Saturday, July 30, 2005
Introducing "On Broadway"
On Broadway… Cincinnati's newest gay bar. It opened last night at 4:00 pm. Chase and I were naturally curious, so we stopped by there for a lookie see. Everyone was scurrying to get the place clean and organized.
It's the same bartenders (and associated regulars) as the old "Spurs" bar.
There is a rather nice patio area:
I probably need to interview the owners before I write anything definitive. But my understanding is that the bar was previously a straight one, with a grungy kitchen. It's not the prettiest place, nor is it as big as the old Spurs. Still, there is a lot of potential and I bet as the place establishes itself (and sees a positive cash flow,) they'll do bigger and better things.
Wine Tasting Birthday Party
|Kevin hosted my birthday party last night at his apartment. Chris, Jeremie, Mike, Chase, AndrewRich, Glenn, Dennis and his friend K were there. Yes, Dennis. I was just as surprised as everyone else.|
The theme was wine tasting. Kevin researched wine and food combinations and served a lot of delicious food, like sausage, chicken, roast beef, chocolate, etc.
To health and happiness and friendship," I toasted over champagne.
Kevin then served my favorite hummingbird cake, which he made himself. The tricky part of the recipe is finding the 1 / 4 cup of chopped hummingbirds. (I think I've been reading too much Harry Potter—I'm on the second one, Chamber of Secrets.)
I was a bit disappointed by my prized 1998 Santa Carolina Gran Reserva wine. As Glenn said, it tasted "silty." I don't think it has aged gracefully. Bad corking?
I'm just thankful that I didn't get drunk or say anything tacky or out of character.
I think this picture was taken with the dial turned to the letter "F:"
We went up to the roof and enjoyed the view and breezes of the summer night. Back in Kevin's apartment, Glenn and I headed up the rear, watching Kevin clean up but not really helping. By 3:00 am, I was in bed.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
This Week's 7 Most Nerve Racking Moments
|This week has proved to be a week of nervous encounters:|
7. SHOPPING AT A NEW KROGER – On Wednesday night, I needed to get some ingredients for making cookies, to celebrate my own birthday (plus, I sometimes like to bring food to meetings, to encourage thinking.) I dropped Chase off to get his car. I was really low on time, so I stopped by a Kroger on Mitchell Avenue which I was unfamiliar with. It was an extremely large and poorly laid out store (ex. breakfast cereal across from frozen food? Huh?) I had to find specific ingredients and it took forever.
6. BAKING 8 DOZEN COOKIES – So, I’m not a good baker. I was home from the store by 8:00 pm and I made two different types of cookies. I was nervous that they would burn. I took great care. Luckily, a couple of beers eased this nervousness. I finished the cookies at about 11:30 pm.
5. MEETING WITH BOSS – My boss had been gone a week on vacation and there had been quite a few developments on my new project. I had to make some executive decisions without him. Before the meeting, he had sent me a message expressing concern about one choice. The conversation lasted over an hour and was good.
4. MEETING WITH 2 UP BOSS – The next day, the boss and I met with my boss’ boss to present the issue of funding for the new project. I don’t know the guy very well and I wasn’t sure what my boss wanted to say and what I wanted to say. I’m good at 1:1 meetings, but I was not completely comfortable and I fumbled more than I would have liked.
3. MEETING WITH PREVIOUS BOSS – This same new project has implications to my old team and so it was necessary to schedule a meeting to let her know the implications and to discuss how we can mitigate the risks. As expected, the old boss lashed out at me at the beginning of the meeting, which resulted in me losing my concentration. I was able to recover and took a deep breath when the 1 hour finally ended.
2. MEETING WITH 3 UP BOSS – The day after meeting with the boss’ boss, my boss and I met with his boss’ boss (or my boss’ boss’ boss.) We had the made the “funding spiel” once already, so it was not quite so bad. Still, I didn’t know how he would react. I’m usually confident, but I muttered a bit. Overall, it went well and he was on board.
