Friday, December 31, 2010

Wringing Out the Old/Ringing In the New

With a full acknowledgment that I'm not a huge fan of the hoopla surrounding New Year's Eve, I thought I might combine a Tiz List of things you might not know about the past year(-ish), and a Tiz Wish List for the coming year. Having never done this, before, we'll just jump in and see how it goes.

1) I think that, when a rental property advertises a "fireplace" it should be an actual fireplace, and not simply a wood-burning stove.

2) I hope to go somewhere with a real fireplace for at least a couple of nights.

3) I hate to do the semi-forced "Happy Birthday" (or whatever) greetings on the social networking sites.

4) I've gotten to the point where I ignore most of the reminders.

5) I'm hoping to send more real greetings, so that the forced ones simply don't have to happen.

6) After a decent amount of semi-self-imposed austerity, I have begun shopping for fun, again. Just a little.

7) I started with new underwear, followed by new shoes.

8) Sometime in early January I have to decide if I'm keeping the new shoes.

9) I'm keeping the new underwear.

10) My favorite thing about the new dryer is the lighted control panel - even more than the interior light and the melodic "time's-up" buzzer.

11) I think a cruise would be fun - but I'd need at least a porthole, if not a balcony.

12) Our favorite delivery pizza place will add second toppings to the "one topping special."

13) I miss getting more "real" mail.

14) I'd rather get a handful of good birthday cards instead of a hundred online "happy birthdays."

15) I'd prefer it to be a rather large handful.

16) I have come to realize that I get tear-y-er at really happy/joyful/silly things that move me than at really sad things.

17) I'd like the chance to get a whole lot of tear-y at a whole lot of happy things in 2011.

18) We went to an incredibly simple wedding this year that - when I recently saw one of the pictures - made me feel that warm happy almost-tear-y feeling, again.

19) I have never used the words "pee" and "poop" as much in my life as I have in the past 3 months of trying to get a certain dog to do her duty when we go for walks.

20) Nothing makes me feel more inadequate than being unable to make my friends (or family) happy.

21) Or at least comforted.

22) I think I've reached my limit of mean-ness, rude-ness, and apathy that I can stand without reaction. (I asked for a customer service person's manager on the phone last night because - while she had certainly done all of the required actions on the phone - she had simply been mean and snarky the entire time. Was her customer service lacking so massively that it was deserved? Probably. Was it an over-reaction, even so? Probably. Is this a total digression? Definitely.)

23) I have way too much "stuff."

24) I hope to start getting rid of some "stuff" in the coming year. Possibly starting with old underwear and shoes.

25) I've now reached 10 followers on my blog. (Welcome, Mr. Number 10!)

26) My goal for 2011 is to have add at least 11 followers.

27) Okay. I'd settle for simply having at least 11 followers by the end of the year.

28) I'd still kind of like a kilt.

29) I am constantly amazed by people I know who are following at least some aspects of their dreams on a daily basis.

30) And it happens in Michigan and England and California and - I've heard - it can even happen in Cleveland.

31) I hope to, once again, figure out what my dreams are.

32) Maybe a West-Coastal-drive vacation would be good.

33) I should use my French more.

34) I really hope Disney doesn't stop making princess movies, even if they don't rake in the big bucks.

35) We have a knack for going to dinner somewhere, deciding we really enjoyed it, and then finding out the place has closed before we have a chance to go back.

36) We'd like to find a few new favorite places that don't close before we can go back.

Alright. Three dozen randomnesses, all written on a December afternoon where Minneapolis actually had hail. (Yes. Really. Hail. Not Sleet. Have I mentioned that we've been having strange weather?)

Now it's time to chill something bubbly, start looking toward dinner, and set the TiVo for the Rose Parade in case I don't get up in time for it.

Here's to whatever's next!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Okay. What's With The Weather?

I know I've been complaining about the weather this winter. And, well, I think the weather has deserved it.

This week has just been weird, though. We've had warm temps yesterday and today. And today we've had rain. Lots of rain. Enough to actually cause a bunch of the snow to compact. It's been a bit like spring. It's been nice.

But tonight and into tomorrow we're expecting freezing temps, freezing drizzle, freezing rain (see a theme?), and snow.

By Saturday, we could be pretty much iced in. And, yet, last night we walked to an open house without coats on.

This is going to be a long winter.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mid-Short-Week Wednesday

Have you ever noticed that on short work-weeks, the days all seem wrong?

You know, like when it's Tuesday, but it feels like Monday? Or when it feels like Friday, but it's only Thursday?

I love it when it feels earlier in the week than it is. I mean, when it feels like Monday, but it's already Tuesday (or even Wednesday), it's a great feeling to know that you don't have to deal with as much week ahead.

On the other hand, when it's one of those weeks where it feels like it ought to be Friday, but it's only Thursday (or, again, Wednesday), those weeks are just painful.

Well, I'm having a strange combo of those this week. I was off from work on Monday (on my way back to town from Christmas), and I'm going to be off on Friday (we have all of New Year's Eve off because New Year's Day is on the weekend).

So yesterday (a Tuesday) felt like a major Monday. And tomorrow (a Thursday) is going to feel like a Friday. But today... today was simply a Wednesday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Movie Monday - How to Train Your Dragon

One of the perks of spending Christmas with family is partaking in events you might not otherwise do. Like learning all about new robotic toys. Or watching dance practices in the living room (while imagining the shiny red tutu, of course). They also involve watching movies you might not otherwise have seen.

For me, this weekend, that movie was "How to Train Your Dragon" - which my nephew got for Christmas and waited for us to all sit down to watch.

And, you know what? It was really good.

Sure, there's a plot involving action and adventure and - non-spoiler-alert - dragons, but the portion of the movie that adults might get is the stuff about finding out who you are in the world. There is a whole sub-story about friendship and bravery and speaking up for what you believe in. And it's so deftly woven into the fabric of the dragons and the fire and the action and the comedy that it actually works.

Yes, I know that the movie was out a while ago, and that I'm really late in reviewing it. But I'll give it an A-, anyway. Not sure why it's not an A, but it just wasn't quite.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Itching for Something

After all of the presents are opened, and the dinner is eaten, and the meltdowns have occurred, it's all about the itch.

The itch for that one gift you didn't get. The itch for the leftovers that are waiting in the fridge calling your name. The itch because you're in a strange house with different humidity and so your skin is dry as dust.

I prefer the second of those. Or even the first. Aoife, unfortunately, is prone to the third.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Preparation: Beware "Present Face"

Here's hoping you don't have to worry about "Present Face" over the next few days, but - if you do - here's something that you can think about which will hopefully make you smile in spite of yourself.

(Now if only I could figure our to embed videos, this would have been so much less cumbersome...)

Go here to Garfunkel and Oates's YouTube page, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Theatrical Thursday - Mirror Mates

So, when was the last time you had the chance to get in at the very start of something big? Or the last time you put a dollar down on something and hoped to see it take off like a standing ovation? Or the chance to help someone's dream come true?

Well, here's your new best chance!

A very good friend of mine, and some very good friends of hers, are trying to put together backing to mount a staged reading of a brand new piece of theater: Mirror Mates: A Two Faced Farce.

Mirror Mates is, indeed, a farce which takes place in two settings: a home for the chronically ill, and a decrepit dinner theater. And the players play characters on both sides of the... well... for the sake of this posting... mirror.

From what I've heard, it's really a trip, and a lot of fun. And you (yes, you) have a chance to be involved!

They've launched a page on the website called "Kickstarter" that helps people spread the word about new projects and raise money. You can pledge anywhere from a dollar on up, and - here's a cool thing - if they don't make their initial fundraising goal, your credit card won't be charged at all. So you don't have to worry about donating money that never goes anywhere. If you get charged, that means it's going!

Anyway... Here is the link to the Mirror Mates Kickstarter pledge page - there's all sorts of information about the show, about the people involved, about what you can get for your money, and - no surprise - how to make that pledge.

I know it's the Holidays, and we're all kind of strapped, but if you can donate, please do. (And don't forget - they won't be charging anyone until February 1st, so try to make your pledge based on your cashflow in a "regular" month, not a Christmas-present-buying one.)


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wishful Wednesday

As we are in the midst of the Season of Wishes (not, obviously, to be confused with the Parade of Dreams or the Swamp of Despair), I thought I would drop a few wishes out into the world and see what happens.

1) I wish for World Peace. I know a lot of people tend to think of that as either "too big" or "too cliche" to wish for, but I figure if enough of us wish for it, it just might be a start. And I know a lot of people who would like to have their families together for the Holidays which this would be a good start for.

2) I wish for an end to cancer and AIDS and Alzheimer's and... well... since I'm at it... all disease. Wouldn't it be great if doctors could focus on things like skinned knees and hangnails, instead?

3) I wish that Karma had a more actively-obvious role in our world. I know that it would come around and bite me in the butt more than I'd like to admit, but there are a lot of really good people in the world who deserve better than they get. (And, let's just say it, a lot of really bad people in the world who deserve a lot worse than they get.)

4) I wish that all of my friends who are searching for jobs (either while employed or unemployed) could find meaningful, satisfying jobs complete with meaningful, satisfying incomes. Yes. I consider myself one of these friends.

5) I wish that I could figure out what it is that I'm doing while clearing snow (remember, our snow blower is in the shop for at least 2 weeks) that is causing me to strain my abdominal muscles. (Anyone who says "Gee. Maybe if you worked out more you'd have stronger abs and this wouldn't be a problem" gets coal in his/her stocking.)

6) I wish that, for about a week, I could be in my 20s again - and have a good wardrobe and be one of the current crop of cute and sexy guys that you see all over the place in the media AND know all I know today - just to experience it. (I thank any of you who are either thinking of saying "But you're still young and cute" and/or "it's so not worth it" and/or other fluffy comments. But, really, I do think it would be fun.)

7) I wish that personal teleportation was a reality so that I could bounce around and see everyone around the Holidays.

8) I wish we could figure out why our dog is constantly scratching herself. (We're currently starting a food trial to see if maybe it's a food allergy. This is after allergy meds and skin meds and steroids. It would be so much easier if she could just tell us what's wrong.)

9) I wish I had a winning lottery ticket - not just for a two-dollar prize, but for the whole kit and kaboodle. I've got a list of places I'd like to donate money to before I even start spending it on myself. (Okay. Maybe after I spend some of it on myself, but the donations would come fast and furious while I'm on my major round-the-world-first-class vacation...)

10) I wish, for all of you, a really good 2011. After all, this will be the year that goes to 11. That has to be good, right?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Movie Monday - TRON

I had every intention of writing a review of "TRON: Legacy," tonight. But then we got another 5" of snow. After the 90-minute drive home and the half-hour or so of shoveling, I decided that the better course of action for the evening was relaxation.

Here's what you need to know about the movie:

"TRON: Legacy" is a sequel to 1982's "TRON." But you really don't need to know that.

Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner were in both movies. But you really don't need to know that.

You do need to know that it's available in both 2-D and 3-D. I got a little motion-sick during the first portion of the 3-D movie, but I got used to it once they got into the movie. I'd guess it's actually much better in 3-D.

You should also know that the movie is an action flick. There's a romance (of sorts). And... well... that's pretty much it. You just need to know that the movie is fast, fun, and sexy.

If you go to it with that in mind, you'll be good to go.

Overall rating: A-. It would have been an A, but some of the CGI-ing got a little weird at times.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

SUCH a Sunday

I have so many topics for today, so here are just the highlights:

1) My nephew turned 21 today. When he was born, I was 22 years old, living in Paris, and the fact that I had a nephew made me feel kind of old. 21 years later, having a 21-year-old nephew makes me feel... well... older.

2) I think I might be done with my Christmas shopping. Or at least I might have completed all of the stuff that needed to be done in advance and wrapped - I've got a few little things that I'm looking forward to doing this week.

3) "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed, yesterday. Gay men and Lesbians are now legally able to serve openly in the military. I'm sure there will be court challenges, but - at least for now - the United States can feel like it's moving in the right direction toward equality for everyone. (And, really, in an era where enlistment is down, why would they turn away anyone? I've never understood that.)

4) According to the latest weather reports, we're supposed to be getting more accumulating snow, tomorrow. Our snow blower is still dead. And we didn't get the remaining re-plowed snow cleared out of the driveway until today. I also finally got a "walk-through" carved out at the corner of our lot where we connect the sidewalk to the street. And now we'll see if we get another six inches of snow, tomorrow. Should make for an interesting outdoor game for the Vikings football team, though - possibly one of the first times I've been interested in one of their games in a while. (Have you seen the video of the collapse of the Metrodome?)

Okay. I think that's about all I've got for today. After all, Sunday is supposed to be a relaxed day, right?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Food... Prep

As I was walking through the kitchen at work, today, I noticed that the clock on the microwave simply said "00:00." It wasn't flashing, it was just sitting there with all zeros.

But it's supposed to be a clock. Clocks don't have four zeros that don't change. Clocks have numbers that change as the day goes on.

I hate when clocks aren't being clocks. I'm not all that worried, really, about whether the times are exact (although that's very nice) - I just want them to be running and fairly accurate.

When I go to an appliance store, I go through and set the time on all of the kitchen appliances. (No. Really. I admit it.) When Christopher is looking around at Best Buy, I desperately work to stay away from things like VCRs and DVRs, because I get frustrated if I don't know how to set the time.

I survived the afternoon without re-setting the time on the microwave. Mainly by not walking back into the kitchen.

I suspect I'll be setting the time on Monday morning, though, while waiting for my Pop-tarts to pop.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Travel Tuesday - Snow Commute Style

There is this very strange phenomenon that happens during inclement weather and rush hours. We've all experienced it. (Well, all of us who live in areas with rush hours, at least - which I can say because my home town's only rush hours are just after school gets out, and just after a sporting event lets out.)


Whether there's rain, or snow, or scary fog, or a dog on the sidewalk shaking too hard, rush hour traffic somehow gets very distracted and scared and decides that driving zero miles per hour is the best plan of action. Unless you're in an overly large vehicle (like an Xterra, or a mass transit bus), in which case it's best to drive quickly enough just as the traffic light changes so that you can be stuck in the middle of the intersection and perfectly block cross traffic for the entire cycle of the light.

But at least in some ways that's all okay. Because the weather is wet, or foggy, or that dog is shaking on the sidewalk, and so you have reason to be confused.

Of course, the day AFTER a weather- (or dog-) related rush hour is usually pretty much back to normal. After all, there's nothing to keep you from doing your regular drive on those days, right?

Then why did it take me an hour and forty-five minutes to get home on Monday night?

It's not like we had any new snow coming down. The 17" that were on the ground were already down and settled. The 'dome had already collapsed. Day 3 of the Snow Emergency parking was already well underway. And, yet, it took me a full hour just to get out of downtown.

People were driving either like maniacs or like... well... people who don't know how to drive. I could have walked through downtown faster than I was able to drive. No. Really. People walked past me while I was "driving."

But that was Monday night - the first big commute after the weekend storm. So tonight was fine, right?

Right. If you consider taking an hour and five minutes to do a thirty-five minute commute fine. As you can guess, I have NO idea what took so long, tonight. The roads were dry - or at least as dry as we're going to see them in the next 4 months - and there was no precipitation. I didn't even see any shaking dogs.

The only thing I saw was an hour of my life slipping away.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Digging Out, Day 2

The second day of serious digging out took place, today. Made all the more exciting by the fact that this is now, officially, the 7th largest snow in Minneapolis history. The largest one since 1991. And we've now had two-thirds of the total snowfall for an average winter, all before winter actually starts.

As far as I can tell, only one plow has been down our street. And the plow's blade did NOT touch the ground. So what we have on the street which our driveway connects to is two tire ruts with about 8 inches of snow between them.

Now, if you're coming down our street from one of the adjoining streets, that's not all that bad. After all, if you're simply driving down the block, you just leave your tires in the ruts and - like a ride at Disney - the car just goes where it's supposed to go.

But, if you're like us, and you need to actually get from the driveway to those ruts... well... it's not so easy. What we really need, I think, is something like the moveable rails that they use to move trains from one track to another.

Since we don't have those rails, though, I'm simply very very happy that I have a car with all-wheel drive. Sure, it's not a big SUV with four-wheel drive that sits high enough to avoid all of the snow, but it does have power at all four wheels. So, when our snowblower ran out of gas today (possibly we should have planned ahead, since this was blowable snow #3 already this season), I decided that I would make the drive out to get more gas for that (and a few groceries, while I was at it).

First attempt to get out of the driveway was pretty much futile. So I tossed it back into Drive and pulled back in. Then I got out and attempted to shovel a whole lot more snow out of the way. Second attempt was equally bad. Third attempt I stepped on the gas seriously hard (if this was summer, I'd have shot across the street and driven up on the yard across the street). I bounced my way into the ruts.

So. Great. I made it out. Did my shopping and got the gas for the snowblower. And then realized that I probably wouldn't be able to get back into the driveway on the way home - after all, on the way in you have to gain speed, then turn OUT of the ruts and into the driveway. Much harder than the other direction.

Foolhardiness - combined with not wanting to park my car outside on a night which has a predicted low of -13 (not including windchills) - made me try it.

Made it in on the first try. Granted, I slid so far across while I was turning that I ended up on the wrong side of the driveway and had to readjust by backing out and lining up a little better - but I could do all of that on the shoveled driveway.

I have no idea whether Christopher is going to be able to get his car out in the morning. Or what kind of plowed piles we'll be dealing with when the plows finally do come down our block. (I'm assuming they will... eventually...)

