wwcitizen: (BIG SMILE)
I love to burp. I sometimes drink diet Pepsi really fast with deep gulps JUST so that I can make a goooood loooong burp. Thinking to myself yesterday at work, "Self, burps need more accolades and better treatment (outside of parties and home)." - even though they're essentially social pariah in most circles. I created a list of words, at least that express different essences and states of "The Burp"!

Burpage - noun; a person's presence of burp at a given moment, ex. "Your burpage tonight is quite exceptional."

Burpaphobia - noun; the fear of someone else's burp(s); aka "eructophobia".

Burpability - noun; someone's capability to burp, whether on command or with the assistance of a carbonated beverage

Anaburp - noun; the reverse burp

Burpwise - conj; a transition word and/or conjunctive adverb that initiates a burpage or burpability phrase; ex. "On a scale of high-medium-low, burpwise, I rate this meal high."

Burpacious - adj.; given to, inclined to, abounding in burpage or burpability

Burpation - noun; the state of burping; ex. "My burpation lately has been lasting longer than normal because, burpwise, I'm mixing carbonated drinks with acidic food without TUMS."

Burpness - noun; the essential quality of something (beverage, acidic meal, air, etc.) to cause burps; see also burpessence

Burply - adv; describing specifically an individual's phraseology that contains burps; ex. Finishing his last sip of diet ginger ale, Jack burply ordered another.

Burpate - adj; describing the burp state or quality of something; ex. "The burpate conversation suddenly took on a different tenet when air was no longer being burped."

Pteroburp - noun; a very rare burp stemming from the expeditious or overindulgent ingestation of fowl (turkey, chicken, squab, duck, etc.).

Burpessence - noun; the basic, real, and invariable nature of something causing burpation

Burpgate - noun; the constant denial during a social gathering of someone who is constantly burping, but no one can quite pin the burpage on them.

Burpalicious - adj; burpage or burpability that is exceptionally expressive or excessive; ex. "My, how that burpate Pepsi has made this evening burpalicious!"

Unburped - adj; the state of a burp not coming to the surface for full burpage.

Preburp - noun; the phase or period that an individual can sense that a burp is imminent

Please let me know if I've missed any! Thanks!!
wwcitizen: (Long Road Ahead)
These past few autumn weekends, there have been times in the morning or late afternoon that we have had the windows open at the kitchen table. Light, cool breezes whip the blinds about making a friendly "tack-tack... tack... tack tack". We are sitting at the kitchen table reading through our news feeds or looking up recipes for that evening's dinner.

It's around these quiet times of day when I hear familiar distant sounds that tug at my soul. These specific sounds are off the in the distance, so I cannot see what is making the sound, which further tugs on me. At each occurrence, I want to run to the office to post about these distant sounds.

These sounds always bring forth throngs of memories. Some sounds even remind me of smells, such as hanging out the laundry mid-afternoon or passing by barns where the smell pork curing sneaks onto the sidewalk. Other sounds make me want to book a trip somewhere or just get in my car for a spontaneous road trip! Most of the sounds remind me of my grandmother or my childhood.

Every time these sounds occur, we are sitting quietly in the house. I suppose at those moments of focus and stillness that my soul is most willing to listen. I'm probably most present in that stillness.

Each sound is unique. Each memory is unique. The season of the memory or place the sound takes me to is fairly distinct each time. I love those distant sounds.
wwcitizen: (Stone Angel)
We lost an angel last night. Joe DiMuro, a friend born in NYC roughly 60 years ago, died peacefully at home. He was at home with his husband of 25 years, in his favorite recliner, under his father's blanket. How wonderful to pass in peace without pain!! As his husband, Carlos, put it, "We should all be so lucky." I hope I am that lucky!

My post here is not a solicitation of sympathy, but a gentle, firm reminder to each of us that life is short. We must cherish our moments with each other for as long as we have each other, as friends, family, spouses, or even colleagues. Part of the human experience is to experience each other, everyone's personalities, our likes and dislikes, our discourse, our joys and pains, and our silence - in the presence of one another.

Joe, Carlos, my friend, Joseph, and I met on a dance floor in Philadelphia in the fall of 2002. Joe & Carlos at that point had been together for about 12 years, at about the same time where Matthew and I are in our relationship now. Since then, Joe and Carlos helped to open up my world of friends in the Bear Community. Through those two, I, and Matthew and I, have met, I would say, 100s of people in the NY, CT, and PA area.

Joe and Carlos have always been warm, welcoming, and generous. They opened their home to everyone with open arms and GREAT food!!

Granted, because Joe knew that I didn't really like the Beatles and he was a MASSIVE fan of them, he and I would banter for days online about their music, their lyrics, and... well, meh (<-- I know he's scowling at that right now! That makes me smile...). Truth be told, for the last 13 years, and now forever more, I will always think of Joe when I hear a Beatles song - guaranteed! Joe always glared at me with incredulity when I sang along with a Beatles song, him knowing that I don't like them. Surprisingly, I know almost all the words to the biggies. It always made me laugh when he flashed me that incredulous look with the subtext of, "How DARE you!!". I will always think of him flashing me that look from now on and I love that.

I love knowing that I made Joe smile and made him dance - even ever so slightly after his stroke a few years ago. He'd always shake his booty a little around me - even after his 2007 surgery - and that made us smile and giggle. He loved telling people how and where we met.

Joe, I will miss you. We didn't spend as much time with each other in person as we should have. Life got in the way and I hate that. I'm so happy that we got to know each other, get under each other's skin as we did for the time you allowed us to, and I will always cherish the memories we have. You were the Italian mother I never had, and the Italian grandmother I needed at times. Best of all, you were my friend.

I will miss you, my friend. Can't wait to see you at the concert.

wwcitizen: (GET OUT - WOW)
Matthew dropped me off before parking his car to pick up the packages and the mail. After I got that all sorted, i got on the elevator, followed by a Korean couple, a Jewish retiree with a fabulous beach-themed necklace, and an Italian lady with an 8-pack of Stella Artois beers.

I said loudly, "Stella! Stella!"

The Italian lady smiled and said, "These are for my muthah. She loves them!"

