Tuesday, October 30, 2012

One Week and Counting...

Alright. We've almost made it to the election. Granted, we'll also have to deal with whatever repercussions we, as a country, vote down upon ourselves, but at least we won't have to deal with all of the political ads for a while.

That said, if you're going to make a political statement, I figure you ought to make it in style.

Sure, you could blatantly point out that Romney has spoken out against any federal disaster aid in the past, and is now having "Sandy Relief" rallies (which just happen to include the showing of his political campaign ads). Or you could take the high road and be New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie - a staunch Republican - who has been openly praising President Obama's response to the hurricane. (Bipartisanship in the name of the greater good? What an idea!)

But, closer to home, there are other measures on the ballot. We've got leaders of both political parties speaking together in the same TV ad calling for a NO vote on the Voter ID (aka "Voter restriction") amendment. Again - bipartisanship for the greater good. Not sure where they all were when the amendment was being pushed through the state legislature, but let's hope that this is a case where wrongs can be righted before it's too late.

Finally, of course, there is the proposed state amendment to put a ban on gay marriage into the MN Constitution. (Yep. It's already against the law in the state, but we're voting on an amendment - which legislators have been quoted as saying is just their way to push it through to let other generations figure it out later.) I'm doing my best to remain hopeful about the potential outcome, but the more attack ads that show up on TV, the more I feel like Christopher and I really need to look into moving to Canada.

But I hadn't intended on this being a downer of a blog post, so I wanted to share a video that came across my desktop today. It's a little long (7+ minutes), but the music is great and it made me a little teary at my desk at work. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope that you will do me the favor of voting for the issues (and candidates) you feel are most likely to support equal, bipartisan, rights for all. (Not to get overly pushy, but most people I know would, for those purposes, suggest two NO votes on the MN Amendments, and a vote for Obama in the presidential election. But, of course, how you vote is up to you and your beliefs - and conscience.)

Oh. Here's the link to the video.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How To Relax?

Okay. I admit it. I think I've kind of forgotten how to relax.

Christopher and I are coming to the end of a very nice long weekend away from home for the first time in ages. I brought a book - which I've read some of. We played cards. We've watched a couple of DVDs and some TV. We've napped. I've dinked around on line.

And now there's a part of my brain saying to me "It's Sunday afternoon. You need to start getting ready for the week!"

But I don't. I don't even have to think about the workweek until sometime late tomorrow. I have a good 24 to 36 hours of not worrying about the workweek that I could still enjoy. (Since, really, my job is pretty much straight-up 9-to-5, and I don't take anything home with me.)

We still have things to do. We have a few more DVDs to watch. We have $30-worth of cheese and crackers and meats to munch on for "dinner." We have an outdoor hot tub to relish in under the almost-full-moon tonight. We have a slightly-staticky puppy to play catch with.

And, yes, I just caught myself typing up that list of things to do.

I think that this relaxation thing needs more work. Perhaps starting with turning off the computer, putting another log on the fire, and doing... well... nothing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's hard to blog when...

... there's a pup asleep next to you in the comfy armchair (which really isn't big enough for both of you), and you can't use both hands on the keyboard at the same time.

But, really, what am I doing with my computer on when I have a sleeping pup next to me in an armchair, anyway?

Perhaps the latter is the more important question. Longer post to come sometime when the pup isn't so comfy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wanderlust Daydreams

Sometimes, at work, I find myself totally unable to focus. Of course, we all get that way from time to time, but as an editor - and proofreader - that can be downright dangerous for the bottom line. 

Today was one of those days. I spent the morning working on a short (yet *so* bad) edit, and then ran a couple of errands at lunch. After the errands, I came back and... well... had my lunch. And then it kind of went downhill from there. 

I spent the afternoon taking care of small issues that would come up. I wrote some (mostly work-related) emails. I answered a couple of queries from possible clients. I even got some editing done. 

But, in and around all of that, I also daydreamed. 

I think we've discussed how studies have shown that about 6 weeks before a vacation is supposedly when people are most excited about it. They say that that is when most of the planning is happening, so it's all about expectations and no reality is getting in the way. 

But, as someone who would spend most of a lottery jackpot on travel, yet hasn't been more than a few miles outside of the metropolitan area in the past month or so - and hasn't been out of the state in about 5 months - I have to say that the closer I get to travelling the more intense the daydreaming is becoming. 

Last weekend, I spent a whole lot of cash on getting some car repairs done. Why? So that we could go away and not have to think about it. 

I've mentally been packing for about a week, even though I'm the kind of person who packs either the day of or - at most - the night before. 

