Saturday, September 29, 2012

Signs and Signs

Remember how I talked about the "Vote NO" signs a little while ago? (If not, you can refresh your memory here.)

Well, a friend came over for dinner a week or so ago and commented how cool it was that so many Vote NO signs are on our block. I believe that we're up to 5 out of 6 houses in a row on our side of the street, one on the other side of the street, and two on the other side of the block (we live on a corner, so those two on the other side of the street are our "contiguous" neighbors).

It's amazing how many of those signs have popped up over the past few months. People seem to really be understanding that the Anti-Gay Marriage amendment is more than just another run-of-the-mill amendment to the state constitution. More and more people seem to be understanding that this is a hateful amendment (and - for the record, I got into some trouble for calling it "hate" the last time I wrote about it, but I stand by the word) and doesn't have a place in the state constitution.

And the support for people like me... well... that's a really nice feeling. It's good to walk around the block and see all of the signs. It reassures me that this is a great neighborhood and we have great neighbors.

Did I mention, yet, that we have a new neighbor? She moved in next door (the one house out of 6 without a Vote NO sign, because... well... she just moved in), and she told us that she wasn't sure about the neighborhood when her realtor suggested it. But when she came around the corner and saw all of the signs, she knew she was in an okay place.

So... Anyway... There is one "Vote YES" sign that we pass when we're out for our walks. And another that I pass on the drive home from work. With all of the positive energy from the bright orange Vote NO signs, it's amazing how those two solitary signs can be such a shock to the system.

On the other hand, I guess it's good to know where people stand on issues. I think I'd rather know that there are bigots living in the neighborhood so I can try to avoid them, instead of being surprised by them when I'm not expecting it.

I can only hope that, as more people become visible and vocal about standing up for basic rights (you know, like the right to equal protection under the law, or equal taxation under the law, or simply equality in the eyes of society regardless of who you love), maybe we'll see more Vote NO signs out there, and fewer and fewer Vote YESes.

And even if people are afraid of putting up a Vote NO sign in the lawn for the world to see (after all, there has been vandalism of some signs by hate groups), hopefully, in the privacy of the polling booths in November, they'll vote for love, instead of hate. And, in the future, they'll be able to hold their heads high and say "See that leap forward toward equality? I helped do that."

(For your own lawn sign, or to donate money to the cause, please visit .)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vicarious Living

When I was growing up, my mom used to say that no one needs soap operas when you live in a small town.

Which is not to say that my small home town was (or is) any more imprudent than anywhere else. It's just that, in a small town, you hear all that's going on, and because everything is condensed, it seems like more.

Nowadays, I live in a city, and I barely know my neighbors, and many of my friends don't know many of my friends. And the only small "community" that I spend time in is my work. And, well, I would never want to watch a soap opera with my office mates as the main characters.

So I have to find other ways to live vicariously.

Luckily, these days, there is the Internet. And, even luckier, some of my friends have pretty interesting lives.

Right now, I've got a Netflicked movie on in the background and someone that I used to know (years ago - although he's still a friend of a friend) is a much bigger presence in it than I was led to believe.

Then there's the other friend of mine who had the John Barrowman sighting last week.

And, of course, Christopher is out in Northern California with a friend of ours this week and I've been getting to see pictures of where they are in some kind of almost-real-time.

There's probably something in there about how the Electronic Age makes the whole world a small town.

But, at the same time, I do kind of miss the days when a small town was the whole world, and vicarious living... well... that came from post cards and phone calls.

Monday, September 24, 2012

John Barrowman Sighting (Once Removed)

A friend of mine who was in Vancouver over the weekend apparently passed John Barrowman on the street.

He didn't get any photographic proof, but Barrowman is currently in Vancouver for the filming of the new Green Arrow-based TV series on the CW. So it's entirely plausible that this happened.

There's a little info about his upcoming stint on that show here (that's where the pic in this posting is from).

And... well... since I got up at about 4 this morning to take Christopher to the airport, that's about all I've got to say for today.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

So the Story Goes (Away)

Nobody really likes commercials on TV. I get that. I fully admit that now that we have a TiVo one of my favorite things is the fact that I can pause a show for a while and then fast-forward through the ads.

But, even so, there are times when I'm watching "live" TV and I do watch the commercials. And, amazingly, sometimes in the middle of the crappy commercials something will happen and you'll find a really good commercial that tells a story or somehow, someway, actually makes a connection with you as the audience.

And it'll be good. And you'll actually look forward to seeing it again or sharing it with someone else.

But the next time it comes on, something's missing. The story and feeling that were there are suddenly gone. And you realize that the formerly 30-second commercial is now only 15 seconds. Sure, the product pitch is still there, but the humor or emotion that made you like it has been stripped out.

Suddenly you really don't care about the product. You don't care about what you're watching. You just know that you've wasted the past portion of a minute hoping for that payoff that never came.

