Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hamburger's Helper

Like Kathy Lee Gifford, every once in a while, I just need to do something nice for the children.

So in partnership with Charlie (yep, that guy), I'm shooting something your way that actually can benefit your school or non-profit.

The folks over at Hamburger Helper are conducting a grant contest for schools and non-profit groups raising funds to positively impact their community in some way. Every month through May 2007, Hamburger Helper will donate up to $15,000 to eligible 501(c)(4) "hometown" organizations. All a group has to do to win is to register online and complete an essay of two hundred and fifty words or less describing how they need help.

All of the application information can be found here.

Plus there is a picture of a fireman on the web page. Not exactly my type of guy, but we're getting closer.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Random Nothings

One of my favorite bloggers will post an entry that sums up a lot of small things that happen in his week. I love that idea. During the week, I'll think to myself that something is really blog-worthy, but I can't flesh it out beyond a few sentences. Then my feeble mind will lose the thought forever before I can embellish it enough to warrant a posting. So today, you must endure my random thoughts.

People Who Don't Need People
We went to Home Depot today to return an empty gas cylindar for the grill. The Depot now has an automated system with outdoor lockers and you can return the empty and buy the new tank without having to talk to anyone. You begin at the kiosk and when it you say that you have a tank to return, it pops open an empty locker. You place the tank in the locker and shut the door, only then will the adjoining locker open for you to take the next tank. Freaking technology rocks.

Keeping Kosher
I love horseradish. I also love Wasabi. This week, it like that commerical where the peanut butter found the chocolate. There they were, joined at last. I grabbed the jar and ran back to Larry. "Hey, look what I found. This is exactly what I'm looking for," I said.

He looked over. "Great. Let's get it."
I frowned, "I can't. It's Kosher and we're not Kosher."
"We're not Jewish; people aren't Kosher." he corrected. "Who cares... we can still buy it."
"Really?" I asked. "But where do put it? It says to keep it refrigerated and we keep meat and dairy in our fridge."

Turns out, I'm not the brightest when it comes to religions.

My co-worker started a blog. I had decided not to share my blogging with anyone in the office, but when she mentioned she had begun this crazy blog journey, I totally caved and blabbed. I suck with secrets.

A Man's Castle is his...well, Castle
We bought Corey's Christmas gift today. Due to the amount of grandparents and extended family he has, we parents traditionally give him one gift a piece. Larry and I saw this Fisher Price Imaginext Adventures Castle and decided this was the toy of choice. Corey can play for hours in the world of imagination (much like I did) and he will love it. Plus it comes with a ton of accessories that my folks can buy. (On sale now at Toys R Us)

'I'm going to be like you Dad'
Daddy Daze did a great post this week about how kids can turn out a lot like you. It hit home because there is a lot of me I don't want Corey to be. I was a shy, embarrassed and timid kid. I had a tendency to play in imaginary worlds all by myself; something I now see him doing. Corey certainly interacts with a lot of kids, but I always worry and hope he is able to hurdle those stages I could not.

Daddy Daze also mentioned the fact that he's not into the traditional stuff a lot of guys like; sports, poker parties, etc. I also find myself in this category. It's funny how most people wrote it off as my being gay, but as I became older, I learned not every guy likes sports (and some pretty fantastic women can kick royal ass at fantasy football).

I'm not a wuss... I own power tools for God's sake, I listen to Metallica and I have eaten at a Hooters (not by choice mind you). I struggle with the fact I don't have a lot of guy friends. I spent so many years worrying that guys would interrupt it the wrong way. Now, through blogging, I find that I now have the guy friends that were never there before.

Music for the Masses
Sarah, Croutonboy, Chag and Dubya have all posted their top 100 CD’s. Their lists turned out to be some of the best CD's ever. For much if them, the walk down memory lane was incredible. For others CD's, I immediately went to Amazon and iTunes to hear what I'd been missing. Of course, I decided to begin my list. Well, then I edited it several times. Then I decided not to post the same CD's, but give them shouts for ones I would put onto my list. That would enable me to only have to write up 35 CD's that made my list. In six weeks, I have two descriptions done...and trust me, they pretty much suck.

Bear with me as I figure out how to post these, in some form or another. Dubya, I totally understand why it took so long.

Have a good week, folks.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

George W.

OK, OK, I finally got a YouTube account. What does that mean for you?


Suck it up. This is what friends do.

When Corey was little we decided to not really censor our thoughts about this current administration. I guess he picked up some of his own opinions.


The Great Pumpkin

Every year, we go with a big group of friends to Great Country Farm out in Bluemont, VA. It's over an hour for us to get there, but it's one of the best days we have all year.

Great Country Farm is an actual working farm. It's a co-op that allows us city folk to 'purchase' some of the crops by joining their membership. Pay an annual fee and ever week and the farm drops off produce each week depending on what they are harvesting.

The big event however is Halloween. They organize a petting zoo, rope swings, giant slides, hay rides and picking pumpkins in the field. It's one of Corey's favorite things to do. We've gone almost every year since he was born.

This year was no different except for two things.
  1. The farm added this giant 'pumpkin' pillow which the kids could jump up & down on. It was surrounded by sand so if you rolled off, you wouldn't get hurt. Corey loved it and jumped for over an hour.
  2. We showed up on the wrong day. After searching for our friends, I finally called their cell phone to see where they were. I was promptly informed the event was today not yesterday. We decided to just make it a family event and enjoy the day together.
We packed a lunch, brought our camping chairs from the car (no we don't camp) and just settled down next to the pumpkin pillow. We went on the slides, petted the animals and took a ride on the train. We watched as pumpkins were shot from cannons and climbed on haystacks.

We came home exhausted, but as you can see one little boy had a great time. (He's wearing the yellow striped shirt.)


Monday, October 16, 2006

I'd do it all again

15 years. In the gay world, that's like a Golden Anniversary. Regardless, I'd say is pretty darn good.

15 years ago today, we went on our first date. Pizzaria Uno, a movie and a little kiss at the end of night. Who knew it would lead to a blog entry 15 years later?

Today we celebrate the fortune of two paths crossing. No one would have ever given it more than a few weeks, but we prove that opposites truly do attract. You looked past my inability to match a belt with shoes. I saw past a refrigerator filled with a bottle of Absolute and soy sauce packets.

Lives become integrated and symbiotic. Each person fills the others weaknesses. You make the bed, fix the car and fold the socks. I take out the garbage, wash the dishes and change the lightbulbs.

New experiences made the relationship fun and laughable. You taught me about heated car seats, that real shoes cost more than $30 and the joy of business class. I taught you about 80's metal, jello, and green bean casseroles. OK, not the most even of trades, mind you, but I did discover the Aveda products.

We've made it through a lot of things:
The Good: Fatherhood, buying our house, Paris, Norstrom's half yearly sale
The Bad: your mom's passing, a heart attack, your cigar habit, visits to my mom's, the kitchen renovation
and The Ugly: community theater (so very sorry about that phase).

We celebrate today the way we met 15 years ago; with dinner. However, 15 years ago I didn't wake up next to you the next day. I'm glad I get to do that tomorrow.

Happy Anniversary, Pop-pop.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Recent Keyword Activity (from Bloglines)

Should it bother me that someone was searching for "lindsay lohan without underclothes" and came across my blog?

Or should it bother me more that by typing that exact phrase, Goggle ranks me 7th.

I have mentioned before that I'm gay, right?

OK, just checking.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Red Hot Chili Peppers

We have this amazing dinner we make with pork roast, tomatillos, green apples and peppers. Larry got it from a magazine and he's perfected it over time. It's become our signature dish. In fact, when you come over for dinner next time, we're bound to serve it to you.

One of Corey's moms knows we love peppers. Her dad has this amazing garden, so last time she came over, she brought a large variety of chili peppers; red, green and orange. Some big, some small. They looked awesome.

Yesterday afternoon, we began preparing the dish. Larry had browned the pork and was cutting the apples. I had volunteered to cut the peppers. After cutting about nine or so, I asked, "Hey, do we know how hot these are? I mean, are some hotter than others?" Larry had no idea, so he suggested I cut one and just touch it to my tongue. I grabbed a small red one and did just that.

After a few seconds, I felt the slightest tingle, like the tiniest portion of wasabi. It tickled and felt cool. "This has got a nice zing to it," I said. "Try a little on your tongue." He did.

At that point, my zing became a little hotter. I sipped my water as Larry agreed that it was a pretty spicy pepper. He began to drink as I began to winch in the slighest pain. "My lips are really hurting," I said. And with that, the pain began.

The pain became a burning sensation like no other. At first, I grabbed the Elmo ice pack in the freezer, but it didn't cover my mouth very well. A wet towel filled with ice cubes finally did the trick, but not before tears were streaming down my eyes. The pain was bigger... and so were my lips.

It was clear I was having an allergic reaction to the peppers for I had become Barbara Hershey.

It felt as though I had gone bobbing for apples in boiling oil. The burning on my lips and cheeks intensified. We knew there was only one place to turn for help: Google.

After several searches, a common recommendation was dairy products. We ran downstairs. Larry reached into the fridge for assistance.

Soy milk. "Umm, I think we're looking for more cow-oriented items," I muffled through the dripping towel. He continued looking.

"We have cream cheese," he offered, "but it's chive and onion flavored so that may be pretty gross." He turned back into the fridge again.

"How about goat cheese?" I rolled my eyes in frustration. He looked back in sympathy. "Babe, I can't help it. We're gay. We don't own basic dairy products."

I spit back into the towel in utter hysterics.

After an hour, my lips calmed down. The redness subsided and the pain went away. We put the pork dinner, minus the peppers, on hold for the night and just ate leftover lasagna.

After dinner, I began washing the dishes. As I dried my hands, they began to itch and burn. In my reading about chili peppers, I remembered reading about wearing gloves to prevent the oils from getting into your skins and burning them...much like was happening now.

