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wwcitizen


Citizen of the World

... enjoying this great world


Our First Decade
Disney - S&M - Castle
wwcitizen
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.  

Super Bowl JAGUAR Commercial #GoodToBeBad
workplace
wwcitizen
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!!

We're Doing It!
Face-Serious
wwcitizen
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!!

SPAM!! UGH!
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
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.

A Prairie Home Companion
TV Watching
wwcitizen
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?

My Passat’s Just Jealous
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
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…
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The Fire Sand Cat
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
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.

Non-nutritive Sweeteners
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
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.

Helping Shoppers
Best Zoolander
wwcitizen
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!

The NY Renaissance Faire - Tuxedo, NY
Pumpkins
wwcitizen
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
Rollercoaster Red
wwcitizen
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.

12 Surprising Uses for Vicks VapoRub
Dont Know
wwcitizen
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
Steve - Demonned Face
wwcitizen
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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A Snippable Little Isthmus
SteamPunk Stephen
wwcitizen
It was ever-present. It wasn't obvious at first, but it crept into existence. It got bigger and bigger quietly over the years. Then all of a sudden, it was the one thing that everyone noticed when they hugged me: My Family Mole.

Why "Family Mole"? Because everyone in my family has a version of the mole. Mine was only the largest of the entire family's moles. Everyone in my family has a mole in the middle of their back - just out of reach, almost proportionately in the middle of each person's back in my family. However, mine was about the size of the end of my pinkie. 

Years ago, I was told I should remove it because removing it would cause "an imbalance in the organ that is [my] skin". This was coming from a general practioner at Pfizer back when I was working for them.  I thought at the time it was a pretty quirky little myth someone had created and he was promoting it without any dermatological basis. But, I held onto that myth thinking, "Maybe he's right! I need to ask a dermatologist."

Well, yesterday I did just that!  And today I have no mole. It's gone. It's no longer a part of me. It's now bio-waste getting ready to be cremated somewhere and then become dust in the wind.  My family mole has thankfully preceded me to the Pearly Gates.

Now, I can hug without thinking, "Are they gonna ask what that little thing is?  Are they gonna stop hugging me when they hit 'IT'? Are they gonna feel strange about patting me on the back knowing 'IT' is there?"

All those questions would always run through my mind. Even when I removed my shirt on the beach, in a pool, or on the dance floor, I wondered how many people noticed it, pointed at it, and thought, "Ew. What's that?!" 

Thank goodness it never grew an eyeball or a little tooth and tongue. Who knows? It could have been the manifestation of my twin - finally finding a window to the outside world, trying to break free!

Alas, it was just a mole. A family mole. One mole that is no longer hanging from a snippable little isthmus, dangling there begging to come off. It took literally 30 seconds for it to be gone.

Why had I not had it removed earlier? All these years that I either had "off from work" or working from home, why didn't I set up that appointment to have it looked at and promptly removed?  Maybe because, simply put, it was a part of me.

Now, it's not. I did feel a slight, small, little twinge of sadness that it's gone. I do not know why. But, now, I'll no longer have those lingering questions or anticipations from society, friends, and family who constantly asked or acknowledged, "Oh, there it is!"  The mole is free. I am free. And, after that little spot heals, I'll be whole again.

A Snippable Little Isthmus
I had a family mole
That would only cajole
Inquisition, queries, and thought:
"What is it? He simply ought
Remove that big tumor
Like any good groomer.
It's gross, yet it's natural...
I could recommend several
Doctors, who'd wanna snip!
It'd be GONE!" They'd quip.

No, on my own time
And in my own way...
The mole in its prime
Would simply one day
Come to its demise.
It was totally wise!

My mole, my protrusion
That incited much confusion
Is no longer part of me…
It’s weird, but I can see
My back is now flat
So, I guess, that’s that!

A big apparent flaw
That seemed so bourgeois…
Misconceptions abounded
Apprehensions – unfounded!
No need for tears
Cuz I faced my fears
Of something worse that might happen.
But my mole’s grand assassin
Was my doctor, Dr. Lee.
He was happy to hear, very happy to see
That I was willing for him
With sterile scissors - not grim
To snip off my isthmus
After all, that’s his business.

