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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

It has begun

Most people would probably file this under "So what?" or "Big deal!" Even so, from an emotional perspective, it is a pretty big deal for me.

Today, our contractor started gutting what will be our new home. What it has been for many years is my family home. It's the home my parents bought after they got married, and it's where they had and raised me and my two brothers--not to mention other family members who lived and grew up there, but that's another (longer) story.

It took months for the contractor to get started, but he really hit the ground running today. The kitchen and downstairs bathroom are almost completely gutted.

Tonight, we went over to pull a last few things out of there. The allergy attack I had was terrible. Between the dust and whatever else was in the air from pulling out 50+ year old walls and insulation, I was a mess.

I'm also dealing with the emotions of seeing my parents' house torn apart. I know they'd be thrilled that I'm keeping the house and updating it for me and Marc. Even so, it's taking some adjustment.

I'm trying to focus on the future. The house is going to be lovely--it had better be, considering how the cost keeps escalating!

Anyhow, the house is going to be great. It will be all new inside--and done beautifully--so that will be great. Plus, it's a much bigger house than our current one, so we'll be able to have larger groups of friends over for dinner/parties. Yay! :)

All in all, it was a rough day (work was a bitch today, too), but the future is bright.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Could it be true?

According to Scott Adams, in his latest Dilbert Newsletter (a publication of some repute), our electoral process is actually "an elaborate scheme concocted by the Founding Fathers to protect voters from the embarrassing realization that they always elect the candidate with the best hair."

Hmmm. That actually makes sense. Scary! :)

Someone needs to be held accountable

I think, as a people, we Americans have become too ready to look for someone to blame when something goes wrong. We can’t accept that some things are accidents or have no one at fault. We just have to find someone at whom we can point our fingers.

I’d really like to see this trend reversed. Even so, there are times when the accusatory finger needs to do a little pointing, and I think today is one of those days!

The lead article in today’s New York Times reports that roughly 380 tons of explosives are missing from a site in Iraq.

To put this in perspective, this type of explosive was used to blow up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. That took less than a pound, and we’ve let someone spirit away roughly 760,000 pounds of this stuff!

I’m not saying I blame the President. There are lots of things for which I blame Mr. Bush, and I'm certainly no fan of his, but I don't think this lands specifically at his feet (except in the way that anything under the Executive Branch theoretically does).

What I am saying is that somewhere along the way someone made a decision, or decisions, that gave securing these explosives insufficient priority. If the answer is that we didn’t have enough troops to do the job, then that does fall at the feet of Mr. Rumsfeld and may well incriminate the President as well.

What's truly sickening is that the Pentagon already had a statement out for this article, saying that Hussein hid explosives everywhere and, besides, there are lots of places where these things can be bought. Maybe so, but we let a huge quantity (a huge quantity about which we knew--we knew where to find it and that it was there for the taking) simply get spirited away. I think the focus needs to be on controlling such things wherever they are, not saying, well, ya know, this stuff is everywhere, so what are we supposed to do about it?

If that's the attitude at the Pentagon and/or the White House, then a lot of heads really do need to roll!

How many people will die for this colossal error? How many American troops, Iraqis and other poor innocents who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time will lose their lives because we let something happen that the IAEA warned about well before it happened? (The IAEA was on the case because these potent explosives are also used for triggering the initial detonation of a nuclear device.)

Another thought is that the Times article on the explosives might just as well have been titled, "Coming Soon to a Theater [or shopping mall, airplane, etc.] Near You!"

Saddam Hussein was a butcher. He tortured and murdered thousands of innocent people. There's nothing horrible that could happen to him that he wouldn’t richly deserve. Even so, he had these things under control. If we were going to go in, that was one thing we needed to maintain: control.

My fellow Americans (and any overseas guests visiting here at SITG), let’s pay attention this time...please! For anyone who still hasn't gotten the message, Saddam Hussein did not have a hand in the September 11, 2001, attacks. As far as anyone can tell, he was not supplying any support to Al Qaeda. We, however, have turned Iraq into an Al Qaeda funhouse, and now it appears that we may have unleashed a supply of explosives on the world the likes of which the terrorists previously could only have dreamed of obtaining.

You know, I said I wasn't necessarily blaming the President, but I've been thinking about it as I've been typing this—-if it’s not specifically his fault, it's the fault of a direct appointee of his. So I guess it does land at his feet. Not only was the war a stupid thing to start, but we didn’t send enough troops to get the job done right. There were Generals who said so, but Rumsfeld thought he knew better!