Only 3 or 4 more months to spring.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snowbound Saturday

In case you haven't seen it - either outside (if you live in our neck of the woods) or on the news (if you live elsewhere) - Minneapolis has been whomped with a major snowstorm today.

Everyone points out when I talk about this that this is Minnesota and it is December, so a snowstorm shouldn't be a surprise. And, you know, I was feeling that way early in the week, too, when the forecast was for 2 to 5 inches of snow. And then, on Thursday, they started saying 6 to 10 inches falling from last night through today.

Yesterday, they started saying that anywhere from one to two FEET of snow were expected. Luckily, it wasn't supposed to start until after 10 o'clock, so Christopher and I were able to get both to and from the Valley Chamber Chorale Christmas concert with only minor ick on the roads as we got closer to home.

And then it kept snowing. And snowing. And snowing.

When I watched the news tonight, they said that the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport was reporting 16.5" of snow. And that's without factoring in wind. And the fact that it is still snowing.

Yes. We expect snow out here.

Yes. We know that it happens and that we have to deal with it. (For the first time in a while, I broke down and did serious Holiday shopping online this week - nothing like this major storm 2 Saturdays before Christmas to seriously muck up retail.)

Happily, we also know that the roads will be mostly back to "normal" by the time Monday's commute rolls around.

But, this time, we have the distinction of being able to say that this is the largest snowfall since "The Halloween Blizzard" (which I finally found out, today, was in 1991 - I didn't live here, then, so I had no idea). It also makes this - officially - one of the snowiest Decembers on record, which is kind of daunting considering we still have about 2/3 of the month ahead of us.

On the up side, we're pretty much guaranteed a white Christmas.

On the down side, at this rate, we're also guaranteed a white Easter.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

I've decided to be thrifty with today's blog. Not that I ever spend that much on my blog postings, but I decided to use even fewer of my own words than usual and borrow today's posting from someone else.

Don't worry. I'm using a good source. An actual published author and all that. I think you'll enjoy him. And, basically, what I want to say is "Yeah. What he said."

Here's the link to the blog posting I think you'll like: Neil Gaiman's Blog - December 9, 2010. I wouldn't worry about reading the Q&A section. The main bit at the start of it is what I was focused on. (Oh - in case you're wondering - yes. He lives near Minneapolis.)


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Solar Whatchamadoodles

Have I complained, lately, about how freakin' cold it is around here?

The temperatures we've had are what would normally be January temperatures. It's been a good 15 degrees below normal for the past week or two. Considering how warm it was in November, it's been a huge shock to the system.

We've all gone from wearing fall jackets to our heaviest winter coats in just a few weeks. The snow isn't going anywhere. And... well... it's a long time until spring.

But, then, when it's really cold, it also tends to be really sunny (which it isn't when it's warmer and more "moist" out). And I like the really sunny times.

This morning I even got an extra treat on the drive to work. There were massive solar... umm... thingies. You know, faint "rainbows" on the sides of the sun - kind of like a halo around the sun. In the summer, they'd be sun dogs. But I have no idea what they're called this time of year.

Anyway, whatever they're called, they were really cool. I know that they're caused by the refraction of light by ice crystals in the atmosphere, but they seem more magical than that.

Heck. They must be good - they even made me happy to be driving to work.

Or at least to be driving...

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Difficulty of Unexpected Simplicity

There are plenty of nights when I'm at home that I don't turn on my computer. Christopher and I have been known to have dinner, play cards, and spend whole evenings without any of our electronics on. Although we do usually have music playing.

I know. It's weird. But we both enjoy it.

Plenty of our friends have gone without internet and cable for long periods of time (for various reasons), and we've debated getting rid of aspects of our "plugged-in-ed-ness" from time to time.

The reason I'm mentioning this is because, last night, our Internet service was out. We've had plenty of problems with our service ever since we "upgraded," but last night apparently about 4 states were internet-less.

Of course, we had no way of knowing that it wasn't just us. We tried all of our tricks to get the connection re-connected, and finally - after literally hours - I tried calling the company. Five tries in (I kept getting busy signals) I got far enough along to find out that there was an outage in our area.

So I didn't do any work. And we didn't research any Christmas gifts. And we didn't work on any holiday plans.

Which means that last night both Christopher and I were fairly frustrated by the forced simplicity of the evening.

Simple? Yes. Difficult? Yes.

Confused? Maybe.

Friday, December 3, 2010

To Bake or Not To Bake

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas cookies, lately.

That's not very strange, considering the time of year.

What's strange is that I haven't started baking them, yet.

Usually, I start baking dozens and dozens of cookies around the weekend after Thanksgiving. But, this year, I'm kind of not feeling the spirit of the Holiday baking.

I think it's because the weather went from feeling like September to feeling like January. We really haven't had the December-y weather we usually have. So it doesn't really feel like it's the right time of year for the baking.

Here's hoping that I can shake that and get into the mood, soon. After all, Christmas is only 3 weeks away.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Religious Experience

The online world can be a strange, yet religiously inspiring, place.

Today, on one of the social networking sites which shall remain nameless, I saw two things:

1) Someone stated that she hates traffic with the white hot intensity of a thousand nuns. Yeah. On second or third glance I realized it said "suns" but it makes me wonder what the intensity of a thousand nuns would be like.

2) An online ad came through promoting menorahs, pointing out "Hanukkah beings and sundown..." I re-read it a couple of times, but that one never got better. So I responded to the post-er of the ad (as did a couple other people) saying that the sentiment was nice, but that possibly proofreading would have been good. About half an hour later, the ad was re-sent stating "Hanukkah begins at sundown..." Definitely more what they were aiming for, I'm sure.

But I still wonder who or what the Hanukkah beings are and what they do at sundown with their menorahs. And do you suppose their menorahs burn as brightly as the intensity of those thousand nuns?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

World AIDS Day 2010

December 1st, as many of you know, is World AIDS Day.

As such, it is - obviously - a day to consider how HIV and AIDS have changed the face of the world as we know it over the past few decades. To think of the lives lost or forever altered by a disease which knows no boundaries, no prejudices, no borders. A disease which simply needs blood to survive - blood which we all share no matter our colors, our sexual orientations, our heritages, or our religious or political leanings.

World AIDS Day is also a day to think about what we do in the world on a daily basis. To consider how important each and every action we take can be - in our own lives and the lives of those around us. To reflect on how important honest and open communication - between partners, between doctors and patients, between governments and people - can be. To remind ourselves that what we do with our lives is up to each and every single one of us.

It is also a day to think about how we can change the life of another person in an instant - knowingly or unknowingly. Whether we reach out to someone in need, speak up against a bully, talk about the possible consequences of unprotected sex, or make a donation of time or money to an outreach charity, we all make choices on a daily basis which impact those around us. Inaction is also a choice we all have to live with.

A few choices I would suggest for commemorating World AIDS Day 2010:
  1. If you aren't sure if you have HIV or AIDS (or if you're simply "pretty much certain" that you don't), please take the time to get tested. Your life - and the lives of those around you - depends on it.
  2. Help to educate others in your life about HIV and AIDS. Help them to understand that this is a non-discriminating disease which added another 100,000 people - both men and women, of all ages, races, and religions - to its roster in North America and Western Europe alone in 2009. If they think they don't know someone affected with this, you can bet they're wrong.
  3. Consider making a donation to one of the organizations fighting against HIV/AIDS, or working to make the lives of those living with AIDS more liveable. (There are a LOT of organizations out there. For instance, without even thinking about it, I can name: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Minnesota AIDS Project, Baltimore's Moveable Feast, or any number of other organizations.
  4. Take a moment or two or ten to really look at the people you have chosen to have in your life and enjoy them for who they are, realizing that they may not always be there.
  5. For one day. Just one single day out of 365. Truly try to pay attention to every choice you make in your life.
Here's hoping that someday in the future World AIDS Day will be a day of remembering a horrible disease that once was, and not one that is.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Muppet Movie Monday

No. Not "The Muppet Movie" Monday. Just Muppet Movie Monday.

I happened to stumble across a "marathon" of Movies starring Muppets this past weekend. Or... Well... Maybe not exactly a marathon, since I saw them on different days, but much Muppet mayhem, at least.

I got to see "Muppet Treasure Island," "The Muppets Take Manhattan," "Muppets from Space," and - no surprise - "A Muppet Christmas Carol."

It's been AGES since I've seen the first three, and they were great fun. I actually have a copy of the fourth of those, and I was planning to get it out this weekend so I was thrilled that I didn't have to.

I know I usually write a movie review on Monday, but today I fully admit that I'm just basking in the glow of all of the Muppet-ness that was the past weekend.

Definitely better than a frozen fish fight.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Colossal Black Olives

When I was growing up, all of our big holiday meals included canned pitted black olives and "jarred" green olives with red pimentos in them.

As I've gotten older, I've come to enjoy all sorts of olives, but there is something about those pre-packaged olives that still holds a special place in my heart - and on my table. So, early this week when I wasn't sure what Thanksgiving would bring, I decided that I needed to store in some black olives, at the very least.

