Picard.

The second trailer for early 2020’s “Star Trek: Picard” dropped earlier this week and like the classic “80s/90s” Trekker I am, a tear or two formed in my eye when I watched it.

I think I’ve been convinced to get a CBS All Access pass when this comes out early next year. It has a classic-Star Trek vibe, and there were some surprises in the trailer that made me really excited about this upcoming series.

See for yourself. Link to YouTube above.

(I’m crossing my fingers for an appearance from my gal Admiral Janeway sometime during the show).

Addendum: Watching the trailer again, I’m more excited about “Star Trek: Picard” than I have ever been for Enterprise or Discovery. Maybe I don’t speak for all Trekkers, but this is what I’ve been waiting for.

HomeKit, Part 3.

So the conversion to all HomeKit for our Home Automation system continues. The outlier continues to be a Google Home Hub in the kitchen, as Earl uses it for recipe guidance and an occasional YouTube video, but he’s indicated this is simply a luxury right now and he wouldn’t mind if I sold it.

I replaced our two Smart Outlet Plugs with devices that were suppose to be compatible with HomeKit/Siri, Google, and Alexa. I was able to configure them for HomeKit without an issue, which was my plan all along. But getting them to join the Google network has been trickier. I’ve reached out to the manufacturer, VOCOLinc, for assistance, but this has not proven to be fruitful. Since the Google and Alexa integration is a secondary need I’m not pursuing it further, however, I can say these VOCOLinc plugs do work very well on HomeKit. They have both been rock solid.

The HomePod in our Dining Room had a bit of a fit last weekend and forgot about all the devices in the house. Siri would respond to requests for whole rooms to be turned on and off, but it wouldn’t control a specific device, even though we were able to without an issue with Siri on our phones and by using the Home app on iOS and/or our Macs. I restarted the HomePod but that didn’t help the situation; Siri just started behaving normally again after a couple of hours. I don’t know if there was an Internet issue or something else, but Apple constantly has our devices talking to each other in the background, perhaps they just had to have an extra chat.

Today I installed a Lutron Decora Smart Dimmer Switch to control the lights over our breakfast bar. Switches normally need two wires, the hot from the panel and the hot subsequently going to the lamp, as the switch is just turning this leg of the circuit on and off. But smart switches need to be powered as if they were plugged into a wall outlet, so the Smart Dimmer Switch also needed to access the Neutral wire. Luckily, modern homes have the neutral wire where it needs to be, but older homes didn’t follow such standards and there’s a good chance you won’t have a neutral wire in your switch box. I was able to tap the neutral wire without an issue, though, and the setup of the switch was flawless. I love the way it looks and acts.

I’m very interested in the smart control panels by Brilliant Control, which are designed to replace up to four light switches in a wall box. The interface looks good, the idea behind it is awesome, and it would give us the high-tech approach I’m striving for in our home. The issue is they don’t make a HomeKit version at the moment, but according to Brilliant Control it’s in the works. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

I am making progress with this ongoing project and I’d say I’m around 90% pleased with the results thus far. Earl has remarked that he doesn’t miss Alexa at all and he’s happy with having one “system”, so that mission is accomplished.

Ponderance.

According to Apple’s spell check, “ponderance” isn’t a word. Betty White could never give enough clues to guess that Password.

That’s how I feel tonight: full of ponderance. There’s a lot to think about.

iPadOS Beta 3.

After hearing Apple had released Public Beta 3 of their latest version of iOS/iPadOS, and doing some reading on the stability of this beta, I’ve gone ahead and installed it on my iPad Pro.

I’m really liking what Apple is offering in iOS 13 and iPadOS.

Cosmetically, Dark Mode is gorgeous. This is dark mode done right, and it is a welcome relief to my eyes. One of the reasons I prefer to use a Mac at work is because of Dark Mode offered in Mac OS. It’s a lot easier on my eyes while staring at the screen for too many hours in the day. Windows 10 offers a Dark Mode but it is uneven at best and many of the apps just turn gray; Mac OS and now iOS/iPadOS turn much darker.

Performance of Beta 3 seems to be great, though I’ve been messing with it for only an hour or so. I briefly had Beta 2 on an older iPad and that was an unmitigated mess, this is much better and it feels like Apple Developers are making great progress on getting iOS 13 ready and stable for the assumed release in September.

I’m still trying to get into using my iPad Pro as my primary computer; I believe computing needs to be taken to the next level and tablets are going to be the way of the future. I’m eager to see where development from all players in the game take this next step. Maybe Apple will be the leader, maybe they won’t. Only time will tell.

Right now, I’d say they’re headed in the right direction.

Flute.

I have a habit of singing or humming or making random noises in my falsetto voice. I’ve come to the realization that the melody I sing like this is the same tune Martin Mull plays as an evil flute player on Wonder Woman. He hypnotizes Jan Brady with a flute.

Man the 70s were wild.

Truth.

Nevada Route 375 near Area 51. Not my photo, but I have a very similar photo in a photo album somewhere.

I’ve been reading bits and pieces of the latest social media movement, this time folks want to storm Area 51.

It seems to me this would be a great way to get shot.

Earl and I ventured right up to the Area 51 border back in the early 2000s. We were driving a rented Subaru. There was a dead cow in the road at “the mailbox”. We followed the dirt road until we saw signs proclaiming lethal force. There were technology-related devices on poles in the desert and in the distance we could see trucks or SUVs of some sort driving around. Logic dictated the lethal force would be administered through one of these things I just mentioned.