I said, "Make sure every time she or you opens a bottle, you yell, 'Stella!'"

She said, "Why?"

To which I said, of course, "It's an homage to Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire!"

And she looked at me and replied, "Stella! I'm gonna look that up..."

"Exactly!" I replied exiting the box, noting that the rest of the occupants were giggling at this point.

And then, as I exited the elevator, I heard, "Stella!" from all corners of the box.

My day was complete.
wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
I've been very internal for the last 18 months or so. My personality (truth be told) is actually more of an introvert who's been working - his ENTIRE LIFE - to be an extrovert. No one believes me when I say that. Invite me to a party where I know one person, and I'll meet three people tops. If I know 10 people, I'll meet 30 and will dance on a table... But, I digress...

In times like these last 18 months, when I've felt exceptionally vulnerable,  unpretty, or "off my game", I become more and more introverted. So much so that people ask me (or Matthew), "Uh, yah. What's like going on with Steve?"

Matthew knows the answer. Really close friends and I know the answer. We just don't really talk about it. It's the Palsy (as I pet the right side of my face...).

Honestly, when Bell's Palsy became a reality in my world and expressed itself ON MY FACE (!), I didn't really know how to react. I thought I'd be strong. I thought I'd start up a section of my blog about it - to support others who might become afflicted with it. I thought better of myself. Ultimately, I was pretty weak. And I didn't have the backbone I thought I had.

Granted, for a time I blamed my own inaction happily on others who'd been afflicted with The Palsy before me: They had already stepped up and posted about their experiences. YAY! I didn't need to! Others posted videos about their self-imposed exercises (for better or for worse, prematurely or right on time) to improve their facial muscles and re-engage their nerves.

I'm lucky. I'm truly one of the lucky ones. As silly as it sounds: I'm a survivor and my face has rebounded!

Ok. I agree. It's not cancer. Right. It's not heart disease. Sure. It's not another death-causing ailment; it's simply a nerve issue possibly affected by a virus. But in the end, it becomes all about self-image. Bell's Palsy affects your person. Your core. Your ego. Your confidence.

The effect? I didn't post that many selfies or pics of myself for the better part of 18 months. I spoke and posted more about others and their issues, trying to ignore my inner self. I became an introvert as in many times past when I needed and chose NOT to express when I looked inward.

Because this time, I didn't like what I saw. I ignored what I saw for as long as I could. This time, my inward focus showed me a lot of other corners of my soul that needed spot-checking. They needed some levels of cleansing.

Now, 18 months beyond the inital effects of the Bell's Palsy, I can thank God for "Fat Face". My cheesy smile is almost 100% returned.

While I need to lose a LOT of weight again, I'm am realizing how blessed I am to have the liife that's been granted me. All of my recent biopsies (yes, I've had a few over the last 12 months) have been benign. I'm getting long-awaited dental work done. My husband and I have reconnected in ways we really needed to (and I didn't realize!).

In essence, I'm sorta "back". I realize my own limitations more astutely. I'm happy to be me and to be where I am. I know how lucky I am to be with the man who stalked me for 5 months. I'm ecstatic to be with the man who asked me to marry him and who accepted my proposals over and over again until it became legal in NJ for us to tie our legal knots.

I couldn't let this overwhelming emotion go unnoticed and unblogged. There are others out there I know who need a boost of confidence in the "FACE OF BELL'S PALSY" who need to know - Yeah - you can feel good about yourself. You're beautiful. You're loved. Be confident in who you are. Rise above and claim your inner and outer beauty! YOU are LOVED!
wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
There's something about a person's life and death that speaks to the connection one has to them. Interestingly enough, this passed Tuesday, my Aunt Lee came to mind and I wondered if she had died yet. Sounds morbid, I know, but that's not the thing. My Aunt Lee and I were tremendously disconnected. She was my mother's sister-in-law.

So, Aunt Lee died in March. We didn't find out about it until May, which is representative of the lack of connectivity to that side of my family (my mother's). It's strange for me because my dad's side of the family is so affable, interested in family, loving, and connected.

To me, it's not really all that sad that she died: Her death at the hands of lymphoma (or Alzheimer's?) was inevitable, truly. The last time I saw her was at my brother's wedding, and even then we didn't talk much. I suppose by that time, I was done trying to be the good nephew.

She and that entire side of my family have chosen to be estranged and disconnected. Whenever any of them came to NC, they never let my father or siblings know. Whenever they were in Europe or NYC or Philly, they never tried to get in touch with me.

Maybe their disconnect was the subconscious effort to unplug after Aunt Lee and my other aunt-in-law, Jo from California, decided before my grandmother's death (their mother-in-law) to remove, and take for their families without our input, my grandmother's finest linens, silver, and china. Granted, the things they left behind for my mother's children (us) were things that reminded us of our grandmother, but it was the principle; and in reality it was theft. My grandmother had not died and everything in her house was to be divvied up between the sons (their husbands) and us four kids - 1/3 apiece to my grandmother's children equally and my mother's 1/3 to be split between 4 of us.

As karma would have it, Aunt Jo's house in California got bombarded by 2-3 nasty earthquakes over the next 5 years, breaking everything that she had taken from my grandmother's house; Aunt Jo eventually died of brain cancer 4-5 years ago. My Aunt Lee began having bouts of cancer and other illnesses (if not dementia, then Alzheimer's) that lasted until she passed away two months ago.

When I graduated high school, Aunt Lee sent me the "Mrs. Manners Book of Etiquette". At the time, my knee-jerk reaction was first, "Oh wow! She thought of me." My instant second thought was, "Wow, what a bitch. She thinks I don't have etiquette?!"  And, for many reasons, that one phrase stuck with me: "What a bitch!"

Aunt Lee lived outside of DC in VA. One spring break in college, I went to DC with a girlfriend from NJ, Margaret. She and I were totally on the outs. In fact, we broke up after this particular spring break. Margaret and I spent a couple of nights "in DC" with her cousins in Maryland. One night we went to dinner with my uncle and his wife, Aunt Lee. It was great because she invited my cousins (her children) and their spouses (cousins-in-law) who I'd never met before; we weren't invited to their weddings.

