!). :) It's really that color. Apparently, the Earth doesn't completely block out the sun. It's close, but some light gets around the edges of the Earth. So the orange light that makes it around colors the Moon this unusual color.

At least that's what the people who live on the Moon say, but who can trust them anyhow?

Some pictures from today

Here's a tree on the corner near my office...

Now, without further adieu, here are some photos of the inside of the family home, after just two days of gutting...

This last one is what's in the dumpster so far. I'm getting over the feeling that I'm throwing out things my parents worked hard to build. Really, it's just stuff. Besides, it needs updating. My Mom used to say she'd update the house, but she didn't want to live with the mess from construction. I can see what she means. Anyhow, this is what's gone so far...

This project is expected to take two months or more, so this gives some idea of how much things will change. It's all a little scary and, at the same time, very exciting.