We decided not to risk it and we turned around and resumed our drive through the Nevada desert. Not too far away a military jet of some sort when whooshing over the road in front of us, just a few hundred feet above the ground. It was pretty awesome.

Area 51 is where the aliens and/or alien technology captured by the United States is kept. Ironically, since 2017 I’ve come to believe that Area 51 is more and more of a conspiracy theory since there’s no way the idiot in the White House could ever keep his mouth shut about such a thing. He’d be proclaiming we have only the greatest of aliens. The biggliest. And he’s smarter than them.

On the other hand, I can’t help but look up at the night sky and wish all the intelligent life out there would stop by and help us get our act together. That would be quite something, wouldn’t it? Sentient beings from another world coming to Earth and telling us some secrets of the Universe. Some thing the only reason these beings would come to our planet would be as a conquest and for destruction. I’m sorry, but if intelligent beings traveled vast distances to meet their neighbors, I’m pretty sure they would be evolved beyond the concept of war and destruction. I can’t help but feel in the very core of my being that all this death and destruction and chaos and craziness is an entirely human construct.

The arrival of such beings would really turn the world on its head. Imagine, your religious beliefs, nullified as quickly as Thanos snapping his fingers in an Avengers movie. How incredibly humbling would it be? I fully believe that we have been visited by those from another world on countless occasions, and they do it secretly because of compassion: if they revealed themselves there would be mass suicides across planet Earth because the human ego can’t handle the humility of it all. I’m reminded of a lyrics from an Abba tune, “I’m nothing special, in fact, I’m a bit of a bore”.

How glorious and yet how fully humbling that event would be.

Imagine if humans were to find out that we are all the products of a genetics-related science experiment! A little bit of our stuff was brought here from elsewhere, mixed with some stuff from a caveman type and voila, humans! How will countless cultures survive on one rock? What will happen when they mingle? How will they handle that?

I’m sure parts of the map are failing miserable at this. I’m looking at us, my fellow American.

I can’t help but think extraterrestrial travelers to Earth wouldn’t be bound by physics as we know it. Faster than light travel, artificial gravity; it’s almost like the visitors would have to travel “in between the seconds”, much like Jodie Foster’s experience in the late 1990s movie “Contact”. If it’s going to happen, I feel like that’s how it will happen. Those among us will step aside from traditional Earth believes, educate ourselves to a higher understanding, and evolve enough to find that missing piece in the equation.

And then we’ll be able to visit with those traveling between the seconds.

Until then, a bunch of hoo-haws are going storm Area 51. Go for it, folks.

Random.

CTA sign shoved behind a kiosk at the Rockwell Brown Line Stop in Chicago.

When Earl is working an evening game at Wrigley Field I end up with some time on my hands. In the summer I don’t feel much like going outside but I’m not really a fan of driving the car all over creation while living here in the city. Yes, I went to school to be a Traffic Engineer but I believe urban areas such as Chicago have much better options in the way of public transit. I love the ‘L’ here in Chicago and I ride it almost every day.

Wanting to get a walk in during this beautiful weather I’ll jump on the ‘L’ and get on whatever train is first to appear at the station. I’ll ride a random number of stops and then I’ll walk back home. Today I walked two miles back to the house and I loved every step of it. You could almost feel the sigh of relief that the Monday workday was over and people were enjoying a drink or a meal with a spouse or friends on the sidewalk.

I love that energy. I love the vibe. One of the things I’ve noticed lately is that people of a certain age seem to be on their phones less while seated at a table. I’ve always been sensitive to the use of technology in social situations, but I don’t know if it’s because we live in a different socioeconomic situation than when we did a few years ago or if the pendulum of smartphone use is starting to swing back the other way, but it’s rare to hear someone having a conversation on their phone in a restaurant or at a bar. Back in Utica we’d hear about custody battles and people making doctor’s appointments and fights with a bank. I don’t notice it nearly as much in Chicago.

Maybe I’m just better natured since we’ve moved here.

I do love the vibe of happy people enjoying life with friends and/or family. It’s energizing.

And we all need good energy.

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51.

51. Not prime, but awesome. Some numbers physically look more awesome to me than others, and 51 looks awesome.

A health provider recently said to me, “you’re on the back nine, the best part of the game.” Yep. A great place to be.

NY Route 51 goes from Mount Upton to Ilion. It’s a nice, scenic drive. There’s ups, there’s downs, curves, and straight runs. Enjoyable all the way.

Back in my school days, bus 51 was driven by a woman named Jean. Not my regular bus, but word had it she could bounce two HS football players against each other while keeping one hand on the wheel. She was in charge.

There is no Illinois 51. There is a U.S. Route 51 in Illinois and it runs the entire length of the state. I’ve been on approximately half of it, and Earl and I will finish the other half before the year’s end.

I’ve never had “51” in sequence in any of my home or personal phone numbers, but my internal office number when I worked at Digital was DTN 251-1282.

I’m right where I was meant to be at this point, on this planet, in this moment of time. No regrets. I look forward with excitement of what lies ahead.

New Experiences.

I convinced Earl to take the Blue Line into the Loop so we could take our usual Red and Brown Lines home. This was his first time standing on the platform in the middle of the Kennedy. It’s not quiet.