Dark.

I’ve talked about my gripe with the new LED streetlights installed by the city of Chicago. They’re way too bright, the light is harsh, and there’s no cover over the bare bulbs. If you glance upward at one of these monstrosities you’ll sear a Retina and have a spot in your field of vision for hours afterward.

They’re a great intention but a horrible execution.

One of the other delights about these new lights is the light given off doesn’t “spread” very well. You’ll notice in the photo above that’s it’s nearly as bright as daylight directly under the light but walk a few feet into the shaded portion of the sidewalk and you’re in near darkness. I’m sure the folks in the adjacent condos like that, after all, they can sleep without constant light barreling into their rooms, but there’s a lot of shadows in there that defeat the purpose of the brighter light to begin with.

My naive thinking has always thought light is light and light is going where light wants to go. But it appears LED light doesn’t create a warm glow that spreads all over. There’s no warm and fuzzy under a streetlight in the City of Chicago.

The definitely a delineation between the light and the darkness. Could be a sign of the times.

Interesting.

So today was an interesting day to reactivate the Twitter account.

I’ve tried to give up Twitter and Facebook, but I felt very disconnected from online pilot friends, the shenanigans in the White House, and family back East.

I don’t like the fact that we’ve come to rely on these ridiculous social media companies, but they’ve become as ubiquitous as Direct Digit Dialing.

Let your fingers do the walking.

Reminder.

So last night we went to the movies to see “Downton Abbey”. I’ve been excited to see this movie since it was announced; I’ve missed watching the show and escaping to Downton on a weekly basis.

I shan’t spoil the plot here but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I could easily watch it again, and I find the presentation to be absolutely beautiful. It was a comfortable escape. It was a beautiful gift to the fans.

As the final credits rolled I realized I was feeling glum about the experience. It had nothing to do with the movie, as I said, it was a gorgeous cinematic event for me. I was realizing I had last seen the Crawleys et. al in 2015 and I was contrasting where my head was then versus where it is today. Though this has nothing to do with the movie, I realized the U.S. political climate has put me in a clouded funk since the 2016 election. I’ve actually known this but watching entertainment I dearly loved before American society lost its mind completely and contrasting the same escape during these dark times (The Age of Chaos and Insanity) forced me to take stock of the effects this insanity has had on me.

Shame on me for allowing the Trump administration and all its stupidity and stupid supporters to affect my mood at this magnitude.

I’m ready to go back to the movies and again to watch Downton Abbey to drink in its magnificence and to allow my head to escape to better times.

Perhaps I will find hope.

Attempt.

I’m sitting on our balcony enjoying a glass of wine and recovering from watching much of the latest Democratic debate. This time it was hosted by ABC and then packed 3500 people into an arena to cheer and yell and get that whole “make it a sport” vibe going. If you liked candidate one the best, call 1-866-HELPUS1 from your Cingular Wireless phone. Winners to be announced next week after a concert by Dave Matthews with Hootie and the Blowfish.

I’m typing a blog entry using the virtual keyboard on my iPad Pro. Apple was quick to show off a miniature keyboard on the iPad Pro during their event on Monday, but even with iPadOS on this device I can’t figure out what gesture shrinks the keyboard. I’m still mixing up undo and redo as well and I haven’t mastered “cut and paste” with the grab and drop gesture. Perhaps I need to be facing east or something.

There are thunderstorms moving into area and even though it’s mid September it feels as stifling hot as a hot summer night in July. This weekends suppose to calm down a little bit unless someone grabs a Sharpie and changes the weather.

I’ve been pondering spirituality a little bit over past couple of days, and how spiritual beliefs can enhance one’s life instead of dictating it. I haven’t quite figured this out in my head, but I’m being a geek about it and trying to marry my love of science and reason with a spirituality around energy and love. I do not think these concepts run in opposition of one another and I do believe certain spiritual beliefs can be intertwined into one’s life intelligently. Perhaps I was moved by last night’s viewing of the fan film from the Star Trek Universe called “The Holy Core’. I also had an amazing conversation with a monk a couple weeks ago, perhaps the effects from that are still weighing on my mind.

Intelligentsia.

I decided to skip Starbucks this evening and instead went to Intelligentsia for a cup of coffee while I wrote this blog entry. My husband is hosting a business meeting at home this evening, so I decided to make myself scarce while they took care of business. I look forward to the leftover snack supply when I get home; like all good hosts my husband shops for an army when he’s hosting a half dozen.

