Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

Spouse unexpectedly took the day off today. He slept in, we went to lunch together, and now he's running some errands. Work is rather slow for him right now, so it was a good day to take off.

I saw this and laughed out loud:

My friend Jared supplied me with this photo:

along with his caption "I didn't know Jesus was into that kind of thing." Don't you just love clever people?

Tomorrow is my cousin's wedding, which I wrote about here. I have learned that my parents will be there, as well as my middle sister and her husband. I'm not quite sure what to expect from them, but I am not worried or concerned. I have decided that if my parents and/or sister approach me and say something ingratiating like "Its nice to see you", I'm NOT going to reply "Its nice to see you, too". Instead, I will simply say "Thank you". I will not allow them to sweep 16 years under the carpet as if nothing happened.

Although Halloween is supposed to be a time for scary fun, it can be plain old scary if you are the parent of an effeminate young boy. Fortunately, The Onion has some helpful masculine costume suggestions!
Check it out here.

Speaking of Halloween costumes, this is one of the BEST Halloween costumes EVER!

Have a fun, safe Halloween and a terrific weekend!

Crush du Jour: Ignacio Torres

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Memories of Halloweens past

I'm disappointed that Spouse & I will not be able to participate in any fun Halloween activities this year. My cousin's wedding and reception is from 4:00-9:30 on Sat. When its over we will have about an hour's drive to get back to Spouse's mom's house where we're staying so I'm sure he will not want to go out anywhere after we've gotten out of our suits and ties.

So instead of doing anything for Halloween this year, I am just going to relive some fun memories from Halloweens past.

This is me & Spouse last year dressed as Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone. We wore these costumes to 2 different Halloween parties last year. (All photos on this page may be clicked to enlarge.)
The Barney and Fred costume idea was Spouse's. I could have thought of at least 100 other (read: better) costume ideas, but acquiesced since I knew Spouse would be more apt to actually participate if he were happy and comfortable in his costume. We used fleece throws from Wal-Mart, sewn with the help of our friend Bugsy, and I used iron-on patches for the spots on Fred's tunic. At the party people only seemed to 'get' my costume if I was standing with Spouse. Alone my costume was ambiguous, and I was asked if I were a monk and John the Baptist. So I tried to stand and sit near Spouse the rest of the time.

Here's a photo of my Halloween 2006 costume, sandwiched between Richard Simmons and the Bride of Frankenstein.
The scary part of it is that I put together the Boy George costume completely from clothing Spouse & I already owned! The only thing I bought was the wig and the stick-on numbers. I won 1st runner up in a costume contest at Freddie's Beach Bar.

Back in 1996 I talked 5 of my female co-workers into dressing up with me as The Village People. I'm the Cowboy on the right. The other 5 are females! Check out the Leatherman with the huge mustache.
In this photo we're lip-syncing the song "Y.M.C.A." and doing simple choreography in the breakroom at work. I'm not sure I've ever laughed as hard or as long as I did that day. Good times!

In 1994 I dressed as a patient in a hospital bed.
I'm actually standing up in this picture. The 'bed' is made of cardboard, with a whole in the middle in which I'm standing. I have rope suspenders over my shoulders, holding the 'bed' up. The 'legs' are panty hose stuffed with plastic bags. I won 1st place in a costume contest with this.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween. Don't forget to take pictures and post them on your blogs!

Crush du Jour: George Sherrill

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Flu prevention

With all the concerns over H1N1 (or swine flu), I thought I'd share these flu prevention tips:

1. Eat right. Make sure you get your daily dose of fruits and veggies.
2. Take vitamins and bump up your vitamin C.
3. Get plenty of exercise because exercise helps build your immune system. Walk at least an hour a day OR go for a swim, take the stairs, etc.
4. Wash your hands often. If you can't wash them with soap and warm water, keep a bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer around.
5. Get lots of fresh air. Open doors and windows whenever possible.
6. Try to eliminate as much stress from your life as you can.
7. Get plenty of rest.