My mole now fully gone
Before I said, “CYA, anon!”
I should’ve really named it,
Cuz it left a small pit
That Neosporin will soon heal.
I’ll strip my shirt with more zeal!

I’ll not worry nor fret!
But I’m also willing to bet
That someone somewhere
Is bound to say,
“When, see? I compare
This photo that day,
You had a big mole!
Where’d it go? Hey!”

I’ll say with a smile
It took me a while,
But my big family mole.
I gave it a new goal:
It had to go and be gone from my back
My doctor simply, steady went THWACK!!
All at once it was history.
It’s simply not a big mystery.
It was what it was
My back’s no longer abuzz
With strange looks and lost hugs
In 10 seconds, and NO drugs!
Now, there’s a small hole,
Where there once was a mole.

©Stephen Lambeth 2013

Bear Week FUN!
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
Aside from the tummy issues, we did have a great time in Ptown for Bear Week. I mentioned the events I hosted in a previous post (that took me a while to write up for some reason...).

We met TONS of new people and got to see people we hadn't seen in a long while, such as texwriterbear, slothel, and delmarmar Also in attendance were profundis (apparently - didn't get a chance to meet up), thetarnishedowl, mat_t (I think), faghatesgods & mondragon (Matthew saw them  both on separate days from afar),
We got to meet dewittar and fishfin for the first time in person!!  Very happy we were able to meet up and connect.  When I first encountered Rodney and Allen, they both looked so different in 3D than in 2D. Plus, I hadn't expected such pleasanly homey southern accents to come out of them like they have!  Very enchanting couple.

The day we were together at Vorelli's for bloody Marys, the power kept failing throughout the Cape from allowed brownouts. One of the cooling towers at the nearest nuclear plant wasn't cooling as quickly, so they diverted all the power for cooling to one cooling tower and shut the second off, which took some time and created brownouts.

Even still, we got to see some shows, including Miss Richfield 1981, one of our favorites! Those tickets were for Matthew's birthday gift. And we were both well enough to have a nice dinner at the Crown & Anchor and then head to the show! She never disappoints and always brings in some fresh, unexpected stuff. Very fun!
So, yes, we got to experience a lot of what makes Bear Week great: friends, shows, dinners, Tea Dance, and evening dances. But, we just took it all a lot slower than in years past. PLUS, the ultimate greatest thing was that I had no back pain like in 2012.

On the second and last Saturday of Bear Week, we decided to stay till around dinner time. The previous times we had been to Ptown in the off season, we discovered that leaving later in the day allowed everyone else to get off the highway. Our drive went from 7-9 hours (with everyone else leaving the Cape) down to a normal 4.5-5 hour drive home.  We spent the day shopping around, which we didn't do during the week, and spending time with a couple of friends of ours from NYC.
Fun times were had by all! Yay for vacation, Bear Week, and GREAT FRIENDS!!  We're already looking forward toward next year's Bear Week in 2014!!

Bear Week 2013 - The Tummy Chronicles
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
Bear Week 2013 is over. Well, at least the in-person experience.

The Beginning of OUR Bear Week
Our vacation started off with the "exciting", long, soul-sucking drive through Connecticut, as usual, no matter what time we leave on Friday. There are always road blocks, construction sites, traffic, delays without explanation, and then SUDDENLY everything clears up around exits 72 or 86 right around a nearby prison (there are 93 exits in CT on I-95 and WE start before exit 1...).
IMG_4814
In the car ride, we munched on baked sesame sticks (YUM!!), grapes, pork sandwiches that Matthew had made the night before (EXTRA YUM!), rice chips (blech), Chinese crackers, and peanuts. We brought only filtered and seltzer waters with us to drink all the way up, but didn't drink a lot of it. Matthew was happy that we didn't feel the need to stop to go to the bathroom, since we weren't drinking that much.  We checked into the Gifford House for the Friday night by about 8:30 - a 7-hour drive for what should normally take about 5 hours.  Thanks, Connecticut!  We were mellowing over a martini at the Porch Side Bar at the Gifford House by 9:15PM and stayed there till about midnight. We were tired, so went to bed; Matthew had a small tummy ache when we got to the room.

