I Want My Gay TV (and I Want My Damn Computer To Work Right)

The sun came out today.  I’m not sure when because I was tied up inside (not literally, mind you) most of the day, but I felt almost gleeful turning down the visors in the car on my way home this evening.  The rain has been good for the garden, and hopefully, some of it is getting down for some of those deep tree roots that must have been needing it after the long dry spell in the fall.

With the cloudless sky and the days getting just a bit longer, this was the first evening that Annie and I got to make the rounds and back home again before it was completely dark.  Walking a dog when it’s already dark is just that–walking a dog.  But when there’s still some daylight, there a chance to take a look at what’s growing, or not, in people’s yards, and maybe even say “hello” to a neighbor that’s also outside.

Speaking of “gleeful” (I think that word is coming back), Tuesday is my night to watch Glee, so it was a bit disappointing to find out that tonight’s wasn’t a new episode.  Still it was a good re-run, with Kurt’s bully getting kicked out of school and all the underlying weirdness going on because the bully had kissed him.  Then there was Kurt’s dad’s wedding with all the guy-guy dance preparations and actual wedding dancing. 

Last night was 90210 night.  This second rendition seems much lighter on storyline than the previous 90210 of a number of years back.  But Teddy, the rich boy tennis player-slash-surfer, is coming out, and even though we only get a couple minutes of that–if any–per show, we’ve gotten to see him put the lip-lock on cute-boy Ian, who is already out.  And last night’s episode was a new one, with lots of teasing the viewers about who will be involved with whom during the rest of the season.

I don’t want to lament about the past.  But I wouldn’t have minded growing up and being able to watch shows like these.  The best that I could do when I was in high school was The Monkees and Flipper, and you can bet I wasn’t watching that last one just to see the damn dolphin.

I know I paid that bill!

Just as a side note–if it’s even that–my DSL has been so crappy the last couple of days.  It was getting worse than early dial-up.  I was thinking that all the rain had affected some lines somewhere.  Good grief, don’t we just panic when our computer is out-of-whack for even a little bit?  Last night I just gave up; everything was so slow, but tonight I decided to call AT&T.

Well, don’t ya know it.  I had barely started playing with the recorded message man, when he gave me the suggestion that I needed:  disconnect the modem for it to reset.  That and a restart of the computer and voilà!  Here we are, almost like the sunshine after too many wet, cloudy days.

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Delhi Commonweath Games: Matthew Mitcham Gets Silver in 1-Meter Springboard, Looks Forward to Wednesday

Only because of listening to the BBC on KUHF ( Houston’s local public radio station) in the morning on my way to work did I hear about the Commonwealth Games 2010, taking place in Delhi, India.

Diving Determination--Matthew Mitcham at the Dehli Games (SMH photo)

The event is a sports competition among many of the countries which were once under the control of the British crown and takes place every four years.  The sports include many of those seen at the Olympics, but some appear to be those that would go with a “spot of tea”, like cricket and lawn bowling.

I was curious to see if Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gay diving sensation, would be taking part, and, indeed, he is.  In fact, in today’s 1-meter springboard, he took the silver medal to Canada’s Alexandre Despatie. Mitcham will compete again on Wednesday in the 10-meter platform, the event which put his name on the map with the Olympic Gold Medal win in 2008 in Beijing.

Update (Wed. Oct. 13th):  Matthew Mitcham finished second in the 10-meter platform dive to England’s 16-year-old Thomas Daley.  According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian “scored 509.15 points to claim his fourth silver of the Games and finish shy of 16-year-old world champion Tom Daley (538.35 points), whose sublime performance included one dive that earned perfects 10s across the board.”

Watch Matthew in a promo for the Dehli games:

View from the Suburbs: Bug Love (not the VW kind) and Taxing Taxes

Just by chance--a very appropriate containerThis Monday has been a long one (and by the time I finish this, it’s sure to be Tuesday), but at this point, I know I’ve made some accomplishments.