During dinner (at Michael's in Vienna, which was supposedly a very fine restaurant there but no longer exists...), Aunt Lee looked around the table and said, "Isn't this interesting. We have at the same table my son and his wife, my daughter and her husband, and Stephen and his ffff---- girlfriend..." (feigning to mis-enunciate "fiance"). Margaret and I immediately stopped chewing, put down our silverware, and I said, "Yes. Girlfriend. Interesting and great to see you all."
So my Aunt Lee passed away. I don't typically approach the passing of a family member with such nonchalance, but, honestly, she (in my humble opinion) didn't foster more than nonchalance about her human connections, much less her familial associations.

So, here's to you, Aunt Lee. Didn't really know you much. Spent time with you at your convenience, behest, and leisure. You never really went totally out of your way to stay in touch or be family to us unless absolutely necessary. Still, oddly enough, every time I smell or see a lilac, I think of you (she had them in her back yard).

Emma Lee Neighbors
April 11, 1933 - March 8, 2014
Oakton, Virginia

This is a perfectly awful picture of her - bottom left.  Her daughter is in the red sweater on my grandmother's lap.

IMG_1616
wwcitizen: (Disney - S&M - Castle)
Today marks Matthew's and my first decade together! It's hard to fathom that we've been together 10 absolutely wonderful years.

What a ride it's been!! We've worked, made friends, travelled, carried and supported each other through hard times, lived fully, travelled, and cheered each other along with our individual and combined achievements. Oh, and we travelled.

And, we finally got married - legally in NJ!!

I asked Matthew this morning on the way to work if he would mind staying by my side for another 5+ decades since this first one was so wonderful. He said, "Yes, my love."

I want more wonderful times with him - as much as life will give us.

Happy Anniversary, my love.  
wwcitizen: (workplace)
This Sunday, Jaguar is running a newly developed ad campaign called "#GoodToBeBad".  The commercials (the 30-sec ad and the 60-second advert) are very well done.  The actors are excellent: Sir Ben Kingsley (in everything!), Tom Hiddleston (Thor) and Mark Strong (Green Lantern!), directed by Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech).

There's an opportunity to vote for the best ad run during the Super Bowl, which should be good fun.  If you'd like to get involved and vote for the ads (many people only watch the ads anyway and wait for the game results later), you'll have to register (for free) online by 31-Jan (tomorrow).

You can see more info about the commercials and Jaguars at the following site:
http://www.jaguarusa.com/british-villains.html

ENJOY!!
wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
Today, we submitted our application for marriage!!
Application-1 ApplicationSmiles
We have been telling friends for at least 5 years that when it's legal in NJ, we're going to get married.  So: WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!

1) For one, I never thought I would get married, even though Matt and I have been together for just shy of a decade:
2) I'm gay; never thought it would never be possible, though I used to fantasize about it.
3) I didn't think that I would ever want to settle down with someone - one person - for the rest of my life; this attitude came from my extensive years as a single man.
4) It didn't seem that NJ would provide marriage equality any time soon for us to get married here.
5) Neither one of us wanted to get married in another state (NY, CT, MA, etc.) and crossing into our home state, whose laws and/or constitution would render us divorced, unmarried, or legal strangers.  Prior to marriage equality, married same-sex couples from other states were not recognized in NJ as married and had to get a civil union or domestic partnership..

Then, all of a sudden - almost overnight, it seemed - it was legal for us to get married in NJ!!  We were on our way out of town when we got the news. Only two friends - a couple - called us to ask if we were going to hold to our promise.  And we both said, "YES!!  ABSOLUTELY!!  It's just that we're on our way out of town!"   We promptly went online to Amazon to purchase tentative rings for whenever our legal ceremony would happen.  We ordered three rings apiece, which we will wear interchangeably till our marriage celebration. Then we'll have real rings to give each other.  These interim rings will become Christmas ornaments or used at times when we don't care if we lose them or they get stolen.

Given the marriage application, licensing, and ceremony stuff here in NJ - that neither of us knew anything about - nothing was going to happen anyway for at least three days from the day we submitted our application. The news of NJ's new marriage equality came through just over 2 months ago, and we finally got our act together and submitted our application in our township this morning.  A friend of ours from down the hill was our application witness and we'll have two other friends be our ceremony witnesses.  The girl who worked on our application this morning seems to be family. She reminded me of Peppermint Patty, but prettier.

Thursday, I'm picking up the license from around the corner from our place.  Next week, we're getting married!!  It will be a simple civil ceremony at the courthouse in Hackensack (NJ - yes, the town in that Billy Joel song!) on Dec. 31.  A great day for New Beginnings!

We slowed our initial marriage gusto a bit when we heard that our governor withdrew his appeal to oppose the NJ Supreme Court's decision to allow marriages to begin. Our governor has tried everything possible to make marriage equality impossible in NJ; it has honestly been so embarassing to be the last mid-Atlantic state above the Mason Dixon Line to allow marriage equality. He even went on record to say that if his own child was gay, he would tell his child that s/he should not be allowed to marry the person of their choice.  So, initially we were afraid that we had to get married by the end of the year, so that if he appealed, we would stand with the throngs of married couples in a lawsuit against the governor.  But, thankfully, we didn't have to be put in that position and we considered waiting until the actual celebration simultaneously to make it legal.  But, the activist in me really wanted the "2013" date stamp on our license.

Frankly, I don't think anything spiritually or emotionally will change.  At a later date, we'll plan a celebration - perhaps in 2014 or 2015. No rush since the legal stuff will be done. It'll certainly be interesting to be able to file our taxes as a married couple. THAT will definitely be a change!! Plus, once all the legal stuff is done, I think I'll put Matthew on my health and auto insurance policies, since they're both less expensive than his.

Above all, we're VERY excited at this new stage in our lives.  We've been calling each other "husband" for years, but now it'll be HUSBAND!! OFFICIALLY! WOOHOO!!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Who looks in their spam folder anymore? It's spam. I think I peer into any of mine because I'm looking for a note from a friend who's never sent me an email. More often than not, though, those kinds of communications never land in my spam for some reason anyway. So, I rarely if ever check it.