Matthew's Birthday
At 5 AM, Matthew woke me up to tell me to call for an ambulance. He hadn't slept much the previous 2 hours because of major abdominal pain that had woken him up. He felt that he had an abdominal obstruction. The EMT who heard Matthew's description said, "It's probably his gall bladder," which seemed really off - Matthew's never had gall bladder issues and our regular diet is perfect for a healthy gall bladder.
20130713_054702
By 5:30 AM, distraught and bleary-eyed, I stood watching the love of my life get into the vehicle, knowing he'd be on the road for no less than an hour to the nearest hospital down the Cape. I had to stay behind to move our stuff from the Gifford House to the condo across the street and get things settled for the week, which I did. We wouldn't hear his prognosis till about 9 or 10. It took them 2+ hrs to admit him and then he went for an ultra-sound. They found gall stones, but nothing to report in his abdomen; there was no infection and he had no fever - just pain. The doctors from hell didn't prescribe any pain medication for him or anti-biotics. Nothing. They wanted to remove his gall bladder - FOR NO REASON! So, he promptly grabbed the CD from his ultra-sound and made a mad dash back to Provincetown in a cab.

Three Cheers For Equality!!
I will say this: I was greatly encouraged by the Massachusetts health care system and the level of equality/acceptance I experience in MA - on a regular basis.  At about 10:30 am, I called the hospital to check up on Matthew, because the last text at that point from him was, "I'm running out of blood, TTYL!" I called and said, "My partner was admitted there at 6:30 this morning and I would like to speak with his nurse about his status and why his blood is running out." They put me right through to Matthew's nurse, Frank, who gave me an update.

Once I hung up, Frank went to Matthew and introduced himself and relayed my information; Matthew had not met his nurse until I called asking for information - WHICH I GOT WITHOUT QUESTION!! But, because I, his partner, called to check up on Matthew, his nurse got more on the ball - Matthew wasn't alone. I can pretty much guarantee that that experience would not happen in any of the states that currently do not recognize same-sex couples as equal in the eyes of the law - no matter what the hospital employee-patient manuals say.

My Matthew was safely and soundly back in my arms by 3 PM. I had gone shopping for all our food, including vodka and rum. I had everything set up for him for his birthday - all the decorations throughout the house - and set up his suitcase, hanging shirts, and our Internet for the week, so that we'd be WiFi-enabled.  He didn't have to lift a finger. Instead, we both took a nice, long nap and went to Tea Dance by 5:30.  Then we had dinner at the Red Inn and enjoyed a slice of cake that I had delivered from Relish Bakery down the street.
BEAR WEEK 201322-smaller
Steve's Events
For this Bear Week, my Facebook group suggested some get-togethers and I picked two to host: One on Sunday for the Facebook group at large, and one on Monday for the "Bear Week Virgins" to meet some veterans.  The Sunday morning coffee house get-together went over GREAT. Matthew and I wore t-shirts that we had made with the logo of the group that Matthew constructed. I had also gotten a huge banner made up for the events and hung that up, too.  Over the course of about 2.5 hours, about 50+ people made their way by us for the get-together out of about 200+ people who'd responded as "Going!". A 25% turnout is pretty successful.
IMG_4907 1373812870920 20130717_171909
Monday's turnout at the Aqua Bar was about the same and I was very happy to introduce people to a bar that seems to get lost in the shuffle between all the other bars in town. The Aqua Bar has great views of the bay and the wharves, as well as other bars' decks.  For this event, we wore the t-shirts, I hung the banner, and I passed out Pride beads; I had bought 4 bags of 6 dozen beaded necklaces; I gave out 1.5 bags at the Monday event, which was about 85-100 necklaces.  That means about 33-50% of the people who responded came!!  Even more successful - and some people from the Sunday event came to the Monday one, which was even better.  The bartenders (Brecken and Morgan - loving their names) made up a summery, fruity cocktail special for the event.  But, I didn't drink any alcohol on Monday, which I'll explain next.