1. SECOND MEETING WITH 3 UP BOSS – Boss’ boss’ boss came up to me the afternoon after the meeting and asked to talk in private. I seated whilst he remained standing. (I thought, oh, shit. Is he going to make some comment about me not being in the West Side Story skit? Something I’ve done?) He explained that I shouldn’t be so nervous as I was well prepared and knew my stuff. He also told me that I sometimes oversell. He told me he was happy with my work. I told a coworker and she said, “He must think a lot of you to take the time to give you feedback. You should be pleased.”
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Meetings: Cookies & Milk
|I'm hosting a couple of important meetings and it's my birthday. So, I've decided to do what I did a couple of assignments ago. Tonight, I'm baking two family recipes. I'll provide milk & cookies for each meeting. |
Monday, July 25, 2005
AVOC Recognition Dinner
|The AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati (AVOC) had their annual volunteer's recognition dinner at Union Terminal (which is one of the most beautiful train stations I've seen, besides Warsawa Centralna, of course. The train station is now a museum center and caters small parties.)|
There were light appetizers and wine. People hobnobbed and mingled before we were asked to take our seats.
Several people from the AVOC leadership board spoke and offered awards.
Barbara Levine, the volunteer coordinator spoke about volunteers and offered several awards. Eight people got awards, including myself. I was grateful to be associated with the organization. And, I think I'll actually be ramping it up a bit. You'll see me getting involved with the upcoming AIDS walk (in September) and the Gala event (in November.)
Sunday, July 24, 2005
|Nothing too much happening this week that I've not already written about. Saturday night I had supper with Paul & Brenda (neighbors,) Kay and Brenda's parents. Also, I did have a nice lunch date and a cook out with friends this evening:|
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Company GBLT Offsite
|Yesterday, was the company's annual offsite for its GBLT group. |
It was interesting; there was a lawyer and a financial advisor who, separately, discussed some issues/recommendations for their areas of expertise.
We talked about the purpose of the group and what we had planned on doing in the upcoming year.
There was a lot of networking, just like with any "minority" event.
After the formal piece, we had a happy hour at Carol's. One thing hit me about the people in the group: There are a LOT of smart, talented people in the company's gay/lesbian/bi/trans community.
It is good that the company values diversity not for diversity sake but because I can imagine that these people really have a lot to offer to their business units. They might have a slightly different outlook on things, which push the company to do even better.
While networking, I noticed that there was a disproportionate number of people from R&D. A couple of drinks into the happy hour, I made some comment about R&D being "the nelliest part of the entire company."
Dean, a sales person from Minneapolis with piercing blue eyes smiled and said, "I should apply there. I hear there are a lot of openings."
I found this to be ever so funny.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Cicadas, Fireflies, Mosquitoes and "Fledermäuser"
|So, I came home from Mary's (men suck!) and decided to take the opportunity to do some yard/pool work.|
First, I rimmed the pool with the rimmer. Leaving it open, I mowed the front lawn, bagged the grass. It was hot and muggy. Ugh.
I then cleared the back lawn and mowed it. I expect to have people over this weekend. And afterward, the lawn looked good. I was hot and a bit sticky outside.
In the basement, I stripped, sponged off and put on a suit. I jumped into the pool and vacuumed it. I did a second pass with the vacuum.
The water was warm. I did a chlorine test. Oops. Very low. Made a mental note.
I grabbed the lounging floater device and I laid in it. Cicadas sang in waves. The fireflies came out. I looked and saw bats! Woo hoo! I am DEFINITELY getting a bat house or two!
When the mosquitoes started gnawing at me, I grabbed the ladder and walked inside.
I ran out in my towel and threw in the pound of chorine tablets.
Three Vacation Days: Germany, 2001
|I was going through an old bag and I came across a memo pad. On the back couple of pages was scribbled some notes of THREE DAYS on trip that MP and I took back in 2001. MP had flown from our apartment in Caracas to Germany a couple of weeks before me. (He was an unemployed pool boy, why not?)|
In as few words as possible, I’m going to describe these three days.
-BEGINNING OF STORY-
The flight from Caracas was delayed. I arrived at 3:00 pm. After two weeks with Oliver (who could be very excentric, MP was ready to say goodbye.) We had some sandwiches at the “Hauptbahnhof” before our train ride to Hamburg.