What a disaster! Our poor military is stretched so thin in Iraq that they won’t be able to hunt this stuff down, if it’s even in the country anymore. Maybe the Mossad can track down these explosives before they’re used to kill schoolchildren. It sure doesn’t look like we can get it right.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Yes, there was rugby again this weekend!

I'll share a few photos here and then let you see the rest, if you wish, here.

Richard scored for the first time as a member of the Gotham Knights. Here we see him in play...

Since it was his first time scoring, he did a "zulu" later--that's where he runs around the field naked. Yes, naked. Sorry, even if I had photos of this, I wouldn't post them publicly.

However, I can share this happy picture of him, taken right after he scored...

Adam, the club President, got his nose smashed during play...

Last time I saw him, he appeared to be recovering well, sporting a sexy bandage and piece of tape. It just made him sexier than he already is (and he is--Marc agrees, as well).

A canine fan attended the match, enjoying some play with discarded water bottles...

Our team won, showing that their victory a few weeks ago against this same team was no fluke. The Gotham Knights are good and getting better!

After the official match, the Suffolk team asked for a B-side match. Agreeing to play the second game, some new faces took the field. Among them, Coach John was convinced to play...

Here's one last shot, and I'll let you follow the link the the others, if you wish...

So if you want to see the others, they're here. Enjoy!

Friday, October 22, 2004

It was a lovely autumn morning

The bad part of this morning was that I had to work. Even so, the crisp morning air is refreshing. This is one of those days when I hit the OFF button on the climate control system in my Explorer and opened the windows. This is the kind of air that I find easy to breathe.

Some people feel good during the heat of summer, others like to take to the slopes in the winter, reveling in the warm feeling of their bones snapping as they ski into trees or have a Wide World of Sports-style wipeout. For me, the crisp autumn air is the best, with the vernal months taking a close second.

On my way in, I stopped at Starbucks. We have a Starbucks with a drive-up window here…

Truth be told, Starbucks isn’t my favorite coffee, but it’s not bad. Also, our local coffeehouse, Brownstones, is currently on my S-list. They’re using cups and/or lids that leak way too easily, and I’m really tired of brown coffee spots on my freshly laundered white dress shirts.

So I got my cup of coffee and headed south to the hospital. I tried to snap a picture of the trees along the side of Route 110 to show the lovely fall colors out here on the Island. We get beautiful colors on Long Island, but I’m afraid the point-and-shoot camera (an excellent one, actually, but still…) just couldn’t figure out on what point it needed to focus.

So take my word for it—that’s a tree (beyond my dirty windshield). It’s just a very blurry picture of one…

I continued to drive south, following a Volkswagen ToeRag into Amityville, arriving in time for my first meeting of the day. I knew this was a meeting on bioterrorism, but it seems I had the rest of it wrong. I had planned a whole attack, but it seems we’re against bioterrorism. Who knew? :)

I had the whole thing planned out. I figured that a massive pre-emptive strike against the hospitals to our north and east would do wonders for our business. Aside from their having to send patients to us in the aftermath of the attack, people would stay away from them for a long time. Sadly, it seems my plan isn’t needed. This meeting isn’t meant to plan for an attack launched by us. Rather, it’s to plan for an attack against us or the contamination of a local resident. How dull!

I actually had planned to launch into a brief, “okay, here’s what I think is best—we hit Good Sam and New Island [hospitals] before they get a chance to hit us. Something aerosolized and fast-acting would be best. We could bring them to their knees and take their business before they knew what hit them!” Yes, I would actually say that to get everyone to laugh—if you have a sense of humor, I’m fun to work with. Unfortunately, there were people there from the State, and I didn’t know if they’d appreciate my warped sense of humor.

So the day started on a more mundane note. We planned for a contamination drill for this weekend, while I multitasked, building a salary analysis spreadsheet to address a possible retention problem in one of our divisions. I think the people in the meeting probably figured I was taking copious notes of our grand plans.

I had to pack up the computer when we went for a walk to plan the drill—“an employee steps in a liquid substance here and then feels a burning sensation (I resisted the urge to ask if said employee had been on a hot date lately). The employee heads to the ER.” We then debated which way a panicked employee would go—this would determine the areas through which potential contamination was spread.