Steve's Tummy
Sunday evening after Tea, we went out to dinner with some friends. I was playing it "safe" by ordering mussels, a salad, and a Provincetown staple: fish soup. That dinner at 7:30 pm was practically all I had eaten all day except some store-bought hummus late in the afternoon.  Sunday night I could tell something wasn't right and it seemed that I had eaten something bad.  By Monday around noon, just before my "Like A Bear Week Virgin" event, I started feeling odder and a little queasy. By the time the event was over, I really needed to be back at the apartment because I was getting delirious and dizzy.  So, we went back and we took a 2-hour nap, skipping Tea.

We had dinner reservations for 7 pm at one of our favorite restaurants, Ross' Grill.  Every hot appetizer or entree I saw on the menu made me feel nauseous.  So, we ordered the raw bar (which for some reason didn't disgust me) and I got a salad as an entree.  Matthew got the mussels and chicken (he felt fine) and I ended up not finishing my half of the BEAUTIFUL and delicious raw bar or my salad. The waitress brought me ginger ale after ginger ale and then THAT made me ill.

When we got home, my tummy was really bad, but nothing was moving. I got a fever in the restaurant and it got up to around 101.8 at one point in the evening. I dozed off and on for 3 hours and went to bed around midnight. The fever broke around 2:30 and I ended up sleeping till around 9 AM Tuesday and napped from 11:30-1:00.  I didn't feel like eating anything at all and by no means was I drinking alcohol.  I ended up not having any alcohol for three days!

Matthew's Tummy
Matthew started getting my symptoms from Sunday by Tuesday evening after dinner of Greek salad with chicken. That night we had another salad and chicken gyros because we were both kind of hungry. His tummy ache and fever kicked in later Wednesday afternoon. We both made sure that his tummy aches were definitely not the same as the ones from Saturday. We were quadruple-booked for Wednesday evening events and parties. I went to Tea on his insistence, and came back with a light dinner for us both at home by 6pm.  Matthew insisted that I go out and have fun with some folks, so I went out for about 2 hours, checking on his temp from time to time, which held steady at around 100 degrees (thankfully, less than mine). I brought him back some Tylenol and by midnight, his temp was down to almost normal.

A Godsend - All Tummy Issues Aside
In the end, Matthew and I spent a lot of time together this last vacation, making sure the other was on the mend and back on his feet. Since I got my new job in May, we've both been feeling lots of separation anxiety and the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) of each other's presence.  We haven't spent this much time apart for almost the last 5 years!! So, having time together on a vacation, where we usually are out and about all day in town spending time with friends, we would have felt like we spent no time together. In a way, it was a godsend that we got food poisoning.

It might be strange to say, but there's no one I'd rather be sick with than Matthew and he feels the same way. We take care of each other and know each other's needs. The main thing I never want to experience again is watching him leave in an ambulance by himself.  That was probably the worst and most helpless I've felt in a long, long time.  No matter how much he insisted that we had to do it that way and no matter how it all turned out, it was awful. Seeing my love, in pain, leaving without me to an unknown place with unfamiliar people was awful.

All in all, we relish in the fact that we did, actually, have a great time!!

A-Z Meme
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
So, no, I haven't done a meme in a LONG, LONG while. This was prompted by erstexman, so I thought it would be fun.

A - Age:  45 (for just under another month)
B - Bed size: Queen
C - Chore you hate: Folding the laundry
D – Dog’s (Pet’s) Name: None currently
E - Essential start to your day item(s): Blueberries with yogurt and coffee
F - Fun Factoid: I was daytime entertainment on a cruise ship for a month
G - Gold or Silver: Silver (I think I might be allergic to gold!)
H - Height: 5’ 10”
I - Instruments you learned to play: Piano, Hammered dulcimer, violin, handbells, trumpet
J - Job title: Sr. IT PM & BA
K - Kisses or hugs: YES!!
L - Living arrangements: In a condo in a high rise
M - Mood: Joyous!!
N - Nicknames: Steve, Bother, Dude
O - Overnight hospital stays (other than birth): None
P - Pet Peeves: Not knowing the difference between "You, You're, and Your" or "it's and its" or "their and there"
Q - Quote from a movie: "That's just what this country needs: Another cock, in a frock, on a rock."
R - Right or left handed: Right
S - Siblings: 4 altogether
T - Time you wake up: With alarm – any time. No alarm, normally about 8:30 AM
U - Underwear: boxer briefs
V - Vegetable you dislike: Eggplant, but learning to enjoy it
W - Ways you run late: Caught in a Facebook rant or exchange
X - X-rays you've had: abdomen and teeth
Y - Yummy food you make: green bean casserole and enchilada casserole
Z - Zoo favorite: Lions and tigers and bears! The meerkats and sugar gliders are always fun, too.
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Provincetown Weather Forecast
Bavarian Bear
wwcitizen
I choose to reject the concept of rain or clouds for the upcoming first 5 days of Bear Week in Provincetown. Reject it, I say!!  The winds are going to come from out of nowhere, baffle meteorologists all over Massachussetts, and sweep away all the bad stuff. The temps will remain tame between 80 & 85 degrees every day with evening lows between 72 & 75.  I think that'll make for a beautiful WONDERFUL vacation. That's the story and I'm sticking to it!
WeatherPtown

QuikCheck's Stupid Campaign
Lincoln Tunnel
wwcitizen
This morning at QuikCheck, the cashiers were trying to lure customers into visiting any QuikCheck at lunchtime for a free submarine sandwich. In order to get the free sub, you had to succumb to a hand stamp.

I had stopped there for veggie snacks on my way to work. It's a "quik stop" off the highway. I overheard the cashier explaining the "Sub Club stamping program" to a female customer ahead of me: Once the cashier stamps a customer's hand, the customer can go to ANY QuikCheck today to receive a free sub sandwich for lunch. The female customer didn't seem to be heading to work (wearing jeans and a polo shirt) and even seemed to consider getting stamped for a free sub later. But she declined.

However, that QuikCheck gets a LOT of business folks throughout the morning on their way to their office. How could QuikCheck possibly expect that these business folks (like me) would want a "Sub Club Stamp" on their hand when they're heading to work (I don't know if that was the title of the program, but it sounds funny...).

My excuse? As I glanced dramatically at my hand and tie, I replied in a short burst of overacting, "Oh, I coudn't possibly have a stamp on my hand like that at the office. **sigh** Thanks, but no thanks."  <-- Not that I would return to any QuikCheck for a free sub for lunch today.  I wouldn't have returned to any QuikCheck even if they had offered some other form of "program conformity", like a paper coupon because I eat my lunch at work.  But, I if I had given the real excuse, I couldn't have been so audibly and visually dramatic this morning. It was invigorating to give the pretense of being high maintenance.  B-)

Somehow the previous customer's lack of enthusiasm left a morning drama void that I had to fill.

The whole thing was strange this morning. Even the cashier was visibly bothered and annoyed at having to ask me to stamp my hand - she even knew I was going to say, "Oh, huh-uh."

I'd never heard of any store offering a hand stamp in the morning for something free at lunch. Stupid campaign.

Road Rage Cop
Car in the Country
wwcitizen

I am so irritated and flustered. I had just gotten off the phone with Matthew and turning off the highway onto the exit for the street where I work. There's always a back up at that exit.  I noticed this morning that the turn off traffic was backed up more than normal. I thought, "I'll cut through the Burger King or the diner parking lot and come up the back way onto my street (something I've never done before).

So, I turned into the Burger King parking lot, where no one was because it's closed this early in the morning, but out of the corner of my eye I see a car - don't know what kind. I get to the entrance to whatever the back street is leading up to "my" street, stop completely, notice that there's an "Entrance Only" thing for the Burger King parking lot and think, "Oops".

I make a right turn, safely - with no one behind me, and go up to the merge onto my street. Then I notice that there's an SUV DIRECTLY behind me. I mean like ON MY ASS. This SUV is RIDING MY ASS all the way from when I turned right and jerking back and forth.  I thought, "Oh, could this guy be seriously full on road rage this early in the morning?"

I almost felt like pulling over to the side of the road to let the guy pass.  Instead, I make a legal merge/turn onto my street go over a bridge (that goes over the highway), stop at the next traffic light - fine. This guy is still ON MY ASS. Even through the light, he's lurching forward, jerking back and forth, and I think, "Jeez, fella, calm the hell down and get around me."

He finally does and pulls along side me. He's apparently an off-duty cop - not even in an undercover cop car!! I glared at him and soooo wanted to say, "Dude! Calm the fuck down!"

But, I didn't. He stays driving next to me, looking at me then back to the road for like a block. He's swerving and jerking his car as he keeps turning up his hands to look at his speedometer and back at me. All the while, I'm driving around 35 mph in a 40 mph zone.

He speeds up, passing me, but has to stop at the next traffic light and eventually turns left. So, it seems as though he was trying to make me speed and go over the speed limit or do something illegal, so that he could pull me over or something. I did nothing illegal - even in the BK parking lot, really.

There was no sign stating "No Thru Traffic", which some lots have if they're on the side of a highway.  And the "Entrance Only" sign is a private sign - not installed by the city, but possibly monitored by town cops. That's the only thing I could imagine was this guy's beef, but he couldn't really nail me on it.  Maybe I came into the parking lot too quickly. Who knows?

The only thing I could imagine being an issue is, the NJ statute that reads, "Operating a motor vehicle on public or private property to avoid a traffic control signal or sign". But, I wasn't avoiding a traffic signal; I was avoiding the backup of exit ramp traffic heading to the same signal I was ultimately heading towards, just from the other direction.

UGH!! That type of cop behavior pisses me off so much! Enough venting. Thank you for listening.


Fourth Week In and Loving It!
Car in the Country
wwcitizen
This is now my fourth week starting off at the North America Corporate Headquarters for Jaguar Land Rover. It's interesting work being a Senior Project Manager and Business Analyst for them. There's lots of work to be done, that's for certain.
It's also interesting working for a company where most of its employees can't seem to afford one of their products. But, there are plenty of opportunities to drive the cars, whether as part of the corporate fleet for work-related travel or as a demo run for a new car that's coming out.

I just missed the opportunity to drive an F Series, which they allowed employees to test drive the week before I joined up. Here's a video of the car traveling around France. VERY HOT!!

I LOVE GRAFFITI!!
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
Everywhere we go in almost every city, there is some graffiti. San Francisco, Berlin, NYC, and DC have some of the best I've seen. Philadelphia is known for their spectacular murals (which are commissioned by neighborhoods), but I wouldn't classify those as graffiti. NYC has phenomenal graffiti. A few weeks ago, we were in the Lower East Side, and I captured a couple of interesting pieces from around Prune on 1st St. & 1st Ave. I noticed - possibly for the first time - that graffiti is now being painted on sidewalks or (as the Eyeworks piece was probably commissioned) on cellar doors, but on the sidewalk nonetheless.

Some captures of LES graffiti...Collapse )

Yesterday, we spent the late afternoon and evening in Brooklyn: Matthew had an appointment there next to the Brooklyn Brewery, so I dropped him off and spent about 30-45 minutes driving around checking out the graffiti in the area. I kinda wanna go back there and find more specimens.

Graffiti holds my interest because it's fleeting and dynamic! You see it, you appreciate it, and you might capture it.  It'll be there once for maybe a week or two, sometimes a month. Then it changes. Someone comes along to add their touch to the item.  Or someone else decides to cover that one with their own thing. The graffiti that is the most exciting is the wall that grows and expands off of one particular tag or image. San Francisco and Berlin graffiti artists, I find, tend to build on others' work, while in NYC, it seems that most artists want to be the ones on top. Perhaps the individual's or collective's cultural expression is coming through the graffiti and its placement - on top of others' work or next to and feeding off of another's.

Here are some examples of Brooklyn graffiti from yesterday's foray; notice the differences between Manhattan and Brooklyn graffiti. It's slight, but interestingly different and both unique.  Also, does a scarf wrap qualify as graffiti? Perhaps. Why not? One of the telephone poles in Brooklyn (below) has a knitted thing around the base, which is covered in graffiti. How about an old, broken, miniature skateboard? It's interesting to see that artists are using stencils and stickers more and more - why not other artistic mediums and materials - like yarn or wood? Enjoy!

See the Brooklyn graffiti collection...Collapse )

In honor of this graffiti post, I even graffiti'd my finger!
IMG_3342

Ugh - Twitter
Tax Season - UGH
wwcitizen
I just changed my settings on Twitter NOT to post my tweets to LiveJournal. I hate the format, the re-tweets are impersonal, and just, well. Ugh. It's all too much.

BUT, my LJ posts do go to Twitter!  So, yay that.  (<-- saying that makes me think of dendren).  :-)

HAPPY HUMP DAY, TOO!!

May Day! May Day! May Day!
Smell The Flowers
wwcitizen
Happy May Day everyone!!  What does "May Day" mean to you?

When I hear, "Mayday Mayday Mayday!" I first picture airplane pilots in black and white war movies having mechanical troubles. They're going down in a blaze of glory. Then there's the "zzzzt!" of the radio going out as the camera pans back to military command center.  It actually has nothing to do with "May Day": It is an anglicized form of "m'aider" from French, which means, "Help me!" and is always said three times.

When I read, "The 1st of May...", I think of Maypoles (in Germany, they're called "Maibäume", which is a fun word to pronounce in German - "my-boimah"). I have visions of little girls in pastel dresses dancing around a tall pole with ribbons, wrapping it up as they skip and sing.  The Maypole history - in Germany - is how a "secret admirer" symbol arrived at a love interest's doorstep.

When I google images of, "Happy May Day", there are pictures of flowers, fists, Maypoles, propaganda, little children in pastel, worker marches, vintage cards, equality marches, flowery garlands...  What a strange mixture. I captured some here for personal posterity. As with most all "holidays", May Day has its origins in pagan celebration.

Interestingly, May 1, 1707, is the date when England and Scotland united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Over the last century and a half, the first day of May became in some countries "Labor Day". Hence, there are also lots and lots of demonstrations regarding labor, workers, unions, and the like.  Even though the US Labor Day bank holiday begins our autumn and is always the first Monday of September, worker and labor movements historically carry out many protests and demonstrations on May 1.

Lots of things converge, then, on May Day: flowers, pagan traditions, strife, fights for equal rights, riots, protests, Maypoles, love interests, political unions...  The pagans knew something was special about the seasons changing, the spring sort of ending on April 30 and the summer sort of beginning on May 1.  The welling up of the human experience in a way.  From the statement, "April showers bring May flowers...", the expectation is set that so much will change when May comes around; there are brighter days ahead. People hope for change on May 1.

I place my hopes in positive change!  HAPPY MAY DAY!!Pictures...Collapse )

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Twitter - Gave In & Took The Plunge
Uuuuuuh
wwcitizen
Hey there folks! If you're on Twitter and are interested in connecting to or following me, here's my Twitter page:

https://twitter.com/Steve_Lambeth
(@Steve_Lambeth)
I only succumbed because my MATTHEW (@matthew_vecera) took the plunge the other day. This is his first real social media involvement and I kicked and screamed every step of the way whilst signing up for Twitter. I really, really didn't want to get involved, but because I wanna support my man, I did it. You can find him on there, too, but he's not posting much - yet.  ;-)  

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