Consider your Doctor's approach: When you go for a flu shot, what do they do first? Clean your arm with alcohol because alcohol kills germs. So, do what I do...

1. Walk briskly to the liquor store (exercise)
2. Put a lime wedge in your Corona (fruit)
3. Put a celery stalk in your Bloody Mary (veggies)
4. Drink outdoors at a patio bar (fresh air)
5. Tell jokes and laugh (eliminate stress)
6. Then pass out (rest)

The way I see it, if you keep your alcohol level up, flu germs can't get you!

Remember what Gandhi always said: "A shot in the glass is better than one in the ass."

And if you want to go that extra step toward flu prevention, wear a homemade ask:
Crush du Jour: Siomon Dexter

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too much to ask

Recently I mentioned that Spouse & I are looking for a housekeeper to come every other week. We don't want to spend our evenings and weekends cleaning, especially with all the house guests we have.

So I sent an email out to my local friends, asking if anyone could recommend a good, reliable, reasonably priced housekeeper. I'd rather use a recommended resource than calling one of those maid services that sends a different person every time. I got several recommendations from my friends, which made me happy.

Then I set about contacting the recommended people. To let them know how I got their name and number, I started each call or voice mail message like this:

"Hi, my name is Mark in DE and I got your name from Mutual Friend. I'm interested in getting a quote for housekeeping, every two weeks. Please give me a call at..."

Now, you may recall that I written several times about living in a small town with no real professional employment options. People who live here are either retired, work from home like me, work in a restaurant or retail store, or own their own business. I would think that housekeepers (and others) who own their own business would jump at calls like mine, especially in these 'challenging economic times'. Its harder for business owners to get new clients in small towns.

But do you think I've been overwhelmed by the responses to my calls and voice messages? Hardly!

One guy said he has enough work to keep him busy and really couldn't take on any new clients. Surprising, but fair enough.

One woman told me she didn't have enough clients to 'make it work' so she went back to work full-time doing something else. Understandable.

After listing the rooms for her, one woman told me my "house is too big". Really? Its not exactly Buckingham Palace or the White House.

Another guy seemed less than grateful at the prospect of having me as a possible new client. He said he would call me in 2-3 days and make an appointment to come over. That was a week ago.

Two others never returned the messages I left for them.

Today a guy came to give me an estimate. We walked through the house together and he explained what they would do in each room. I must admit that if they do everything he claims, it would be very thorough. But I nearly choked when he told me with a straight face that it would be $200. per cleaning. Yes, we have a dog and a cat but they sleep 22 out of 24 hours a day. Its not like we have any 4 dirty, smelly, grimy children running amok here.

I'm perplexed. Really, is it really too much to ask for a good, reliable, affordable housekeeper?

Is it too much to ask that someone returns my call?

Crush du Jour: Robert Sepulveda

Monday, October 26, 2009

NYC highlights

Thurs it was sunny and warm, so I wore shorts and a t-shirt on the BoltBus to NYC. We came dangerously close to missing the bus because Spouse & I were talking and missed our exit. Once in NYC Lisa took our suitcase up to her office so we could roam around and explore. We met her back at her office at 5:30 and went to dinner with her and her friend/colleague Howard. We liked him a lot, as she knew we would. We had Thai food at Yum Yum Bangkok which we all liked. It was a gorgeous night and quite enjoyable to be in the city. Celebrity siting: Cole Escola from Logo's Jeffrey and Cole Casserole.

On Fri it was as if we'd woken up in a different month. It was overcast, quite chilly, and windy. The temperature literally dropped 20 degrees overnight. Dressed in jeans, long sleeves, and jackets we made our way to the tip of Manhattan to visit the Cloisters.

