My Blog Has Moved

Well folks, I've finally done it. I've switched to WordPress and my blog is now on my own domain. So say good-bye to Blogger and good-bye to the bling. But don't be sad. Life is full of change. Change is a good thing. It keeps us on our toes. It challanges us and makes us stronger. And as your next President... oops, I got a little speechy there, didn't I?

Anyway, check me out at:

http://www.meandtheblueskies.com/

I'll look for you there.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blatant Plug for the Keurig Platinum Brewer

I'm in love with the Keuring Paltinum Brewer and I haven't even used it. You see, I adore coffee. I absolutely love the stuff, but it doesn't always love me--at least the high-caffeine stuff hates me. I have high blood pressure so I am supposed to drink decaffeinated coffee. What I usually do is mix some decaf with some regular coffee which gives me a reduced caffeine coffee. I get a little of the buzz with less of an impact on my blood pressure.

The other problem I have is that I don't drink as much of it (in one sitting) as I used to. So instead of using one of those big Mr. Coffee-style coffee makers that makes way too much coffee, I use a French Press. French Presses make wonderful coffee, treating coffee like it should be: Slowly steeped in super hot water releasing all the natural flavors. Unfortunately, this process takes some time. You first have to boil the water, then you pour it over the coffee in the press. You give it a good stir and then wait an additional 5 - 6 minutes for the coffee to steep. I usually don't have that kind of time or ambition early in the morning.

BUT with this fabulous one-cup coffee maker from Kuerig, I can make myself one cup of tasty coffee in the morning before I go to work. Just the thought of being able to have a cup of coffee every day before I leave for work is getting me all goose-bumpy. It would be a dream come true and unfortunately, that's what it is right now: Just a dream. BUT thanks to the gals at SITS, my dream may become a reality!

I know you've heard me talk about SITS before. SITS stands for Secret is in the Sauce. It's a group of blogger women (and gay ol' me) who are committed to blog and comment support. If you are not a member, you should be. To sign up, visit them here. And don't worry if you're a guy. Just tell them Preston sent you and you want to be a BITS. (Brother in the Sauce) In all seriousness, my readership has gone through the roof since joining SITS.

Aside from all that comment lovin', they also run a monthly contest where you can win fabulous prizes-prizes even a guy wants. This month's prize is (can you guess?) a Keurig Platinum Brewer! And gosh, darn it! I wanna win it. For more information regarding the contest details, simply click on the following link: Preston Should Win The Keurig Platinum Brewer

A special thanks to Tiffany and Heather who really do a bang up job with keeping the SITS blog rolling along full steam. And don't think I'm just brown-nosing it for the coffee maker cause the winner is randomly picked. So there!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Two Very Different Christmases

On Friday, the news broke that former Tennessee GOP leader Chip Saltsman, who ran Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign, had distributed a CD to Republican National Committee members for Christmas featuring a song called "Barack the Magic Negro." Saltsman, who is hoping to become the next RNC Chairman, obviously feels that nothing says Christmas like a racist parody of the president-elect. For more information, check out this newscast:




Now if you are wondering how a gay, liberal, northeastern-residing gay man spent his Christmas, here's a few pictures:


Heather and Aaron at my Mom's on Christmas Eve




My Mother holding stockings for Dave & Sissy

Heather and her Pop-pop (He'll be 93 in February)

Heather & her Hello Kitty pj's Christmas morning


Me and my new coat. Do you like the Santa hat?

Anywho, folks. This is how the real America spends Christmas...celebrating with family and friends and NOT distributing quasi-racial paraody CD's. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Monday, December 22, 2008

American Small Town Christmas - Ya Gotta Love It!

Christmas is only a couple days away. Every year it seems to come faster and faster. I still remember all the joy, excitement, and suspense that the season brought when I was a child. I also remember watching my daughter experiencing the same thing when she was little. And though we all eventually grow up, Christmas helps us to capture back a little of that childhood wonderment that we leave behind as we grow up.

Maybe I'm feeling a litttle nostalgic because the Polar Express is playing in the background. Or maybe because Santa is riding around my home town on a brightly decorated fire engine. I tried to capture a picture of it as it came down my street but I am lousy with nighttime photos and this is what I ended up with.

