March posting

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything, so I figured I should put up something.  So, let’s see, what’s happened this month?  I moved up a digit in my age.  The company where my career is announced that it is merging with the company where my career started.  While expected for years, it did sort of still come out of the blue.  No one knows what this means when the new company is formed.  I suppose what is good is that there is no shortage of work to be done.  Lots of cases coming in as we prepare for a new corporate portal and SAP implementation.

In a couple of weeks is Passover and then after that, an all too short (but much anticipated) trip to see my buddy Neil, the world’s greatest Hoosier ever to exist.  🙂   …who just got an amazing quad core computer.  The dude got a Dell!  😀

My Coming Out Story

Originally posted on MySpace on Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It all started in January of 2005 when I put money down on my own condo. I started to think about my independence and what changes this will bring to my life. A few busy months at work and dealing with the house went by. Then April rolled around and thoughts about the changes my life will soon have re-entered my mind. That’s when the recurring dreams about telling *them* started. I started thinking about telling someone, but who to tell? There was an on-line acquaintance who I have drawn up a nice, friendly platonic relationship with. He told me at first that he thought he was bi then came to the realization that he is gay.  So I decided what the heck, so I told him about me. Like me, he asked all the usual questions. I later told another IRC chatter who was openly gay. When I came back from my trip to Greece, I decided to tell others in an IRC chat room that I frequented. The participants in this chat room tended to be quite liberal and were quite supportive. Its to be noted that nothing happened in Greece to make me decide to do this, just that I had time to think.

Several busy months went by. I closed on the condo in August and moved in September. That month between closing and moving were beyond hectic. Between buying all new stuff for my new condo (silverware and some dishes I got from my mom who was all too eager to give them to me), waiting for furniture (mis)deliveries, getting utilities transfered, and all my stuff moved there was little time to think of anything else. I got myself settled in and slowly got situated with my new life (shorter commute means more time to do condo related stuff).

Then October 11, 2005 came. I was in my new place for about 3 weeks. I decided to “celebrate” National Coming Out Day by telling my long time (12+ years) online friend from Italy. There was nothing we kept from each other (except this). Up to now the only people I told were some people on an IRC channel, not a long time friend who is more than just ASCII text on a screen (we’ve video chatted, done voice chat, I’ve done Net Meeting tech support, etc). So I told him. Up until this point, I never knew what his opinion was with gay people. He was very, very supportive and I got to find out another aspect of his life.

The dreams about telling *them* continued at least 3 times a week. The dreams varied, sometimes it was a good experience, sometimes it was a nightmare. Often I don’t remember my dreams, but these I did. The majority of the dreams were positive.

Months went by and I decided to tell one of my best friends from college, who also not only has the same first name as me, but the same birthday. He was my first “in real life” person that I told. Like everyone else, he was very supportive. He didn’t ask me a lot of questions (which was an interesting change of pace) but was quite nice about it.

Throughout this whole time there were points I wanted to tell *them* but the right opportunity never came up. I can’t tell *them* in an e-mail. Calling them up and telling them isn’t a good way of doing it. It has to be face to face, so I decided to not tell *them*.

There was a “scholar in residence” at what will soon be my new shul (synagogue) the weekend of my 34th birthday. While I didn’t attend the Saturday lecture, it was about gays and Judaism. Well, this synagogue has *them* as members and they went. No face-to-face opportunities to talk to *them* about this lecture came up.

Surprisingly, around this time the dreams stopped.

The two of *them* went on vacation to Europe and I was invited to the house for the two Seders. It was just the three of us. So on Wednesday April 12,2006 I went to their house. On my drive to their house, out of the blue I started thinking about telling *them*. We had a nice, quick 20 minute first half of the Seder and then it was time for dinner. This was my opportunity to ask about the talk the scholar in residence gave about Jews and homosexuality. In a nutshell he said that Judaism accepts it as a natural thing (this is a pretty liberal synagogue in the Conservative movement) and people are just born that way. I then asked *them* if they felt the same way. They said yes.

I then told *them*, I mean, my parents that I am gay.

The dream had become literal, but which dream is it going to be?