As I was taking the photo above, one of the guards yelled "No flash photography please!" Although he said "please", I knew he really meant "@sshole". It kind of pissed me off. I mean, what are they afraid of? The flash might cause the LIMESTONE to fade? Give me a break. The place is like a cave inside and since it was overcast there was very little light coming in from the windows. Without the flash it would be pointless to take photos. Honestly, it kind of soured the experience for me. I did take some outdoor photos though.
I thought it was neat how they trained this tree to grow vertically and horizontally, rather than at its natural angles.

The views from the gardens were gorgeous, especially at this time of the year. I took more scenic photos, but Spouse accidentally deleted some of them while trying to change a light setting on the camera.

Just outside the Cloisters we had lunch at New Leaf Restaurant, housed in an old building in historic Tryon Park. Initially we thought it might be one of those rip-off places that charges an arm and a leg because there's no competition around. But we were delightfully impressed with the quality and tastiness of our food. I took photos of our plates since they were so beautifully presented, but the photos were deleted. Then we took the train down to West Greenwich Village to browse about the many gay-owned/operated stores. As we walked down W 4th St we noticed Village Cuts, a barbershop. Spouse joked that since he'd not had a chance to get his hair cut before this trip, he should stop in. I quickly agreed, since he was looking a little shaggy. Gregory gave him a great cut and was very nice. Who'd have guessed that a haircut in Manhattan would cost less than in DE! Next we stopped in for a pastry and a hot cup of coffee at Patisserie Claude which really warmed us up. I had a pumpkin tartlet and Spouse had a chocolate eclair. Then we hopped the train back to Lisa's so Spouse could have a nap and we could change clothes.
Later we met up with Miss Ginger Grant, Howard, and David Dust at David's apt before having a tasty Afghan dinner at Ariana. Since it was raining we took cabs to "The Urges", also known as Urge Lounge, for a little 'entertainment'. A favorite among the Dust Bunnies, Urge has good-looking, well-built guys walk around the bar top for appreciative patrons to admire and tip. I must admit the 'performers' we hot!

Since we were out late the night before, we enjoyed a nice, leisurely Sat morning with Lisa. It was raining off and on, but it was much warmer than Fri. Umbrellas in hand, we eventually made our way to Chinatown and met up with David, Ginger, and Howard for lunch at the Excellent Dumpling House, which truly lives up to its name. We stuffed ourselves with all kinds of dim sum, and Spouse & I even had the audacity to order entrees! Next we walked over to the famous Pearl River Mart, followed by Jack's $.99 store, both of which were real experiences! We hopped the train back to Queens to shower, nap, and chat with Lisa. Then the 3 of us headed to Chelsea for a 25th anniversary party for Lisa's friend Bobby and his partner Bruce. It was nice. Our plan was to meet up with David, Ginger, and Howard at Escuilita to see Lady Bunny, but this was cancelled due to the yucky weather and the general lack of Dust Bunny turn out. So Lisa, Spouse & I had a late night snack (read: meal) at Pete's Grill, then returned to Lisa's and talked until 1:30.

Sun morning Lisa made omelets and biscuits for breakfast, we packed up our suitcase and took the train to meet the BoltBus at noon. Unfortunately the bus wasn't scheduled to come until 12:30 (I looked at the boarding pass wrong) so we had to stand and wait and extra 1/2 hour on top of the extra time we'd allowed. But we got home by 5:00 and had a relaxing night of TV watching before going to bed.
So ends another DDBW, al-be-it a much more tame one than before. It was great to see Lisa, David, Ginger, and Howard again!

Crush du Jour: George Vidanov

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Addition update - week 19

Week 19
I'm missing all the photos taken before our trip to NYC because Spouse accidentally deleted them. I tried to fill in with photos taken after we returned home.

Mon: All the nail holes in the baseboards and chair rail molding were filled, sanded, and painted with top coat of white paint.The scrap materials were sorted for storage and disposal, and the materials for closet built-ins were delivered.