Well it's sort of a pretty blur. Anyway, after Santa and his flashing Oaklyn firetruck left, I could have kicked myself because I forgot that my camera takes video too. But the Christmas spirit was looking down on me and a few minutes later good old Santa was heading my way. I grabbed my camera and caught the following:

As I write this post, I can still hear the sirens of Santa's fire engine as he rides around town, smiling and waving and tossing candy canes to all the good kids. Yes, this is small town America at it's best. And I am so happy and proud to be a part of it. Merry Christmas to everyone and a very happy and properous New Year, too!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Came Early - I Just Got My Out of the Box Sampler!

I don't know how I stumbled across the Out of the Box Sampler, but I am sure glad I did.  Michelle, from the Out of the Box Sampler blog, scours the net for the best esamples possible.  Every month she gathers the best of the best, the coolest of the cool, the newest of the new...oh you get the idea.  Anyway, she puts them all together into a unique sampler box which she offers once a month.

I visit her blog periodically but always seem to miss when the sampler boxes are available.  Apparently, these boxes are hot commodities, disappearing faster than Jonas Brothers tickets being offered to 13 yo girls.  That's pretty darn fast.  Like Jonas tickets, you will have to pay for your sampler box, but, unlike Jonas tickets, this will only cost you $19.95.  Trust me, it's a much better deal.

I managed to purchase December's sampler box simply because I signed up for their email alerts.  December is already sold out (I told you so) but you can sign up for email notifications by visiting their website here and scrolling down to the Sampler Box Priority Notification spot.  Anyway, I got my box yesterday, tore it open, and this is what I saw:

The top was secured with a bell but, being a guy, I had to rip it open immediately before thinking of taking a picture.  The cool part is what was inside:


The bag contained 21 different items, if you include the bell.  (I do because the bell is so cool and made me think of The Polar Express) That's less than $1 an item.  What a bargain.  Anyway, there were candles, cookies and tea lights; lotions, soaps, and sprays; a ring, a chocolate covered spoon, and a dill dip mix.  There were so many goodies that I didn't know what to look at first.  So I spread it out on the table and looked at it all!

In addition to the goodies, discount codes are provided for several of the sampling companies.  If you like a product,  you can go to their website or blog and use the discount code to order the full size.  Isn't that cool?  And they also include a contest ticket where you can win additional products or even the grand prize which is a free next month's sampler box.

Just so you know, I put everything back in the bag. I'm actually going to give this to Heather as a pre-Christmas present. I think she is going to love going through the bag and trying all the products.  And I still benefit cause she will share it all with me.  So stop wasting your time and go visit Out of the Box Sampler.  And tell them Preston from Me and the Blue Skies sent you.  I don't think it will get you or me anything extra, but I'm always open for a gratutious plug!  Happy Holidays!

Update:  I created this post on 1/18 and scheduled for it to post on 1/20.  I left a note for my daughter on the morning of 1/19 that the grab bag was for her. I just rec'd this text:

OMG.  I'm only half way thru bag. This is awesome. Coolest grab bag ever! I sooo love this!
 Is that a testimony or what?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Have a Very Hateful Christmas - The Joyous Voices of Children Singing

I have pretty much enjoyed a very pleasant blogging experience until recently when I had a rude awakening. A few posts ago, a narrow-minded homophobe threw a few nasty barbs my way. I had forgotten that people like that still existed. (Well maybe not forgotten but had gotten comfortable enough that I felt cushioned from it.) And then I was visiting Thor-Space and saw his "God Hates Fags Christmas" post.

The following video was created by the Westboro Baptist Church. If you want to know more about them, you can visit them at their website, www.godhatesfags.com. And that is not a misprint folks--that is the correct name of their website.  What this proves to me is that people who hate make sure that they teach their children to hate.  It's like the song from the musical, South Pacific (yes, I am a gay man so I must include Rodgers and Hammerstein references whenever possible), "You must be carefully taught."  Children are not born evil and hateful, they're taught.  And the following video is an example of what they are learning:



I really don't mean to bring on downer topics during the holiday season but hatred knows no season, cares for no holiday. It marches on whether it's sunny or cloudy, rainy or clear. And it's out there, waiting for your children.

I'm not a very religious man but I do believe people should have the right to worship whatever they believe in, and then, I see something like this. It shows the BIG difference between religion and God. What I mean is, man can interfere with religion and really mess it up, but God is God. Nobody can interfere with that. I know there are many religious people who read my blog so what do you think? Is this what your church teaches? Is this the God you know? If you believe in God, how do you think He feels about His name being used in this manner?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Say Thanks to Our Troops at Christmas Time and All Year Long!