I quickly found out that the result, in real life, was just how I dreamed it. The response from my mom and was, “yes, we know.” My dad asked me if I have a boyfriend. I asked my mom why she never asked me and she felt that when the time was right, I would tell them. Apparently after I moved out, my parents had a brief chat wondering if I would tell them. When I said that I couldn’t believe how supportive they are and how great they were in my announcement, my mom literally shrugged in a way that said that it was no big deal. My dad said that it must’ve been a big load off of my mind to finally tell them. They first figured that I was gay at age 17 when a girl was flirting with me and I showed zero interest. I wasn’t even 100% sure then, but I was coming to that realization. I suppose the best way I can sum up their reaction was if I told someone that the sky is blue.

Coming out didn’t end there. Now that I had told them, I felt a little bit freer. That’s when I decided to update the MySpace profile and check off “gay” for my sexual orientation. I suppose at that point I officially “came out” on the Internet.

The day I told my parents, I discussed telling my aunt. Both my parents felt that she would be supportive. I was planning to visit her on April 23. The day I got home from my parents I e-mailed my aunt to remind me that I had something important to tell her that must be told in person. The 23 came and I went to see my aunt along with my parents. After I finished setting up the home networking on her TiVo, I told her. He response was literally “so what?” She then told me about another member of her family who is bi.

So there you have it, my coming out story. People at work don’t know, but some are on my “friends” list. If they come to my profile and find out, so be it. Ironically, my place of work just started a gay-lesbian group at its worldwide corporate headquarters this week, but the timing of the meeting didn’t work out for me. I see no gain for me to outright tell people at work, but if someone asks, I will tell them.

My January 2009 Trip To Indiana

From January 15th to January 19th (the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend) I went to Indiana.  In my previous post, I was hoping I’d get to go.  Luckily all went well with the flight.  I left the house at 11:35 and was by my gate a little after 1:15.  I was on line for security for around fifteen minutes.  Like my last trip, I was able to locate a seat right next to a power outlet, unfortunately only one of the two outlets was working and someone was using the other one.  While I was waiting for my flight, I got paged to retrieve a lost article.  I check everything and am unable to determine what I lost.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make out where I was to go to get it, so since I was traveling alone, I packed up my laptop, and carried all my luggage to security.  The TSA folks were quite nice but they didn’t have my lost item, so I went to the Continental gate.  They said that my item is one gate over (a flight going to Richmond, VA).  I retrieved my article and she then asked if I wanted to board.  I told her I was going to Indianapolis, which left a confused look on her face.  This also unsettled me a little bit, so I went to the Continental web site just to double check my booking was correct.  The 3:25 PM flight (boarding at 2:55) boarded about 5 minutes late, but it was a full flight (a couple of Continental Indy bound flights earlier in the day were canceled).  We pushed back from the gate around 3:30.  Since it had snowed earlier in the day, we moved back about 200 yards and then they washed the plane.  We then waited in line (typical of Newark Liberty International Airport) and took off at around 4 PM.  Other than a little choppiness when we took off, the flight was uneventful.  During the flight, I watched “Dirty Driving: Thundercars of Indiana” which I had recorded from HBO and put on my iPod to get me in the “Indiana mood.”  We landed at around 6 PM.  It was 1° Fahrenheit, much colder than my trip in October.  I was prepared, wearing my Merck Hands On Helpdesk sweater and some gloves.  You’d be surprised how much room gloves take up when you’re packing in a way to not need to check any baggage.

The new Indianapolis Airport is very nice.  While it is designed very similar to the old airport, it is much bigger and very modern.  Like the old airport, it is well designed and very navigable.  It has two terminals with something akin to a food court/shopping mall between the two.  Since this food court/mall is before security, it is a good meeting place and that’s where Neil was waiting.  I didn’t take any pictures of the airport, but here’s a YouTube video of the lights that follow you on the moving walkway on the pedestrian bridge.

