Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The gift I bought for myself

As I recently mentioned, I bought myself a gift. I'd wanted one of these for a long time, but fiscal prudence kept me from buying one. For the past few years, there was always one concern or another that made me hesitate to splurge on myself.

Now, a few months into the new job, with the old house sold and things seemingly stable for the moment, I decided the time was right. So Marc joined me at Tourneau to help me select just the right model, and I got it. I don't have a photo of the actual one, and the dial of mine is a brighter blue than the one in this photo, but this gives you an idea...

If you're not into watches, you probably won't understand why this is a big deal to me. If you are, you'll probably know about Breitling watches. Fine, mechanical watches. Running at 8 vibrations a second, they're very accurate for non-quartz watches. It's self-winding and beautiful. The sweep of the second hand is a work of art in motion. In a quiet room, if you put the watch to your ear, you can hear its gears ticking away.

Every time I look at my wrist, I'm happy to see it there. I waited a long time, and I'm happy that the time has arrived!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Some rugby photos

I'm too tired to write much, so I'll just share a few photos from Saturday's rugby tournament. The full set is here.

There are lots more good shots, some of rugby and some of hotties. Just go here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Fabulous weekend!

Friday night, we went to a birthday dinner for Deidre's 24th birthday. That was a fun evening, but we had to get home relatively early, as we had an early start the next day.

Byrne stayed over at our place, and then the three of us went to the Jersey Shore Rugby Tournament in Sea Girt, New Jersey, Saturday morning. We had a good time, although we all got a little too toasted out in the sun. I took lots of pictures and will have them posted soon. One interesting addition--the tournament was at a National Guard base, so the play was regularly punctuated by sounds of gunfire from their nearby range.

Today, we had a nice, leisurely day. We spent some time here at the house, later did some furniture shopping and then had dinner at the Churrascaria Tropical near Byrne's apartment in Astoria. That was good!

Now, it's time to get ready for bed. Oh, I also bought myself a present Friday. I'll post more about that when I have the time.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What's taking them so long?

I've been anticipating the first bad-pun-headline for a few days, but still nothing. There's a tropical storm (that some say will become a hurricane soon) named Katrina that's heading for landfall. So, as with every such storm, they speak of storm surge, etc.

The headline is obvious: "Katrina and the Waves." So what are we getting? Southeast Florida under hurricane warning

Come on, people! How often do you get a chance like this? Has all creativity gone out of this country?!

(For the record, I think that this post may be the most publicity that particular group has received in several years.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


I'm a happy camper. We closed on the sale of our old house today. Not only does it mean some cash in our pockets, but, more importantly, it means we're down to one mortgage. This is as opposed to two mortgages and three lines of credit (from drawing equity out of the old house as we fixed up the new one) which made for huge monthly payments.

The closing went off with nary a hitch. Despite work headaches today (both this morning while I was there and this afternoon by phone), it has been a good day!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

That was fun

We had a nice party yesterday. Several friends joined us, as did my younger brother, his wife and kids. They're little kids (5 months & 2 years), so we could be a bunch of lushes around them without fear of being a bad influence.

We had great food, some brought by our friends and some made by Marc, plenty of drinks and some excellent champagne (Dom Perignon '96, provided by yours truly) to top things off.

My thanks to everyone who joined us. We had a nice time. There's nothing better than having friends around to help us celebrate ten wonderful years together.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dinner and Dolly

Thursday night, as part of the ongoing festivities, we had a night out. After work, Marc met me at Le Bernardin. We'd never been there before, but it was reputed to be one of the finest restaurants in New York. So we had high hopes (with a Zagat score of 28/27/27, it had a lot of promise!), and we weren't disappointed. It was fabulous.

After that, we walked a block to Radio City Music Hall to attend a Dolly Parton concert. We were met there by Jeff. He had acquired the tickets for all of us.

Now, Dolly can still sing. I'll give her that. But there were things that definitely detracted from the event.

First, the opening act went on way too long. It's not just that they were a bluegrass group--not my favorite genre--but they weren't great. Of course, opinions differ. I don't care for bluegrass. Marc likes some bluegrass but didn't like this group. On the other hand, this man was there (although not sitting with us) and thought they were very good. To each his own.

We found out about Michael being present the day after the show. He told us that MAK also was somewhere in the crowd.

Then there was Dolly's commercial focus. Again and again, she told the crowd about her new CD. It would be released in a few months and contains remakes of other people's songs. She sang a number of the songs for us. Fine, but I thought the idea was to hear her stuff.

Of course, we also got some pitches for Dollywood, too. Oh, and to make things perfect, we sat behind some truly moronic--and strange (in an annoying kind of way)--people. Plus, the air conditioning wasn't good for our part of the theater, so we were way too warm.

Not a perfect end to the evening, but that's life. Today is our party, and I'm looking forward to it. We already received flowers and chocolate from a very sweet young lady, and I'm sure the day holds more fun and surprises!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

10 years

Today's the day. Of course, the national holiday isn't until Saturday, when we'll all eat and drink too much. But today is the actual anniversary. 10 years ago, the most wonderful man in the world came into my life.

It's also his birthday, so I guess, from his perspective, I was the birthday gift that keeps on giving.

Happy Birthday, Bokey, and thank you for making my life so wonderful and complete. I love you!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dumb as a box of rocks

I'm a pretty smart guy. At least that's what the people I'm free to fire at will always tell me. ;) Seriously, if you saw my IQ test scores from school or my SAT results, you'd probably be impressed. At the least, I'm not a complete maroon. :)

Still, I sometimes do something so stupid that I amaze myself. This weekend, we worked our butts off, with the help of this sweetie, getting just about every last piece of remaining stuff out of the other house.

The weekend began with Marc stuck here (at the new house), as I did multiple trips back and forth, loading and re-loading the Explorer with things from the old house. I cleaned a lot out of the house and also got the garage emptied out. Unfortunately, in that heat (mid-to-high 90s and quite humid), I didn't drink nearly as much as I should have. Considering that you could have wrung out my clothes when I was done, I probably should have had more than a little bit of water here and there.

So I felt exhausted yesterday, and I wasn't a heck of a lot better today. This morning, I felt a bit queasy and was still quite tired.

So, with my stomach (and related organs) in rebellion, apparently as an effect of this weekend's fun, what did I do for lunch? Maybe some plain rice? Find a little oatmeal? Nooooo. I got Mexican food. Chicken flautas, precisely. So by late afternoon, I was dizzy and turning colors. My staff sent me home, bless their hearts.

Leaving at 4:30, I felt like such a slacker, but I really did need to leave. Bad enough to be sick, but it being self-inflicted from start to finish makes me feel that much worse! *sigh*

Saturday, August 13, 2005

That's the right attitude!

I'm sure you've seen the posters in many offices. They're motivational sayings that are supposed to fill employees with good thoughts and attitudes. They have titles like "Teamwork" and are meant to inspire. In my case, all they usually inspire is nausea.

So I want to point you to an excellent alternative. At, you can find gems like these...

I got the coffee mug with this one on it for my boss--I hope he likes it!

This one I got for a guy who is retiring in a few weeks. He has a good sense of humor, so I hope he likes this...

By the way, if you buy any of these, they don't have the white stripe and their URL on the bottom. That's just on the online photos (so people won't steal them, I suppose). :)

As an HR professional, I strongly endorse these fine products. They send messages that add some reality to the modern workplace. Go get yours today!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Uh oh

In looking at my statcounter data, I saw today that people were finding my page by entering the term "smirking chimp" into Google. This, of course, is an uncomplimentary reference to the President.

I referred to W that way in a post last month. So if you enter "smirking chimp" into Google, you find my blog. Somewhere on page 17 or something? Nooooo. For some bizarre reason, I'm on the first page.

Do you think this is worth worrying about? Should I expect an FBI swat team to come busting down the door? Gee, I hope not. The paint job on it looks nice, and they'd be bound to scuff it if they kicked it in! ;)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Is it a public relations scam?

The announcement of W's choice for the Supreme Court was accompanied with some clear, calculated public relations efforts--the friend talking about how he was a regular guy, the stories of his good sense of humor, etc.

So today, as a conservative group said it now opposes Judge Roberts because he once gave advice to gay rights advocates, I can't help but wonder if this is an effort in reverse psychology. This is a judge who, by any reasonable measure, is very conservative.

So what would someone like Karl Rove do to help things along? How about arranging for some talk of how he once gave advice to counsel fighting for gay rights? That way, we may say, "oh, maybe he's not so bad." Then have one of these neo-conservative wingnut groups say he's not conservative enough, adding to our impulse to say, "maybe he's more moderate than we thought."

I don't know that we'd get anyone better if Roberts weren't confirmed, but I really do smell a rat. These little events are all too convenient. Just watch, as little pieces of allegedly not-so-conservative Judge Roberts' history keep leaking out. I feel like we're being had, kids. People like Rove aren't stupid. Evil, yes, but not stupid.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The glory of the Space Shuttle

Well, I've left that last post at the head of my blog long enough. Amazing how talking about sex makes my hits go through the roof (not that that was the intention, but it sure worked out that way). :)

Anyhow, I've been among those who has said it's time for the Space Shuttle to be retired. I've mentioned to friends and colleagues that NASA needs to hang it up. Frankly, I think they may be falling behind commercial ventures that aren't burdened by NASA's bureaucracy and commitment to continuing to line the pockets of government contractors.

What I remembered today was that there was another time, when the Space Shuttle was a dream, when we first started hearing about this spaceship that could glide and land like a plane. It would fly to orbit on the back of huge rockets, returning to earth, able to go up again.

We watched in amazement as its ability to fly was tested. Strapped to the back of a 747, it was released and glided in to a beautiful landing. We even saw it fly over our house on that 747, as NASA sent it around the country...

This first shuttle, a testbed, never meant to go to orbit, was named Enterprise. It was so named, in honor of the fictional ship that fueled the dreams of space flight for so many.

We read the news stories and watched reports on TV. Then the day came. Whatever faith we had in the space program, we knew this was a dangerous business, even in the days before the two shuttle disasters.

We watched as the moment of ignition approached. We leaned forward and our eyes grew wide as the main engines fired, followed a few seconds later by the solid rocket boosters igniting, and then it was off...

The shuttle rose into the sky, slowly at first, then faster and faster. We were ecstatic. I don't remember the exact words, but they were something along the lines of "go, baby, go!" We were so proud of our country. Look what we've done!

Then, after spending time in orbit, the shuttle and its brave crew came back into the atmosphere, heating the bottom of it white-hot. As it made its way to the landing strip, the TV coverage caught the sound of twin sonic booms.

We watched it approach the runway. If you've never watched a shuttle land, you should. It's more exciting than a regular airplane. For one thing, it is a giant glider at that point. Without any forward thrust, if the pilot screws up the landing, it's over. No going around for another try. For another, they only drop the landing gear at the last possible moment.

We knew that the gear wasn't supposed to come down until the last possible moment. So we watched, collectively holding our breath as it came closer and closer to earth. Then, just as it hovered over the runway threshold, when it almost seemed too late, down came the gear, and it touched down in a burst of tire smoke...

...followed by a parachute being deployed from its tail as it slowly rolled to a stop.

From start to finish, it was glorious. It was a proud moment to be an American, and the whole world watched what we'd done. So proud were those moments that the time spent with my family, watching it all unfold, is etched in my memory forever. May we see such proud moments of accomplishment again!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Silly pornographers

Why are cumshots absolutely required in porn? One favorite video of mine (I mean, if I ever watched porn *wink*) stars a guy named Dolph Crawford. He's very hot.

Anyhow, the first scene, before the guys start cheating on each other, involves Dolph and his partner making love. Dolph tops him bareback (after all, they're supposed to be partners--although they're clearly not monogamous, as the rest of the video makes clear, but I digress...), and he finishes by pulling out, leaning back and stroking himself to orgasm.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, there is nothing hotter than anal sex ending with the top cumming inside the bottom. If both guys reach orgasm simultaneously, that's even better. So why must there always be a cumshot in porn? Especially if we're pretending the "actors" are a couple, why not have times when they don't pull out? Let him pant, "I'm going to cum," or words to that effect, and then show the look on his face and maybe some shots of his clenching ass. Let his partner say, "Oh yeah, shoot it. I can feel you shooting in my ass" or something like that. I'm not advocating barebacking, like they did in that film (although it has an appeal to me visually, especially since that's what we do--one of the benefits of all these years of monogamy). They can wear condoms, but they shouldn't always pull out.