 
Xerox is sponsoring a website (Let's Say Thanks) where you can send to our troops personalize printed thank-you postcards that have been drawn by a child.  There are dozens of cards to choose from and it is as easy as 1-2-3.  Simply choose the design you like, personalize it with a message and your name/hometown, and hit the send button.  Xerox does the rest.  It only takes a few moments and it's TOTALLY FREE!

It doesn't matter whether you are for or against this war.  What matters is that our troops are overseas and away from their families.  These are brothers and sisters; fathers and mothers; sons and daughters; and friends and neighbors. Even more so, they are our country men and women.  How wonderful it would be for them to receive these great thank you notes, especially during this holiday season.  Take a look at an example:

 
I know it's a very bus time of the year what with Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, holiday plans, and the hustle and bustle of the season.  Please take the time out to thank the troops overseas who fight every day to protect these freedoms we often take for granted.  It only takes a moment.  Visit them here.  And please, don't put this off until later where there's a chance you'll forget.  Do it now.  You'll feel better and you'll help make someone overseas fill a little better, too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa's Little Helper


I'm laying in bed last night when I hear the "ding" sound my phone makes when it receives a text message. Even though it's in the living room on the charger, I hear it. So I get up and trudge to my phone. The text message is from my friend, Linda, and this is the picture that was in it.

Her son Zachary had strolled into her bedroom after work last night all dolled up as a Christmas elf. After laughing hysterically, she grabbed her phone, snapped a picture, and, of course, immediately sent it to me. Zach works at Graziano's, a local bar and restaurant that has been around forever. It seems that a few days ago he was talking to the owner's wife who was preparing for some event with Santa at the restaurant. She was going to play Mrs. Claus and had just gotten her costume. Zach jokingly said that she should have said something because he wanted to be an elf. Lo and behold he came into work last night and there was an elf costume for him. So folks, be careful what you say or you may end up wearing an elf costume while serving pasta in a restaurant. Don't you just love the two tone tights?

Monday, December 15, 2008

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

Last night Heather, Aaron and I  put up our Christmas tree.  We walked a couple of blocks from the house to pick out a tree at a local garden shop.  We've been getting our tree from them for years so it's sort of become a tradition.  After spending 20 minutes or so searching through all sorts and shapes of trees, we finally picked one up.  (and at only $28.99, I think we did darn good!)  Aaron threw it over his shoulders (he's over 6' tall and a big guy), and we walked home.

We're tight on space so we picked out a smaller tree but didn't it turn out beautiful? We have a zillion ornaments so we were not able to put them all on the tree.  Instead, we got to pick and choose those special ornaments that mean the most to us.  If you look almost center of the tree,  you can see a teardrop shaped ornament that looks a little like a flag. Years ago I had purchased a bunch of "American Flag" style ornaments but nobody liked them and we never put them on the tree.  This year Heather suggested we put one on in celebration of Obama getting elected. I thought that was a great idea and felt slightly vindicated for buying them all those years ago.

Although there are no more children running around my house, I still find Christmas to be a wonderfully magical time.  Yes, I know it can be crazy and yes, I know it can get stressful and yes, I know that sometimes the gift giving can get out of hand BUT all you need to do is keep it in perspective.  Enjoy what you have and don't worry about what you can or cannot give.  Life's too short to not enjoy the love that this holiday season can bring.

Special Note: If you look closely at the bottom of the second picture, you can see part of Sissy in the middle and a little bit of Dave's ear on the right side.

My First Offensive, Hate-Filled Homophobic Comments

Yes, folks, it's finally happened. After 6 wonderful months of blogging, someone has decided to leave me several offensive, homophobic comments. And keeping in the true colors of all bigots, haters, and racists, this sweet blog commenter named Guffer and Anonymous is a no-reply comment blogger who has elected to not publicy share his/her profile. You know the type: If you're going to say something nasty and hateful, it's best to do it where no one can figure out who you are. Here it is in all its glory:

Guffer has left a new comment on your post "Who Wouldn't Want a Fab-U-Lous Make-Over?":

Preston you little gay fairy. You're writings have the mark of an autistic downs syndrome sufferer. Why don't you just fuck off and allow an old woman suffering from parkinson's to shag you to death

While I was writing this post, I received two more "anonymous" comments. The first just said "faggot" and this was the second one:

Yes, as anyone who is 48 and into Tori Amos and Harry Potter is obviously a lonely homosexual deviant. Now fuck off you rat fanboy and take your queer, useless, talentless blog with you

I didn't post these last two comments but rather copied them here. Again, we probably have the same homophobic hater who spews his/her hate while hiding behind a computer. Hater person, you obviously don't have enough strength of character to actually stand behind your words with an accessible blog or email address. My response to you is pretty "straight"-forward. You can kiss my lily white little gay fairy ass for all I care. Your comments will never get posted on my blog again!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Who Wouldn't Want a Fab-U-Lous Make-Over?

