Choose Happiness..

My responsibilities as an aviator precludes me from doing drugs. Aside from growing up terrified of Nancy Reagan and her “Just Say No!” campaign, I want to be the best pilot I can be so I refrain from doing drugs. I think this is a smart choice.

We live in chaotic times. At work I’m noticing the “casual” methods of dialog, instant messenger, team chats, etc., is creating a more casual approach to communication at work in general. This casualness, coupled with the current chaos in our country, and enhanced by the fact that the workbase is scattered all over the world, is resulting in a pervasiveness of snark and snippy dialog in professional communication at my place of employment.

Unacceptable.

Since our return from Disney last month I have consciously decided to “choose happiness”. I know that makes me sound all Pollyanna but the fact of the matter is, there’s always a good side of a situation and there’s always humor in any situation, we just have to find it. Dropping pleasantries will get us nowhere.

Pot, meet the black kettle.

I’ve raged some whoppers of dialog at folks on the Internet over the years. I am convinced they never heard me and I would be right where I am today whether I had raged at Sarah Sanders or whomever or whether I just chose to drop it and move on. Screaming into the digital ether will rarely change anyone’s mind. And honestly, who really cares what I think?

Why waste my emotional calories on something that isn’t going to bear fruit.

So here I am, choosing happiness. Without drugs. Just doing my thing.

Perhaps if we all chose happiness we’d find the world to be a happier place.

Filler.

I formulated a blog entry during my walk through the sleet and snow this morning but being age 51 I currently have no recollection of what I was going to write about.

I will say my husband and I have been enjoying the latest (and last) season of “Madam Secretary President”. Téa Leoni and friends have been tackling current political issues with their storylines and it’s pretty much like watching “The West Wing”. It’s unfortunate this is the last season of the show, but CBS likes to bury it on Sunday nights after football games and the like. Still quality stuff. People could learn things from watching this show but they won’t.

Another nicety of the latest (and last) season of “Madam Secretary President” is my introduction to actor Wentworth Miller. Until this show I’ve never heard of him but apparently he’s been on a bunch of other shows. I’m liking his portrayal of a cranky Republican senator on the show and admittedly he’s enjoyable to look at.

Mindfulness.

Listening to the waves crash along the shore of Lake Michigan in the middle of November is incredibly relaxing. Being able to escape this environment in just a short walk from home is yet another reason I love Chicago so much.

It may be grey and cold, but it is still beautiful. Love the outdoors regardless of the time of year. I know it always bring me to center.

Please!

I live for the day I can have this moment in real life. Exquisite crystal stemware, an ornate fireplace, and me yelling “Please!”.

It would be glorious.

Loyalty.

“Authoritarian states are typically not governments of laws, but governments of leaders, who demand loyalty from their subjects and are hostile to dissent.”

Edward Snowden, “Permanent Record”

I’ve been reading Edward Snowden’s biography, “Permanent Record”. I’m around 6/10ths of the way through the book and I’m finding it a fascinating read. The book is written well, paints the intended picture well, and is not dry in anyway.

The quote above is mentioned in a discussion around online privacy in general, which is something I will be blogging about soon, and I couldn’t help but reflect on the need for this reminder today.

The country side of my family is mostly Republican. The rural roots of the family tree lends itself to this type of thinking, and until the 21st century, I subscribed to much of the thinking of my family: work hard, contribute more than you take from society, and obey the law. Taxes suck. Use your money wisely. I still believe in all these things.

My mom and dad would have a little tension between them on Voting Day, as I know my Dad would pretty much click his way along the “R” in the mechanical voting booth whereas my Mom would take her time and make choices she wouldn’t later discuss all that much. My parents rarely talked politics as it was part of the “big three” what I’ll call ‘hesitant’ discussion points: Politics, Religion, and Homosexuality. My dad didn’t say much and when he did say stuff it rarely had much to do with the “big three”. But I always had this feeling he had an expectation his spouse would follow along with clicking on the “R” and my mother was a more independent thinker, being from the ‘big’ city of Syracuse.

I still believe in working hard, contributing more than you take from society, and obeying the law. Outside of breaking the speed limit, there are very few things I purposely do to break the law. And in my naïveté I’ve always believed this is how the legacy Republican party behaved. I vividly recall a scene on the 1970s sitcom “Maude” where Bea Arthur’s Maude and Conrad Bain’s Arthur are having a discussion about a gay bar. Arthur is trying his hardest to get the gay bar shut down because he doesn’t believe there should be such a thing in the neighborhood. The thing is, when he finds out the gay bar is not breaking any laws he drops the fight.

Because as a Republican he believes in the law, the Constitution, and upholding the law of the Constitution. The dialog of this episode describes my understanding of Republican beliefs beautifully.

So what happened to the Republican party?

The number of people I know that have jumped on the Trump train wreck boggles my mind. Trump breaks the law. Often. Trump has always broken the law and he has done his best over the years to do less than his law-required share of paying taxes, following due process, etc. Trump demands loyalty to him, not to the country.

Read the quote again. Loyalty to a leader is not part of the democratic process. It is the demand of an authoritarian.

Do we really want to continue this trend to an authoritarian state?

I’ve been watching the Democrats’ nomination process for who is going to run in 2020 and there’s a part of me that wonders if the Democratic Party is doing their best to hand the election over to this Authoritarian again. I don’t have answers; I’m basically bitching from the cheap seats, but if I had the answers I would run for office.

Let’s face it, the U.S. government became terrified on 9/11, and they want everyone terrified. The country went crazy the moment the Twin Towers came down and we have never recovered from it. I’m doubtful I’ll ever see a pre-9/11 version of the United States again in my lifetime. We might start to turn things around but it will take decades to get us back where we used to be.

I don’t have the answers, but I know pledging loyalty to a leader, or even blindly to one political party, is not going to take us where we need to go.

We are better than this. We need to start acting that way. More importantly, we need to start expecting better from the people we vote for.

Friday.

It’s Friday, so here’s some happy music with some happy people singing and dancing.

From 1969, here’s Friends of Distinction with “Grazing In The Grass”.

Relax.

Photo from Yelp.

I just enjoyed probably the best massage in my life at Sir Spa here in Chicago. Located in Andersonville, Sir Spa bills itself as “the ultimate Chicago spa for men”. There’s plenty of mood lighting and music to get you in a relaxed state of mind. The locker room amenities are awesome. And the slate of services offered is plentiful.

Antonio sent 90-minutes kneading and rubbing every knot out of this middle aged body and I feel absolutely wonderful. While I just laid there on the table while Antonio did his thing my mind wandered and problems were solved. The sky cleared, my skin cleared, and my mind cleared. I’m ready to tackle the work week.

Good thing tomorrow is Friday.

Simplicity.

Image found on Flickr.

Earl and I recently went to a “fast casual” restaurant. You know the type: you order and pay at the counter, they give you a little number to put in a stand on a table you find the dining room, and someone cheerfully brings you out your meal. It works simply.

I’ve mentioned before that I find today’s Point of Sale software to be quite boring. Software developers are embracing the touchpad/tablet interface for anything to do with retail and many of these fast casual (and their fast food counterpart) establishments have glorified iPads attached to a cash drawer and printer on the counter. Even those that go with traditionally branded equipment by the likes of NCR or Toshiba are using personal computers with touch interfaces.

Our orders were simple: a sandwich, a side salad, and a drink. Including our choice of dressing, one would think there were be maybe five “touches” on the touchscreen involved: the sandwich type, the salad, the dressing, and maybe two for the drink, “Large” and “fountain drink”. The counter person should then hit total, the payment type, and call it a day.

The cashier spent minutes poking, prodding, and stabbing at the touch screen. From the light being cast back on her face I could tell she was flipping through menus, searching for various combinations of items, and typing words like RANCH. Let’s not get into the drama of figuring out how to swipe a credit card that doesn’t have numbers imprinted on the face of it.

Simple is better. I’ve been saying this for years. Back when electronic technology was coming to the forefront of retail, electronic cash registers in restaurants were designed one of two ways: 1. write the order down on a pad and add it up on the cash register or 2. there was a button per item type and the cashier simply had to hit the appropriate buttons. OK, admittedly I was in several Burger King restaurants where the cashiers filled in spots on a plastic card with a grease pencil and fed the card into the cash register like our Iowa Test Forms back in elementary school, but that trend didn’t last for very long.

The simplicity of these ordering systems kept the lines moving quickly. Cashiers didn’t look perplexed. They took your order and went about the other business involved with filling the request. There was no flipping through menus, crazy amounts of touches required on a screen, or typing of the word RANCH.

Today I moved from an elaborate Task Management system to something I wrote myself that runs on a “green screen”, or a terminal emulator from a command prompt on any computer of my choice. My iOS devices sync with it just fine and I am already feeling more productive and less bogged down because there’s no pushing and prodding and flipping through menus.

$ todo add “This is my example task due:2019-11-06”

Done. I couldn’t be happier about this approach.

iPads and their related tablet interfaces are way too small for counter service at a restaurant. If you can’t fit the majority of your menu on the first screen you’re doing it wrong. One of the things I love about Disney (and I love all things Disney) is ordering food at their quick service restaurants, lines move quickly because the software written in the mid 2000s works fine and is not convoluted. They’re also using actual cash registers.

I’m hoping for a day when software developers remember that simplicity is the key. It’s not about pretty interfaces and pictures and colorful buttons. It’s about getting the job done.

Keep it simple.