Tonight I finished my income taxes.  They are not in the envelope yet, but the “written-in-black-ink” forms are all done, and I just need to make copies before sending them on their way.  Yeah, I know–I’m a procrastinator, but his year was all new to me.  I’m not a 1040 EZ kinda guy anymore.

I had felt it was going to be a bit of a daunting task, but I also knew that by asking a couple of questions and reading all the instructions I could do it.  And, yes, the 1040 along with Schedules A and E and–dum-ta-da-dum–Form 5405, the first-time homebuyer tax credit form AND accompanying supporting documents, are all checked and re-checked, laying  on my kitchen counter.  And I just want to say, if you’re chucking out bucks for someone else to do your taxes, unless you have a wide variety of financial goings-on in your life, you can do your own taxes.

I heard some tax preparation companies advertising on the radio that they would do 1040 EZs for $29.  Hey, that’s why they call it EZ.  Unless you flunked 2nd grade math, you can do the EZ forms and keep the $29 in your own pocket.

I know now that even with the additional forms that I needed with the 1040, next year I won’t procrastinate.

Speaking of ads on the radio, now with the commute to and from work, I’m listening  a lot more than I have for a long time.  I’ve mentioned before that Houston radio is pretty awful.  I just have 5 stations tabbed (Is that what it’s called? It’s late, and I’ve just done taxes.): 104 KRBE, NPR, Mix 96.5, Pacifica, and Mega 101–kinda eclectic, I guess.  I’m one of those guys that can’t leave the channel button alone on the TV remote, and I’m almost the same with the radio stations.  And I love it that the button is right there under my thumb on the steering wheel.

What usually gets me home most evenings are the mixes from DJs Manny Lopez and Sunny D on Mega101.  I’ve never gotten over dance music, and these guys definitely help make my drive home a bit more manageable.  It doesn’t matter if you like music in Spanish or not; if you like club-type music, you’re going to like driving home with the music these guys put out.

This evening, though, I had a different sort of entertainment as part of my drive home.  Over the weekend, I bought more bedding plants, and as I was checking out, the cashier said, “Hey, you got a lady bug!”  Sure enough, there was a big, fat one right on one of the leaves.  I paid and went on my way, took the plants home, but left them in the car for a few hours until evening when I could set them into the ground without the sun beating down.  By that time, I had forgotten about the lady bug.

Then tonight when I got in my car and was driving onto I-10, I noticed this small, busy orange bit, right at the point where the windshield meets the dashboard.  With me hurrying on my way a few miles over the speed limit, this little guy (some lady bugs gotta be guys, right?) kept trying to climb up the windshield.  He’d get about 3 inches or so up and then fall  onto his back and then rock himself to get back onto his feet. He kept this up, to no avail.  I kept worrying that he was going to fall into the vent, but he didn’t.

The question is: Will he take up residence?

I wanted to try to rescue him, but me, (yeah, I know “me” is and object pronoun, not a subject pronoun), the guy that complains about distracted drivers on cell phones, was not going to do anything while cruising along among those thousands of other cars out there on the freeway.  Finally, though, about two-thirds of the way home, I guess he got worn out from all his attempts at climbing higher and just stayed put right there in the corner between the glass and the dash.

When I exit the Beltway, there’s always a big line of traffic because there’s a stoplight about a quarter mile down on the feeder.  When the vehicles stopped, I reached down for an envelope that was on the floor on the passenger side, stuck it gently under Mr. Lady Bug, and surprisingly, he climbed aboard.  In the console was a little tin box that has been there forever, that still held one solitary, heart-shaped mint.  I opened it with my other hand (no hands on the wheel, that’s not usually me) and slid my little friend off the envelope and inside.

Finally, when we got home, I took the lady bug, still inside the candy box shelter, out to yard and ceremoniously shook him out onto one of my tomato plants.

Sometimes, something as small as a lady bug helps put other things, like doing taxes, into a completely different perspective.