I'm a member of The Secret is in the Sauce, a blog dedicated to comment love. It's members include 100's of women: Single moms, stay-at-home moms, working moms, moms-to-be, and women who have not yet made the mommy decision. And swimming around in this testosterone-less pool of bloggy love is Big Old Gay me! I'm the sweet vadalia onion in a bloggy flower patch and I couldn't be happier.

I've met so many cool bloggers through SITS, women from all walks of life and all types of backgrounds. It's fun, fabulous, and a perfect way to create dozens of new fag hags alternative lifestyle companions. Every day they feature a different blogger that we visit and make comments. The weekends are designed for shout-outs, where bloggers have contests or stores or charitable events going on--which leads me to the title of this post...

SITS member Fabulous K Creative is giving away a Fabulous Blog Makeover! Who wouldn't want to win a blog makeover? To be honest, I do like the current look of my blog but I am no programmer and a professionally designed blog would be so cool. The makeover will be provided by one of Fabulous's design partners.

For your chance at winning this makeover, simply hit the link above and follow the instructions in the post. A winner will be randomly chosen from all qualifying entries on Friday, December 19th. With the busy holiday season upon us, I suggest you don't wait another minute and scurry over there to enter. But first, leave some comment luvin' here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Was Mike Brady a Bad Daddy? or Boy, Have Times Really Changed!


I recently caught a holiday episode of the original Brady Bunch show. In all honesty, I wasn't watching the whole show--it was kind of on TV like background music while I was doing other things. I did stop to watch it for a moment. Apparently, somehow Mike had got roped into taking Cindy to the mall to see Santa Claus. She looked about 6 years old. Mike seemed anxious and I think he needed to get some last minute gifts or something. As they approached the area where Santa was, the line snaked around the store. Mike look miffed. Cindy, in all her wide-eyed innocence, said, "I don't mind waiting by myself, daddy." The next thing I know, Mike had dumped her in line and took off like a bat in hell. That's right folks. He left a 6 year old alone in line in the mall waiting to see Santa.

Is anyone else shocked by this? Have things changed so dramatically since the late 1960's/early 1970's? When was it ever ok to leave a 6 year old unattended at the mall? Who wrote this crap--single, 20 year old male geeks? Where were the store employees? Outraged parents? Mall Security? DYFS? Where was Mrs. Brady? When the camera panned the line of children, it was just that--all children with nary an adult to be found. Could you imagine if someone did this today? The press would have a field day! Every unemployed and half forgotten actor/actress would make an announcement of public outrage and shock! Sally Struthers probably would have dropped her twinkie!

Perhaps in TV land, it's ok to leave your children unattended. After all, everyone smiled. Everyone was helpful. Every problem was resolved in 30 minutes or less. Or maybe it was just a one time mistake, an oversight by a network more concerned over showing Barbara Eden's belly button then it was in promoting proper parenting techniques. Besides, they'd never do that in the movies, would they?


Who doesn't love the movie, A Christmas Story. It's a wonderful tale about a little boy who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas and gets shot down by everyone. The classic line, "You'll shoot your eye out!" has been immortalized by this movie. Watching this movie during the holidays is as traditional as eggnog and jingle bells.

In one scene of the movie, the family takes their children to visit Santa at a local store. The store is full of wonderful Holiday characters, like the Wicked Witch of the West. Yes, nothing says Christmas like a green, crooked-nose witch all dressed in black with a pointy hat. Darren McGavin takes his boys to the line for Santa. He sees what he thinks is a short line, dumps his boys, and runs like hell. Anyone who's seen the movie knows that the line is miles long and the boys have to trudge to the very end. They almost miss seeing Santa because the store is about to close. Just as Santa finishes pushing Ralph down the sliding board with his foot, Mom and Dad appear.

What a minute? They waited for what seemed like forever to see Santa but Dad thought he left them at the front of the line. Why didn't dad come back sooner? What did he think the boys would do after they saw Santa? Did he assume that the store employees were also babysitters? Maybe he thought Santa would recruit them as elf helpers. Maybe he was hoping they would get snatched up by the Wicked Witch of the West.