And you feel kind of sorry for the person who wrote and directed the original commercial, knowing that this new version is probably cheaper to air, but is also less interesting and probably less fulfilling.

It's sad, really.

Okay. Sure. Tonight the part of the ad that got cut was the beefcake in the background and not some great "Rosebud" moment in the commercial I was watching. But that's beside the point.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My "New Normal" TV Obsession

Well, "obsession" might be a bit strong. But it's close.

Have you seen "The New Normal," yet? It's on NBC on Tuesday nights (9:30/8:30c) and it's kind of amazing.

There were all sorts of people saying "Oh, it's already been done. An inter-generational comedy with gay characters, who cares?" And I admit that I was kind of afraid that I'd watch it and I'd feel the same way.

But I did, and I didn't.

I mean... I watched it, and I didn't feel that it was a rehash of other things.

True, it's an intergenerational series. There's a mother and daughter and the mother's grandmother (and, thus, also the daughter's great-grandmother, although she doesn't want to admit it). But the family dynamics aren't stereotypical. They're weird (both the family and the dynamics). Which, really, is how most families are when seen from the outside.

And, yes, there are gay characters. But - for once - those characters are actually MAIN characters, and not just relatives of the main characters, or friends of them, or semi-regulars on the show. They're a couple who are madly in love with each other although they are fairly opposite in styles. But they're chemistry is great, and the way the show lets the characters play off of each other is really refreshing.

I was pretty much won over when, during the pilot episode, the two guys were in bed together. And they kissed. Considering that two men kissing was still taboo during the heyday of "Will & Grace" not so many years ago, it was nice to have NBC stepping up this time and saying, in essence, "this is what our show is about, please deal with it."

But I also didn't want just another fluffy show. I know it's a comedy, but I wanted some reality, too.

And I got it. In fact, I got enough of it that I've both laughed and cried during all three episodes so far. This week, it was when they (the two guys and the mother - who is acting as their surrogate) were confronted with how they'll deal with bigotry in the eyes of their new child. There was something so... true in it that I couldn't help but get emotional. And then I laughed because of what happened next. Because, after all, it is a sitcom on the most basic level.

A really smart sitcom, but a sitcom, nonetheless.

In other words, I'm giving it a solid A, and a huge recommendation that you should watch it. And I'm doing this all with my fingers crossed that NBC doesn't cancel it any time soon. (We're waiting for some multidimensionality to the grandmother's character, otherwise it would be an A+.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How Did They Know?

Tonight on "Go On" (the new Matthew Perry sitcom which I'm still considering watching but which probably won't become "Must See TV" for me), the Loss support group he attends was trying to find things to do together.

One of the problems is that, since they belong to a "Loss" support group they occasionally refer to themselves as "losers" (because, obviously, they've all lost someone).

So... The episode was moving along, and I was doing other things, and I looked up to see them, rather inexplicably (I think I missed a plot point along the way) in a bowling alley.

And, of course, here is the assumption we're supposed to make: Losers who have nowhere else to go go bowling.

Now, I would like to point out that there are plenty of people who go bowling who are not losers. After all, bowling leagues are big social events, which means that you not only have an excuse to buy shoes and accessories, but you get to go out eating and drinking and, in essence, breaking things. (Since, really, you're throwing a heavy ball at small things and making all sorts of noise that someone else has to fix.)

But, all that social goodness aside, bowling is not a glamor sport. It's a sport where people who don't really fit in in other sports go because they don't have to be overly athletic or coordinated. Which is why the "losers" on "Go On" were there.

Here's the sad/scary thing: Tomorrow afternoon, as part of an office "morale-boosting" event, we're going - you guessed it - bowling. In the middle of the day. Somewhere far enough away from home that drinking enough to make an office event fun is out of the question.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Curing Random Fireworks

The past couple of nights, there have been some strange booms coming from outside in the night. I could tell pretty easily that it was the sound of fireworks, so I didn't worry about it.

Granted, I have absolutely no idea what events are going on that are shooting off fireworks. But tonight the booms have been even louder. And I've been hearing not just the Boom, but also the Crackle of the kind of fireworks that go up and then explode and sparkle.

Because the temperature is dropping pretty quickly outside (it was around 85 today, and is heading to around 50 tonight), I opened the windows and doors about half an hour ago. And then the fireworks started.

And the pup barked because of the noise. And then it went off again. And she barked again.

So I closed the door, rubbed her ears, and promised it would be okay.

Wouldn't it be nice if everything in life that was unsettling could be cured so easily?

Friday, September 14, 2012


So, let's see here...

This week at work our Internet-based company was adversely affected by the hacking of our domain name provider.

Once I got into my computer, I found myself having to proofread 37K words' worth of a really horribly written book about "diversity" which spent about 32K of those making thinly-veiled "the white man is bad" comments, and had obviously dropped in comments about "LGBT businesses" and "disable-owned businesses" (I'm not making this up) at the last minute when someone probably said to her "You can't talk about diversity and only talk about white men and black women."

Once everything was "fixed" we found out that a whole lot of system-notification emails weren't going out - or weren't making it to our emails, at least.

At home, we've had to start pricing air conditioners, because even though we just had the freon charged in ours it's already not doing well.

My ragweed allergy is in full force.

But... In better news...

The pup has a brand new ball.

The weekend is looking good.

Christopher and I - as a couple - actually got to go to a fun movie with lots of things blowing up.

And there was popcorn.

The weather is really nice.

It's Friday night and we're just hanging out.

I'm thinking that, if the outcome is what's important, then this has been a good week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Dislike (Password) Change

A couple of years ago, someone in the IT department at work kept trying to "innovate" by making random changes to the internal systems that we worked on.

Sometimes that was fine, but often he would unilaterally make the changes without checking with anyone, first. He wouldn't check with the rest of the IT department to see if his changes would alter how other programs ran. He wouldn't check with anyone to see if they were using the system as he shut it off to change it. And - most annoying of all, honestly - he wouldn't ever check to see if the people who used the system wanted it changed.

This wouldn't have been so bad if he'd been there for a long time and knew all about the systems and how each person used them - or even how they should have used them. But he was fairly new. He simply assumed that because he didn't like how things worked, they needed to be changed. He was an okay guy outside of that, so many of us were torn about whether to feel happy or sad when he left the company rather suddenly.

Once upon a time, when he was in the middle of changing one of the primary systems I worked in - without checking with me to see what it did or what it needed to do - I asked if we could maybe have a meeting about it. He graciously met with me (or at least he met with me), and we had one other person in the meeting with us as a kind of buffer.

He spent about 15 minutes telling me what his changes were going to do. Then I spent about 20 minutes telling him why what he wanted the changes to do was going to make life more difficult for everyone involved, and why they weren't great ideas. He basically, eventually, just looked at me and said "well, we're changing it and you'll have to deal with it." (Gee... And we wonder why he wasn't in a Customer Service position any longer...)

After the meeting, when I was no longer around, he went to the buffer person to discuss... well... me. I was told, later, that his exact words were that he felt I was "adverse to change." Which... umm... I guess means that change happens less easily when I'm around? Or maybe it means that I make change happen badly? Or maybe - just maybe - when he was trying to put in a dig about me what he meant to say was that I'm "averse to change" when it impacts me negatively.

Either way, it was a while ago and I have come to really rather enjoy the "adverse to change" moniker.

But none of that really has anything to do with the title of this post.

You see, the other day a friend of mine commented that his email account had been hacked, and he suggested that everyone change their email passwords. Which I did. It is now about 80% longer than it was before. It is - as far as I can tell - quite a secure password at this point.

So secure, in fact, that two out of every three times I've tried to log in since I changed it I've gotten it wrong.

I swear that, next time, I'm going to just use 1234567890. After all, if hackers are going to get in, anyway, I might as well make it easier on myself, too.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quiet in the Office... Too Quiet...

I came in to work, today, expecting to finally have had the IT department fix an error from last Friday. Why wasn't it fixed on Friday? Because apparently much of the IT department had left early. Truth be told, one of the guys actually contacted me late on Friday afternoon to ask if I needed any help. But, at that point, the workday was coming to an end (as was the workweek) and I told him to leave it until today.

So I finished up everything I could get my hands on on Friday, and planned to dive in today.

After I came in, today, I spent the first hour of the day fixing a bunch of things for other people, then re-contacted IT to ask for an ETA on the issue. All the normal stuff got taken care of, then I waited a bit for an answer.

Turns out that the issue was actually a missing document. Nothing had been put into the system for me to work on by the client. Normally, this is an easy fix. We contact the client. The client re-uploads (correctly, this time), and we move forward.

But today is not a normal day on the Internet. (You may have already seen news about some websites being taken down by a hacker.) So all day today our clients have been having problems getting files (and emails) to us, and we've been having issues getting things back and forth. And my workload has been *really* light for a Monday. Way too light. Creepy light. Day after Thanksgiving light.

If this continues tomorrow I may need to bring a book. You don't think anyone would notice me sitting at my desk reading a book all day, do you?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

When a Non-Plan Comes Together

I had a really vague idea of what I might want to do, today. There were a couple of different friends at a couple of different events. There were a couple of need-to-do errands. There was some stuff to do around the house.

I actually got up at a decent time. I got out of the house at a decent time. And the weather was... well... spectacular. A pretty-near-perfect early fall day. Sunny, breezy, and cool - but warm in the sun.

So I went to the two events and saw my two friends. And I ran my errand. And Christopher and I met up for lunch. And then I came home and did things around the house.

Now I'm sitting in the living room watching a golden sunset with just the right amount of clouds so that I'm not blinded when I look at it, and awaiting dinner which Christopher is making for us.

Don't you just love it when a non-plan comes together?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fun With Vintage TV

A few years ago, the original episodes of the TV show "The Wild Wild West" came out on DVD, and Christopher and I gave them to one of my sisters for a series of Christmas and birthday gifts.

The shows themselves ran in the mid-late 1960s, but my sister (and I) mostly watched them when they were late-night TV shows which our dad would let us stay up to watch from time to time - I'm guessing this was in the mid-late 70s. She's three years older than me, so she saw a lot more of them than I did.

They ran again on Saturday afternoons when I was in high school, and I remember watching some of the episodes then and getting hooked on them.

If you haven't seen them... they're... well... they're kind of campy. They are, at the base, Westerns focused on the life of Secret Service agent James West and his partner (usually, but not always) Artemis Gordon.

West and Gordon are best friends, womanizers, and gadget-hounds. They're a cross between James Bond (the campy era), and something Western - not exactly "Little House on the Prairie", not John Wayne, not "Petticoat Junction", but somewhere in the middle of all of that in the same rarified air as "Maverick."

They have a private railway train (two cars and an engine), lots of guns, explosives, a telegraph, a laboratory, horses, fun clothes, good hair, a pool table, and adventures - which always wrapped up in under an hour with time left over for some dining and... umm... we'll say "dancing"... at the end.

And, best of all, they've started airing the shows - in order beginning with the pilot which co-starred Suzanne Pleschette - on one of our off-brand local stations.

So now, late at night when Christopher is either working in the office or off to bed (since he does get up almost 2 hours before me), I'm watching reruns of "The Wild Wild West," while re-running oh-so-many memories at the same time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Travel Tuesday: Imagining A World

**I wrote this and attempted to post last night, but our power went out. No problem for my laptop, but that meant we had no Wi-fi. I have to admit, though, that working on a computer by candlelight for a bit was kind of cool.**

Have I mentioned that planning a vacation is almost as much fun for me as the actual vacation?

During the planning stages, everything is exciting. Everything is possible. Everything - and everywhere - is still ahead of you. It's thrilling in all sorts of ways.

You can imagine romance on a desert isle. Or seeing a show on the West End. Or re-finding that one place with the perfect chocolates that was right around the corner from that gallery in that one place that you're sure you'll find again if you go look for it.

Planning a trip - on many levels - is all about the imagining. It's about the thrill of adventure, without the agony of bills.

After all, no matter where you decide to go, as soon as you make that decision the trip, itself, has parameters. Once you choose your location, there will be things you simply can no longer think about doing. (Going to Paris? Then you can't see the Grand Canyon. That kind of thing.)

And once you have a location, then you start looking at activities, and lodging, and meals, and you have to start planning for the budget. And for packing. And deciding whether you really want to spend that many hours on a plane/in a car/on a bus.

Then there's actually being where you planned to go. It's thrilling and exciting, or calming and blissful, or familial and comfort-food-y. And that can all be amazing. And it usually is amazing - frequently even more than you'd ever imagined it would be.

And just when you think it's about perfect, vacation is over and you're home and describing just how perfect it was to all of your friends, and you start thinking about that next trip. And imagining how good it will be...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Euphemistic Effluvia (no... really.)

When they came back into the room, I had a kind of oval bull's-eye on my shirt. I looked at them, and said, "Umm... We had a little accident."

The first response was, "Did something happen to the sink?" No. "Did your pop explode?" No.

The big wet oval on my shirt, which trailed onto my shorts was definitely not caused by the sink spraying or a soda exploding. It was caused, quite euphemistically, by "an accident."

The kind of accident that happens when you try to comfort a not-usually-quite-so-hyper dog who is kind of freaking out because of the amount of activity in and out of the room. (A dog who, frankly, we would have left at home had we known just how much activity there would have been, simply to avoid the hyper-activity.)

And, yet, while everyone was outside moving things around, I had bent down to pick up the pooch as I often do to calm her down. She hopped up into my arms, and as she kind of shimmied her way up to my shoulder - as she always does - I found myself thinking "that's not quite the right temperature." Which I don't usually do.

Oddly, though, it didn't really bother me. I don't deal well with little kids and their effluvia, but I grew up with pets, and so pet stuff doesn't really freak me out. I don't love it, but I also know that they can't really help it.

Thankfully, another (drier) t-shirt was found, and so I put my original shirt out on my car to dry in the sun. My shorts got a good blot-down, and we were on our way.

And, on the plus side, my shirt (and shorts) absorbed it all, so we didn't get any on the floor or the carpet (which don't so easily get tossed in the washer).

So... Positives all 'round. (Well... except for the initial event, at least.)