Today, however, on a whim, I did. There's spam about adverts and the typical "Win an iPAD!" crap.  Today's spam of note was this one from a "lonely Russian".  It was a really, really creepy note written in really poor English.

I have to wonder: how many people nowadays really, truly respond to these emails anymore? Who responds specifically to the Nigerian princesses who have "one billion pounds" for someone to acquire as a result of responding with their social security number in the reply? My thought is quite a few: Wouldn't the originators stop sending them around - eventually - if such emails never garnered responses?  I think they send out the spam in the hopes of getting at least email addresses in order to send other spamming things with links to websites that inflict viruses, trojans, and worms.

The sad thing is, there are lots and lots of lonely people out there who, against their better judgement and lack of exposure, or based on the simple human desire to connect, will respond to these things. The catastrophes that could possibly ensue are numerous and most of these people will unwittingly invite an electronic vampire into their homes.
wwcitizen: (TV Watching)
Over heard today - so sweet:

Guy #1: "Have you ever heard of Prairie Home Companion?"
Guy #2: "No, what's that?"
Guy #1: "It's this radio show on NPR (National Public Radio) that airs on Saturday evening; reminds me of when I was a kid."
Guy #2: "Oh yeah?"
Guy #1: "Yeah, they have music and last weekend they had this really great band!"
Guy #2: "Oh yeah?"
Guy #1: "Yeah, and the band's going on tour."
Guy #2: "You don't say."
Guy #1: "I looked 'em up and they'll be heading to Britain first, though. But they were so good. This one girl played the crap out of her clarinet - like I've never heard it played before. So good!"

Background to this and why it's so sweet:

The Prairie Home Companion is a terribly nostalgic show. It makes me think of A Christmas Story: Kids in the pre-TV years used to hover around the radio with their parents to listen to the radio shows, Roosevelt's fireside chats, mini-dramas like War of the Worlds.  I did a self-study course in college on German radio plays from the 1960s and 1970s, which was really fun and interesting.

I just cannot for the life of me imagine someone playing the "crap out of her clarinet" before. What must that sound like?
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Last weekend was a lot of fun with the Fire Sand Jaguar F-Type convertible. My post about it just went live a few minutes ago, in which I purposefully left a thread hanging from the story. It was left from the story because, frankly, it well deserved its own focus.
  1. It seems that my 2004 Passat is cantankerous. 
  2. It wasn’t good writing to distract from the previous post’s theme.
  3. The previous post’s theme was AWESOME!
  4. This current theme is about a jealous Passat.
When I plopped my little butt into the Fire Sand Jaguar F-Type convertible on Friday and drove away from my office for the weekend, of course, my 2004 Samoa Red Passat had to be left behind. After all, no one can drive two cars – safely – at once. It’s either one or the other. I took the other, hotter, faster car out for the weekend.

I’m frankly not sure what, if anything, transpired with my car whilst I was away traipsing around the countryside in the hottest thing on the NJ and NY highways and byways. My old guy was parked all alone in a Mahwah corporate parking lot for 2.5 days. 

Granted, there’s 24/7 parking lot security at my office, so my Passat was fine. He was safe. I’m certain he felt lonely and neglected without so much as a “See ya!” from me.

After turning in my Jaguar from the weekend, my Fire Sand was watching me throughout the day as I walked from building to building.  After work, I got into my old 2004 Passat, happily content with his practicality.  Happy that he’s paid for and that, in large part, I don’t really have to worry about him at all.

Work ended and Matthew was waiting patiently for me at his office 5 miles up the road on the NJ/NY border.  I got on the highway and was carefully navigating traffic, across lanes to the left and back to the right - the normal ebbs and flows of evening rush hour traffic. I kept noticing that my right side passenger rear-view mirror was wobbling.

I used the little turn knob on my side to push the mirror upwards, downwards, sideways and back to get the mirror to snap back into place. I didn’t realize that the actual glass was the wobbly bit. I didn’t realize that the wind was getting behind the mirror and loosening it from the flat plastic base. In an instant, as I was pushing the position knob back upwards, the mirror popped off and flew into the air behind me! I feel like I heard a “clink-clink-splatter” on the pavement to my back right as I sped away unable to stop and make sense of it all.


I exclaimed, “There it GOES!” to no one in particular with my windows open. “THERE IT WENT!” I screamed again to the gas station sign I was passing. Just really to myself – albeit loudly.  It was sort of a helpless feeling, witnessing my 2004 Passat turning into a zombie before me – with me inside!

I smacked my right hand onto the top of my steering wheel and rested my forehead against my left hand with my elbow on the window sill.

“Hope they have a mirror!” I said out loud to the air whipping around through my car, speaking, of course, about the VW dealership on the way home. What an inconvenient and odd thing to happen after such a nice weekend with my Fire Sand Jaguar!

And there it was. My old 2004 Samoa Red Passat was JEALOUS!  Jealous that I took another car home. Fuming that another, younger, hotter vehicle got to see the hilly countryside in upstate NY. Stewing all weekend by himself in a lonely parking lot, scheming of ways to say, “See?! How’s THIS for leaving me behind?! Huh?! You need to pay attention to me!  Spend time with ME for a change, why doncha?! IN FACT, I want something new for ME because I deserve it.”

And so he made me spend money on him.  To the tune of $100!  Honestly, I’ve done the same thing before with a previous boyfriend in a similar situation. I get it.

Needless to say, the parts department at both convenient VW dealerships were either closed or closing before we could get to either. I had to wait to check with the dealership closest to my office till today, but we met “RD” along the way.

“RD” is a short, beefy (clearly) Italian bulldog who works at the Mahwah-local dealership.  Good arms, great tats, and excellent eye contact. Buzzed hair and furry belly. Yes. Furry belly. More on that later… “RD” explained to me yesterday, “Make sure that you push in the new one like this (demonstrating and checking in with me that I was watching him): In the middle… not on the sides. OK?”

“Yes, sir! Not on the sides, but push it good in the middle there.” I quipped without cracking a smile.

“Right! Grab onto the sides here (checking in again with me) and once you have it seated and plugged in just right, push it in the middle till you hear it snap. Hear that?” I nodded studiously. “That means it’s in place. Then you can get in and move it around.”

Yeah. I’m not totally sure if those were all the words or phrases he used in that order, but they seem plausible. In that order. In my head. Right? RD did show me and instruct how to insert the new mirror once I got it and his demo yesterday was totally cute.

On the way home last night without knowing whether I’d be able to get a real replacement today, we scooted by Pep Boys to see if they had a mirror I could glue onto the old plastic base.  “MacEnroy”, a handsome 50-yr-old, Latin fireplug, told us about a glass place “around the corner” that could cut out a perfect fit. Sounded good, but no dice; the place was closed – in fact, it closed at 4:30PM and at we got there at 6:15PM.  Ugh. So, we went back to Pep Boys and got a set up for about $10 that would get me through about 2-3 days of traffic, in case I had to wait a couple of days for the replacement mirror to be ordered - better to be safe than sorry!

Turns out the local VW place had one in stock and I picked it up today.  And RD installed it!  Oh, yes. And about his furry belly. I saw his furry belly today when I picked up my mirror from the dealership during lunch. I asked if “RD” was around cuz, after all, he’s the one who explained yesterday; I needed him to make sure it was pushed in just right - from in the middle, not the side.

He installed the mirror and made sure I heard it snap into place.  He wiped his fingerprints slowly off the mirror with this t-shirt and, in doing so, exposed his furry little belly.  When he was done with my mirror, he stood there holding his belly button (for no apparent reason) under his t-shirt as we finished talking. Of course, I couldn't leave until he turned to go back to work. It's only polite. ;-)  Plus, meeting RD and MacEnroy were fun silver linings,

It’s also good to know that my Passat’s got a jealous streak. For the next time I leave him behind for a different car…
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
This last weekend was stupendous. Stupendous because my company allowed me to spend a weekend driving a Fire Sand 2013 F-Type Jaguar (V6 Supercharged) convertible. Driving that car was an amazing experience. What’s even more exciting is that when this project contract began for me working at Jaguar Land Rover North America, that particular F-Type completely captured me.

One day after I parked my Passat to go into work, I noticed that F-Type for the first time. Why? Because it was a Fire Sand F-Type convertible. "Fire Sand" is a cool term for "burnt orange" or "pumpkin". The color is totally intriguing and the body of the car captivated me completely - it looks like an animal. I took 5 or 6 pictures of the car as if it was parked on some side street in Chelsea (something I’ve done, btw).  On my way home that same evening, I mentioned to Matthew, “I just wanna drive that car for a day. Just one day. Is that too much to ask?”

Well, this past weekend, I did just that!  I had won a raffle at a company meeting a couple of months ago; 12 winners of the raffle would be able to drive a company car (a Jag or a Land Rover/Range Rover) for a weekend. I was one of the winners!

Over those three weekend days, I drove at least 500 miles.  Plus, I drove at least a total of 26 hours – just over a day’s worth of driving. Apparently, “Just one day,” isn’t too much to ask! I got my full day of driving just as I had wished and I got to see the car parked in my space for the weekend (I had to leave my Passat parked in the company parking lot for the weekend. More on that on a later, different post…).

At the initial button push, the Jag growled at me when he started up; his grin was tangible. He had me before the first growl. He had been waiting for me to get inside and push his buttons since my eyes squinted at the sun sparkling off his curves the first time. He wanted to be driven. He clearly didn’t want to sit still or be parked.  I brought his top down and pulled out of the parking space, When I rounded the first corner, he seemed to want more of that curve, so I gunned the engine a bit, He smiled and ate that curve in one bite. And then the next one: CHOMP! He was looking forward to the weekend as much as I was.

I pulled up to get Matthew from work (who now works about 5 miles from my office).  Matthew told me later that EVERYONE walking out of that office building was staring at the car. I didn’t notice them because I was looking at everything in the car – the controls, the lights, windows, the mirrors, and the radio.  Matthew was beaming because he knew I was excited for the weekend.  He got in and put on his seat belt. I asked him one simple question: “Are you ready?”

“For what?” he countered.
I asked him again: “Are you ready?”
“Uh. Yes?” he said apprehensively.

Making sure no one was in front of me, I took off toward the edge of the parking lot. Fire Sand snapped our heads back against our head rests.

“OH JESUS!” Matthew exclaimed. “SLOW DOWN!”
“I’m only going 15 miles an hour, grandpa.”
(^^ That exchange repeated itself quite frequently over the course of the weekend…)

When we were leaving the office park, getting onto Interstate 287 South for a bit and back onto 17 South to go home, there’s a very fun curve and Matthew almost shit a couple of bricks as we rounded it.  The suggested speed around the curve was a measly 25… my boy wanted to take it at about 35 MPH. So, I gave it to him and then some.

All the cars on 287S saw me coming onto the road and slowed down (or was I going faster than them?).  I got across the four lanes to the left quite safely, but quickly because 17S comes up right after that curve. 

BOOM! We were on 17S heading home.  All the way down 17S and eventually onto I-80E (another Interstate highway), so many people could not keep their eyes off the car. A couple of handsome guys in fun cars (not sports cars, though) raced up to meet my car. They safely kept their eye on the road in front of them, but checked out the car, me, Matthew, the car, me, and then gave me the thumbs up or an “OK” sign with BIG smiles.

We pulled into our building about 30 minutes later and I was able to dash in, change clothes, and head back out to drive down to visit my buddy Joey for dinner. The drive down, with the top down, was almost fully on the NJ Turnpike all the way down. I picked up Joey and we raced off to Princeton.

The best part about all of those routes was that I could drive at least 65. I positioned myself with traffic, so that I didn’t stand out. I also used my cruise control quite a lot, so that I didn’t inadvertently go over the speed limit.  At 65 MPH, it felt as though he was plodding along at about 30 MPH – he even yawned a couple of times when I sped up to pass someone. 

Cops didn’t seem interested in the car at all, which was just fine with me.  Someone at work told me that cops “respect” Jaguars due to the owners/drivers of Jaguars or something, but I noticed that cops – the entire weekend – were uninterested in the car.  I had always heard that if you drive a sports car, beware of cops. So, I was paying attention. I mean, I wasn’t driving erratically, recklessly, or exceptionally fast (except for that one time…). So, there was no real reason for them to approach me as it was. Still, that warning was playing in my head all weekend, which was probably a good thing – given my history with speeding tickets from when I was in high school (different story for a different post…).

Saturday was the friends tour. I drove to four different friends’ houses to show them the car and give them a ride. A couple of them live close to highways, so I was able to show them a little of what the car could do. One of them had never been in a convertible, much less and actual sports car. Two friends weren’t home, so I took a picture of the car in front of their house; at least their house got to see the car!

By Sunday, Matthew had plotted out a route for us to drive up to New Paltz and Kingston, NY, that included highways and country roads. He found a marina for us to visit, a resort (that we might want to return to for dinner, at least), and in the end, I chose for us to return home a different route than how we got to our destination; I-87 (the NY Thruway) was really backed up close to the NJ/NY border and we would have been stuck in tons of traffic. 

Along the way up there and back, there were lots and lots of twists and turns, hairpin curves, mountains, big hills, river vistas, and plenty of onlookers. We had a great time driving all over the place! Here’s a snippet of some of the roads and terrain we traversed along our road trip on Sunday.

Mountain Curves
Hairpin CurvesPalisades Pkwy
Monday morning came a little too quickly when I had to turn him back into the company. He’s been sitting in the same place since I parked him there. Feels like he’s looking at me, winking, and saying, “Ask for another weekend. C’mon! Let’s go!” 

Over the weekend, I took a ton of photos. Here’s a smaller collection of the best of the best from all that driving. We unfortunately had to stop from time to time, of course.

Part of me wishes that hot, fast Fire Sand cat was mine. The other, more practical part of me sat back with a sigh into my 2004 Passat, who’s paid for and running just fine, and drove to pick up Matthew after work. I didn’t really try to push my old guy too far, but from his brakes, I could tell he wasn’t too happy I left him for a hotter, younger, faster guy for a weekend fling.  He’ll get over it.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
My dad sent me a picture of a Sweet-N-Low package and I thought he was sending multiple warnings and "doom and gloom" statements, as he normally does; alas, when I first responded to his note, it was as though he was promoting falsified sensationlism. Glad to say that wasn't the case.

Since saccharin was commercialized in the late 1800s (that's 135 years ago -->
saccharin was first discovered in 1878), no one human has ever died from using saccharin. The lab rat/mice tests in the 70s that created the sensationalized cancer scare were from the development of rodent bladder cancer due, a reaction that only occurs in rodents and not in humans. So, in 2000, the warnings were removed.
However, Nutrasweet or Equal in the blue packets (aspartame) is most absolutely a neuro-toxin; it was originally discovered while scientists were inventing a new anti-ulcer drug and has been the subject of many scientific and nutritional studies. There are distinct warnings on the package because people with phenylketonuria (PKU) - it can kill you.  If such a small thing can definitely kill people, I choose not to ingest it as much as possible. Thing is, that crap is everywhere.
Now, Splenda (sucralose) has been around for at least 20 years, but hasn't gone through nearly as many ringers as saccharin or aspartame, yet.  Sucralose is basically bleached sugar; the process of making sucralose removes the nutritive values of sugar and leaves the sweetness.
Erythritol, Lactitol, Isomalt, Mannitol, Maltitol, Sorbitol, and Xylitol are all different non-nutritive sweeteners that have been used in no-sugar, diabetic sweets for years. Collectively, they've been used in products for diabetics for probably 30+ years.
Stevia was deemed only an herbal supplement for years because the non-nutritive sweetener industries lobbied against its promotion as a low-calorie sweetener. Thankfully, those lobbies have finally lost and it's on the market in better forms.
So, if you don't want to use saccharin, please just don't use aspartame. There are LOTS and LOTS of other, better choices. Read up, educate yourself, and don't believe hype.
wwcitizen: (Best Zoolander)
The other day while I was shopping at this clothier, a good-looking, well-built Italian guy looked me over. I thought from the way he was looking at me – very intensely with interest in his eyes – that he was kind of hitting on me. I nodded and went on about looking through the ties, but kept an eye on him. I thought, “Oh, he’s looking at my pink paisley tie. Hmm… Wonder if he likes it.”

He kept looking at me, up and down, trying to catch my eye again, so I finally said, “Hey. How’s it going?”

He nodded, said, “Good, thanks, You?” and gave me a very nice, handsome smile, and even blushed a little – maybe cuz I spoke to him and was a bit bigger with a deep voice. Don’t know.

Just then his girlfriend, wife, significant other, or just his female friend helping him shop approached from out of nowhere and asked, “Excuse me, I know you don’t work here, but could I ask you a question?”

I said, “Sure! Shoot!”

“We’re going to a wedding. As guests; we’re not getting married. Do you think this suit is a good look for him? Does it fit?”  (yes, that was two questions, but not bothered…)

The single-breasted, 2-button suit was black with medium white pinstripes. Noticeable pinstripes, but not overpowering.  I replied, “Well, it’s interesting and looks like something you’d wear to a more formal occasion, like a wedding, sure; not for an interview.  What are you going for? Is this a black tie affair, or just a normal wedding with friends and family?”

“Normal wedding. No black tie, but do you think a black tie would go good with this?” she countered. “We’re wanting a sort of retro look.”

These simple questions and the guy’s ultimately sheepish and accepting attitude told me everything I needed to know: They needed a gay.

I got the guy to try on the jacket, which was too long overall, but fit on the shoulders just fine. I had him hug her saying, “Pretend like you like her and give her a hug.”

He gave her one of the most uncomfortable, unnatural hugs I’ve ever seen in person! All the while, both of them were looking at me for some sort of approval and no smiles.  The hug was a reality-TV-unapologetic-apology uncomfortable hug. Oh, and they never explained their relationship to one another – even after that uncomfortable hug!  It’s truly immaterial, I realize, but I observe these things and take note out of socio-psychological interest.  Maybe she wasn’t really his girlfriend at all and I made them do something they really didn’t want to do. Or maybe she HAD been his girlfriend and they were obligated to go to this wedding as a couple because they’d replied with the other as the “plus one” before they broke up. And this wedding was the last thing they were going to do together as a couple and he had needed her help to get a suit and she was the only one he trusted to make him look good. Or… Meh! Who cares? The hug just seemed really uncomfortable and unnatural.