So, were these people bad parents? No, not really. Apparently there was a time when you could leave your child in line waiting for Santa and no one would blink an eye. And your child would be safe. And your child would wait for you to return. Or at least there was a time when we thought these things were true. Ah the age of innocence! Merry Christmas all you moms and dads...and when you take your kiddies to see Santa, stay in line with them. I don't want to see you face plastered all over the six o'clock news!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Will Never Be Corky St. Claire BUT I Wouldn't Mind Being Brini Maxwell

If you have followed my blog, you will remember that my blog was reviewed not too long ago.  That reviewer claimed that if Corky St. Claire (Waiting For Guffman) wrote a blog, it would be just like mine. I was shocked! I was offended!  I immediately made changes to my blog.  Along with that change, I changed my avatar to a more "holiday-ish" kitschy drag queen with cocktail.  And then I was hit with another blow.

Taylor over at Mac & Cheese (who I read religiously and you should too) asked me why I got rid of my Brini Maxwell avatar.  I immediately responded with, "Brini Who?"  Well apparently, Brini is a semi-famous kitschy drag queen who had a very popular show, The Brini Maxwell Show, on local NY Cable for many years and then moved over to the Style Network for two years.

Now I know RuPaul (who doesn't), Divine,  and Lypsinka.  I absolutely adore Charles Busch of Die, Mommy, Die! fame.  I even own Girls Will Be Girls, yet I had no idea who Brini Maxwell is.  I was ashamed! I was mortified!  I was afraid they'd take away my Gay Card. (or at least the toaster oven they gave me when I came out of the closet!)

The most embarassing part is that Brini is so retro kitsch, being described as a cross between Martha Stewart and Donna Reed.  If I was going to do drag on a regular basis, that's how I'd want to look-retro 1950/60's.  (I collect 1960's Kitschy bar and glassware)  Just look at that hair! Those earings! Those cocktails! And the wallpaper screams 1960's Eames Era Atomic Kitsch.  This is someone I should have been following since I was12 ! I don't know how I missed her!


Brini, please accept my apologies. I promise that I will stay faithfully devoted to you and your kitschy drag. (Don't you wish you had a nickel for every time I used the word kitsch or kitschy?  You try finding a synonym for it. I dare you!) If I could, I would be you...but based on my past experiences with drag, I'd end up being more like a cross between Elizabeth Taylor from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Ruth Buzzi!  For now I'll have to be happy to just live vicariously through you, Brini Maxwell.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shakespeare, I Thought I Knew Ye

I'm doing local theatre again. After a 16 month break, I've taken a role in the Shakespeare play, Measure For Measure. Now I thought I knew every Shakespeare play written.  Well knew may be a little strong but at least I thought I was aware of them all.  But I never heard of this one before.

I would have to say that more than half of the roles I have played in the past 6 years I never auditioned for and this one is the same.  A theatre friend of mine had already cast the show but the guy playing Pompey had a conflict for one of the dates and never said anything until after he was cast. I was asked to fill in and I agreed.  The director then told the other guy he would have to share the role with me and the other guy quit.  Yes, local theatre is chock full of divas.

The problem with doing Shakespeare is, well, that it's Shakespeare.  The dialect can be very hard to follow and, don't hate me for saying this, it can be quit boring.  Even with top notch performances, it is hard to get people to come to a Shakespeare show.  But I am excited about this one.

We are doing the show with a 1930's/40's gangster theme.  My character is being played like a gangster to the hilt.  He also talks with a gangster, new york/bronx voice, sort of like Joe Pesce in My Brother Vinnie.  It's a voice I can do fairly well but it's kind of hard using that voice with Shakespeare's words.  But it's very funny.

I promise not to let my blog suffer but I will have to devote some time to learning my lines and attending rehearsals.  The show opens the weekend of Valentine's Day so we only have two months to get the show together.  And I am going to Orlando on business right before our tech week in February. That means I will be a crazy man in early February.  And hopefully, I'll have some fun posts to write about my rehearsals and preparing for the show.  And pictures, too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Me and my BIG FAT Blogging Mouth

The gals at SITS gave me a shout out today (12/9) referring to my post regarding responding to comments on your posts. Well, my friends all know that I am a big Mr. Know-It-All and this certainly falls in that category. So before you read my post, please let me set a few things straight:

1. It is now 11am and I have done no work at all. My boss is hovering around my desk like a vulture. (Well he normally does that.) Anwyay, I will respond to any future responses when I get home tonight, as I MUST GET SOME WORK DONE CONSIDERING THAT I'M BEING PAID TO DO MY TRADESHOW STUFF AND NOT BLOG.