Did you know that there are at least five sizes of pitted black olives? And I'm not including sliced or diced.

I immediately ruled out the "small" olives and started looking at the "large" olives. But after seeing the "large" ones then I looked and saw the "extra large" olives. There were something like 48 olives in a can of extra large ones.

Forty-eight olives sounded like fun, but then I saw the "jumbo" olives, with 36 olives in the can. Imagine how much bigger the olives are in that can. Well, I may never know, since I then noticed - at the edge of the shelf - the "colossal" olives.

Yes, colossal.

Only an average of 22 olives in the can. All for the same price as the other cans. I had to have them.

They were amazing. The size of... umm... well... kind of the size of dates. Or small plums. They were large enough that I could fit them not only on my fingers, but even on my thumbs without them breaking (well, without them breaking too much).

I suspect I'll be buying them again for the next festive occasion. In fact, I might even say they were a colossal success.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Tiz List

On this Thanksgiving Day, I figured it would be good to do a Thanks-themed Tiz List. (Can't remember what a Tiz List is? Click on the "Tiz List" tag at the bottom of this post and you can see the full list of the ones I've posted in the past.)

I'm thankful for...

1) Family and friends who invite me to spend Thanksgiving with them.

2) And for family and friends who understand when - due to weather and non-weather reasons - I opt to spend a quiet cocooning day at home.

3) A 10" pumpkin pie (made with Libby's pumpkin, of course, Libby) in the oven to eat all by myself while cocooning.

4) Cool Whip to put on said pumpkin pie. (Yes. Cool Whip. Which could have been #1 if I wasn't trying to be sentimental today.)

5) Musical theater, for its promise and joy.

6) Sunny snowy days, because there is nothing so glorious as a blue-skied day with white snow on everything. (I'll gripe about it later when I'm freezing cold while shovelling - which I'm already tired of doing even though it's only November.)

7) Real mail.

8) Phone calls.

9) Hand-made afghans and quilts.

10) And scarves. (Yes, even when the fuzzy yarn gets caught in my beard.)

11) See's Candy kiosks in the malls around the Holidays, even though the candy isn't quite as good as when it used to show up in a box from California along with lemons and avocados.

12) Warm flannel pajama pants.

13) Stores that are CLOSED on major holidays.

14) Programmable thermostats.

15) Tear-jerking Holiday commercials. (Which I prefer, frankly, when I'm alone.)

16) Stumbling across great old movies while scrolling channels on the TV.

17) Full-sugar, full-caffeine Coca-Cola.

18) The fact that there are different sizes of canned black olives. Not just different sizes of cans, but actual different sizes of olives. (I have a can of "Colossal" olives in the kitchen right now to put on my fingers later today.)

19) Dr. Seuss.

20) The fact that Christopher comes home in a couple of days - and that I simply have him in my life to miss when he's gone.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Thanks to all of you for reading!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mental Health Day

Have you ever had one of those days when you just needed a Mental Health Day away from work?

You know, one of those days when you wake up in the morning and just can't imagine going, no matter what? Possibly you've got some errands you really want to run, or some work to do around the house, too. All of which suggests that you might feel SO much better if you just spend the day doing things mainly for yourself.

Things like hanging out with the pup. And organizing some paperwork. And watching random TV (like "Dr. Who" on BBC America or "Gilmore Girls" on ABC Family). And possibly... just possibly... buying the first Christmas gift of the season. And maybe even going out and treating yourself to really bad (and, yet, totally craveable) food.

Really? You haven't?

Nah. Me, neither.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

That Pre-Monday Feeling

Why is it that Sunday nights - even though for most of us they are the culmination of a couple of days of relaxation away from work - seem to result in high stress?

I spent Friday night at a concert. I was incredibly productive, yesterday, running a whole bunch of errands, doing some editing, and having a friend over for dinner last night. Today I spent about 6 hours editing, picked up one of the Scotland-travelling friends from the airport and took her home, then came home and had dinner of leftovers from yesterday's dinner (which was still quite good, except for the whole "almost inhaling some of the fried rice" thing).

And, yet, after having a mostly restful weekend I'm having kind of heartburn-y stress feelings. Yes, those feelings could be because of the leftover Chinese food with the fried rice I almost sucked into my lungs, but I suspect there's something more insidious than that. I suspect there's a bit of not wanting to go to work involved. And of not entirely looking forward to another week of Christopher being overseas.

Here's to next weekend - 4 days off, and Christopher home on Saturday night. (But... yeah... I'm popping some Pepto, just in case.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Idina Menzel in Concert

I had intended to write about something completely different tonight. It was going to nicely tie-in to the whole "Friday Food" theme. And then I went to see Idina Menzel in concert with the Minnesota Orchestra.

I want to say that it wasn't my favorite concert ever. But it was just so good that I suspect I'll remember it for a lot longer than most concerts I've been to. Or, more correctly, she was just so good. She had such an earnestness about her that as an audience member I just had to love her. I had to go along for the ride with her stories, and enjoy the laughter of the patter as well as the tears in the songs.

I've seen performers who were great with the audience patter, but had no personality during songs (have any of you ever seen James Naughton in concert? Great voice. Wonderful patter between songs. NO personality when singing them.). And I've seen some who can, at times, over-emote because they don't have a cast and props to work with (love Bernadette Peters, but she's not subtle). And... yeah... I kind of feared for that a few times tonight, too. But so much of what went on around all of that was just so, well, so good.

She performed "No Day But Today" from Rent and asked the audience to sing the "echos" at the end. She did "Funny Girl" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl. She did "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked, and a blended "Love for Sale" and "Roxanne." She did "Poker Face" - the Lady Gaga song she performed not long ago on Glee. And, yeah, she got me to tear up (and start to reach for Christopher's hand, until I remembered he wasn't there) with "Look to the Rainbow" from Finian's Rainbow.

But what kept me going was all the other stuff she did. She spent time talking to Sarah Hicks (the conductor), talking about her clothes and asking where she was from - and really seeming to care. She fussed with a pin that was sticking in her side that she had apparently forgotten to pull out of the dress when it came back from the dry cleaners. And she actively included the ASL sign language interpreter (a guy by the name of Stephen) in her performance - even though he may have been happier being left out.

I realize that we probably could have had another 20 minutes of music if she hadn't talked to these people. But she talked about how this was the first time she'd ever had an interpreter on stage for a concert - and that it was so much fun to watch him. And she openly apologized to him when she was telling a story about breastfeeding her son and he had to sign that. (She also stopped in midsong during "Poker Face" to watch him do the gesture for "muffin" - no, not the baked goods kind.)

Early on, she stopped between songs to pose for pictures. And toward the end of the evening she actually shushed some audience members who wanted to cheer for her while she was making a serious point. She said that her agent had told her that she could play a venue like Orchestra Hall - with an orchestra behind her - and pack it. And that she hadn't believed him until she walked on stage. Part of me realizes that that whole thing could have been staged, but it just felt too real.

She wrapped up the evening with an amazing a capella "For Good" (which she did with no microphone) and "Defying Gravity" from Wicked. Then wrapped it all up in a bow with "Tomorrow" from Annie, which she said was for her dad in the audience (and was part of a story she had told in the first few minutes of the show).

I might just have to put her on my list of fantasy dinner guests. And I won't even make her be the entertainment. (Unless she wants to be.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The "Over the River and Through the Woods" Season

It dawned on me this evening while I was taking the pooch for a walk that we have once again come to the time of year when we all start going "over the river and through the woods" to houses of all different kinds of relatives and friends.

And, although I'm not really ready for that time of year to be upon me, I have to admit that I love that it's almost here.

I love that two out of the three big holidays that come up in the next 6 or 7 weeks have nothing to do with anything other than being together. Sure, Thanksgiving is also a day for stuffing yourself with food, but mainly it's about being together. And New Year's Eve is supposedly about toasting in the new year, but it's really about being with people to enjoy and reflect, too.

Christmas... well... as much as it's about getting together with family and friends there can - at times - also cause stress and anxiety because of the forced joyfulness of it. And there's the gift giving which can be difficult for some people. And the day is mythic in the amount of pressure that is built into it. Which is probably why I like Advent (those 4 weeks before Christmas which each get their own candle on the wreath) better than the day, itself. But that's a whole different blog post.

I've started seeing the "home for the holidays" commercials showing up on TV. Part of me wants to be frustrated that they're already on, but with Thanksgiving next week, I'm willing to give some latitude. Especially since some of them are really well done. After all, everyone wants to have the next great Folger's "Peter Comes Home" commercial. (Oh, go ahead. Watch it again and get misty-eyed. It's okay.)

Here's to the season of reflection and reconnection. After all, ready or not, here it comes - over the river and through the woods.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What the...? Wednesday

I have had enough moments in the past week that fit the "What the...?" mold that I figured I'd share a few and make this a nicely alliterative posting.

