Meal.

Back in the mid 1990s my grandfather told me I needed to marry a woman that could cook. Later on, after I had been with my husband for a couple of years and my grandfather was enjoying a second helping of my husband’s famous baked beans, he told me my husband was a good man.

I will never forget that day.

My husband can cook, is quite amazing at it, and he amazes me day after day and year after year. He can get fancy or he can keep it deliciously simple. No matter the approach, I am thankful for anything he makes and I am constantly impressed. I never take my luck in this department for granted.

Earl made an amazing Thanksgiving meal again this year. Our family thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We have been comatose on the couch ever since we finished the meal time.

Maybe it’s time for a snack.

Pause.

Today’s line at the world’s largest Starbucks

Even during the ramping up of the holiday season I enjoy walking along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Michigan Ave is a hotspot for tourists looking for a midwest “Fifth Avenue” experience and the Mag Mile fills this need well. As I make my way through the crowded sidewalks I’m always interested to hear the various accents and non-English languages being spoken. I love living in a prominent destination for people across the world.

An eastward view along the Riverwalk.

A part of me has a hard time walking along the Mag Mile as there too many homeless people taking shelter and (usually) quietly asking for money. A veteran by the name of Cliff was bundled up with only one hand holding a McDonalds cup exposed to the outside world. The tattered sign contained the aforementioned details and indicated he was homeless and looking for bus money to get to a shelter. I had no reason to doubt the authenticity of his sign so I stopped and put some money in his cup. The bills made no noise against the plastic of the cup so I decided to speak.

“Thank you for your service, Cliff. This will help you can get to a warm place this evening.”

A surprisingly young looking man came out from under the blankets and looked in the cup. His looked up and his eyes said thank you as he removed the money I had placed there. My eyes teared up as I walked away and resumed my way to catch the Brown Line to my warm place for the evening. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that we send our citizens off to war or other military activity, they do their part, they keep up their end of the bargain, and then we fail at supporting them when they come back home.

Our country is better than this. We as a society need to fix the homeless epidemic.

I hope Cliff is warm tonight.

Break.

Apple prides itself on the way their Apple Watch inspires you to be fit and healthy. As people around the world stand up in unison at 10 minutes to the top of the hour, they do so because their Apple Watch just reminded them that standing is healthy and you should stand at least once an hour for half of the day.

Everyday.

Without fail.

Stand up.

Everyday.

On the 50th minute.

The problem with Apple Watch is that without a bunch of setting changes, it will never give you a break. You will be reminded that yesterday you did better than you’re doing today and with a little effort you can do better today than you did yesterday. It’s a cheery bit of guilt to keep on exercise. Never take a break. Close those rings every day. Do not stop. Do not rest. Keep on closing those rings.

Our bodies need rest. We need rest once in a while to give our body a chance to rebuild that which we’ve been working. If we don’t rest we plateau. We get tired. We get cranky.

I think I’m using the “royal” we now.

I appreciate what Apple is trying to do but I think their approach needs a bit of refinement.

And a donut once in a while.

Guilty.

I’m a bad gay in that I’m not particularly a fan of Barbra Streisand. Isn’t that awful? Gay men and lesbians alike lose their minds when she hits the stage but I just think, “yeah, she’s not bad”. I enjoy her motivation and her stamina but I don’t get all breathless when she sings. Nevertheless, I do enjoy some of her work and whenever I eat pasta the 1980 hit “Guilty” goes through my head.

On a never-ending quest to lose weight I strive to eat healthy more often than when I’m not eating healthy. Pasta is sort of a no-no in the “my, but look at the size of your spare tire” clique, but sometimes I want some pasta. My husband tries to help the situation by buying protein leaning pasta and that keeps Bab’s voice from going through my head, but Thursday night we went to a local Italian place and I couldn’t help myself: rigatoni and peas were the order of the day.

It was delicious.

In a weird attempt to keep Barbra’s crooning of “Guilty” from ransacking my brain for the following 48 hours I opted to sit in a way at the restaurant table that would have displeased Barbra. By sitting in her preferred seat (where her profile would have met her acceptable standards), I prevented her from entering my realm and I enjoyed the pasta dish in peace. Twice. I ate half of it at dinner and ate the other half at lunch the next day.

Welcome to the way my brain works. Have a seat, you look hungry.

No News.

We are cord-cutters. This means we have nothing that resembles cable television. We have an external antenna discreetly mounted to the wall; living in the third largest city in the United States affords us 65+ over the air channels for free. We have several streaming services, including Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix. We also have Philo for the holiday season because, after all, it’s Hallmark Christmas Movies season and this is a reliable way to watch these future classics.

We have no way of streaming news.

There’s an app called CNNgo but it doesn’t really do much other than show reruns. We’re currently watching a free preview of MSNBC over an app but we don’t know what will happen when the countdown clock stops and the preview comes to an end. We can’t even get CSPAN, and honestly, who really wants CSPAN?

Here we have all these news channels and we can’t stream any of them freely. It makes you wonder, do the news channels exist to disseminate the news or do they exist to make money?

I think we know the answer to this.

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.

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.

Fasten Your Seat Belts.

So this is what a 50+ year old man looks like in the shower.

Actually, I asked my husband to take this photo because I wanted to write this blog entry about something, and THAT’S THE BEAUTY OF OUR NEW SHOWER HEAD!

We replaced our shower head when we moved into our home in 2017 because we wanted something that would rain down nicely and have some spray options. It was alright and it worked well for what it was but I was never completely happy with it. I’m one for getting into a shower that’s going to steam up and require seat belts to remain in an upright position. I don’t need the “pins and needles” approach but I like a shower that’s going to shove me around a bit.

Last week I mentioned to my husband that I spent time researching the best shower head for what I was envisioning for the master bathroom and it was on sale at Amazon. Once the purchasing department approved my suggestion I clicked “Buy Now” and two days later, voila, we have a shower head that is awesome and shoves me around a bit in the morning.

Our shower could do with a seatbelt.

We have a Speakmen S-2252 high pressure shower head with a multitude of settings from a gentle rain shower to a full blast torrent and it is a delight. It probably uses more water than it should but as I said to Earl, we have a whole Great Lake down the street. I wouldn’t use this in the desert but I’ll love it here in the Midwest.

Coupling this new shower experience with the end of Daylight Saving Time today will result in a very productive work week starting tomorrow.