2. Mr. Know-It-All now realizes that when you get 5,000 comments, it sure is difficult to respond to all of them. It's much easier when you get two or three at a pop. Needless to say, I will respond to each and every one of them. Eventually. By 2012. No later, I swear!

3. Responding to comments in your blog by posting a comment in your blog is only one way of acknowledging your readers. Other ways include responding via email or visiting the commenter's blog and making a comment there. As long as you do SOMETHING, then you are a good blogger.

Mr. Know-It-All thanks you all, in advance, for your kindness and patience!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

An Award, A Contest, And Sunday Morning Breakfast

Mrs. Darth Vader over at The Scattered Mind of a Tattooed Minivan Mom has finally decided to clean out her blogging post closet and slap a bunch of people around with some blogging awards.  Apparently, she's been holding onto these things for centuries months weeks a while, and just now she has gotten around to posting about them.  And of course, she dumped one on me awarded me with one.

For some reason she has decided that I deserve Captain Dumbass's This Blog's Got Booty award.  The award looks like a pirate's flag, all black with a big old skull and crossbones.  A perfect fit for a gay man, NOT!  And speaking of BIG and perfect fits, she also had the nerve to reference Mr. Vader's pee pee in the same post. While Mr. Smiley appreciates all references to his favorite male protruding part, he prides himself in being able to ignore reacting to those that belong to his female friend's husbands, boyfriends, and/or potential suitors.  (And she gave ME the Captain Dumbass award. Makes ya think, huh?)

Over at Sunshine and Lemonade, there are no references to her spouse's unit.  Instead, she's running a contest called "Lost in the Weeds."  It's a cool little contest where you can win the dvd of the first season of Lost and the dvd of the first season of Weeds.  I've never seen Lost and who wants to watch a show about plants that people pull out of their garden and throw away?  That is what it's about, right?  Weeds are plants like crabgrass and dandelions that nobody wants, right? (Is anybody buying this?)

Anywho, I get a bonus entry for blogging about it.  I already missed her Sex and Chocolate contest which really should have been called The Warm Delights of Outlander, so I'm going for the DVDs.  Anyway, check out her blog and enter her contest here.  Even if you don't like the shows, they'd make a great holiday gift.
Lastly, I just wanted everyone to know that I had scrapple this morning for breakfast.  And not just any scrapple but freshly made scrapple from the Amish Farmer's market.  It fried up beautifully, all crisp and firm with no mushy center.  There's something to say about Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.  Plus those Amish guys in those black pants and vests look totally hot.  (Down, Mr. Smiley, Down!  Damn you Tattoed Minivan Mom!)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Folks, Christmas is less than 3 weeks away!  Can you believe it? Every year it seems to sneak up on me faster and faster.  A friend of mine sent me this internet "Christmas Card" and it is perhaps the cutest, cleverest (is that a word?), e-card if have ever seen. Please check it out:

http://www.mesasoftware.com/merrychristmas.htm

I know I'm lazy and should post something of substance but it's the weekend. I'm supposed to be cleaning and I don't feel like it. The house is a $#!+ hole and I don't care.  (See Tattooed Minivan Mom, people can use curse words without actually using them.  Don't you like the way I cleverly disguised the word shit? Oh, shit!)

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Times May Be Hard But You CAN Still Give - See How Here

 
  
As a member of The Secret is in the Sauce, I try to visit as many other “SITS’ members as I can.  One member I stumbled across was Aimee over at Jewel Street Designs.  While I was perusing her line of modern, classic jewelry, I came across a post about giving to cancer patients during the holiday season.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  During the holiday season, EVERYONE has their hand out.  And with times being as hard as they are, more people are in need and less people are able to help out.  I’m sure each of those needy people/organizations deserve assistance, but we all can’t help everyone and in some cases, we can’t even afford to help ourselves, let alone someone else.  But this program is unique.

Unique?  How?  Because you don’t have to spend a dime, unless you want to.  Let me give you a little background information first.  Meaghan over at I Kicked Cancer’s Ass and The Bean decided to put together a program to bring a little joy to cancer patients during the holiday season.  It’s very simple.  She supplies you a name and you supply the love.

You may be wondering how you can send someone something as intangible as “love.”  It’s easier than you think.  Don’t have any money? That’s not a problem.  Have kids? (I know most of you SITStas out there have kids a-plenty.) Ask them to draw pictures, get well cards, and Christmas scenes to send to your recipient. Nothing is more heartwarming than a hand drawn picture from a child.  Are you crafty?  Perhaps you make jewelry, hats, or magnets.  Whatever you do make, I bet you have leftover samples you could give or extra materials that you could use to make a special gift, all at little or not cost to you.