- What the heck are people thinking when they park so that there is about half a car-length open behind them, and another half a car-length in front of them? Why do they not move one way or the other to give room for another full car? I know that this isn't always the fault of the "obvious" car (perhaps the car was properly parked and the people around it moved), but when the person is parked in the middle of a section of curb which is basically two car-lengths long, that's an issue.

- What do you call it when you get 4 things in a row correct? With three you can make a sports allusion with "trifecta" or "hat trick." But what is it with four?

- What makes otherwise mostly rational people become mean, belligerent, threatening, and all-around jerk-y when they're corresponding online? At work in the past week we've had two types of people - the ones who actually treat us like people, and the ones who don't seem to know how. Someone actually threatened to blackball us with all of the writers she knows because she felt that our customer service was bad and that we weren't being responsive enough. The problem with that assertion? She had received an email about 6 weeks earlier that she had never responded to. When that was pointed out, and an apology for any possible mis-givings was offered, she still acted like it was our fault. Whatever happened to the gracious apology?

- What is it about mid-level celebrities (ie local newscasters) that makes them feel like they ought to be acknowledged and/or fawned over?

- How do you get into a voicemail system without a password? And why does a voicemail system which is only accessible from home need a password, anyway?

And, finally...

- What the hell am I doing up at 11 o'clock at night on a day when the pooch got me up at 5:30 in the morning?

Well, at least I have an easy answer to that last one. G'night y'all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Travel Tuesday, Or Not

It is, indeed, Travel Tuesday. But, as you may have noticed, I'm not travelling at the moment. Christopher is travelling with friends (currently in a castle in the UK), but I'm here at home taking care of the pup since I have no vacation time.

Which means that the most travelling I do is walking around the block twice a day, and driving back and forth to work. And although the morning misty skies have been pretty the past few days, it's not exactly the most thrilling situation where travel is concerned.

Sure. Last weekend I drove over to Saint Paul (on the really nasty early-storm roads). But that's been about it, lately.

So I've been letting my mind wander, again.

Earlier today I was contemplating a weekend jaunt to San Francisco for an evening all about ecology and sustainability. Or questing off to become an English tutor somewhere far away.

This evening I tried to imagine hanging out in Los Angeles at a pee-wee soccer game or two. And I just spent about 20 minutes between Baltimore and New York.

Now I'm back at home. On the couch with a pooped pup trying to get me to give up on the work I need to do and go to bed.

I suspect my mind will wander more places before the day wraps up. Perhaps as far as a castle in Scotland.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Snow of the Season

They've been predicting the first snowfall of the season for a while, now. We've known it was coming this weekend. We've even known that we could easily get 6 inches of snow in our area.

Last year, we got our first major snow in October. And there was snow on the ground pretty much constantly all the way through to March. So we started late this year - but hopefully it won't stick around an extra month in the spring.

I grew up in South Dakota, so I knew about snow before I moved out here from Baltimore a few years ago. Even though I admit I had really gotten used to Baltimore snows - which are usually mixed with rain and melt away within a few days. And, on major snow days (basically anything more than an inch), everything shuts down. It's great.

Out here, though, I've gotten mostly back into the swing of snow. I know that nothing closes due to snow. I know that people drive like maniacs while driving through inches of freezing precip (these are the same people who drive 10 miles per hour if it drizzles and it's 70 degrees out). And I know that shovelling is one of the things that goes with living in a house.

As you may have noticed, Christopher is currently away. So today - after getting glared at by the dog for making her go outside to go to the bathroom in the snow - I ran some errands (I swear I wasn't driving maniacally) and then came home to clear the sidewalks and driveway.

The first snow of the year is typically kind of a fun one to shovel. It's usually just a couple of inches, and it moves pretty quickly. Yeah, not today.

Today's snow is HEAVY. It's wet. It's pulling down tree branches around town - and I even saw a full tree down in one neighborhood. The snow is falling off the trees in clumps the size of snowballs. I cleared off all of the shrubs in the yard, but I fear some of them may have permanent damage.

Then I headed to the garage to start up the snow blower. It started on the first try, and did well enough as I cleared half of the driveway and about 20% of the sidewalk. Then the thicker snow on the next section of the driveway and sidewalk started to plug the blower's spout. And I started to have to shake it out ever foot or so.

I eventually - after a few choice words which I'm glad no one was around to hear - gave up on the snow blower and moved to the shovel. It took me another half hour to clear the sidewalks, and I was soaked from the inside out and the outside in by the time I was done.

Even if some of it melts this week, I think I'll be feeling this first snow for a while.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Quiet in Here

You know, it's strange how much quieter the house is with Christopher away on vacation. I'm sure that I'll get more used to it over the next couple of weeks, but on this - the second night without him around - it's still a bit strange.

Aoife, on the other hand, seems to be hearing more and more noises as we go along. Every time there's any noise outside in the direction of the kitchen and garage, she stops what she's doing to look up to see if Christopher is home. And, periodically, she does a circuit of the house to make sure everything is okay - and that she hasn't misplaced him in the office.

I suspect she'll begin to get used to Christopher not coming home in a few days. But I bet that she'll keep looking hopefully at the door when there's a chance he'll be there. Honestly, so will I, but she doesn't have the luxury of a calendar to count down the days 'til he gets home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just Plane Stalking

Yep. That's what I'm up to tonight: just plane stalking.

I'm sitting here on the couch trying to catch up on some of the things I haven't watched on TV, lately, and I've got the Delta airline website sitting in the corner of my screen. Every so often I click on that, open it up, and refresh it.

You see, Christopher left this afternoon for 2.5 weeks in France and Scotland. The official reason for the trip (at least the first week or so of it) is to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday in Scotland. The second week (or thereabouts) he's simply spending in Paris since if you're on that side of the world and have the vacation time to burn you really might as well. Right?

So I'm starting a 2.5-week-long stint as a "solo parent" for the pooch. And tonight is our first very-quiet-seeming night at home.

But, while we're on the couch, Christopher is winging his way eastward. And I'm following his progress on the "Flight Status" thing on Delta's website. Stalking his plane... sorta.

It was a bit strange, today. The weather was warm and sunny (another freakishly warm day, in fact), and I took a long lunchbreak to drive Christopher to the airport. About the time he was taking off, a cloudbank rolled in. The sunny warm day turned grey, damp, and windy. If it had happened in a movie, it would have been too cliche for words to have that weather change as the boyfriend left town.

And... so... now you know where I am, tonight. And I know where Christopher is, thanks to my plane stalking.

Monday, November 8, 2010

MNOp Monday

Christopher and I attempted to go to a movie about three times in the past four days. But we never quite made it. On the other hand, we did go to something kind of movie-related, yesterday. Well, sort of.

You see, yesterday we went to see "La Cenerentola" (aka "Cinderella") at the Minnesota Opera. The opera is by Rossini, not Rodgers and Hammerstein, and definitely not Disney. There are no mice. There's no pumpkin. There's not even a ball or a wicked stepmother. And, although some of the music is really catchy, I found myself kind of wanting to sing my own songs from time to time.

The production was nice. The sets were big, the costumes made sense. The voices were good. But... yeah... the direction seemed a little slow, and Christopher commented after the fact that there were some flubs in the musicality of the production. (Luckily, I don't know the show well enough to know that.)

I know that the Sunday matinee is never the strongest show of the week, but it just seemed to not live up to what I had hoped for. Instead of coming home and humming the overture, I came home and started singing songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein show. That's probably not a great sign.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Back On Target - Not a Bulls-eye

Today, for the first time in months, I actually pulled out the Target ad from the newspaper and looked at it. Flipped all the way through it. Contemplated going to Target to buy a few things.

You see, when I decided that I wasn't going to shop at Target because of their sizable donation to MN Forward last summer, my decision was that I would stop shopping there until they either made a large donation to a gay-friendly candidate OR the election was over. The latter, of course, means that the money that they had spent in that one race would have run its course and - for better or worse - be "done."

Well, this being Minnesota, the gubernatorial race is going to be heading into a recount. But, since there aren't any ads or anything during a recount, that means that the money that Target gave, in essence to a single personally-incredibly-repulsive candidate, is now done. That donation no longer holds any sway in the political future of the state - or... by totally over-rationalized extension... my life as a gay man in the state. (The candidate, now in the recount, may still screw up my life in the future, but the advertising money won't.)

Interesting that, while I was making this decision today, I was flipping through the Minneapolis newspaper and found an article stating that - while Target says they didn't see any noticeable drop in revenues after the not-well-thought-out donation to MN Forward - they have suffered an eleven-percent drop among people who used to consider Target to be a highly moral/ethical company. Sure, many of those people may still like Target, but they no longer "like like" Target. I guess you could say that now people think of Target as being just a tad "off-target."

So... With the full realization that Target is neither the most culturally bankrupt of corporations, nor the least... I plan to start shopping there again in the near future. We'll see how it goes.

And I'll keep keeping an eye on the political donations of my favorite corporations in the future.

Lesson learned... hopefully on both sides.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm Alive and Kicking. Or at least Walking.

Sorry. I probably shouldn't have skipped posting the past couple of days after having been so depressed about how I was feeling on Wednesday.

The good news, though, is that I am feeling better today. I think that the antibiotics are working (along with the yogurt - which is supposed to help with digestion because the antibiotics are so strong that they can cause digestive issues because they also can kill off the "good" bacteria in your system). Okay, so Christopher and I have spent the past two nights at home instead of going to a movie we've been wanting to see - because I just haven't felt like going out.

And, tonight, Christopher is off to a wine and cheese night with friends which we've both been looking forward to. But, while he's off to that, I'm still at home where I just finished up working on an edit that needed to be done, and I hope to finish about three things, then go directly to bed. I *so* need to get some extra sleep. Especially since, at 7:38 this morning, the phone rang to tell us that the dryer Christopher had ordered on Monday was on its way over. No sleeping in on Saturday morning for us.

In fact, we followed up the installation of the new dryer with cleaning the basement (because it needed to be done, apparently), measuring the yard (a friend of ours is helping us design a landscaping plan), and taking the pooch to the vet to figure out why she's favoring her back left leg.

Figuring we'd have a relaxing afternoon, we came home for a bit, then headed to Costco and a luggage store (have I mentioned that Christopher is heading out of the country for 2.5 weeks starting this Wednesday?) before getting home. Where I sat back down to finish said edit ("said" in the first paragraph, above), and Christopher got ready to go out.

Now I'm going to finish this post, watch a little TV, turn back a few clocks, and head for bed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whiney Whednesday

[Let me start by saying I'm not going to whine about yesterday's elections. Instead I'm going to mention how proud I am of Christopher and our friend Kelly who both worked from (at least) 6am until 9pm to help the elections run smoothly. That's kinda cool, you know?]

What I am going to whine about is the fact that I've had sinus issues since last Friday/Saturday. At first, when I felt some pain in the rear of my jaw, I thought maybe I had just gotten some popcorn wedged back there. But the ache didn't go away when I brushed. I made it through the weekend, even though I didn't have my pseudophedrine with me, so I just popped ibuprofen and kept going.

Monday my lower jaw started to hurt a bit more, but I was back to my generic Sudafed and seemed to be doing okay. Yesterday was about the same, but I started to feel it in my upper jaw, as well. I decided that a night's dosage of meds would make the decision on whether or not I headed for the dentist, today. (If the sinus meds worked, then it wasn't a problem with my teeth. If they didn't, then I was going to check in with the dentist.)

Unfortunately (sort of - I like my dentist), the meds worked last night. And I was hoping that I'd be fine all day. But, during the day at work, I can't take a full dose of pseudophedrine because it makes me foggy. So about mid-afternoon I was having upper and lower jaw pain - and a mild earache, and then the area beneath my jawline started to hurt (all of this on the left side, only).

At about 6:35 this evening, I checked in at Urgent Care. About half an hour later I was on my way out the door - just too late to pick up my new prescription for antibiotics. So I've got one more day of dealing with the pain and annoyance using over-the-counter means, and tomorrow night I get to start on the antibiotics.

Here's hoping that curing the pain will also cure my whining. Even I'm getting tired of it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Movie Monday is Pre-empted by "Get Moving Monday"

Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 2nd) is Election Day for pretty much all of us in the States.

So get moving and get out there and vote!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallowed-Out

I realize that, these days, saying that I'm not a fan of Hallowe'en is kind of like saying I don't like fuzzy kittens. But, honestly, I just don't care for Hallowe'en.

Disregarding any childhood issues with masks and trick-or-treating in costumes with parkas over them, the issues I've got with Hallowe'en these days are pretty much all recent.

Okay. Sure. I'm not a fan of being scared. I don't enjoy the creepy crawly stuff. I don't much care for the undead or their ilk. (Although there are movies that I love which do include most of those things.)

But I'm also not a fan of people using any excuse to drink too much or be overly crazy and over-the-top -- not just on Hallowe'en, but any time of the year. (See also my not wanting to go out to get drunk with my officemates for Happy Hour.)

And while I understand that people like to get out of themselves for a night, I've seldom really enjoyed that, myself. Maybe it's just been a really long time since I've been around the right group of people who make we want to expose myself. Or maybe I'm phenomenally boring at heart.

Oh, and I'm also not one of those people who feels that "Hallowe'en is a gay man's Christmas." You know why? Because Christmas is my Christmas. And, no, I've never really understood the comparison, either.

And then there are moments like tonight. Tonight, after Christopher and I had been gone for three nights, we got home and had no Hallowe'en candy around. We hadn't expected to be home when there were trick-or-treaters out, so we simply hadn't gone to that expense (especially since the last time we did try to be prepared, there were only about 3 kids who showed up, and we ended up with 2 bags of leftover candy). Not wanting to mislead any kids, we kept our front light off and closed the drapes. Nevertheless, we had some kids come to the door early on. They rang the doorbell, which of course freaked out the dog. As I tried to calm her, the kids then pounded on the door (really - not just knocking - but pounding). At which point there was basically no way in Hall...owe'en that I would have opened the door, even if I HAD had candy.

But don't get me wrong - I enjoy seeing pictures of other people's Hallowe'en fun. And I love hearing about what my nephews and niece are up to. I just don't want to be forced to participate.

Don't worry, I still like kittens. And bunnies and puppies, too.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Food - Burgerfied

Tuesday night I finally made it to one of the "landmark" burger joints in Minneapolis - The 5-8 Club.

Christopher and I went with two people I didn't ask if I could name in here, and - after surviving the major winds to get there (remember those from Tuesday?) - we had a great time (as usual). We also had great food.

The 5-8 is all about burgers. And, more specifically, the cheese-filled "Juicy Lucy." But I couldn't quite get myself to go that far. I did a regular burger, with a side of Onion Rings and Coleslaw.

I also stole a "Jojo" potato wedge from someone else. Those are really good. Wedge-cut potatoes with a spice blend on them. I actually liked them better than my onion rings - and I like onion rings.

Here's the thing - the place is NOT for the faint of heart or massively health-conscious. And it's not for people who can't deal with leaving the restaurant and still smelling... well... fried. (Christopher and I got home and agreed that we both still smelled like we were kind of dipped in oil.)

But it was all SO good. The conversation was great. The food was way too yummy. And the 5-8 Club frequently has coupons. Although this was my first visit, I suspect that it won't be my last.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cooling Down

This morning, as I was walking the puppy around the block, I found myself assuming the Minnesota winter pose - shoulders hunched up to my ears, and head pulled down into my coat like a turtle. It's the way you walk when it's too cold to just walk. Typically it also includes hands shoved into your pockets, but with a dog leash in hand... hmmm... I'm going to have to work on that.

I think I wore shorts about 2 weeks ago, and was frustrated by the people wearing parkas, just because it was mid-October. Then, today, I was tucked into my warm coat and trying to not get a cold air headache.

We only got a slight sprinkling of snow this morning, but apparently places in the area got inches of snow, and we're all going to have freezing temps tonight.

It's not that I am surprised that we got this late-October weather in late-October, mind you. I'm just having a little trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that it came so quickly after the warm weather we had seemingly just a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tempest-uous Tuesday

Holy crap. The wind is really blowing tonight.

Let's face it - If your last name is Gale, there's a good chance that you're now reading this from somewhere over the rainbow.

This afternoon at work, the wind was howling around the building. On the drive home, whenever I would stop at a light, the car would rock because of the strength of the wind.

Tonight, the whole house seems to be just kind of surrounded by swirling winds. And, apparently, it's supposed to continue like this through at least tomorrow.

Assuming we don't all blow away before then.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Mind-wandering

I spent about half of the weekend doing editing for work. Or at least half of my waking hours. Most of Saturday was spent doing that, and then I spent about three hours on Sunday.

That's why I missed the past two days of posting. Sorry. By the time I was done with working on someone else's writing, I just didn't want to deal with any of my own.

Of course, that meant that when I was at work today, my brain still wanted weekend.

Around two this afternoon, with my work inbox well in hand, I started letting myself drift. I spent some time researching a few restaurants "Up North" (on the North Shore of Lake Superior). And some time looking up weather for that area.

And I spent time looking over the places Christopher will be in the next month or so, which I am envious of in the most excited of ways.

Yep. I also pondered what I needed to get at the store on the way home. And what would be good for dinner. And how the week looks. And how long I could put off the emails in that inbox.

I hope some day to get to go run off to all of the places I keep dreaming of while I'm at work. Conversely, I really hope, some day, to get to spend my workdays enjoying my work and not drifting.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dinners with Family

For the first time in a while, Christopher and I have had multiple evenings together this week. This means that we've gotten to have dinner together. Okay, so none of the meals were exactly the kind of family dinners we had at home when I was growing up, but they were our own kinds of family dinner.

On Tuesday night, we put some chicken breasts in a foil packet with white pepper, garlic, and a blend called "Bangkok Blend" from Penzey's spices. Along with those, we put in some leftover rice from an amazing meal Christopher made last week. (It was steaks and rice using a bunch of spices and cream and... ohmigod... it was amazing.) The rice had some of the same spices as were on the chicken, so once the chicken was cooked and the rice was rehydrated, we had a rather nice meal in front of the TV.

Wednesday, since neither of us really felt like cooking, we did a frozen pepperoni pizza. I know it's silly, but it's something we both really enjoy. And it also brings back good memories of growing up and having those "splurge" nights when Mom would buy us something as full of empty calories as pizza. Not nearly as good as homemade pizza. Not nearly as bad for us as ordered-in pizza. Not nearly as creative as Joe's pizzas over on Culinary in the Desert (check him out in the left-hand column). But yummy just the same (especially when eaten together).

Last night, after running a bunch of dog-friendly errands (three different stores where she got to go in shopping with us), we did drive-thru and picked up dinner at McDonald's. Okay, so we went there because I was craving it. Christopher isn't exactly a McDonald's fan. So I had a Big Mac value meal, and Christopher had fries, and we watched some TV and just spent the rest of the evening together.

Tonight, well, dinner wasn't exactly of a very nutritious nature. It was chips and salsa. But it was chips and salsa together. The fourth night of dinner together for the week.

Okay, so it hasn't been the most exciting of weeks' worth of meals. And certainly not the most gastronomically exotic. But it has been a great week of dinners.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Living and/or Learning

I am supposed to be working right now. I've sequestered myself in the basement to write 1,500 characters (not words, just characters - including spaces) for the back cover of a book. It's one of the things I truly like to do at my job. But it's for a book that I really didn't like. So even though it's easy money, it's difficult easy money.

Consequently, instead of doing that work, I've been online for a bit just kind of poking around. And I found a couple of fun things, there.

First of all, I've found (well, throughout the day, really) that a lot of people were wearing purple. At least one person said it was because she had read my blog, yesterday. (Hi, Libby!) That made me very happy. But, no, that isn't actually a quote from someone else.

On Miz Tiz's "TiZand AsS" blog (over there in the left-hand column), she quoted Douglas Adams (the guy who wrote the four-book Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy, among other things. The quote was/is: You live and learn. At any rate, you live.
I have to admit that I really like that. It resonates with me, today. And, no, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

So I decided to steal her quote of his quote as my quote on tonight's blog posting.

I think it ties in kind of nicely with "Spirit Day" and the "It Gets Better Project." There's something to be said about living, and learning, and simply living.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Don't Think I Own Purple

I have lived in Baltimore (land of the Ravens) and Minneapolis (land of the Vikings), but I seem to own absolutely nothing that is actually purple.

I have maroon. I have pink. I have blue and red and black and green and brown and pretty much any other color of pretty much any rainbow. But I have no purple.

I think that, once, I had a shirt that was kind of purple, but I have no idea where it might have gone.

Why am I worrying about this?

Because tomorrow, the 20th, people are being asked to wear purple in honor of/remembrance of all of the gay teens who have taken their own lives in the recent past.

You see, on the gay pride rainbow flag, purple is the color of "Spirit." So the idea is that people should wear purple tomorrow to show solidarity and support and to raise awareness.

So, somehow, I need to find something purple to wear tomorrow.

What will you be wearing?

UPDATE (about two hours after posting the above): I found a purple shirt in my closet! Okay... I'm going to look a bit like I'm on Island Time, but - according to Christopher - from a distance it "reads purple" - so I'm good to go. I only wish, now, that it wasn't necessary. You know?)

Sunday, October 17, 2010


My online calendar sends me reminders so I know when to do things (or when to ignore them).

My social networking account reminds me of people's birthdays, so that I know when I've missed them.

My desk has post-it notes on it so I remember tasks that I may or may not ever care to do.

We have a checklist to make sure that we give the new pup the right medicine at the right times - this one we actually do well with.

Yet it is the... ephemeral... reminders that make the most difference in my life.

The note from a friend I haven't heard from in a while reminding me of good times past and future.

The phonecalls with friends and family where life is discussed and dissected and dealt with, and I'm reminded of the importance of every moment of the week.

The touches as Christopher and I pass in the kitchen that remind me of how lucky I am to live my life.

On Sundays, for whatever reason, the reminders seem more powerful. And more important.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fibrous Tuberosity

Sometimes you become proud of yourself for very strange reasons.

I went to the dentist this morning and, when asked if there was anything new, commented on the strange "mushiness" of the area where my upper left wisdom tooth used to be. While where my other three wisdom teeth were the areas have become hard, in that corner of my mouth the area simply seems soft.

I first noticed it a couple of months ago when I bit down on something and realized that it kind of jabbed into my upper jaw, instead of hitting bony jaw. When my sinuses act up, that is one of the areas where the pain comes through a little stronger, too.

I mentioned it at the dentist, today, and was informed that I have a mass of fibrous flesh which has overgrown that area of my mouth (and, apparently, to a much lesser degree in my lower right jaw). And, yes, that overgrowth is called "fibrous tuberosity."

So I left the dental office this morning knowing a great big new term, knowing that I don't need to worry about the mushiness, and also knowing that I didn't have any cavities.

Yes. It was a proud day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

When Things Don't Work in the Computer Age

(Did I just make myself sound terribly old by calling this "the Computer Age"?) (Don't answer that.)

It is currently the middle of the workday on a Tuesday. Tuesday, for the record, is usually one of my most productive days at work. After all, we've made it through the crush of work that accumulated over the weekend, and we're not to the doldrums of the latter portion of the week, yet.

Today, however, I am not getting things done. In fact, today I have been spending most of my time trying to find things I could do. Wait. That's not quite right. I know of a bunch of stuff I could do. I've been trying to find things which are do-able.

You see, our main computer database went down yesterday morning. So for the past 28 hours or so we haven't really had access to most of the data I need to do my job. Sure. I can send and receive emails with our clients. And anything that happens through our Administrative site is fine. But anything that actually needs me to work on a file? That stuff is currently AWOL.

Send a book to print? Nope. Can't access the print-ready files.

Create the documents for the Distributor? Nope. Can't access the marketing plans or the modified covers.

Pay off a print order? Sorta. I mean, I can process the order in the Admin system, but I can't make a note that it was paid on the invoice that is sitting on our missing server.

I would enjoy the "nothing do-able" day, more, if I didn't see the emails stacking up in my inbox which I'll have to deal with tomorrow. Or the next day. Or whenever the server comes back online.

Especially since, whenever it all comes back, we'll have to all save whatever we have on our desktops into the correct files on the server. Gee. I can't imagine what could go wrong with that. Could you?

Kinda makes me think the transcribing monks might have had it right.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Aching for Spring

As falls go, this hasn't really felt like fall, yet. The past few days have felt more like early September than mid-October. I actually contemplated turning the A/C on, yesterday, only to have to turn off a fan in the bedroom last night because it was too cold in the room.

We haven't raked leaves, yet, because not enough of the trees have dropped them. The marigolds in the garden are still in full bloom. The hot peppers started re-blooming a couple of weeks ago and haven't had a chance to ripen.

In the midst of all of this, we got a bunch (a BIG bunch) of bulbs (and corms, apparently) which we had ordered late last spring. And, of course, they needed to go into the ground. Usually, this is one of those October things to do when it's cool out and you don't mind doing all of the bending and digging because it's just nice to be outside.

Unfortunately, with the weird October heat this year, I had to spread my planting over two days. Sure, I told Christopher that it was because I didn't want to do areas which weren't dog-friendly when she was home alone with me, but I fully admit that yesterday's planting was simply too hot and sweaty to do more. So it took me about an hour or so each day to deal with all of the bulbs.

About the time I finished, yesterday, my knees were starting to give out. Today, about halfway through, my right knee started... well... complaining a bit. About two hours later, I figured that my butt must look great, today, considering how sore the muscles back there were. (Make that "are.")

Usually it takes until March for me to ache this much for spring. But, then, that ache is usually metaphorical.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Catsup... Ketchup... Catch-up

Can you tell that I'm kind of craving french fries this afternoon?

I am supposed to be doing some editing at the moment, which means it's the perfect time to FINALLY get around to responding to some comments which have been made on my blog over the past few weeks (or so). And, since I know that you don't all get updates telling you to back to check on the comments which were made after posted (or read), I'll try to cue you in on what's going on.

1) Orchid Wars - Going back to 9/2 - First of all, the orchids we have are mostly Phalaenopsis. I don't remember what I called them, but I know I was wrong. One of my cousins sent me a note to say that she also had "Phals" and included some photos of the amazing sprays of flowers she had (possibly still has). I doubt she'd mind if I shared, so here they are in all their gorgeousness:

2) The year's only BLT - I may try tomatoes again, next year (I've been getting a number of tips), but I will not be raising bacon. Sadly, I've been reminded it does not grow pre-packaged, cured, and peppered.

3) The puppy and the peanut butter - Don't worry. She gets peanut butter more often than I do. Usually it holds a lovely surprise of a pill inside, mind you, but she enjoys it just the same. Christopher and I laughed ourselves silly (sillier?) one night this week when we had ice cream. Christopher had an open pint of Mint Chocolate Chip, and I had an open pint of Peanut Butter Cup. I figured we'd both be objects of puppified attention, since mint is her second-favorite people-food flavor. She spent the entire time sitting on the couch next to me staring at the pint. When I handed it to Christopher, she turned and stared at him. (No. She did not get any of that ice cream, because it had chocolate in it - and you can't guilt me about that.)

4) Tiz List #4 (coincidentally, it's number 4 on this list, too) - I love that others of you like to use big words to confuse people instead of telling those same people off. And, yes, I like the idea of a kilt. After all, the Clan Fraser tartan is rather nice, and my legs aren't that bad.

5) The Big Bang Theory - Yep. That's one of the recordable sitcoms we watch all the time.

6) The It Gets Better Project - Have you checked it out, yet? It's kind of amazing. Prepare to tear-up a lot, but also to be very very impressed and inspired.

7) Worms - We've spent time at the vet. We've done treatments. We've been reminded that they are "round" worms, not "ring" worms. We're on the way to not having to talk about them again any time, soon. I hope.

8) Self-less-ness - Yeah. It's the weekend. So I'm not going to talk about work.

Thanks, again, for all of your comments!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thoughts of "Self"

If you proclaim that you are a "self-starter" on a resume, then you had better be able to create your own motivation to get things done.

If you buy a "self-tanner" you should be able to assume that the tan will be created by your own skin - without the assistance of the sun.

If you partake in "self-pleasure" you're probably not relying on someone else. (And you're probably also being scolded by Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell - but that's a whole different story.)

If you "self-flagellate" (not the same as the topic above this one), then you're punishing yourself with no help from anyone else.

And, well, the same goes for pretty much all of those "self-" words. You know, like self-deprecate, self-loathe, self-possess, and even self-promote.

So why is it that when people decide to "self-publish" they assume that they don't need to do anything and that all of the blame should fall on someone else?

Today, just before the end of a rather nice, calm day at work, I got an email from an author who just now - after having 1,000+ books printed - realized that his own name was spelled incorrectly on the spine of the book. Considering how my week has been going, I opted to not respond to him tonight, but to leave it until tomorrow.

Why not just reply right back?

Because I couldn't figure out how to politely (ie. without using the terms "idiot," "doofus," or "stupid-head") point out that - no fewer than FIVE times - the author had approved the cover of the book exactly the way it is. Yes, other people had also seen it and had missed the fact that his name was misspelled, but this is SELF-publishing. And it was HIS name. He had not paid for the round of editing that includes a final proofreading of absolutely everything. This means that it was up to the author, himSELF, to notice this and correct it.

And, yet, I suspect that tomorrow I'll be sitting down with one of my co-workers and the two of us will be figuring out what to do to help this author get some reprinted books. God help us if he tries to figure it out by himself.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hook and Ring and Tape, Oh My!

CAUTION: The following posting is NOT for the faint of heart. Or of stomach.

We've had our new dog for about a month now. She's absolutely lovely. Okay, she doesn't really like to follow commands (some of which she knows perfectly well if there is a treat involved). And she takes up rather an amazing amount of space in bed. And she is seriously good at giving guilt looks.

Overall, though, she's been amazing. She's gotten Christopher and me to start taking walks again. And she's never actually stolen anything off of any plates (even those on the coffee table).


(You knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you? And, yes, this is where the squeamish-causing topic comes in.)

Today I was taking her out for her morning walk, and as I bent down to pick up the poo, I noticed that there seemed to be some white plastic in it. I was wondering what she might have eaten that could have turned out like that when I saw one of the pieces of white plastic move. Yes, move.

Closer look - as I tried not to flee - and I could tell that the two pieces of white plastic were two separate white... worms. Ewww. Worms. Live worms. And they were in her poop. And I put the poop into the plastic baggy as I do every walk, and kept going - equally freaked out and fascinated.

I spent a certain amount of time watching the white thingy move around in the baggy as I walked the rest of the way around the block. And then - since the trash was out by the street - I set the baggy on the ledge in the porch to be dealt with, later.

I called Christopher to tell him what I'd found. And he called the vet. And I ended up driving home at lunchtime to pick up the baggy and take it - now referred to as "the sample" - to the vet.

The young tech in the office looked at the computer where there was a note about Christopher's call, then looked at me and said "Oh, yeah, I see you think there might be some worms in the fecal matter. Once we test it, we'll let you know if it is positive."

I looked at her and said "Umm... I know there are worms. I saw them moving. You can see one right there."

She just looked at me, then kind of chuckled and said "Oh. Yeah. I see that. Okay... So we'll do some tests to see what, exactly, we have. But these look like tape worms." (turning to the person next to her) "Don't you think these look like tape worms?"

"Oh, yep, they look like rice, so that's my vote." (Rice? Why do things always have to look like rice? I like rice. But. Ewww.)

"Great. So we'll check this out once the doctor comes in and we'll see what we've got."

Christopher called me a couple of hours later to say that we actually had the full trifecta of dog worminess: tape worms, ring worms, and hook worms. Probably all picked up while she was at the kennel, and only now working their way through her system so that they're... ummm... obvious to the naked eye.

So after work I was back at the vet to pick up medicines and instructions to de-worm the dog. And then home to administer the first doses. The tape worms were a one-dose thing. The ring and hook worms get a single dose every two weeks until mid-November.

Oh. And then in the beginning of December we get to take another fecal sample to the vet to make sure the worms are gone.

Yeah. Life has changed a bit in the past month.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Clarification on Yesterday's Post

After I posted yesterday's post, I got to thinking that it might sound like I was one of the people who had a really hard time of it all through junior high, high school, etc., because of my sexuality.

I wanted to clarify that, although I didn't overly enjoy any of that time of my life, I also didn't completely and utterly hate it at any time (at least not for a day or two). And it wasn't because of my sexuality, it was simply because I was an adolescent. (I actually didn't figure myself out until I was in my mid-20s.)

Even so, while things were crappy at times, I was very lucky to have friends who were always around. And an amazing family to turn to and lean on.

When I got to college and grad school, I found more people I could talk to. And as I've moved on in life I've been able to pick and choose and develop more and more relationships that are meaningful and fun and positive in oh-so-many ways. Heck, I've even been lucky enough to stay in touch with - or reconnect with - some of the people I've known since as far back as grade school.

And my family and Christopher's family are both great.

And it's good.

I just hope that we can all give the next generations the same chances to get to this point.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The "It Gets Better" Project (and Why, Again, I'm Choosing Not To Shop At Target)

I know I've been beating up on the topic of not shopping at Target for the past 3 months, but with all that is going on in the world - heck, just in the United States - lately, I want to make this point, again.

Target gave a whole lot of money to MN Forward. MN Forward gave a whole lot of money to Tom Emmer's MN gubernatorial campaign. Tom Emmer supports anti-gay legislation and once said that the members of a rock band who promote "killing of all the gays" are a "group of really nice guys."

That's why I've been not shopping at Target for the past 3 months. Yes, I plan to go back after the November elections - when the money they gave to the campaign has run its course - but I'm not going back until then.

I get some kind of off comments (from people I know) about my stance. I also know a lot of people who work at Target and depend on it for their livelihoods. And I firmly believe that everyone has the right to his/her own opinion about that. But I think that blatant intolerance shouldn't be... well... tolerated.

In the past week, the news has been filled with stories of the young man who killed himself after he was "outed" by his college roommate broadcasting his private life across the internet. And, yet, so many people seem to dismiss what goes on in everyday society.

There are so many people who think that taking a stand - even a relatively easy one, like not shopping at Target - against bigotry and hatred is for someone else to do. I guess I just feel like I've got to do my part and start somewhere. So that's what I'm doing.

At the same time, Dan Savage (a gay columnist, husband, and father) has started a video-based project on YouTube called the "It Gets Better" project. He and his partner started it all by putting up a video aimed at victims of bullies - simply trying to explain to bullied teenagers (and pre-teens) that life gets better, so you should stick around for it. Their video, along with a whole lot of others submitted by average people, can be found here: The It Gets Better Project on YouTube.

For all you readers of this blog who knew me "way back when" - and those of you who know (or at least read) me now - thanks for making life worth living, and worth sticking around for.

**For the record - although I didn't overly enjoy a lot of my time growing up, I have to say that I had a GREAT adolescence. And, when I came out, my family and (most of) my friends were really wonderful. I was - and continue to be - very lucky. And grateful.