I completely understand that any travel is never quite as good as the expectation. There's always something a little hinky in it. There's a CD that you forgot to bring along (well, if you still use CDs and not an MP3 player). Or you step in a puddle and your last pair of socks gets soaked. Or you eat too much and feel sick for 12 out of the 84 hours you're gone. 

But, even so... As someone who has a weird case of wanderlust which hides out under a layer of hermit-age... Let's just say that I better not try to do any difficult proofreading before I get back. 

(And, yes, I agree that "Wanderlust Daydreamers" would be a great name for a band.)

Monday, October 22, 2012


Christopher and I have had a couple of fairly social weekends (if you've been reading along, you know that).

And, along the way we've been meeting some new people. Which is always a little strange.

I mean... When you're a little kid, meeting new people is just one of those things you do. You meet new people at school. You meet new people in sports. You meet new people just walking down the street (assuming you're with a parent and it's safe to do so).

But, when, you get older, it gets harder to meet people. You're not constantly trying new things and being put on teams. And when you are, it frequently is because of a weird work-related thing, and you either already know the people or... well... there are reasons why you don't want to.

Yet, somehow, we've had a good time doing this lately. Kinda feels like a good day in kindergarten.

Now I'm just waiting for mid-day nap time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Quick-ish Re-Cap

First of all, I'm sorry that I missed blogging, yesterday. But the reason for that is one of the things that will be coming up in the re-cap, below.

The past couple of weeks have been... well... interesting around here.

Christopher had the stomach flu. I battled for a week with a cold that never quite took hold, but also wouldn't go away.

I took my car in to get a rattle checked out, and as I was paying the $58.80 for that fix, they took the time to inform me that the drips we'd been seeing on the pavement were caused by one of 3 things that were leaking: the housing around the water pump, the transmission casing, or the front struts. All of which ought to be fixed before: a) the weather gets cold; or, b) I take a long trip. Gee... It's October in Minnesota, and the next two months include a trip Up Nort' (4 hours away), and two trips to my parents' in South Dakota (5.5 hours away). So... Can't wait to see how close to zero my bank account gets after that bill gets paid.

Then there was the installation of the new air conditioner and furnace. Both of which happened at pretty much the perfect time. They went in just before our final warm spell of the year (so we got to use the a/c), and then the weather got cool so now we're using the furnace. Although... The furnace has already had a couple of follow-up visits. But - on the up side - those were free because the problems weren't our fault.

Along with the new furnace, though, was a new gas line, which was installed by cutting a hole in the downstairs bedroom closet ceiling. Leaving the entire room (and closet) and pretty much all of its contents covered in drywall dust. Have I mentioned that that's the room - and closet - where all of my clothes are? Many loads of laundry later, I've also filled a trash bag with clothing to donate to a local non-profit which helps out homeless teens and young adults. So... maybe not all bad.

And yesterday, when they came out for the final (fingers crossed) trip for the furnace, they forgot to turn the water heater back on. Which meant no hot water this morning. Unfortunately, Christopher got the brunt of that problem, since he was the first to attempt to take a shower. And after he re-lit the pilot light and we gave it some time, we were back to hot water, again. Thankfully, that did not happen on a weekday.

Yes, I know that I'm sounding like I'm trying hard to be positive about some of that stuff, but assuming that I don't bounce any checks before my next paycheck, I think we have reason to take it all with a grain of salt (or even a nice, tasty salted caramel).

And although the work-a-day world has been the usual, we've been lucking out and having really good times on the weekends. So far, in the past two weekends, we've had 5 (out of 5) very nice - and very different - dinners with lots of good friends and family. And I'm quite happy to say that one of the latest of those dinner events was last night, which is why the blogging didn't happen. (Tonight's dinner ended a good 2 hours earlier than last night's - hence tonight's blogging.)

So... Yeah... That's what we've been up to around here, plus all of the usual day-to-day stuff and trying to watch TV without yelling at any of the political ads.

How's by you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pointing and Clicking Until My Eyes Burn

Yep. That's what I did all day today at work.

You see, just when I was almost done with the 500+ -page manuscript I've been working on, I realized that for some reason the Spellcheck was off.

Now, as an editor, I pride myself in not really needing spellcheck. I have a pretty darned good noggin for spelling and punctuation placement. But in the midst of cleaning up the Works Cited, I noticed that I spelled "January" as "Januray" a couple of times, and so I wanted to make sure that I ran the automated spellcheck before I declared myself done.

Problem, the first: There is a way to turn off Spellcheck in Word. It's not easy, mind you, but it's possible. And the author - who was writing about a lot of people with really strange names - had turned it off for about 80% of the document. So, when I ran it, it would bounce around to about 20 incorrectly spelled words and declare itself done.

But I knew there were more issues than that. If nothing else, there were all of those strange names that it should have noticed.

So I spent about 20 minutes searching out how to turn Spellcheck back on for the whole document. And then I did just that.

Problem, the second: I didn't turn off the Track Changes feature, because I figured I wasn't making any changes to the manuscript. Word, on the other hand, decided that turning Spellcheck back on was a Formatting change. And it popped up about 10 or 20 "Formatting: Spelling and grammar check." notes in the margin of each and every page.

I probably could have ignored it and moved on, but I'm a nice guy. And...

Problem, the third: There were already so many changes on each page that I need the author to pay attention to, that I couldn't deal with him also having to slog through all of the changes that didn't matter. So I did what I had to do.

I spent all day, today - well, not quite all day, only 7.5 out of 8 hours - pointing, clicking, and accepting those formatting changes so that they would disappear from the manuscript that the author will see.

I'm happy to say that, by the time I got home, my wrist had relaxed. And so had I.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Munder the Weather

I keep thinking I'm avoiding getting sick. Christopher had the stomach flu last week, and I was battling a cold. 

Then he started to feel better and - by the weekend - I started to feel like the impending doom of the cold was lifting. 

In the middle of the workday, today - somewhere between finishing the footnotes in the 517-page edit I'm working on, but before getting too far in the 30 pages of Works Cited - I kinda felt myself lose focus. 

By the end of the day, my hands were kinda cold, and everyone else in the office was saying the temp seemed fine. Which is especially odd since I'm usually the one who is warm in the office. 

On the way home, I had a couple of errands to run, and by the time I got home for dinner  all I could think of was that I was kind of hungry, really tired, and feeling like I should nap before going to bed. 

Of course, that was almost 2.5 hours ago and I'm still not in bed. Unfortunately, everything else has stayed status quo, as well. Except for the hungry part, because Christopher and I had dinner not long after I got home. 

Wish me luck. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

No. I Don't Want to Know, You Know?

There are those times when I just really don't want to know what I don't know. 

Frequently, I do prefer to believe that what I don't know won't hurt me. 

Which is why, when I took my car in to a shop to have a rattle fixed this morning, I really expected that I'd only hear what was wrong with that rattle and nothing else. 

Then, when they called me to say the car was ready, they started listing off other things that they had found that needed to be fixed. You know, multiple-hundred-dollar things, as opposed to the fifty-dollar fix that I had gone there for. 

Yes, my car is twelve years old. It's at the age when things will be going wrong and when they do I'll have to debate whether fixing or replacing is the better way to go. 

Today, though, the shock of going from a fifty-dollar fix to a fifty-dollars-now-but-hundreds-of-dollars-within-a-few-months was a bit... well... shocking. (Not to mention fiscally pretty much impossible at the moment.) 

It really makes me want to go back to this morning and un-know what I now know. You know?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrate the Month of Ned with Me!

As you may have heard, today is National Empty the Closet Day. Hurrah!

Okay. No. It's not "National Empty the Closet Day." Or at least not that I know of. (And how do some of these "National" days get their designations, anyway?)

It is, however, National Coming Out Day. Happily, I didn't really have to celebrate it with much fanfare this year, since I'm pretty sure everyone who's paying attention to my life already knows that I'm gay.

So, instead, I'm looking at today as a great day to clean out the closet. After all, it's fall, and there's the whole change of seasons going on, and what better time is there to start shuffling out some clothing? (And bringing it all out of the closet, so to speak.)

Honestly, I started celebrating this a couple of weeks ago and I just haven't gotten the stuff all taken out to be donated. So maybe I should call this "National Empty the Closet Month" or... well... "National Empty The Closet Month In The Mystical Realm Of The Bedroom Where All My Clothes Are If You Can Call That A Nation." Which, of course, would have the nifty acronym of "NETCMITMROTBWAMCAIYCCTAN" (pronounced "Ned" because the "CMITMROTBWAMCAIYCCTAN" is silent, obviously).

(Oh. Look. I think I spelled something in Welsh! Or Irish Gaelic! Or maybe Finnish!)


Since this is the celebratory month of Ned, I do, in fact, have a whole big trash bag (no longer usable for yard waste, but that's a different story) all set and ready to go to charity. (Personally, I'm donating them to Youthlink, which is a local resource for teens and young adults dealing with homelessness.)

I'm pretty sure that taking out a bunch of gently-used, clean clothing which I no longer need will probably leave me feeling pretty good. Happy, you know. Perhaps even a bit gay.

Seems appropriate on a day like today, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Urgent Care Urgency - A Gay Marriage Topic

Christopher has been sidelined with a nasty case of stomach flu the past few days. Not "The Flu," mind you, just average, run-of-the-mill aches and chills and stomach ick.

When his fever broke yesterday morning, we figured we were in the clear, so I left him home to sleep all day and headed for work. But when I got home last night, he was still exhausted (after sleeping most of the day), and just not feeling as much better as we'd hoped. He said he'd go to Urgent Care in the morning if he wasn't feeling better. I, however, decided that an evening trip to Urgent Care was in order. And since he was feeling weak, he didn't protest for long.

So, there we were waiting at Urgent Care and watching the families and couples come in. And there was never any hesitation for the staff to speak to either the husband or wife. There was an assumption that they could both speak on behalf of what was going on, and that they'd both be going back to the exam rooms.

And, when Christopher got called to go into the triage room, and then into the exam room, I went along. I didn't think anything about it. I just figured it was the right thing to do. And the nurses - and the doctor - didn't really bat an eye. When I answered questions on Christopher's behalf it was fine.

But here's the thing: They didn't have to.

According to the law - and various medical ethics kinds of things - they didn't have to let me in. I'm not a blood relative. I'm not a spouse. Even though we've been together for more than seven years, I'm not - technically - family. So, legally, they could have kept me out.

And, sitting there with Christopher, I couldn't think of anywhere else I would have wanted to be. But I also had the fleeting thought that I could be kicked out at any minute. Which, frankly, I ignored last night.

Today, however, when I had some time to think about it all, I realized that that fleeting thought scares the hell out of me. What if they had told me to leave? That I wasn't able to be there for Christopher - or vice-versa? What could I have done?

When people ask me why I think gay marriage is so important, sometimes it's hard for me to put it into words. I mean... Christopher and I aren't champing at the bit to walk down the aisle, even though we're committed to each other for the long run. And I don't know enough about tax laws to know how much we're losing each year because we can't file jointly.

But I don't want anyone telling me that just because we're not a heterosexual couple that we have to say good-bye at the door to the hospital, right when we need each other the most. I don't want to be told, when I've been rushed to the hospital on my deathbed, that I can't see the person I love because some idiot decided we don't deserve equal (visitation) rights under the law.

Luckily, a lot of healthcare institutions are aware that the world is changing and that families come in all different shapes and sizes. Now if only all of those "I deserve more rights than you do" right-wing politicians and religious fanatics would realize that, too. (Preferably before the upcoming elections...)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

When Worlds Divide

In a book I've been reading for the book club I'm in, and in a couple of different TV shows I watch, there's been a lot of stuff about people living multiple lives.

Which is not - well, not entirely - to say that these people are duping someone else and taking on new lives on purpose. That only happens in the book. Oh, and one of the TV shows.

But not everyone in the book who is leading multiple lives is actually doing it on purpose or by choice. They seem to kind of fall into the lives that they didn't plan on. Which I guess is where this all kind of ties in for me.

There is a theory which shows up in a certain amount of science fiction which says that every decision that is made splits off the world into multiple new realities. (Don't think about this too hard, because it will make your head hurt and you don't really need to know this.) For the sake of argument, let's just take the big decisions. For instance, what would the world be like if Kennedy had ducked? Or if Walt Disney had never gone to California? Or if you'd never gone on that one first date?

We all create alternate realities each time we fantasize about our lives. I know for a fact that my life would be different if I had won any of the lottery jackpots that I bought tickets for. But that doesn't mean that I would want to live a completely different life, I'd simply have the same life, with some differences. I don't think any of us would truly want to become someone else, entirely.

And yet, from time to time, doesn't that sound kind of fun?

Obviously a lot of people get into the idea - otherwise Halloween wouldn't be such a big deal. And there are even people who make a living at it as actors and performers. And we all, on some level, re-invent ourselves when we start new jobs or meet new friends.

I wonder, sometimes, who I'd be if I had taken other paths. If I'd taken the semester and gone on the school exchange for the speech program. If I'd taken the job teaching on the Eastern Shore. If I'd moved to Texas instead of Minnesota (yes, it was a real option for a short period of time).

But then I come back to who and where I am now, and I realize that I don't really need to know. Because I like the who and the where that I am. And the who I'm with and the where we are together. And all of the people and places and chaos and bliss that go along with it.

Still... on some strange nights when the moon is just so... the Gemini in me begins to wonder what the other versions of me are doing in those other realities.

And I wonder if they think about me, too.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Food - Fall Fents... err... Scents

I knew that it was fall a couple of weeks ago when the mensroom at work suddenly started smelling like manufactured fall. In other words, instead of smelling like random institutional air freshener, it started to smell of fake cinnamon, dry leaves, and bonfires. Or something like that. Whatever they say in the masculine version of Glade and Febreze ads on TV. 

And, okay, I have to admit that I kind of like the new scent. It's certainly better than it could be (after all, it's a mensroom), and at least it isn't sickeningly, sweetly floral. (Which is apparently what has materialized in the women's restroom.)

All this (well, not the women's restroom aside, but the rest of it) got me thinking about how there are definitely "fall scents." But there aren't really scents for the other seasons. At least not that I can think of. I mean... There are all kinds of "holiday" fragrances, but they are specific to leading up to Christmas, and not something you smell and think "Wow, that smells like mid-January to me." 

Summer has all of the "cooking out" smells. Along with charcoal and grilling meat, there's also the smell of "hot dirt" (you know the smell, right?), and the smell of rain. 

And, yet, spring doesn't really have anything that comes to mind, either. Sure, there are days that simply feel like spring, but offhand I just can't think of any smells of spring. Maybe warm, damp dirt if you're someone who gardens? The smell of rain probably overlaps both summer and spring, but when it's cool out, the rain doesn't have the same smell as in the hot summer. 

But fall... Fall is all about spices. Heavy, heady spices. It's the season of cinnamon and nutmeg baking apples. It's when pepper and wine and onions bathe meats that sit for hours on the stove. It's when chilis of all kinds show up and the house simply smells warm, like the yeasty aroma of baking bread. When tomatoes meet oregano and basil and garlic and the house smells like a trattoria for days (this works especially well with someone like Christopher around). 

It's when I break out the baking cookbooks, when hot apple cider gets both spiced and spiked, and when leisurely meals that have simmered for hours take over from the flash-in-the-pan-ities of summer.

Which, come to think of it, probably explains why I've been feeling hungry after each trip to the mensroom, lately. But, more importantly, it explains why I'm contemplating going out to buy some canned pumpkin (Libby's, of course), and thinking about trying out some recipes with the warm butterscotchy aroma of curry, and contemplating spending a whole weekend in the kitchen. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

World Weary Wednesday

I fully admit that I am *not* currently watching the presidential debate.

I know that I really ought to be. I ought to be listening to them each speak and seeing how it goes. I ought to be getting a feel for how each of them really addresses the issues.

But I'm so tired of all of the political talk this year already - and we're still a month away from the election - that I just couldn't watch.

And, of course, in this electronic age, I'm sure I'll see a gazillion news clips in the next few days. They'll be on TV. They'll be online. They'll be all over social media sites.

So, for tonight, I'm going to assume that they both were well-rehearsed. There were no surprises. And they wouldn't have changed my decision on who to vote for in November.

And, instead, the TV is off and a book will be in hand as soon as I'm done with this post. I suspect that would be a great way to make it through the next month, as well.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Movie Monday - New Year's Eve

If people celebrate the whole "Christmas in July" phenomenon, then "New Year's Eve in September" makes sense too, right?

Okay. Maybe not. 

But I did watch the movie "New Year's Eve" on Netflix last weekend. It's a Garry Marshall film in the same style as "Valentine's Day." Of course, I don't know how many people actually saw "Valentine's Day," so I should probably just explain the premise. 

You've got about a dozen storylines, all populated with interesting people, all taking place on the same day. And you know that they'll probably connect, but you're not sure which ones will connect with which other ones. 

Oh. I know. It's like "Love Actually" - you've seen that one, right? 

Anyway... The thing is that I kinda love this kind of movie. I love the blended stories that you're pretty sure you understand, but which still can give you a twist that makes you laugh a little or smile or tear up. 

And the cast in this is really fairly A- -list. (Yes, that says "A-", not "A".) It's got Michelle Pfeiffer in a storyline with Zac Efron. Sarah Jessica Parker and whatshername from "Little Miss Sunshine." And there's Robert DeNiro, and Jon Bon Jovi, and Halle Berry, and Sofia Vergara, and Lea Michele. 

And it all takes place on New Year's Eve in New York City. And some of the stories are happy, and some are sad, and some of the people you really just want to throw out the window. But, in the end, I really have to admit that I liked it. 

Overall rating: A. Yes, it's full of schmaltz. But it didn't overpromise. It didn't overtry. And if my own New Year's Eves turn out as well in future, I'd be happy with that.