We grabbed a bit to eat at Cheeseburger In Paradise.  We had a snack of 6 mini cheeseburgers and had strawberry margaritas.  We then went to Bloomington where I dropped off my stuff and met up with Neil’s friend, Jonathan.  The three of us went to The Irish Lion.  That restaurant has some great British/Irish food.  I had the corned beef and cabbage while Neil had the fish & chips and Jonathan had the leg of lamb.  Neil and I had an Irish Shandy (equal Guinness and lemonade) to go along with it.  When we left the restaurant it was -4° and windy.  Thankfully I was dressed warm and Jonathan’s car has a really good heater.  We then went home and watched an Ellen DeGeneres DVD from an HBO special from 2003.

On Friday Neil was going to work half a day since he had been gone for so long, however, due to the amount of work he had, it turned out to be a full day.  In the morning it was –9° I spent the day watching stuff on Hulu as well as some stuff I had on my portable hard drive that I pulled from my TiVo.  It was good that I was home since the $40 chocolate mousse cheesecake (that only cost me $3.98) from 1-800-Flowers got delivered.  It was packed in dry ice in a cooler.  The funny thing is that it was shipped from New Jersey.  Here is a picture of the cheesecake.cheesecake

At night we had mushroom pizza from Mad Mushroom and watched “Breaking Away” from Netflix on demand.

Being the early riser that I am, I got up several hours before Neil.  I got up around 5 and he got up at 10:30.  I spent the morning listening to WIBC which is one of Indianapolis’s news/talk stations to see what’s going on in the state of Indiana.  I had a “hearty” McDonald’s breakfast (coffee, steak and egg sandwich and two apple pies) and spent the morning watching stuff on Hulu/external hard drive and chatting on IRC.  I also played my first arena in World of Warcraft (WoW).  I didn’t do so great, but I did manage to get eight honorable kills.  Once Neil woke up, we finally dug in to that dark chocolate covered, chocolate chip strewn cheesy and mousse-y cheesecake.  If you think it looks good, then the taste was 10x better, probably the best cheesecake I ever ate.  Neil then helped me reconfigure my WoW user interface so that I can be a better player.  Afterwards, Neil & I made a 2+ mile walk from the apartment to the IU campus.  It was on this walk that he took a picture of me in front of the Sample Gates.

We walked around campus looking for Mark’s car.  It’s such a beautiful campus, even in the winter.  I texted Mark to tell us where it is.  Neil found the car 5 seconds before Mark, who was at work, texted me back.  Once we got the car, we headed for the College Mall.  We went to the AT&T Store where Neil found out they had the white iPhone.  He needed to think about it so we had pretzels and drinks at Auntie Ann’s.  It took little convincing on my part for him to get it.  We went back and Neil got his new communications device along with a green cover.  He is enjoying his new phone very much, despite the lack of 3G coverage in Bloomington.  We then started to make our way to French Lick, but decided to go see a movie instead.  We caught the 7 PM showing of “Gran Torino” at the ShowPlace 12.  The theater was really nice with high backed chairs and cup holders in the armrest instead of in front of you.  The screen was gigantic.  Afterwards we went to the Alley Bar where we had a few beers and relaxed.  Once we were done with the bar, we hit Uncle E’s (short for Elizabeth) which is Bloomington’s gay nightclub.  Neil, being the driver didn’t drink much but he got me several more beers and a shot of “something” at the end (vodka maybe).  While I didn’t keep track of the number of beers I had, Neil said I had 14 (if my aunt is reading this, she’s hating this right now).  Let’s just say I was in a very happy mood by the time we left the club.