Houston METRORail Holds Ground-Breaking Ceremonies for Two New Lines

Ground-breaking ceremonies were held to inaugarate the beginning of construction of two new light-rail lines in Houston.  Work will be starting on the Southeast Corridor Line and the Northline Corridor Line.

metrorail houstonBoth of these will connect more commuters to downtown and the present line, which goes from the University of Houston Downtown on the north to beyond Reliant Stadium on the south.

According to Click2Houston, “(F)ive light rail projects were selected nationwide to receive federal grant money. The two new lines METRORail lines are two of those projects. The north corridor and the southeast corridor will receive $150 million combined.”

Read more here about these and three other new Houston METRORail lines, which will soon be part of the Houston Metro System.

Houston Poised To Start Work on Five New Metrorail Lines; Officials Say These Transportation Projects Will Bring 60,000 New Jobs to the Bayou City; Completion Set for Sometime in 2012

houstonmetro1Today contracts were let for four new lines by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. In addition to these lines is the fifth new line, the University Corridor Line, which is part of another contract, but is to be built during approximately the same time frame.

The almost 1.5 billion dollar deal (plus a similar price for the Corridor Line) will add to the current single line, which has as its northern terminus the University of Houston Downtown, passes through downtown Houston on Main Street, then on to the Museum District and Medical Center, and finally alongside Reliant Stadium (home of the NFL Houston Texans) to its southmost stop just outside of Loop 610.

The original line was finished in 2004 despite the efforts of many community activists and others who fought against commuter rail, saying that nobody would use it. Anyone who rides the Metro today will see the cars filled with riders of all types, especially students and downtown and medical center employees. The addition of the rail line was one of the factors which has led to a “renaissance” of the entire downtown area, which just like those of many other big series had slipped into a period of decay as freeways and shopping malls pulled many city dwellers and newcomers to the Houston area to the suburbs.

houstonmetromap2

The five new lines include:

  • The East End Line (3 miles), which will cross the current line very near its present northern stop, but mostly will head east toward the Harrisburg area, sometimes known as Magnolia or Navigation. This is an old, primarily Hispanic area near the Houston Ship Channel. Probably the most famous establishment in this part of Houston is the original Mama Ninfa’s Restaurant on Navigation Street.
  • The Southeast Line (6.7 miles), which also starts at the north end of the current line, then somewhat zigzags its way near University of Houston Main Campus and continues on.
  • The North Line (6.4 miles), which actually will be an extension of the current line. It will, of course go north from downtown Houston and end up at the Northline Mall area. (Northline Mall was torn down a couple of years ago and has been rebuilt into more of a plaza-like series of strip centers with stores easily accessible to drive-up customers.)
  • The University Corridor Line (10 miles), which starts in Eastwood, an area near the University of Houston Main Campus and heads west crossing the Main Street Line and goes out to the near southwest side of town. This line has been the most controversial, fought against by homeowners and neighborhoods, who don’t want the rail to pass through their areas.
  • The Uptown (4.7 miles), which will connect perpendicularly with the Corridor Line, and pass through the Galleria and Uptown Park areas.

This is an ambitious project, but one worthy of the 4th largest city in the United States. Although Houstonians are known to be in love with their cars, and high-priced European sedans, Hummers, and double-cab pickups, and other gas guzzlers are the norm rather than the exception in this city, the recent high-dollar price of gas and now the more recent general economy slump have moved many drivers to rethink their daily means of getting to work. However, these new rail lines do not really reach that far out from the center of the city, so many commuters will still need to use the current freeway system to get to their jobs, keep taking the non-too-frequent Metro buses, or perhaps drive to the end terminals of the new lines.

Officials say they hope these lines will be completed sometime in 2012; that seems quite a large order for such a huge project. In addition, they say that these projects will add 60,000 jobs to the community and that some of the cost will be paid for by the stimulus package, which President Obama and the Congress have approved.

With all the construction taking place all over the city, but especially in areas surrounding downtown, this project will probably bring major traffic nightmares to the city before it is actually completed.