On and on, we plotted this all out, as if such things (the reactions of frightened people) can be predicted. I was relieved when our Director of Staff Development stopped some of the debating with, “Don’t worry so much about what will go wrong. One of the best learning experiences in a drill like this comes from examining what went wrong to find where we can improve.”

Okay, the drill should be useful. I just have to put off my “attack the competing hospitals” idea for a later date. ;)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

To blog or not to blog, that is the question

Yesterday, I considered posting an entry regarding the battle between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. After due consideration, I decided that it might be unwise, as I’m a New Yorker; in theory at least, I should be supporting the Yankees. Also, I have a number of friends who, while otherwise lovely people, are Yankees fans.

So I decided that it would be unwise to post something saying how I would love to see the Red Sox knock the Yankees out of contention. Not that I would watch the game—I consider baseball, particularly on television, to be about as exciting as watching the liquid base evaporate from paint (if you know what I mean)—but I really wanted to see the Yankees eat humble pie.

It has nothing to do with my not being a baseball fan; if that were the motivating factor, I wouldn’t care who won. No, it has everything to do with the arrogance of the Yankees’ fans. No, not the team. Not the players. The fans! They make me crazy.

First of all, get over yourselves. It’s a fucking game. Next, and this is the more important point, sitting on your ass, drinking too many beers and yelling does not win games. Let me be clear: The players won all of those games, all of those World Series, not you! So shut the fuck up about it. You’re happy? That’s nice. Now go do something productive.

I really have had it with stupid, drunken fans on the subway, expressing their team’s greatness (did we suddenly find a fortune in the couch cushions and buy the team from Steinbrenner?). Fine, you love the Yankees. Yes, they’re very good—amazing how spending huge sums of money gets you great players; it must be some kind of miracle—but I really, really don’t want to hear about it.

I guess what really pisses me off the most is the way they rub failure in the faces of others, specifically the Red Sox fans. Yes, the Red Sox haven’t won a World Series since 1918. I think it says more for the Red Sox fans that they stuck by their team, despite difficulties, than it does for the Yankees fans who are just obnoxious about it.

You think the Yankees are great? Wow, you’re really going out on a limb there, big guy. What a brave stand! How about pulling for the Cleveland Indians? That’s a fan…someone who loves their team no matter what. While we’re at it, is a little civility too much to ask?

Anyhow, I decided not to say anything so that no one would be upset. All in all, it’s probably for the best, considering the number of obnoxious prick Yankees fans around here. After all, discretion is the better part of something or other. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

If you see something, say something

Ride the New York City mass transit system, and you'll see the posters: "If you see something, say something."

You know, I have always followed this rule. I can remember many occasions when I saw something and immediately leaned close to Marc to carefully convey this information. Important things like: "Hey, Bokey, look at that guy. He's hot!" or "Look at the ass on him!"

I think it's the duty of all of us to make these careful observations. That's why we're there! ;)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Parenting: a dying art

If the girl were out alone--or with her friends--perhaps I could believe that her parents didn't know how she had dressed for the day. With a woman who clearly was her mother walking next to her, that belief was quickly set aside.

So what parent lets a teenage girl go out in public wearing shorts that say, "JUICY" in big letters across the back of them? Why not just say, "crack whore" or "slut"? Perhaps she could get a matching top that says, "I serviced my entire high school football team and all I got was syphilis and this lousy t-shirt."

JUICY?? Aside from the thought making me want to wretch, I can't help but wonder what kind of trash lets a child dress this way.

While we're at it--and I say this as someone who needs to lose a fair amount of weight himself (but knows better than to wear clothes meant for someone with the build of a fashion model)--I don't know that the sight would have made me feel any better if I were straight. Frankly, the specific girl in question should think twice before putting anything across her rather generously proportioned ass, as it invites the imagining of other words there, like "WIDE LOAD".

Sad. Pathetic and sad.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Yes, there was rugby this weekend!

Marc and I went to watch our new favorite sport yet again this weekend. We're getting to know the ruggers, as they like to be called (or "rugbeasts" as I told Crash I thought they should be called--he said he liked that, but I doubt that it will catch on, despite my saying it with affection). :)

So everyone throw up their arms in praise of rugby...

The Gotham Knights did their best, but a win was not to be. Still, it's great to watch. So here's a sampling of shots from the game...

It's really a great sport, but it does take a toll...

Yes, as long as the boys are playing, you have a fair likelihood of having to endure rugby-related posts from me. I'm having too much fun not to share!