Tues: The dumpster was hauled away. All the trim and doors received a final coat of white paint. The closet built-ins were started, beginning with the rod for hanging clothes, then the shelf towers were constructed.
Wed: The other shelf tower was installed, as well as the shelf on the right wall below.
Hooks for belts.The register covers were installed throughout the bathroom and closet/dressing room.Two towel rings were installed, one at either end of the vanity, for hand towels.The double towel bar for bath towels was re-installed. It was re-used from the previous bathroom.
Thurs: The stained beadboard panels were attached to the tub apron. (They can be removed to access the tub mechanicals.)
The clear glass shower door was installed.The closet built-ins were completed. There is a shelf tower on either end for jeans, shorts, sweaters, and any other folded items, and spanning the full length of the long wall is a rod for hanging clothes since we hang t-shirts as well as polo-style and button-ups, a shelf above the hanging rod for addition folded items, and a shelf below the hanging rod for shoes.
Fri: A section of railing was re-installed to complete the front porch. The light fixture was installed in the bathroom (in front of the shower and closet doors).
The door knobs and striker plates were installed.The toilet paper holder was re-installed. It was re-used from the previous bathroom.Glass mosaic tile was applied between the mirror and the backsplash. This brings the mosaic tile from the shower and tub to the vanity, uniting these three elements.

Crush du Jour: Russell Martin

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

Its day 2 of our NYC trip and our plan is to visit the Cloisters today. I've heard its amazing.

The garage/bathroom/closet/dressing room addition should be finished when we get back from NYC. Well, not completely finished since the old driveway and sidewalk won't be poured yet, but practically finished. I suspect we will sleep in our bedroom when we return Sun night, and use the bathroom once its cleaned. I am practically GIDDY over the idea of moving our clothes and shoes from 3 separate closets into our new closet/dressing room!

Next Tues a guy is coming to give us a quote for regular housecleaning every other week. We had a housekeeper when we lived in VA and we felt it was a worthy expense, but when we moved here we just couldn't afford it. But things have changed and now we can afford it. We do not want to spend our evenings and/or weekends cleaning. We are active people who have lots of houseguests. Its time to get a housekeeper again. I hope we like this guy who's coming on Tues.

Have you seen those new Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets? Its a sheet that contains detergent, fabric softener, and anti-static you toss in the washer AND dryer.
Spouse picked them up at the store (because he loves gadgets and this is sort of like a gadget) and I must admit they are pretty nice. Saves me from having to measure liquid detergent (which I always seem to get on my hands) and remember whether or not I tossed a dryer sheet in the dryer. Print a coupon and try them yourself. Now, if I could just get Spouse to empty his pockets before throwing his pants into the hamper.

This video made the rounds on Facebook this week. I think its very good. Imagine if straight people had to ask for their community's permission to marry? As obsurd as it sounds, that's exactly what is happening for GLBT people in states where same sex marriage is put on the ballot for community vote.

Crush du Jour: Robert Gonzalez

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Off to NYC

Today we are leaving for a 4-day weekend in NYC.

As we've done before, we will drive to Cherry Hill NJ where we will board the BoltBus. Its cheap and comfortable, and will drop us off right by Penn Station. If interested in photos or our agenda from past NYC trips, click here and here (May 2009) and here (Oct 2008).

We will be staying in the home of our fab friend Lisa again, in Sunnyside Queens. Its so convenient, only 25 minutes from Penn Station to her doorstep. We're looking forward to having dinner with Lisa and her friend Howard on Thurs evening. She has talked about Howard several times and he seems like our kind of guy.

We are planning to tour the Cloisters on Fri during the day, meet up with an old high school friend of mine for drinks/dinner in the evening, then join the other Dust Bunnies later that night.
Sat we will do some sightseeing, including Pearl River Mart and Chinatown during the day, then meet up with the Dust Bunnies again for more cocktails and hijinx. If you are reading this and will be in NYC this Sat night, consider joining us!

Sun we'll have a good, hearty breakfast at Pete's Grill before catching the bus home.