The shirts they were looking at were too big for his neck and too long for his sleeves.  So, I found a nice white black pinstripe shirt that fit him better, a black/white Ben Sherman skinny tie that was a very fine, retro-looking criss-cross, and black braces – with clamps so that he didn’t need brace buttons sewn into his pants.  I instructed them to find a similar suit in a short size rather than regular (the guy was about 5’8”). 

I must say, the outfit looked really good. I would have worn it!  I forgot to mention black dress shoes, but I did tell the guy, “NEVER wear those braces with belt. Braces and belts serve the same purpose, so look silly worn together on the same outfit; it’s one or the other and the braces will look really much better than a belt. Plus, if you’re ‘between’ sizes as you say, braces will help you avoid alterations for now.”

They thanked me and we parted to go on about our business. The guy kept looking at me, smiling, and nodding even after they were on the other side of the area, so I’m still uncertain what his and their story was.  In the end, it’s unimportant. Plus, this exchange was just getting a tad creepy at that point.

Just then, someone else, another woman, rounded the corner and asked me whether “that shirt (pointing) went with this tie”. I asked a couple of questions, offered some suggestions, and escaped the store with just a couple of purchases.

The next day, as Matthew and I were driving home, we stopped there again because two shirts I had seen the previous day had been on my mind all day long. I had to get them.  I found about three other shirts, too, that I hoped would be there in my size. The evening before, I just had to leave quickly after spending too much time helping other people.

But, just as Matthew and I were finishing our shirt selections, a divorced mother of two approached us and pleaded, “Excuse me, I know you don’t work here, but could I ask you a question?”

She was looking for a suit for her 13-yr-old son’s picture day at school, and eventually his confirmation in the spring of 2014. It seemed that the kid hadn’t been too cooperative with his mother or helping her out at all. She, too, needed a gay.

We took her and the kid, Justin, over to the suits section he needed (42S). Her budget was around $150 – for the entire outfit: suit, shirt, tie, and alterations (which she had forgotten about). In her hand, she already had about $200 worth of clothes without a shirt and tie! 

We gingerly took them out of her grasp. Matthew said, “Honey, I’ll go get a cart for our stuff; you go and do like you do. Help these people.”  He looked at her and said, “He’s really good; listen to him!”

I started showing her some suits – on her son – and gave them both lots of suggestions about fabric, designers, wear, clothing etiquette, and style. In the end, the entire outfit we picked for her was – tops - $125, leaving her with a $10 pants cuff (so they can let them out if he grows in the next year or two) to organize with her local dry cleaners. His new outfit was still under her budget and they could get dinner at a diner together!  Very happy all around. It was a smart, solid medium gray suit, white dress shirt (you can NEVER have enough white dress shirts!), and a gray/white/purple striped Ben Sherman tie.  The kid likes purple a LOT.

She thanked us so heartily and gave me a 10% coupon she had in her purse. She insisted she had another one in her car (her son went out to get it) and left us looking like a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders.  The kid seemed very excited about his clothes, too, which was a huge change from when we first met him.

Matthew and I returned to the tie area and were starting to go to the home goods section, when another woman approached me and asked about her husband’s shirt size. Her husband wasn’t with her. UGH!!  I said, “Men’s clothes are complicated, huh?” 

I helped her and gave her some suggestions.  She nodded impishly and shrugged her shoulders, “Yes! I didn’t know where to start and you really helped!” 

I said, “Glad to help! Bring your husband next time, so you can make sure you get the right stuff for him.”

Then I told Matthew we HAD to leave that area. Otherwise, we would have been spending our entire evening helping clueless shoppers!!  We went over to the home goods section and had some fun with stuff and checked out. When I used the lady’s coupon, the discount came up for about $4.50 – the price of a nice cup of Starbucks!  Not all the things I had picked out were part of the discount that the coupon covered. Nonetheless, it was a sweet gesture and every bit of savings helps, right?

Matthew and I did our good deeds for the week. He also suggested that the next time I plan to go to that store that I bring my tape measure. Tee hee!
wwcitizen: (Pumpkins)
Friends of ours and we went to the NY Renaissance Faire on Sunday in Tuxedo, NY. We'd all been there before, but it was a few years ago and never all together in a big group. This was really fun because there were six of us all with different interests - except for the food. We all enjoyed the meats and the mead as well as some beer.

One of my goals was to get some new Renaissance garb for my mediocre "collection". Clarification: I do not intend or want to become a Ren Faire aficionado... ever. I enjoy using the pieces for dress up at Halloween. In fact, the last bits I bought were for my costume in 2008 when Matthew and I went to Disney for Halloween.  So, that was my goal.

Problem with this year was that yesterday (Sunday) was the very last day of the festival. All the shopkeepers were tired and ready to be done with it all. They were clearly and verbally exhausted (a few of them actually told me directly how exhausted they were and to "help myself" in looking around and trying things on).  One of the shops I just left outright because, even though I'd spent a good 20 minutes looking through stuff and trying things on - clearly trying to buy something - the shopkeepers just couldn't be bothered. There were three of them and when I asked them a question, not only did they kind of look through me after I asked them something, but then one of them - finally - answered with this very quiet, timid voice that I had to lean in to hear because of some noise from outside.  VERY irritating.

In the end, I got some horns, a new doublet (being altered), some loungey pants, a mask, and LOTS and LOTS of great food - even a turkey leg!  I proceeded to wear my new horns to dinner at a diner on the way home. That afforded me lots of fun attention from the wait staff, adults, and kids alike. Some of the adults had kid-like expressions on their faces, even, after their double and triple takes.  Fun!

Escapes

Sep. 18th, 2013 02:51 pm
wwcitizen: (Rollercoaster Red)
There are many different times in my day or week when all that comes to mind is the strong desire to escape. Somewhere else or some other time draws me into daydreams and longings for being and experiencing something other than the present.

It’s critical to be present and live in the moment as much as possible. It’s those present moments that create the future daydreams and nostalgia, longings and memories of other times, happier or more interesting places, and people.

This escape is nothing specific to me right now or necessarily a reaction to anything going on right now, except that I’d MUCH rather be anything else than sitting at a desk.  I’d rather be out hiking, watching nature do its thing, walking around a lake in upstate NY or down a street in Boston, or sitting in a train in Europe heading someplace I’ve not visited before.  Perhaps it's the ensuing change of seasons that makes me dream.

But, my sitting at my desk right now is a moment that needs to take place in order for those other, better moments to happen and more interesting places or times to be. My present work day will allow me, for instance, to visit another place that Monet painted or where a Vivaldi violin concerto was first enjoyed. Putting in my time now will result in time off and freedom from corporate bounds for a little while.

Would that I were a business traveler again. I used to LOVE to travel for work. It was exciting to visit and discover new places or get to know a particular place far away from home. I loved having special places in other towns that I discovered and would visit when I was “in town” for a business trip.
Most if not all the places I used to frequent for dinner, lunch, drinks, or over-nighting in Brno, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Ljubljana, and even Vienna, Linz, or Salzburg – work trips – are most likely gone and part of history. The same is probably true in Leipzig, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, and Winston-Salem.
Having visited Ephesus and many ruins in Greece, Germany, and Italy, I often wonder how many cities I've visited in my lifetime will be relics and ruins of my time five or ten centuries from now. How will the earth’s surface or climate change that defines the future earth?

For those people who painted pictures in their kitchen in 300 BC, what did they daydream about? Did they ever want to escape and see or do something different than they were doing?  I wonder how many kids or artists with whimsy wrote their names on the inside of tiles before placing the tiles in a mosaic in their houses, like I used to do when I helped my dad build rooms or fix a wall. 

All over the place from Singapore to Kaua’I, Hawaii, I've planted my initials somewhere, all the while thinking, “Who will find this? What will they think? Will they look up my name and try to find out anything about me? What else will I leave behind that they will be able to find?”

It seems part of human nature to want to leave some kind of stamp on the world for future humanity. Is that all humans or a select few? It’s a select few whose existence echoes through the centuries – like Homer. Of course, not the “Homer” of Springfield, but will Matt Groening’s work survive the centuries?  Will school kids in AD2357 watch those shows in awe of “the way things were”?  Or will Space Balls inordinately be the societal ruler by which our generation’s Weltanschauung will be measured?

See?  All I wanna do is escape and be elsewhere doing something else, but simultaneously leave my mark somehow, somewhere, someway.
wwcitizen: (Dont Know)
Apparently, there are 12 surprising uses for Vicks VapoRub - there may be more! The 12 highlighted here are:
1. Decongest Your Chest
The most common use of Vicks is to decongest your chest and throat area. When applied to the upper chest, it provides excellent relief of cough and congestion symptoms.
2. On Your Tootsies
Applying Vicks to your feet provides nighttime cough relief. Generously rub VapoRub all over your feet and cover them with socks. Your cough will subside.
3. Achy Breaky Muscles
Vicks relieves sore, overworked muscles. It increases circulation and provides almost instant aid. Use a generous portion and apply it over the aching area.
4. Get Rid of Nasty Nail Fungus
Rub VapoRub on your toenails if you suspect you have a fungus. Within days, the nail will turn dark—this means the Vicks is killing the fungus. As your toenail grows out, the dark part will grow off and you will have fungus-free feet. Keep applying the ointment over a period of two weeks to fully cleanse nail beds of any remaining bacteria.
5. Stop Your Cat from Scratching
To prevent Miss Kitty from ruining your doors, walls, and windows, apply a small amount of VapoRub to these areas. Cats detest the smell and will steer clear. Vicks can also be applied to your arms and legs if your kitty is prone to scratching you.
6. Pet Pee-Pee Deterrent
If your dog or cat is not yet potty trained, put an open bottle of Vicks on the area he or she likes to mark as their territory. The smell will discourage them from lifting their legs and wetting your rug.
7. Headaches Be Gone
Rub a small amount of Vicks VapoRub on your temples and forehead to help relieve headaches. The mentholated scent will release pressure in your head and instantly relieve pain.
8. Humidify Your Sleep
Vicks VapoRub can be used in special types of humidifiers and vaporizers. Ensure your humidifier has an aromatherapy compartment before using. The humidifier will circulate Vicks throughout the air and keep you breathing easy all night long.
9. Paper Cuts and Splinters
To prevent infection and speed up healing time, dab a small amount of Vicks on any small cut or splinter.
10. Ticks and Bugs
If you get bitten by a tick, apply Vicks immediately. The strong odor might help get the critter to release itself and stop bugging you.
11. Reek-free Racehorses
Professional racers smother VapoRub under the nostrils of racehorses on race day. The strong stench deters the stallions from the alluring odor of the female pony and keeps them focused on the race.
12. Go Away Mosquitoes
Apply small dabs of Vicks VapoRub to your skin and clothes and mosquitoes will steer clear. If you do get bitten, apply Vicks to the area and cover it with a Band-Aid to relieve itching.

B9

Sep. 5th, 2013 09:51 am
wwcitizen: (Steve - Demonned Face)
One time on a business trip sometime before 2003, I had a layover in Atlanta, which is pretty typical. I was still a smoker back then (I quit about 5-6 years ago) and airports were restricting smokers more and more. Atlanta was no different, of course, but they did not provide smoking areas in every terminal to my knowledge.

My plane landed in terminal C and I started walking toward the people mover near the front of the terminal. About halfway through, I stopped to ask a janitor where the nearest smoking section was. He replied, pointing toward an escalator, "B9".

I said, "Uh, pardon?"

"Terminal B, gate 9. B-9. That a-way."

I thanked him, turned, and smirked a little: How serendipitous was it to hear that the smoking section was B9.

Now, every time I go for my annual physical, having grown up with lots and lots of cancer in my family (mom, siblings, grandparents, and aunts...), I think, "B9."

My dermatologist confirmed for me this morning that the things he removed a month ago were all benign.  And, again, I thought, "Yup. B9!"  It might sound silly, but I think that it's a signal to the universe that I want to hear, "benign," for everything I get checked.  Makes me happy.

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wwcitizen: (Default)
Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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