(I almost forgot to mention--if you'd like to view all of the photos, go here.)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Does this sound familiar?

It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.

The above is a quote from Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's Vice Fuhrer, at the Nuremburg trials.

Not to worry, I'll be offering more enjoyable items shortly (like this weekend's rugby photos), but I'm very worried about the course our country is taking. I'm a patriotic American, and I am very concerned that this President, whose Administration has pissed all over the Bill of Rights (and abandoned our international alliances in favor of an unnecessary, bloody war), may actually get four more years in office.

Stand up for what is right. Stand up for our country and our Constitution. Talk to everyone you know, and help in the fight to remove this horrid Administration from office! We only have a couple of weeks before what arguably is the most important election of this generation!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Work-related fun

Tonight, an organization in which I am an officer (the Association of Healthcare Human Resource Administrators of Greater New York...that's a mouthful, isn't it?) held a cocktail reception at Madame Tussaud's, on 42nd Street in Manhattan.

The price of the reception was cheap, considering that it included access to Tussaud's, plus hors d'oeuvres and an open bar. It actually cost a dollar or so less than the usual admission price! (AHHRA was subsidizing the event.)

So, several days ago, I asked Marc if he wanted to go. He did, and we headed into NYC after work.

I got to introduce him to some of the people whose names he had been hearing for years. When I introduced him to our President (of AHHRA, not that other one) as "my partner", there was a momentary look of surprise. Not displeasure in any way--Bill's a nice guy (and a New Yorker, so gay men aren't exactly alien to him)--but just surprise. I come across as pretty straight, and I think this sudden revelation floored him.

I introduced Marc to some of the other folks, and we had a nice time. As for the rest of the evening, we got to tour the museum and see all of their various wax statues.

Some of them were eerily accurate imitations of the person on whom they were modeled. Many others, however, elicited comments from Marc and me like, "that looks nothing like ___________________" and "who is that?" after which we'd have to consult a name plate to determine what celebrity the thing was supposed to resemble.

So after a couple of hours there (between the cocktail party and the museum tour), we headed out. We were hungry (hors d'oeuvres go just so far) and tired, so we decided to head back home, rather than spending more time in Manhattan.

When we got to the LIRR train, we couldn't find seats. So we stood near the doors. Across from me stood a young man.

He was tall, dark and quite handsome. He looked to be in his early to mid-twenties. His hair was gorgeous. It looked like he hadn't done a thing with it, and it still looked so great that it would have been a sin to style it. Oh how I'd have enjoyed running my hands through it.

His eyes were brown and sparkled with life. His legs were long (leading me to fantasize about them being wrapped around me), and his feet were huge (if you think that means anything--if nothing else, it helps with the fantasy!) :)

Then it got better! He started talking to me! He had an interesting accent. There was a touch of French to his English, but just a touch. At one point, later in the ride, he answered his cell phone and spoke in what definitely wasn't one of the Romance Languages. No, it was something else. So, with the quasi-French accent, I'm guessing he may have been from some former French colony (like Morocco, for example).

Mostly, he was just concerned with whether he was on the right train. He was, and I told him so. We chatted a bit more, and, as the trip progressed, we stole glances at each other. No, not in the "I want to take you home" way (well, at least not on his part, I would think), but he gave off a vibe. I dismissed it, as I thought I saw him look at a girl who passed by.

The crowd thinned when we got to Jamaica station, and we all got seats. Once Marc and I were sitting right next to each other, Marc told me that he thought the young man was "on our team." I don't know if that's so. In fact, I'll probably never see the boy again, but it's a nice thought! Funny that Marc thought that after I saw him looking at us in a certain way, and thought "nah, I'm imagining things!"

What a nice surprise!

This morning, my entire staff (except for one who is on vacation) walked into my office. When they all march in together, it usually means something bad has happened. I was braced for their telling me how upset they were about [fill in problem here].

Instead, they presented me with a Boss' Day card. It's a cute card with lots of dogs and cats on it (they know I love animals), and they had all written something nice inside.

They also bought me a Barnes & Noble gift card. Giving me a way to walk into a bookstore and walk out with free stuff (and not get arrested in the process) is a sure way to my heart! So I am a happy camper today!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Blog envy

I've been blogging since the end of June. Little did I know that the lovely eyes watching me from across the room each time I typed a new entry hid the thought, "I want a blog of my own."