On Sunday morning I got up my usual early time and experienced my first, albeit very mild hangover.  I went to McDonald’s, got a large juice to hydrate myself and a large coffee to wake me up (which probably undid whatever good stuff the juice did).  I came back and had my juice and coffee with some cheesecake for breakfast (it’s what the champions eat, right?).  Once Neil woke up, I wanted to go have brunch at The Runcible Spoon.  We did the 2 mile walk to the restaurant only to find that it was packed.  We then walked to campus (through the Sample Gates no less) and went to the cyber cafe in the basement of the Herman B. Wells Library (don’t confuse it with H.G. Wells, this one is named after one of IU’s chancellors).  I had a light lunch of a tuna fish salad sandwich and some soda.  The cyber cafe is quite nice.  Along the back wall are a bunch of iMacs for people to use along with wi-fi access (which is available through most of the campus).  After lunch we went to the Oliver Winery.  For a Sunday afternoon, it was quite crowded.  When you walk in, they give you a wine list for you to pick from for the wine tasting.  At the bar you taste the wine, then eat a cracker to cleanse your palette.  Every half hour they have a tour.  I’ve been on winery tours before in places like California and France.  This was Neil’s first winery tour.  While not necessarily as interesting as some of the tours I’ve been on, I still found it enjoyable.  One thing I wish they they did show, which I’ve seen in person is the actually bottling of the wine, instead they showed a video of it.  After the tour we tried a couple more wines.  There was this one honey wine that I liked.  Before we left, I bought Neil a bottle of Zinfandel since it was his favorite.  I found out a few days later that he liked it very much.  After the winery, we went back to the apartment.  When we got back, I fought with OS X to get it to print to Neil’s printer.  Once I finally found the right driver, I printed out my boarding pass (which Continental e-mailed to me).  We ordered hot wings and watched Woody Allen’s “Sleeper.”  I think we were about halfway through the movie when the wings finally came.  It was cold outside and no one wanted to go to a restaurant so the delivery places were busy.  When I say that these wings were spicy, I mean it.  I thought my mouth was going to get another hole in it.  We ordered 30 wings (boneless) and had plenty left over for Mark.  After the movie, we watched “Hackers” from Netflix on DVD.  I really should say that Neil and Mark watched it.  I fell asleep and probably only saw about 30-40 minutes of it.

Monday was the day I liked the least, since it was time for me to go home.  I woke up early that day (around 4 AM) and did some stuff on the computer.  Neil came down at 4:30 and I guess he didn’t hear me because I startled the crap out of him when he went to get some grapefruit juice.  As he was walking back up the stairs he was like “awww you’re already all set up, go back to sleep.”  Then he patted me on the head and went upstairs.  I spent a good 40 minutes trying to get everything re-packed (darn hard drive and gloves) and miraculously I managed to do it.  I showered and got dressed then went to McDonald’s where I got myself some coffee/juice and an apple pie.  I planned to leave for the airport at 11.  When 10 AM rolled around and Neil was still sound asleep I got a little concerned.  His alarm went off at 10:15.  Neil & Mark ate some breakfast and we chatted.  We left for the airport at 11:06 and got there a little after 12.  Since I had plenty of time for my flight, we got some lunch and chatted in the food court/mall area.  While we were chatting, my flight got delayed until 2:30, which meant a little extra time with my friends.  When the time came (the worst part of the trip), I said bye to Mark and gave Neil a hug goodbye and headed for the gate.  I waited at the gate until around 2:30.  The delay was due to snow at Newark, since the plane was already at the gate in Indy.  We took off around 3 PM but circled for several minutes mid-flight (probably over Pennsylvania) and for another 20-30 minutes 150 miles away from Newark.  We finally landed at around 5:30 where it was snowing.  We waited another 20 minutes before we could get to the gate (2 planes ahead of us deicing).  I called Avistar Parking who took a good 20-30 minutes to pick me up.  I got to my car around 6:30 and was home by 7:19.

In conclusion, as always I had a wonderful time.  With a little bit of luck, Neil might come for a visit in April.

Hoping to go to Indiana

I’m both nervous and excited today. I’m excited because I am going to Indiana later today. I’m nervous because I am hoping to go to Indiana later today.  It’s supposed to snow a little bit this morning followed by some wind.  I just hope my flight doesn’t get affected.  Newark Airport doesn’t like snow, while ERJ-145 airplanes don’t like wind.  With everything that Neil has gone through, he could really use a friend to take his mind off of things.  I just hope neither of us are disappointed.  I’m glad he and Mark worked things out, I just hope Mark and I do the same.  I want this to be a great visit for all three of us.  I might go out and get some Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast to start making the day special.  I just hope it ends with me being in Bloomington.  My bags are packed and overflowing.  I just hope I can get the zipper on that green Colette bag to close whenever I open it.  I’m looking forward to seeing the new airport as well.  On my last trip to Indiana the old airport was still being used.  I just hope Neil and whomever is picking me up (I’d be genuinely surprised if it was Mark) knows that they have to take a different road to get to it.  I just want to get there.  My mood is apprehensive/excited.

