Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ceremonial Distance

I found out today that one of my best friends is - after 23 years with his partner - engaged.

Or, rather, they intend to get married.

When I wrote back in response to an emailed comment about a possible ceremony, I asked if it meant that they were engaged - and when this change had happened. His response was "ROFL - Engagement? After 23 years????"

But apparently there was a bit of a proposal and all, so I think it counts.

The part that continues to surprise me is that this apparently happened almost 10 months ago and I just found out about it - by accident - today.

Ninety percent of my life I'm perfectly fine with living halfway across the country (or the world) from most of my best friends. Ten percent of the time I really wish I lived a lot closer.

Today I definitely felt the latter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book 'em, Danno.

There are days when I feel like I don't do anything but work and sleep.

I get up in the morning, I get showered and dressed and I drive to work. I'm there from 9 until 5, then I get back in my car and drive home - sometimes with a stop at the grocery store - and then I have dinner with Christopher and we might watch a little TV or go online for a bit, and then we go to bed. And it feels like that's all we do for 5 days out of every week (only he gets up earlier than I do and is usually at work from 8 until 5).

Yet, today, when asked by a friend of ours whether we could schedule a Saturday or Sunday to get together for dinner, I had to check the calendar.

This weekend? Out. Next weekend? Out. Every weekend of November, actually? Already busy.

We've scheduled - tentatively - a dinner on Saturday, December 5th. Luckily, it wasn't the 12th or 19th - because those are both already booked, too.

Okay. Yes. The weekends are the extreme version, because we tend to book them in the hopes that we won't be exhausted from a day of work. But I was just looking at our weekday evenings, and for the foreseeable future we've got at least one or two - if not more - evenings already booked each week.

For a couple of people who only work and sleep and never go out, our calendar is ridiculously full.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Is It Over Yet?

One week from now, I'll be a very happy guy.

I really can't stand Halloween, you see, and this time of year it is EVERYWHERE.

Ads on line. Ads on TV.

Last weekend there was a zombie pub crawl in Minneapolis, and so all week this week there has been fake blood on the sidewalks.

I really can't wait for it all to go away - both the fake blood and the holiday.

Okay. Some of the candy bars can stay around. But the rest of it can go away.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Saying What You Mean (for better or worse)

I had one of those moments at work today that probably shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't have happened for a LOT of reasons, honestly, but here's the full story, at least as I experienced it.

I was in a meeting. It's a bi-weekly meeting where people who have issues which the IT department should know about - but which might be too hard to put into an email - meet up to talk them through.

I was trying to explain a particular situation which, I think, has probably been causing some problems, lately. (We have a drop-down box at one point which only offers two possible answers. But since clients could actually have other answers, it has a line which says "If your file isn't X, then choose option Y." The trouble is that many people have actually had file Z, Q, P, and L - and so when they get further into the system those can cause issues.)

So, I was trying to explain this issue, and one of the other people in the meeting kept asking me questions like "How many people do we really deal with with that?" and "Well, we can fix that for them anyway, can't we?" She interjected multiple times, and eventually - as my brain was getting overwhelmed with trying to keep my question out - I looked over at her, put my hand on the table, and said "Calm the fuck down" then I went right back to finish what I was saying.

Yep. I said fuck at work. I did say it with a smile on my face and my tone of voice must have been cheerful because a few other people did laugh. And, well, the young woman who had been talking over me the whole time finally stopped.

The end product, then, was what I had hoped for.

But I probably should have just said "Calm down" - though I don't know if it would have done as much good.

Definitely a case of saying what you mean (and meaning what you say) possibly needing a bit of a thought-pause somewhere in the middle.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Scent of Fall

Sure, pumpkin spice everything is around these days.

Apples and cinnamon are in every grocery store aisle.

The neighborhood smells of woodsmoke instead of charcoal.

The chill in the air has brought about a whole new set of aromas.

Yesterday and today, however, were warm - not chilly.

So when I let the pup out this evening the yard smelled of a cross between warm dirt and beginning-to-decompose leaves.

It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but having grown up raking leaves into piles and then jumping into them this seemed more natural than all the other scents.

Possibly not as marketable, but that might be why it made me so happy to smell it.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

When Did We Become THAT Demographic?

Do you ever watch TV shows and pay attention to the commercials that are being shown? You can - typically - find out what demographic the show is aimed at by doing this. 

Based on the shows we watch - and the times of day - we see a lot of fast food ads. We also see a lot of ads aimed at "Gen-X" watchers, whenever we watch pretty much any show on BBC America or SyFy. 

Lately, though, while watching "The Mysteries of Laura," we've found that we've apparently become... well... an older demographic. 

The ads are for things like insurance and "assisted technology" companies. I have to admit that this has me a little confused. After all, "Mysteries" is pretty young when you look at the characters and the language. 

I've tried to make myself feel better by telling myself that we're not getting older, it's just that people of an older demographic are now watching "younger" shows. 

But after just so many sit-down shower ads and ads for pretty much anything that can happen in a man's private areas as he gets older... well... I guess I should just be glad that the Early Bird Specials get me home before my shows are on. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015


I may or may not have ever mentioned that I may or may not have a bit of a competitive streak.

I mean... I don't really care if I win or lose the office Fantasy Football season.

But, if someone at work told me that there was no way in the world I could win any games in Fantasy Football, I'd start working the roster every week to work to win every possible game.

I've felt that same desire to win kick in when I've gone bowling and been told that some other team would definitely beat mine. I've felt it when I was told someone "never loses" at a game I've just been challenged to play.

Well, I may end up losing a decent amount of my free time in November to answering a challenge. I'll still try to keep up the blog, but we'll see what happens.

I'll keep you posted as best I can. After all - going streaking in November can get a little chilly without at least a little coverage.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Metaphorical Issues

There are times when you really shouldn't talk about things because of the people who may or may not be involved. For once, I'm going to succumb to that social more (which I really wanted to spell "moray" - like the eel) and use a metaphor, instead.

You know how, sometimes, you hear a song on the radio and really like it? At that point, the song is still new, and you don't hear it much and so it's exciting and fun.

Then, over time, you start to hear the song over and over and other people start telling you how great the song is. And you come to a point where you just can't stand it and want it to go away.

That's not fun.

Then everyone keeps telling you how great the song is, which seems to happen just at the point when you're starting to realize that it's not as good as you once thought it was. But everyone keeps talking about it and wanting to sing it to you.

And everyone who isn't singing that song starts to resent it. Soon you might want to toss that song right out the window at work. Or challenge it to a sing-off. Or... something equally bad.

Metaphorically speaking.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Split-personality Day

Do you ever have one of those days where you start out doing one thing, then end up doing something completely different?

I had one of those, today.

I got up this morning and - since it was nice out - I finally got around to dealing with our fall yard prep. So I spent about an hour and a half cutting back the peonies, weeding, and spreading some new mulch around to make things look a little nicer. I even remembered to pull up one of the hoses and bring in the liquid garden sprays.

Then I took a quick shower and got dressed before... of course... going to a wedding fair.

Christopher and I have been to one other fair - but it was geared toward gay and lesbian couples, and was pretty small. This one was a full-on wedding fair in the Convention Center, with fashion shows and giveaways and holy crap a ton of people.

I was good and put on my "groom" sticker and wandered around. Eventually I even talked to some vendors (mainly I was there to talk about photographers and, if possible, valet services). and I got about three food samples. Then - after about an hour, and with a handful of flyers, I bailed out before my brain exploded.

This evening I gradually got myself back to normal - hanging out with Christopher, having dinner, and getting some things taken care of around the house. Oh - and nursing a sore arm, which I assume is from the yard work, not the flyer carrying.

Or maybe a slightly less-split combination of the two.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Entering a Brave New World . . . Timidly

I don't have a smartphone. 

I didn't even have a cellphone until after Christopher and I started dating. Part of why I got it was because it would be easier for us to get in touch with one another (it had been a really long time since I had anyone I wanted so much to be in touch with). But I also wanted more security when I was doing the long drive back and forth to my parents' in South Dakota. Yes - I could make the drive without a phone. But when you've got the ability to make the drive safer, why not do it? So I bought my first cellphone. 

Since then, I've had two more phones. Flip phones, to be exact. I haven't moved to a smartphone in large part because I don't really feel like I need one - and I don't want to become someone who does need one all the time. But I also really like that my flip phone touches my ear when I use it and the mouthpiece is near my mouth. You know - like a phone. I feel like, because of that, I don't yell when I'm on the phone like so many smartphone users do. 

Lately, though, I'm finding there are things that a smartphone would really help with. Like pulling up a scheduling email while driving somewhere and suddenly fearing we're an hour late. Or checking out a map when turning off the Interstate in Idaho. Things a flip phone just won't do. 

I'd love to say that it's not a big deal, because at least my laptop is doing great. But since every time I want to type a d I never know if it's going to take one or two tries, I guess I'd be lying. 

You see, I bought my current laptop about eight years ago (I think) - and it was a refurbished model at that time. But it was good enough to allow me to do what I needed to do. And it has a 15" screen, which makes it great for having two active windows at the same time when I'm editing. 

Of course - as things do in the tech world - after I bought my laptop updates started to happen all around me. So I updated my laptop. Then I updated it again. Until... well... even the guys at the store told me that I had pretty much maxed out what I could do. At the moment, I'm down to only one browser that is compatible with my computer, and about every third website I open gives me a banner notice that I need to upgrade my system to get the best user experience. 

So tomorrow I am planning to go to two stores I have always dreaded: a cellular store, and an Apple store. I am, gradually, going to put my toes into the electronics pool of the 2nd decade of the 21st century. I'm making the first foray without Christopher at my side, because I know that I'll get frustrated, and if he's there I'll take my fear (of getting it wrong) and loathing (of having to be dependent upon condescending salespeople) out on him - which would be very bad. 

I've decided that, to get myself through it, I'm going to sing this song from Phineas and Ferb over and over in my head while I'm there: 

At least that way, if/when I do go mad, it'll be in a sort of steampunk-y way, and with a good beat.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Realization Tiz List

It's been a while since I've done a Tiz List of things that you might not know about me, and while realizing a few things about myself I also realized that. So here we go: a list of recent (though not all new) realizations about myself:

1. I exasperate easily. I mean, I can put up with stupid stuff for a really long time, but then there will be that moment when things just go over the edge and I will go from calm to exasperated in 0.0001 seconds.

2. It takes me much longer to dial back the exasperation.

3. I really dislike it when someone asks for my advice and then ignores it. This is something I have known for eons, but working on the second round of an edit where the author obviously ignored big issues that I had corrected... ugh.

4. People who get away with breaking rules bug the heck out of me.

5. People who let people get away with breaking rules also bug the heck out of me. Yet, somehow, I've realized that the rule breakers, themselves, bug me more.

6. Mainly I think the reason they bother me is because I don't often break the rules - and even if I don't get caught I tend to feel guilty.

7. Perhaps it's really an issue with me and my ethics-related guilt complex.

8. Ninety percent of the time I'm a very non-competitive person, but if you push my buttons I'll do my damnedest to pummel the hell out of you - in a very sportsmanlike way, of course.

9. I've been known to cheat so that I can let others win. And I've been known to feel guilty about winning. Oddly enough, these two things don't often coincide.

10. I hate when people who are obviously not ready to order stand in front of you in line and don't offer to let you go in front of them, since you already know what you want. Or when they aren't ready to check out, but they block the cashier while waiting for someone to bring them something. I suspect the Holiday shopping season will be tense for me this year.

In case you're wondering, eight of the above realizations have happened at work. Three of them happened while commuting to or from work. No, that doesn't add up to ten. It's not supposed to.

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Am . . . Spellcheck?

There's nothing like working on a project for an author for about six months, rewriting large sections of the manuscript, editing, verifying sources, and doing your best to really bring out the heart of the work.

It can be incredibly rewarding in and of itself.

But it's still nice to hear from an author and be told that he appreciated the work you put in.

Of course, there are the times when you really wish the author had just kept his mouth shut.

For instance, the author of the book I did work on for - literally - six months of this year, and for whom I just wrote really good back cover copy (even though I think the book is kind of a crap premise on the whole), wrote in today to say:

Robert worked with me on this earlier this year correcting the spelling, etc. 

Yep. The tens of thousands (again, literally) of changes I made to move it into standard English, the hours I spent researching his quotations online, and the days I spent just trying to make sentences make the most basic of sense... all of that - in the eyes of the author - was a glorified spellcheck.

Warms the cockles of my heart, it does, to hear such praise.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Food - Green Tomatoes

Have I mentioned my tomatoes, lately?


Now that we're dealing with shorter October days, with chilly nights and highs only in the 60s, suddenly I have at least 6 tomatoes on my vines. I actually had to cut the vines back from their 10-foot length to about 4 feet, because the cooler weather had caused them to "sag" across our sidewalk, and in so doing I found out that I have more tomatoes than I thought (I knew I had either 3 or 4).

I'm hoping for one or two of them to actually ripen on the vine. So now I'm in an odd waiting game caused - once again - by the fact that I have no idea if these are the tomatoes that will always stay green, or if they're supposed to be turning color.

Each day I walk past them and give them a squeeze to see if they're ready, then I check the weather and see how cool the night will be. All I know for sure is that I want to leave them out there as long as I can before giving up and bringing them in before they get frostbite.

I'll keep you posted.