Just recently, Marc said he wanted to start a blog. Now it has come to pass. Marc said, Let there be a blog...

And there was a blog

...and Bokey saw it, and it was good.

Congratulations, honey. I hope you enjoy blogging. Now the world can get to know you a little better. This is the world's lucky day!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What crap!

I wasn't planning on doing two posts today. In fact, even one was plenty, as I was still enjoying reviewing the rugby pictures (if you haven't looked at the gallery yet, go here). :)

Even so, I couldn't help myself. I had to post again.

You see, I watched Manhunt on Bravo tonight. This is supposed to be "The Search for America's Most Gorgeous Male Model."

Yeah, sure. They all have gym bunny bodies. Big deal! So do lots of guys.

Only a couple are particularly handsome/cute. I wouldn't give a second look to the rest.

This isn't any kind of bitter rant. No, no sour grapes here. There are plenty of better looking men in this world than me. There are sure many in better shape. I'm well aware of that. No, if they were all gorgeous, I'd actually be happy. Sadly, they're not.

Worst of all, they're a bunch of morons. I've passed on sexual opportunities in my life because of what the guy in question was saying. I know that cheap sex doesn't require conversation, but I guess I'm not as cheap and trashy as I aspire to be! ;) Despite the great bodies, these guys did nothing for me. They really need to not speak!

I've watched my last episode of this pathetic show. Take my word for it, don't waste one of your precious hours of life on this steaming pile of fecal matter.

Thieving bastards

Anyone who has picked up a newspaper lately (which, sadly, seems to leave our President out) is aware that we are facing a severe shortage of flu vaccine this year. Being more concerned about the news than W, I was aware of the flu shortage. Working in a hospital didn't hurt, either.

So I knew we'd have to scale back our inoculation program this year. Okay. Well, not okay, but there's not much we can do about it.

What pisses me off is what I learned today in our Senior Staff meeting. Now, in general, things discussed in there aren't things I'd be willing to repeat. Not that we're doing such earth-shaking things, but there's an expectation of confidentiality.

This piece of information, however, is something slowly making its way into the news cycle, so I feel comfortable sharing this appalling bit of news: the flu vaccine suppliers are price gouging!

Our price per dose for flu vaccine was $7.58 prior to the announced shortage. The new price? $55.00 per dose. That's not a typo. Because of the shortage, they boosted the price from less than ten dollars a dose to more than fifty dollars!

We've already heard from plenty of local doctors who won't be buying vaccine even if it's made available to them. A large part of the local population is poor, and the doctors are unwilling to be left holding the bag for the cost of these vaccinations, now that the cost has gone so high.

I'm well aware of the free market concept of supply and demand, but this is barbaric! People who would otherwise have survived this season will die instead, all so some rich bastards can line their pockets.

My comment in Senior Staff was, "I hope the Justice Department goes after those bastards." The icing on the cake? During my drive home, they mentioned the price gouging on NPR and added that price gouging for flu vaccine apparently isn't prohibited by federal law. Why am I not surprised? Nauseated but, having given it a little thought, really not surprised.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Ruggers and ribs

Yesterday, Marc and I went to another rugby game. I brought the camera, so I could get shots of our favorite rugby club in action, the Gotham Knights. While the final score of the game wasn't what the boys hoped for, it was still a fun match to watch.

We also got to meet some new people. We met Steve...

Steve is a good friend of Byrne. Byrne is a friend of ours, an all-around nice guy and a member of the team.

We also met Will...

Will seems like a very nice guy. I also think he's cute, but that's another story. As I understand it, Will is the team's equipment manager, but they seem to have twisted his title a little. You see, his official nickname is Groundskeeper Willie. He doesn't seem to mind--in fact, he had the nickname put on the side of his equipment bag. I suppose it's a term of endearment. :)

I got to meet Craig. Here we see Craig with his boyfriend (his boyfriend is a member of the team; Craig's the one in the hat)...

I had exchanged some e-mail with John...

...and now we've actually had a chance to meet. John is one of the coaches.

I had taken some pictures of Martin at last week's game, and now I got to actually say hello and chat with him a bit, both at the game and after when the teams adjourned to The Eagle. So here's Martin...

Yeah, I know. He's hard to look at. Don't say anything. We wouldn't want to hurt his feelings. :)

I also got to meet Caleb...

Yet another nice, friendly guy. He was friendly and down to earth, even when (at Byrne's request) I told him he should take off his shirt for another photo. ;)

From the start of the game, I was able to enjoy the company of...

Matt, my beloved Marc and the aforementioned Byrne.

Feel free to take a look at the entire gallery of photos here. There's plenty of action and plenty of other cute boys, as well as a couple of girls and a couple of puppy dogs. :)

The games are a lot of fun, and there's plenty to look at!

The next game is this coming Saturday on Randall's Island (details at the team's website). It's easy to get to, so come on over!

So, back to our evening. Matt had headed to home to grab John, and they then met us at the Eagle.

After the "drink-up" finished at the Eagle, we headed to Tennessee Mountain Restaurant. The food was okay (not as good as I expected, actually), but the company was wonderful. At Tennessee Mountain, we were joined by Patrick, MAK, Michael and Michael's friend Wayne.

After dinner, we went for a nightcap, and that wrapped up the evening for Marc and me. It was a fun day, and I can't wait to do it again!

Friday, October 08, 2004

I'm slow to anger, but...

If I feel like I've been wronged, I can become rather difficult. When I'm dealing with lying scumbags, I can become downright unpleasant.

A few months after my grandmother died, I received a letter from an insurance company. This company apparently handled an annuity that had been paying my grandmother a big $55.01 a month for many years. They said that we might be entitled to a death benefit, and they would let us know if we would be so kind as to send them a certified death certificate. So I bought yet another certified one from the Town Clerk and sent it to them.

They then said that there was no death benefit, but oh, by the way, I needed to send them $55.01, because the last payment hit my grandmother's bank account a week or so after she died.

At first, I considered telling them to take a flying leap, but instead I opted to keep calm and just ignore them. So they sent another letter that I ignored, and, today, a third letter arrived. This last one threatened legal action if I didn't send them the money.

I'm a lawyer. Legal action doesn't scare me in the slightest. I used to try cases for a living. Even so, I felt that this letter demanded an appropriate response. So I called the person who sent the letter. I left a message...

Ms. Garcia, I’m calling about your letters regarding the estate of my grandmother. I’ve received your latest letter with the threat of legal action, so I wanted to get back to you.

Your first letter said that we may be entitled to money, and you said nothing about any money being owed to you. At your request, I spent money to obtain a death certificate and sent it to you.

I have paid any number of bills since my grandmother died, all larger than fifty-five dollars, but I will not reward your lies. So you cannot expect a payment. Feel free to refer this matter to your legal department. I assure you that I will cost you far more than $55 in legal fees.

I will do my best to see that your legal bills run well into the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars before you see your $55.01. In fact, you’ll never even see that, since I’m sure the court will make you pay me for the death certificate fee. So feel free to send it to your legal counsel. There’s no need to wait ten days. I won’t be sending a payment. I'll be glad to have my attorneys tie this up in court for a nice, long time.

I'm really not surprised by this behavior. Insurance companies, although a necessary risk-spreading evil, are the scum of the earth. I have friends who work for insurance companies, and I sometimes think they must have trouble sleeping at night.

So this should be interesting. As they're a company (as opposed to a person), they can't file suit in Small Claims Court. They'll have to go to the main District Court. Their initial legal fees and the court's filing fees should cost them several times the $55. From there, I'll decide what I want to do. Maybe I'll make them appear in court a couple of times. If I can get away with it, maybe I'll demand a jury trial. I won't go through with it, as that would be a waste of the judicial system's resources, but it should put a good scare into their in-house hack shyster lawyers. :)

Some smiles

Last night, we were drunk-dialed by these boys. They're normally sweeties, and their inebriation just made the two of them purely adorable. :)

At least they weren't doing naughty things in doorways across from police stations like someone we know. Well, as far as we know, they weren't. ;)

More smiles came this morning when I learned that JibJab has produced a new animated video. You may have seen their prior work, This Land, which lambasted both Bush and Kerry equally.

Their new one, Good to Be in D.C. is another fine production and includes some abuse of New Jersey's recently self-outed, boyfriend-hiring Governor, Jim McGreevey. By the way, isn't it great how he made it sound like he had to resign because he was gay?

No, Jim, it's because you gave away your state's top security job so you could get laid. Granted, it may not be as big a deal in such a dangerous state, where most of the drivers behave like they're suicide bombers on the way to their first/last job, but still, couldn't you just made the guy your driver?

Anyhow, go to JibJab and check out the new video (and the old one, if you haven't seen it yet). Either that or get Patrick and Michael to drunk-dial you. Both approaches are guaranteed to bring smiles!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Not a lot going on today

So, having little to blog about, I'll share a picture from our early summer trip to the Northwest. This waterfall was by the side of the road on the way up to the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood:

Remembering nice trips brightens my day. If the picture brightened the day of anyone reading this, it was worth the time to post it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Someone bang on the pipes!

This morning, it was pretty chilly outside. I love autumn weather, but it was a bit nippy (or "nipply" as Marc and I like to say). :)

Okay, not a big deal. My house has heat, the Explorer has heat and the office has heat--well, at least it used to have heat.

Today, I found that the office did not have heat. Did the heating equipment break? No, not quite.

So what's going on? Well, we're soon moving out of our current quarters. The new offices will be much better, so I'm happy about that (on the other hand, we'll be easier for bitchy employees to reach, but that's another story).

In the meantime, a decision was made that went something like this: "HR and Payroll are moving out of their building soon, so why should we bother filling the oil tank?"

Granted, the hospital is in a financial crunch. Even so, we couldn't have maybe 50 gallons of oil to hold us for the next couple of weeks? Apparently not.

So, being the wonderful boss that I am, I went and bought everyone coffee this morning. Now I am hoping it's not too chilly out for the next couple of weeks! I can't afford all of this coffee! :)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A photo and memories

I don't have anything in particular to discuss today, so I thought I'd just toss one of my photos on here...

This is a shot I took at Zion National Park. As lovely as Zion was, it also marks a trip that I am very glad we took.

You see, my Mom mentioned that she wanted to see the national parks in the southwest. She found a tour run by Tauck that went to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Sedona and other places of interest.

Marc and I had discussed another trip to Europe, but we considered whether to set aside our plan so we could go with my Mom.

My Mom had fought her battle with cancer for years, but they had new, more effective treatments, and she had one of the best doctors in the business. The doctor said she would be fine--the disease could be held in check for many years.

So we agreed that it wasn't a "we better take Mom now, before it's too late" type of situation. Even so, the deciding part of our discussion went something like this: "Mom will be around for years, but we are likely to be around longer, so let's do what she wants to do. We can go to Europe another time." If nothing else, it was a trip she wanted to take with my Dad but never got to take, so why not let her go on that trip with ones she loved? We could never take my Dad's place, but our presence would make the trip better for her.

So we went out west with Mom.

It turned out that the doctor was wrong. Mom died in February--the cancer hadn't been held in check.

If we had gone to Europe instead of going out west with my Mom, I could rationalize all I would want--"Who could have known this would happen?"--but I would feel like a world class shit for the rest of my life. I am sooooooo thankful we went with her on that trip.

My Mom was as wonderful and loving a mother as anyone could ever have. We really didn't expect to lose her so soon, so taking the other path last year wouldn't have been so irrational a decision as it seems in retrospect. Even so...

Well, maybe things do happen for a reason. Maybe something guided us to take the right path.

So today I bring you a lovely picture in memory of one of the loveliest souls ever to grace this world. I miss you, Mom!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Canada Geese eat American cheese

I learn something new every day.

I was being good today, at least as far as my low-carb diet is concerned. So I went to McDonald's and bought two meat-salt-cheese sandwiches (McDonald's calls them double cheeseburgers, but I think my description is more accurate, as they seem to be as much salt as beef). I get them without ketchup (as regular ketchup has sugar in it), and I eat them without the bread.

When I'm done with my lunch, I take the bread outside, behind the little building in which the hospital has my office. Then I break them into little pieces and spread them around, so that the squirrels can come have a nosh.

Today was different (by the way, I don't have this for lunch every day--just when I don't have time to find something better). Today, we had guests...

Every so often, a flock of Canada Geese will stop by for a visit. Today was such a day.

So I decided to feed these pushy, overgrown birds a little lunch. They were more than happy to cooperate. If anyone was watching, I'm sure they were amused by the sight of the HR Director walking out of his building and calling out, "hey geese, come over here!" Yeah, I'm a little crazy, but Marc thinks it's endearing. :)

The geese swarmed around me, fighting with each other to get the pieces. I got smacked in the leg by a rather large wing when one of the birds tried to jump out of the way after being pecked by another of the birds. All in all, it was fun.