We didn’t have accommodations in Hamburg, so he looked up places and I called using MP’s GSM phone. (Long distance from Venezuela… The phone bill was over $300 for the short time he was there.)
We arrived in Hamburg and a kind Pakistani driver zipped us to the Reeperbahn, the shady red light district of Hamburg. The accommodations were mediocre at best and a bit expensive considering where we were. The hotel did have a nice bar and we enjoyed a few drinks there.
The breakfast at the hotel was superb. I was happy to see pickled herring (“Rollmopsfisch”.) After breakfast, we walked and eventually found a new place.
The shopping in Hamburg was amazing. All the favorite department stores. We each bought new shoes. We sat in cafes and did the standard touristy things. Tired, we had Burger King at Reeperbahn and walked it at night. You could tell that many of the people in this shady area were “normal” tourists who just wanted to push their limits in sexuality.
We had salads at restaurant near Deischstraße and found a Becks bar where we drank ourselves silly. This was MPs favorite beer.
We set our alarm for 5:30 am. No. Seriously. We were up by 5:30. We showered, dressed, ate a quick breakfast and walked across the Reeperbahn (noting the girl being arrested) to “Fischmarkt”
The huge market had thousands of people drinking beer at 7:00 am. Holsten bier. Live bands. We danced and tried some of the heavy food.
The music was quite good. We drank more beer. Then tried the champagne. Then, there was another brand of beer that we hadn’t tried, so we tried that. Then went back to the previous. Then another, etc.
At12:00 noon, we were trashed, and the organizers kicked us out. On the way home, we had pizza at the Pizza Hut on Reeperbahn.
MP was drunk and, inevitably, we fought. Blah.
We napped and, amazingly, the fight was over when we sobered up. (A rarity, especially as the relationship further plunged.) We walked along the river. And found an upscale restaurant with the most beautiful staff and food. I had and elegant, fresh fried salmon, with home fries in mustard sauce.
-END OF STORY-
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
|My new project has gotten me involved with my old team because there is a component of the tool which deals with their data area. I’m fond of several of the people, with the obvious exception of my old boss. I’ll not go there.|
Anyway, I was on my way to the café to get some coffee and a female colleague from the team was walking in my direction. We had been on some interesting projects in the past and I liked her. We discussed briefly the upcoming meeting.
I told her that I would be bringing in milk and cookies for the meeting as it was my birthday and I had several meetings where these would be appropriate and appreciated.
“Will your friend be bringing Graeter’s [ice cream] this year?” I thought back. Oh, yeah. Kevin did bring me ice cream last year. How could I forget something so thoughtful?
I was pondering this, when out of the blue she said, “I’ve wanted to talk to you about this for some time, but I have not had the chance to as we no longer really work together.”
“I know about your ‘friend.’” She continued, “I just wanted you to know that I know about it and I’m ok with things.” I know this was very difficult for her to say. She was very sincere in her tone; this still took me from left field.
Not sure what to say, I came up with something not half bad: “these days, I don’t look so much for acceptance, but for people to not treat me any different after they know. Understand that it’s very hard living hiding things. Very hard lying to people.” She looked at me sympathetically.
“I’m just thankful that I can be who I am,” I said.
She paused then said “I know I might have said something before the time that I knew that might have been offensive.” A few years back she made a comment that was mildly offensive, something about her son “choosing” to be gay, on a whim. I never lost sleep over the comment, but I did lump her with a certain group of people that I do not particularly agree with.
“No worries. Think nothing more of it,” I said. We both had an uncomfortable pause, not knowing quite what to say. I blurted out something about the meeting and we talked about it.
Some people may not have chosen to be so gracious about the situation. I could have made her feel bad about it. But she was sincere and she had obviously thought about this before that moment, even thinking about how to bring it up.