Maybe it's just me, but I think videos with some internal orgasms would be hot!

Aimless ramblings

I'm not sure what to blog about. Our friend Scott is here with Jeff. Scott was on Fire Island for the week and stayed here overnight. He's going to go into Manhattan today to see a show.

Work was very busy this week. I'm glad the weekend is here.

On the way home yesterday, I saw a freight train on a siding. There were two LIRR diesel engines on one end, one on the other and 26 freight cars in between (yes, I counted them--I was bored). Two of the cars were flatbeds and were carrying old M-1 LIRR passenger cars. Many of the others were carrying what I believe they call, in the trade, "aggregates". That is, crushed rock of the type they use to lay track beds. Apparently, the LIRR was getting some work done.

Freight trains certainly move around Long Island, but they usually move at night. I don't often see them. I never see the huge ones that I've seen in the Midwest. Some of those are so big you can't even see the end of them. So this was a smaller one, but it was a minute's entertainment for me.

So what else is going on? Not a whole heck of a lot, and that works for me. My finances are starting to stabilize, now that I've been back to work for a couple of months. By "starting to stabilize," I mean that I'm now getting to the point that I feel comfortable enough to start saving for my nephews' college again, putting aside for another family member who is getting up there and may need some help in retirement, giving to charities, etc.

Once we actually sell the other house, so that we're down to just one mortgage, I'll really feel comfortable. I hope that happens soon. We have a buyer, but there are some technical issues we're having to get worked out.

So there you have it. The dull news from around here. There really isn't much to report. I just hope I get to relax this weekend. I need it!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Fun at work

You may recall our recently getting through our Joint Commission survey intact. Well, since we recently filed for Chapter 11 protection, the Joint Commission decided to do a one-day re-survey. Today was the day, and we did fine. My department came through yet again without a mark against us. So that's a relief!

Late today, I had another lovely moment, this one with some of our union reps. We've laid off a handful of employees in recent weeks, but the collective bargaining agreement, among other options, lets them fill vacant slots in their title. So today we were discussing a "Secretary I" who was being laid off. A department suddenly had an opening for a secretary, but the budgeted title was "Secretary II". I told them it made sense to place the secretary there, and we'd change the budget line to Secretary I for her.

The union feels that we should promote this employee, since we have the slot anyhow. This, of course, would mean paying the employee more. Their position is that it's already budgeted for the department (as if the money is already spent). As I reminded them, "it still costs the hospital money, and that's not a great idea when we're in bankruptcy and having to do layoffs," but they insisted that that's how it's always been done here.

By the way, the union people are supposed to be "partnering" with us for the good of the hospital. Is it me? In these circumstances, isn't it good enough that the employee will still have a job in the same title, at the same salary and benefits?

So they argued and argued, insisting that it's right to give the employee the promotion. The hospital is fighting for its survival and other employees are losing their jobs, but they want us to promote someone because there happens to be a budgeted line at a higher level? Yes, this is what unions mean to me. These are not the old days when it was a fight against sweatshops. Today, they defend bad behavior and take stands like this one.

This may get messy, but I really get aggravated when they do things like this. Fight the smart fights, folks, but this is just wrong.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves

Bible Course Becomes a Test for Public Schools in Texas

It's late, and I don't have the energy for the kind of rant this really deserves. Just tell me, someone, what don't these people get about bringing religion into public school classrooms? That there's even a serious argument to be made that teaching about the bible, as opposed to teaching adherence to it, is nauseating.

I don't try to push my way into your church and teach evolution, despite your getting a free ride on everything (or would you like to start paying taxes on your many properties?). So why should my tax dollars pay for your bible course?

For that matter, how is it that your wonderful religion is so weak that you can't get the message across in church and your own homes? Why does it need to be in the public schools, too?