To participate, follow the instructions on Meaghan’s site or simply email her at megse5@netscape.net.  I’ve already done so and my recipient is a woman who has recently been diagnosed with cervical cancer.  With the help from my friend Linda (who works at Barnes & Nobles), I was able to purchase an inspirational book and a beautiful journal for about $20.  What you choose to do is up to you, but please make sure you choose to participate.

I know this is getting long but last October I was going through a horrible personal crisis that consumed my whole life.  At the same time this was occurring to me, my Stepfather (Al) had a debilitating stroke that devastated my mother.  We were also riding on the coattails of the sudden death of a beloved Aunt and the subsequent death of her husband from Altzheimer’s.  My biological father had stopped talking to me and my relationship with my sister was strained at best.  I didn’t think life could get any worse until just a few days after my tragedy and Al’s stroke, the doctor told Heather (my daughter) that she might have breast cancer.

At 27 years old, she never gave a second thought about breast cancer.  No one in our family ever had it. With one little announcement, every other problem seemed so unimportant except for Al’s rehabilitation.  Heather had no insurance and we embarked upon a very long and tiring journey through the world of charity care and breast cancer.  To make a long story short (I know, too late), they took a small chunk of her left breast and she is cancer free.  But what I remember most during that very difficult time was the kindness, caring, and generosity of others.  And that helped make the journey easier--somewhat bearable. If I can do the same for someone else, damn it, I’m gonna.  And I know you can too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Common Courtesy - Are You A Good Blogger?

When someone says hello to you, do you say hello back?  If someone sends you an email or a text message, do you send one back?  If someone leaves a message on your answering machine, do you call them back?  I bet you do.  Most people would.  So let me ask you this, when someone leaves a comment on your blog, do you comment back?  I bet most of you don't.

Why would you extend the common courtesy of a response to any means of communication yet ignore the comments on your blog?  First of all, you've taken time and effort to write a post for your blog. And someone out there has taken the time and effort to not only read your post, but write a comment to it.  Doesn't that deserve an acknowledgement?

A month or so ago, I was one of those rude misguided bloggers who never responded to any comments on my posts. Oh, I read them, enjoyed them, and wanted more.  But I never responded and I don't know why I didn't.  Then I read a post from someone (sorry I do not remember who it was) regarding this very subject. It got me thinking.

I posted a lot of comments on a lot of political blogs during this past election. I would excitedly revisit those blogs to see my comment posted and to look for any response from the blogger.  The best part was reading the response and often responding to that response.  In fact, I enjoyed the blog better when there was a little dialogue going on.  And I enjoyed reading other comments and their responses.  So if I did it on their blogs, why wasn't I doing it on mine?

Dave at Holographic Meatloaf always responds to my comments as well as Ken at Dad To Two and Brian and Steven over at Green Dads.  Another blogger who always responds to comments is Kathy over at The Junk Drawer.  The Junk Drawer is arguably one of the better blogs around and I think a part of its success is that Kathy responds to every comment she gets.  And she gots a lot. A whole lot.  If she can do it, so can I. (It also helps that she is an excellent writer and her blog is just plain fun to read.)

So I started posting responses to every comment on my blog, even if it was just to say thanks for stopping by.  And you know what? I love it! It makes blogging so much more rewarding.  I feel like I'm really reaching out to people and they are reaching out to me.  Trust me, nothing's worse than leaving what you think is a cool and clever response to a post and the blogger does not respond.  Am I not worthy? Was what I said so stupid and worthless that it did not deserve a response?  Do I want my blogger guests to feel like that? I sure don't!

If you want people to come back to your blog, treat them with respect.  Let them know you appreciate their comments by commenting back.  It's common courtesy.  Don't hide behind your computer.  Don't be that guy driving down the highway picking his nose and thinking no one can see him when we all can.  (I don't know what that has to do with blogging but I just hate it when people do that.) Remember this, people who read your blog are your guests and, in a way, your customers as well. Treat them as such and they will come back again and again.