One thing that gave me a moment of concern was when one of the geese got a big piece of American cheese into his bill (it was stuck to the bread). I may be anthropomorphizing a bit, but I think I saw a look of surprise on the goose's face!

For a moment, I was worried that I'd have to do the Heimlich maneuver on a goose. I should have known better. I've seen Canada geese in action before, and I'd bet one could choke down a radial tire if it were so inclined.

Sure enough, it not only managed to swallow the piece of bread and cheese, but it then went on to grab another piece of bread to chase it down.

Ah yes, it was a red letter day for the geese. A feast on McDonald's rolls, followed by a drink from the nearby mud puddle. What more could a goose want?


One last note: Hey, Mom, I remembered! "Canada" geese, not "Canadian". (Mom had an expert grasp of the English language and bristled if someone said, "Canadian Geese.")

Mom's actually in heaven now (or whatever we Jews would call it--wherever such a wonderful soul goes after this life), but she may be reading this. After all, they must have high-speed Internet connections in heaven. Right?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The voices in his head

I hadn't intended to post twice today. Frankly, I had such fun at the rugby match yesterday--and spent so much time watermarking and uploading photos--that I was going to leave that as my one post of the day (and, before we go any further, please take a look at that post if you haven't yet--follow the link to the other pictures! My ego needs stroking!). :)

So why am I posting again? Because some things are too much to resist. Apparently, word is getting around that the President was using an earpiece at the debate, so advisers could feed him answers!

A number of the articles suggested that I "listen to it for yourself" which I did here. The articles point out that W is mid-answer, no one is waving at him to stop or trying to ask him another question, but he interrupts himself to say, "let me finish."

Amazing. A sitting United States President who can't handle himself in a debate. As low an opinion as I have of W, this just pushed it even lower. Sad. Sadder still is that so many millions of Americans support this buffoon.


Yes, I needed three exclamation points in the title of this post. Marc and I went to a Gotham Knights rugby match yesterday, and it was great fun.

First of all, I have to say that rugby is a lot more interesting and exciting than most sports. It's fast-paced fun! Also, as a guy who likes guys with nice legs, I had plenty to look at! These boys have amazing legs!

We also had the honor of being on hand for the Gotham Knights' first "Union" win. I gather that's a particular league. What was particularly significant is that this means they beat a straight team. You see, the Gotham boys are (mostly) gay, and they've been training to hone their rugby skills. So they were thrilled to soundly beat this team of straight men.

This event also let me play with my new Nikon lens. Here are a few pictures from the day...

If you want to see more, I posted a whole series of shots here. So go take a look. :)

The lighting conditions were tough, since the sun refused to make an appearance (but at least the rain held off until we were heading home). If we'd had more sun, I could have gotten even better results. Maybe next time!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Look out for AOL!

Several months ago, I received a joint AOL-Delta Skymiles offer in the mail. Install AOL and get a gazillion miles (or something like that) when you finished the trial period and started paying for it. Given our successes at using miles to obtain otherwise relatively expensive plane tickets, it seemed like an acceptable deal. Plus, I'd get to play with the latest version of AOL.

Little did I know that the latest version of AOL is as big of a steaming pile of shit as AOL ever was (no offense to anyone who uses AOL, but what triple-digit IQ person who has even passing familiarity with Internet could find what AOL offers even mildly compelling?). So, a few months ago, I decided to walk away from the crap that is AOL.

Cancelling online is made impossible. So I called, I waited, I eventually got to talk to someone. This hard-sell AOL rep offered to extend my free trial period and added that he would provide me with an e-mail showing some of the exciting things I can find on AOL during my extended trial.

Free? Well, okay.

The catch? "If you don't want to continue your service at the end of your free trial, all you have to do is call us by October 2nd."

So I marked my calendar, and, this evening when I got home, I called them. *groan* The bastards kept me on the phone for a long time. If I were in a worse mood, I'd have lost it.

Instead, I stayed polite, repeatedly rebuffing their oh-so-wonderful offers. Finally, this borderline sociopath whose talents have been channeled to AOL's purposes offered to extend my trial period for two more months.

Um, no. "Well, all you'd have to do is call us by... ." No, no, no!

These people are so slimy that they're using the dirty trick of hoping I'll miss the date, so they can charge my credit card. Scumbags!

As I recall, the founder of AOL was a big supporter of conservative political causes. And AOL is using dirty tricks on people like me? Do we see a connection here? :)