While I consider myself an activist in some respects, at work, I want to be the best person I can be. I want to be so talented, so organized, so easy to work with, etc., that everyone in the area will “want to work with the gay guy.” And make friends with him! I told her later, via inner company chat, that I considered her a friend.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Men Behaving Badly: Gayly Frolicking in Columbus, Ohio
|Here is a photo journal trip of the trip to Columbus, Ohio. Chase, Glenn, Chris and I left around 11:20 (waiting on Chris) and arrived in the capitol city at 1:15 or so.|
For grins, we took along a digital breathalizer and took measurements throughout the night.
2:45 pm EST
Second stop on our grand tour. Good spirits. Good times at Union Station Café. Wonderful Sunday troll selection.
Sobriety test: 83.7%
4:04 pm EST
Hotties at "Coffee table." We stopped here for faulouth latteeth and to gawk at the passerbys.
Sobriety test: 85.4%
4:22 pm EST
Goodale Park. WE strolled around, gawking at the passerbys.
Sobriety test: 86.4%
4:31 pm EST
Sobriety test: 91.2%
5:25 pm EST
I have such a pretty (worn) palm.
Sobriety test: 80.1%
5:36 pm EST
Chris finally put down his camera and PDA for a brief picture (before picking them up again.)
Sobriety test: 80.0%
6:49 pm EST
Posing on the Great Seal of the Great State of Ohio. (More to come on this.)
Sobriety test: 76.4%
8:02 pm EST
The bar with the hobbit/Leslie Barber sighting.
Sobriety level: 63.4%
8:17 pm EST
Eagle bar. Chase getting free alcohol from the bartender. Bartender ONLY goods good in the picture.
Sobriety level: 53.4%
9:00 pm EST
Sobriety level: marginal
Sleep: Better than Sex?
|I prioritized sleep. After work I took a nap. Then ate, relaxed then was in bed by 9:30 pm.|
I was utterly exhausted. Work had been a bit hectic and I had gotten little sleep the night before due to coming back late from Columbus. I suppose I didn’t need a late night drink at Spurs, but there were some cars in the lot and I was intrigued to see if the bar was really open again. And, besides, the bar was on my way home from downtown.
So, after about 9 hours of heavy sleep, I woke up this morning as relaxed and as rested as I’ve been in weeks.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Public Service Announcement: Slim n' Lift
|"Slim n' Lift Silhouette: Contour lift & shape for the figure you've ALWAYS wanted."|
After watching "Meet the Fockers," My TV defaulted to channel 02 COMM "Home Shopping." There was an introduction to the "Slim n' Lift Silhouette" for women, Ã la informercial.
This product represents a hidden danger to men. Straight drunk men go to bars and see women they like. They look nice in the bar and with a bit of sweet talk, she agrees to shag and do the nasty at his place.
Next morning, the guy wakes up with an unusually large lump beside them in bed. Vague recollection of who it is.
Without the Slim & Lift Silhouette," the guy does NOT RECOGNIZE the woman from "below the bra line to just above the knee line." The "problem areas" will be there. Less "California beauty." They'll have GAINED 3 sizes OVERNIGHT!
WARNING. WARNING. DANGER. DANGER.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
|INTELLECTUAL – OK, I've walked the talk. Expect more substance here. Unless I'm "larning Pallish" or writing the book.|
FRIDAY – Nice end to the week. We celebrated Kevin's accomplishment at work. Good wine and great company. I then came home, mowed and cleaned off the pool as best I could. Dennis is a bitch. The aftermath of the storm has caused storms here, too.
CUTE PUSS – I'm cat sitting. Pete is orange, large and resembles Pilsner, a beloved cat from a previous life, during the totalitarian regime. Debating whether to get another cat or to just steal Pete before he goes back to Kansas City.
(Loud Asian people can be kind of annoying.) < img align=right src="http://homepage.mac.com/mattvant/Pix/Mad_China_S.jpg">
TATTOO – Chris got one. I may get one on my 34th birthday. Thinking about a tribal sun. Of my design.
SHITLESS – I liked "War of the worlds." I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie. It was dark and cold. A review said that Spielberg was trying to emphasize "family" and that he failed. I agree.
TIRED – Yeah.
BALTICS – On the way to Andrew/Rich's, I thought about German: the words for Lithuania and Latvia, in German. Now, which is cooler "Litauen" or "Lettland?" Which sounds better? Examples:
"Vor dem Krieg, hat Großmutter in Lettland gewohnt."
"Vilnius liegt in Litauen. Und was für eine schöne Stadt!"
Scenes from An American Hippie Coffee House/Restaurant
|I'm sitting here at Sitwells with my Powerbook and free high speed, catching up on my blog photos. I had anticipated that an acquaintance would join me, but he did not. His loss. |
Nancy, the poor scatterbrained waitress, is new. The kitchen staff is unfriendly and foul mannered and continues to yell at Nancy, fussing about some things that are kinda common-sensical. Things that Nancy probably should have known. ("You can't MAKE UP items that are not on the menu. We don't HAVE A ~~LARGE~~ HUMMUS!") Nancy's nerves are shot, but she seems nice enough and is relaxing more as the lunch crowd gradually leaves.
I did find a new favorite food to eat here: They have a "Big Ass Vegetarian Burrito" with hummus, cheese, exotic lettuce, veggies. The hummus is warm, the rest, cold. Huge. Nutritious and delicious.
The place is now largely empty and strangely smoke-free. The walls have local art hung at random intervals on the walls. Signs above the bar area read "WAR is not the answer" and "Peace is PATRIOTIC! NO MORE BUSHIT!"
Not too many college types this afternoon. A 30s something, attractive foreign guy is sitting, legs crossed, quietly reading a book, sipping coffee. A couple hippie-wannabes sit at the counter bantering and reading Citybeat. One guy is wearing a brimmed hat. I think it's Elvis Costello. The woman behind the counter, probably the owner, is chatting and laughing loudly, while speakers blare a jazz mix.
Friday, July 15, 2005
|So, I’ve been told recently that my odd sleeping habits and general restlessness have to do with the fact that I’ve not been giving myself enough mental stimulation. Sure, I get it a lot of it at work. But on the nights that I do not have a social engagement or other activities, I sometimes just sit, watch TV.|
So, here are my plans:
- Create a simple widget in Mac OS X (learn the technologies)
- Learn Polish
- Work on my book; publish by Christmas
- Prepare for my Project Management certification
- Continue to do 2+ Audiobooks per month
- Continue my volunteering at AVOC
- Blog substance and fun things (I have been laxed lately.)
- Join the l’aliance française or other French speaking group
- Join a book club
- Seek out friends who are capable of intellectual conversation, unlike Chase, for example
Any other ideas?
Thursday, July 14, 2005
On Being Tardy
|I had an appointment after work yesterday. After it was done, I had thought about going back to work to work or to work out, but I was feeling sore and so I headed back to Westwood. I was to visit Andrew/Rich at 7:00 pm to meet "Pete," their orange-furry-pussy. I was feeling very sore, so called Andrew and asked if I could come over early.|
After I got back from their place, I ate a light meal. I was so tired and sore. I lazily watched a bit of TV. I went to bed early.
Around 3:00 am, I was tossing and turning and I could not fall back asleep. I decided I would surf the net for a while; afterwards, I fell immediately to sleep.
I slept sound and casually woke up. I looked at the clock. 8:43.
I was two hours late! And I had a meeting in 17 minutes with a guy I had never talked to before.
I called into work. I got the phone number and I made my audio conference. It was fortunate that I had had a snapshot of my meetings in my head, as I would have totally missed the meeting.
So, I got dressed and went into work. I was at my computer most of the day preparing for a presentation at 3:00. Then I worked on other stuff before my dinner date at 7:00 pm.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
New Project @ Work
|In the last month, I have been kind of finishing up my web project that’s a catalog of sorts for users in Europe. The work is done but I’ve been patiently waiting to deploy it. While the project has been pretty cool and I really like the people, I’ve been a bit impatient.|
Starting this month, I’ve been working on a new technical migration project for the United States, which is a first for me in the role.
It’s kind of an exciting project for me because the requirements are fuzzy, it’s politically charged, it’s not sure how it’s going to be funded. It’s similar to what I'm doing now: project management. But my boss is throwing in some new elements for me, including understanding the financials (in the millions of dollars) and making a recommendation. Finance is old hat for me as it was pounded into my brain in my MBA program at Xavier.
I’m kind of fired up about it (in a good way) and people are taking notice. The corollary is that I’m working more hours and using my brain a lot more.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
|WET DREAMS – My newest “active” dreams have had to do with water in my bedroom. For example, last night, I dreamed that I was filling a small cylindrical container of water, approximately the size of my nightstand, where my nightstand is located. In my dream, I realized that my laptop was nearby so, I got up and carefully placed it on my dresser, away from the threat of water. Maybe it’s because of this unrest|
HARVEST – It was harvest time, the monthly push to trim the grass, weed and generally cut everything up. Two generations of men participated in the half day event. They decided to cut up one of their trees “real purdy like.” (Picture coming soon.)
BEERS N’ BUDS - The weather over the weekend was sunny, mid-80s with low humidity. I spend countless hours with friends hanging out on the patio, enjoying the pool. Summer is to short, you have to enjoy it.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Musical Hell (At Work)
I was talking with Diana and a couple of other females from the ISA group, at work. Just chatting about the long weekend and how we didn’t want to be back. While I no longer work with them, they are a nice bunch. A bit crazy.
Out of nowhere, Diana said, “I have a question to ask you.”
In retrospect, I should have run for cover at that very moment.
“You’re in the MM area, right? We’re doing a skit for the upcoming department event and we don’t have any representation from your area. Plus we’re short a couple of guys.”
For some reason, I didn’t commit. Probably because subconsciously, I was remembering the last skit she organized for the last company event that involved people dressed up as midgets banging on the floor with sticks.
“What exactly is it?” I asked, in a non-committal way.
“It’s just 2 minutes 55 seconds. A song from West Side Story,” she said, still smiling. “Paul and Chris and [my three up boss] and others are in it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
I thought about it. I pretty much stay in a hole at work. I don’t do lunch with people too often. I don’t interact as much as I should. It would be an opportunity for me to get some exposure, be it for something kind of silly. Plus, I can sing. And West Side story is one of my favorites. Plus, my two up boss is doing it; just how bad could it be?
I agreed and returned to my cube. I chuckled with my boss about it.
My boss didn’t know of any event, so I went to Diana’s office and asked her when it would be, setting the correct expectation in case I am out. She told me the date.
“Oh, there is one detail I forgot to tell you,” she stated with a twinkle in her eyes.
“Are you ok with being in front of the whole department in a skirt? Paul, you and the other guys will be in skirts for the skit.”
I kind of stared at her. I had already committed. There was no turning back.
The first rehearsal was today. It was totally humiliating singing “I feel pretty and whitty and gay.. and I pity any girl who isn’t me today.” There is no question that I am a glutton for punishment.
Kristie, knowing that I am the "smallest" in the group, suggested, in an excited way, that I wear one of her skirts as I would fit. She has a really pretty purple, flowery one.
And no, I am so NOT shaving my legs.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
|I had a busy day at work. I was achy and tired and I had a list of several items that I needed to do when I got home.|
First on my list was checking the water pump on the pool. It had had problems during the party on Sunday and I had waited until tonight to check it out. I replaced the skimmer with the normal screen, systematically checked the input and output hoses, turned on the pump and prayed. Not much happened at first then finally, I saw the tubes moving slightly meaning water was being moved. Hooray!
I got to looking at the clear water. I couldn’t resist. I went inside, threw on a suit and took a dip. I swam then pulled myself onto the float. Above my head, a gentle breeze shook the branches of the trees slightly. Patches of evening sun shone through and glimmered on the water. With the exception of the yapping of the neighbor’s dog and distant sound of the cars of weary commuters speeding home, the neighborhood was as still as it could be at 6:00 pm.
Without music or Audiobook or any distraction, I did something I don’t usually do: I just sat and let my mind rest.
I took my time before going inside to fix my own supper, cleaning my kitchen (another item on my list) and watching TV before hitting the sack at 9:30 pm.