Disclaimer: If you do leave responses and I left you out, don't think I don't appreciate you cause I sure do. I just wanted to give a few examples and I couldn't list everyone.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Trip Down Memory Lane

Here is me, my ex-wife Janine, and Heather.  It's December 1979. Janine and I are both 19 and Heather is one month old.  You can see that I am going through my "don't I look like Jesus" stage.
It's now Easter 1983 and I'm 22 and Heather is 3 1/2. Check out Heather's cute bonnet and purse. It pays to have a gay Daddy when you want to dress up for the holidays. Note the BIG eyeglasses adn the Avon necklace that I am wearing.  And yes, that is an original Atari system under that TV.
Summer 1983, I'm 23 and I can only say that I must have been doing drugs heavily. For some reason I thought that getting a perm would be cool.  I am standing here in Chip's BP overalls zipped down all the way because he thought I looked sexy in them.  I look like a 1970's porno star. Thank goodness I got rid of that perm fast.
It's Christmas 1984. I'm 24, Chip is 22, and Heather (in the corner) has just turned 5.  You can't see it but I have the "closely cropped shadow beard" that was sorta popular.  Do you like the flourescent green shirt with the yellow suspenders?
It's now March 1985 and the 80's are in full swing. No more glasses cause I had contacts. Note the pleather pants and matching pink, glow-in-the dark tie and belt.  The picture in the upper corner was the first picture I ever painted.  And yes, I dressed like this at work, too.
Halloween 1987 and most people at work didn't even recognize me when I came in.  It's still the 80's and that's why that outfit has shoulder pads and a bow in the hair.  Not bad legs, either.

Well since I was reminiscing over some old pictures for my Merry SITSmas post, I thought it would be fun to look at some more pics.  I hope you got as much a kick out of these as I did.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Merry SITSmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy Holiday too,
For whatever holiday you celebrate
In the way you choose to do.
We hope it brings you happiness
and good times for one and all
May the season be full of kindess
And joys, both big and small.
May the love of this holiday season
Bring only good times and cheer
May you savor in the joy of giving
And may it last throughout the year.
Happy Holidays from Preston and Heather
Season's Greetings to the SITS blog hosts
May the winner of the $200 Target Gift Card
Truly need it the mosts.
(ok, so mosts isn't proper, but it rhymes doesn't it?)
The first picture is of Chip, Heather, and I in 1984. Looking back at it, I remember just how much I was in love with that man. It saddens me to think that it did not last, even though it did last 13 1/2 years.  The next picture is me and my daughter, Heather, from Christmas 1988. The third one is us from Christmas 2007, nineteen years later.  And yes, those are HUGE eyeglasses and yes, that is the remnants of a mullet!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Death By Consumerism - Black Friday's Walmart Murder

I am shocked and saddened by the death of a Walmart employee on Black Friday as he opened the doors to the Long Island, NY Walmart at 5 am. Thirty-four year-old Jdimytai Damour, a temporary worker hired by Wal-Mart for the holidays, was practically trampled to death as a crowd of over 2,000 shoppers burst through the Wal-Mart doors as he opened the doors for business.  Jdimytai was caught in the metal doors as the crowd literally marched over him to save a few measly dollars.  Video tape showed that Jdimytai struggled against the onslaught of shoppers as horrified Wal-Mart employees tried in vain to save him from the frenzied mob.  When they finally reached him, Jdimytai was dead of a heart attack.  


Four other people were hurt but survived the mayhem, including a pregnant woman.  But more was to come.  Seemingly unsatisfied with the initial horror of Jdimytai's death, shoppers loudly complained and staunchly resisted when Wal-Mart tried to close the store, continuing to shop and save even when asked to leave.  Forget about humanity, forget about what Christmas is really about, forget about the man laying dead on the floor, what really mattered to these New York shoppers was saving money on a lousy HD LCD TV.  


Is this what we have become, a nation that values saving money over good will towards men? Are times so bad and money so tight that saving a few dollars on non-essential luxury gifts is more important than a man's life?  Where is the compassion? What happened to human dignity?  I wonder what went through Jdimytai's mind in those last desperate moments as he was trampled by those holiday shoppers. I'm sure it wasn't, "Damn, I'm not going to be able to get that 37" TV for $799."


The police are reviewing the tapes to see if they can identify the shoppers and bring them to justice.  But what justice is there for taking a life so carelessly?  We as Americans need to take a step back and decide what is really important in our world today.  I am sure that the people in that crowd are good people, with family, friends, and co-workers who care about them.  And yet, for some reason on Black Friday, they were able to participate in what I call murder -- as senseless a murder as they come.  And then to rub salt in the wounds, the refused to leave the store in respect of a man's death.  We all should be sickened by this shameful demonstration of callousness and cold-heartedness. America, what have we become?  Im afraid to think what might be the answer.