Back to Google to discover that baby powder helps ease the burning. However, I was not to have contact with any other skin to avoid painful burning. I immediately got frustrated.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I really have to pee."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Anniversary...to me

Sometimes when we write, we get into personal things. This is one of these posts.

Today is my anniversary. Not from when I met Larry. That will be in a few days. Eighteen years ago today… I stopped drinking.

So there, it’s out there. Yes, I am an alcoholic.

This disease rages through my mom’s side of our family and I was lucky one to inherit it in my immediate family. Blessed by a slightly compulsive nature, it’s too easy for me to caught up in things, be they habits, collections or drinking.

I was only 21 when I decided to quit. I went to college in Ohio which at that time had a 19 year drinking age. To say that I had fully immersed myself into the happy hour scene would be an understatement. I’d been drinking since I was 17, and it got progressively worse at an early age.

My drinking was hard and fast. Happy hour by 4:00 pm, downing three 48oz Long Island Ice Teas. Home drunk by 6:00. Vomit by 7. In bed by 8. Next morning… was fine. Not a pretty life but it was what I enjoyed. But I paid the price.

That Fall, I ran for Social Chair of my service fraternity and lost. Rumor was that most people didn’t think I’d stay sober through the events. Then came homecoming weekend.

Thirty-six hours of non-stop drinking. Followed by 24 hours of the DT’s. My roommate Kevin, helped me deal with that Monday. That night, he said I had to deal with a lot more.

The writing of what my life was to be was on the wall. I had to choose. So I quit…just like that.

I had great friends who stood by my side. They organized events that avoided alcohol. They kept me occupied enough to not even notice the absence of liquor. And they listened as I discussed my frustrations with my drinking.

The hardest thing I’ve done was stay dry. It’s a tough explanation to college buddies of why I couldn't drink anymore. And if one more person asks if I’m Mormon, I’ll laugh.

But I’m happy and safe. And frankly, you are too. (I wasn’t the safest or nicest drunk.)

So while this isn’t the funniest post, it was important to write. I know it’s a little self-indulgent, but I think in this case… it’s allowed.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Perfect Post

Thanks to M&Co from My Own Circle of Confusion who nominated my latest Blogfathers entry for a September Perfect Post.
A Perfect Post

Monday, October 02, 2006

Head in the Clouds

Took this photo last week as we were landing in Chicago. Somtimes you are rewarded for being on the 6:00 AM flights.
(John Hancock on the left-Sears Tower on the right.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Time Zoned

I used to have so much time on my hands. Now I just feel swamped.

I love my not-so-new job. As my friend's daughter says, "I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!" Never have I felt so in charge, so productive and so happy at a job.

However, I'm wiped. I spent 9 hours yesterday at work, tweaking and reworking our database to give me more precise numbers. I'm going into my 7th month as Marketing Director and while they are happy with what I've done thus far, I'm finally about to hit them with what I felt should have been their standard of marketing. We're finally targeting customers!

In my "spare" time at work and on weekends, I've been building an Access database (to compensate for our pile-of-shit database) that finally connects purchases back to individuals and institutions. If you're not into marketing and databases, that probably means nothing. However, it gives me a chubby. It's what I love to do.

The problem is I have no time any longer. My personal emails sit for days without a response; we don't go out much anymore, and I'm in bed exhausted by 9:30. Cripes, most years I have my Christmas cards done by this point.

Last year at Imagine, it was the opposite. By this time, they had stripped me of my staff and given them to Skipper, a young lady whose best skills included great clothes and good hair. Hell, she had given notice at Imagine (before actually securing the job offer) and then retracted her resignation. Two weeks later, she was promoted and had a staff of four. I guess all that talking about her new puppy really worked. Hard to Envision a company like that, huh?

Anywho, by the time my staff moved across the building, I had nothing to do. Like Baby in Dirty Dancing, I was put in a corner and forgotten. BUT, I got so much accomplished. I added enough movies to my NetFlix queue to top the 475 mark AND they were reordered every Wednesday afternoon. I had lengthy conversations via email and my personal in-box had zero messages. (I actually had to set myself a rule of not responding for at least an hour upon receipt of a new message.)

I also read. Since no one came by, I'd get two books done a week. Last year, I also bought the 30GB color ipod and spent weeks adding CD covers to my 6000 songs. During that time, I learned Dreamweaver and created The Hygiene Chronicles web site. It was at that time I discovered most of your blogs and began checking them faithfully (like every other hour) for new content.

The mall was also across the street so I was able to go over there for a couple hours each week and shop. The only thing I never did was go to the movies next door. That would have just been shameless.

Do I miss my free time from Imagine... a little bit. But I could never give up the happiness I feel from working 60 hours a week on something I love.

So bear with the infrequent posts, the emails will get answered eventually and the Christmas cards may arrive in January (ha-not likely). Time may be scarce, but these days are so much better spent than the ones a year ago.