Spouse doesn't like me to over-schedule our trips so we feel free to do what we want, as opposed to feeling like we have to do what's on the schedule. We travel well together so I'm sure we will have a great time.

Crush du Jour: Andre Coelho

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Back in March I mentioned taking a free yoga class at the gym where Spouse & I belong. I liked it a lot and went again the following week. At that class, the instructor informed us she would no longer be leading the class, due to personal commitments. She seemed to think the gym would find someone else to lead the class.

I showed up the following week to find an empty classroom. When I inquired at the desk, I was informed they had not yet found anyone to lead the class. I checked back several more times over the following weeks but was told the same.

A friend of mine recently joined the same gym and told me he was interested in the yoga class. Sure enough, 6 months later the gym had finally found someone to lead the yoga class again.

So I went last night. Wow... it was a real work out. The original class was an hour long and had more beginners like me, including several men. This new class is an hour and a half long and had 2 experienced ladies, 1 inexperienced lady, and me.

Since yoga is about relaxation and stretching, I am always surprised how physically demanding it is. It requires a lot of strength to hold some of those positions. The stretching some people can do simply amazes me. But I am sure I will become more flexible as I continue taking the class each week.

I made it through the entire thing without needing to stop and rest, which is just short of a miracle, although the instructor said it was fine to do so. Afterward I had dinner and watched TV with Spouse for a while, and when I got up from the sofa to go to bed, I could already feel it in my muscles. I took 2 ibuprofen before going to bed, which I believe really helped reduce my soreness today.

Anyone else do yoga?

Crush du Jour: Philip Fusco

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Double standard

By now everyone has heard that last Thursday's "balloon boy" incident turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by the parents in an attempt to market themselves for a future reality TV series in which they would star.

I'd like to highlight a few things about this situation for you to consider:
  • It was reported on CNN that the Heenes pitched a reality show idea to the cable station TLC which was rejected.
  • The parents' "hoax" was actually a lie and a fraud for which they will likely face legal charges.
  • They forced their 3 children to participate in this fraud and set a terrible parental example for them.
  • Their fraud cost the police and other authorities considerable time and money, and resulted in a temporary diverting of airline traffic.
  • The Heene family participated in an episode of a reality show called "Wife Swap" where two very different families live for some period of time with the other family's wife/mother while camera crews film the resulting tension and family discord.
  • Richard Heene refers to himself as a meteorologist, although he possesses nothing more than a high school education.
  • Heene sometimes brings the family along when he chases storms, endangering himself and his family.
  • A former colleague described Heene as hyperactive, driven by fame and self-promotion.
  • According to the New York Post, Heene is convinced that he was once abducted by extraterrestrials, and that Armageddon will arrive in 2012.
  • A 911 call from the Heene's home earlier this year raised suspicions of possible domestic violence against Mrs. Heene. During the "balloon boy" incident authorities spoke at length with her about domestic violence as well as the children's safety.
  • One can only imagine the emotional trauma inflicted upon the Heene children by their obviously unsteady parents.

Where are the Heene children now? At home with their parents. Sheriff Jim Alderden says the children remain in the home with the parents because authorities "didn't have enough that would allow us or Child Protection Services to physically take the kids."

Really? Not even temporarily, until the parents were either charged or exonerated? Does the list above sound like the description of healthy, fit parents to you? I think not.

But here's the real kicker: Imagine how different the situation would be if Richard Heene were gay and parenting these 3 children. I'd be willing to bet a week's salary that the sheriff and/or Child Protective Services would have removed the children from the home immediately if Keene were gay.

Isn't it ironic that in many states stable gays and lesbians can not be foster parents or adopt children, solely based on their sexual orientation, while the Heenes and others can endanger their children's safety, involve them in illegal activities, inflict emotional trauma, and set an example of bad choices and illegal behavior?

What a sickening double standard.

Crush du Jour: Mark Salling