Map picture
Map picture

Newark Airport

Indianapolis Airport

World of Warcraft

For the past month or so, I’ve been playing World of Warcraft.  I know what many of you are thinking, “Michael, how could you get yourself sucked up into that addictive game?”  Well, I haven’t.  Thanks to an empty TiVo, I enjoy spending a few hours on the weekend playing it as well as an hour or two in the evenings after work to unwind.  You can find my three characters at the WoW Armory.   They are Strylr who is a Night Elf warrior, Starthan (no surprise there) who is a Human mage, and  Matityahu an orc warlock and who is my horde character.  Strylr and Starthan are on the Burning Blade realm (server) while Matityahu is on Gorefiend.  I am a member of the Supertramp guild and are working on a web site.  If you happen to see me or any of the guild members when on your adventure, be sure to wave!  I also have an 8 slot Ventrilo server running for guild members.  We may eventually go with a hosted solution since it’s relatively inexpensive.

The best part of the game is that it’s cross platform.  The game play for the most part is no different when playing it on my Vista machine as it is on my Macs.  There are a couple of things that make it different on the PC, but that’s specific to the computer I am playing it on, my Dell XPS 710.  The first is the Logitech G15 gaming keyboard.  It displays all of my characters attributes on its LCD screen.  The second difference is the support for 3D surround sound.  As my character moves around, the sound moves with it.  So for example, if there is a fire burning in front of me, the sound is coming from my front speakers.  if I turn 180 degrees the same sound is coming from my wireless rear speaker.

My Recent Trip To Indiana

I took a trip to Indiana from October 16th to 20th to see my friends Mark and Neil.  I had a pretty good time.  On Thursday we went to Circle City Bar & Grille in Indianapolis with fancy, good food.  Unfortunately the waiter was quite unprofessional by complaining about the tip I gave on a $135 meal.  We then went back to their place in Bloomington.

On Friday Neil & I went to the Runcible Spoon and had a great meal.  Neil wasn’t too hungry so he just had some fruit and granola while I had the lox and croissant beanie on an english muffin (they were out of croissants).  It is a very interesting restaurant with a very unique ambiance, kind of a cross between house, library, coffee house and restaurant.  Afterwards Neil had to go to work so Mark and I went and got an office chair from Staples for downstairs since he totally fell in love with the chair we got back in May and brought that to his room (we got the same one).  Then he and I had a small Command & Conquer tournament where we each won a game.  The three of us got some fast food from Checkers.  It was great, but greasy.  On Friday night Neil & I went to The Bluebird and had a few drinks.

Saturday we had brunch at Denny’s and then we went to French Lick.  Mark being the good sport that he is, went with us and stayed in the car (since he’s not 21) while Neil and I did some gambling.  I played roulette (my first table game) and should’ve quit while I was ahead, but I got about an hour’s worth of “play time” on $40, so I can’t complain.  Neil managed to double his money.  By this time Neil was starting to feel a little under the weather, but being the great guy that he is, we went to Olive Garden

and despite having to stand around for almost 30 minutes for a table, he was willing to muddle through and we had a nice dinner.

Sunday Neil was not feeling well and stayed home from work.  Via Hulu we watched “Naked Gun 2 1/2” and just “hung out.”  Mark & I played some more Command & Conquer in which he destroyed me.  After Mark went to work, we ordered some pizza and Cheese Stix from Mad Mushroom and it was great.  We watched “Enemy of the State” and just had a good time enjoying each other’s company.
Monday Neil started his new job working at a help desk for IU in the Carmichael Center.  I gave him a quick hug goodbye.  Mark & I ate at Runcible Spoon and we hung out at the apartment until it was time for me to head to the Indianapolis airport.
The flights both going and coming were smooth sailing for me.  I have to say I had a wonderful time and I look forward to another trip.

Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana