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.