Being a relatively new coffee drinker, I am still a little gun shy when it comes to ordering coffee outside of a Starbucks, but this coffee is a delight. It’ll probably keep me up tonight; I should have asked for unleaded.

I took a peek at Facebook earlier today and came across a photo of Ivanka Trump dressed as either the Jolly Green Giant or an avocado. I don’t know a lot about fashion but I’m sure this isn’t it.

I am curious as to whether the Trump family ever tires of being such easy targets. I’d laugh more if they weren’t destroying democracy and all that.

Speaking of which, I don’t know everything about weather, but as a guy that chases storms and a guy that flies around the stuff all the time, I’m pretty sure drawing a bubble on a weather map with a Sharpie doesn’t magically change the path of a hurricane.

Imagine being so incredibly insecure that you hold press conferences to show off obviously modified maps just to cover your own lack of intelligence.

It still boggles my mind that anyone voted for this idiot.

Once in a while I go back to my old blog entries during the George W Bush administration and I find myself pining for times when quotes like “Of course the California is important. That’s the only opinion I got.” (this blog entry) irked me.

I never thought I’d find the day I’d be pining for the likes of George W. Bush in the Oval Office.

The worse part of all this is I thought we’d move onto brighter times and recover stronger than ever after we got past 9/11, over the Bush era, and further into the 21st century. I just never considered how stupid the American populace really is.

I’m going to go back to enjoying my cup of coffee. It’s a delight.

Cloaked.

In this age of Instagram Influencers and retweets and thumbs up on Facebook, numbers are the name of the game. This is reflective of today’s society; plastic surgeons are thriving as many opt to do things to look as young as possible. Me? Well, I do my part by shaving my head to disguise the fact that I’m bald but that’s probably as far as my vanity goes. I don’t go to the gym on a regular basis, I don’t have tattoos, and I’m no longer focused on building “social collateral”.

As a middle aged gay man in America, I’ve moved to that point in life where I’m essentially invisible or cloaked to many. The gay is a young person’s game. Young gay pilots flying big airplanes gather the follower numbers on the social media outlets. Big bearded, worked out men gather the same. Me? I’m just a quiet nut job who more geek than anything, shaves every morning, and flies airplanes for fun. Some would surmise my comments as competition, but it’s actually pure observation. I have no need to try to turn back time or be something I’m not.

Quite frankly, I’m content with being cloaked in today’s society.

In the short lived television series “Century City” (CBS, 2004), there was an episode that featured a very young looking boy-band that sued one of their members when they no longer wanted to engage in youth-enhancing procedures to look like a boy band. In reality they were 75 years old (though they looked to be in their 30s) and the one member had grown tired of being something he wasn’t. Again, a show that never found its footing, but spoke to society through storytelling.

I was recently watching a video of Paula Cole’s “I Believe In Love”. Originally filmed in the late 1990s, she looks and sounds great. YouTube suggested a live version from a recent performance; it’s 20 years later and Paula looks like she’s aged a little bit, because she has! The video is enjoyable, she sounds good, and the performance was solid. I was surprised at the number of comments of how “she looks like a grandmother” and “why is she letting herself look so old?”

She’s allowing herself to age gracefully. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Now, I’m not against anyone doing whatever they need to do to feel comfortable in their own skin. I might not understand their decision but it’s ultimately none of my business as to what they’re doing with their own bodies. It’s when someone says, “you should grow your beard back” or “have you ever considered doing something about the wrinkles around your eyes?” to me that I get cranky.

I’m happy with who I am, what I look like, and how I’m living my life. I want everyone to be happy. Allow me to be happy.

At 25 pounds overweight with no ink and no outstanding features like piercing blue eyes or anything, I’m very content at being “cloaked”, especially in the gay community.

As a quick aside, I totally get that American women have it a hundred times worse than men my age when it comes to physical appearance expectations. Just be happy. Just be you. You will always have my support.

Rules.

I find comfort in the structure of following established rules. Some find this surprising about me, as there are times that I show a rebellious streak, but it’s actually rare for me to deliberately ignore established rules. I cross the street at established crosswalks. I don’t lump our trash and recyclables together. And when leaving the nearby ‘L’ platform, I always use the designated exits instead of barging through one of the Emergency Exit doors.

At times I think my husband is amused by this and at others times he finds it incredibly frustrating. It’s usually the latter when we’re downtown in a snowstorm and he wants to dart across the street and then he ends up waiting for me to walk half a block to cross with the light and then make my way back to him.

To be fair, there are times when I don’t follow the rules. I rarely drive the speed limit on the expressway and if I’m cycling along the side streets of the neighborhoods I don’t stop at the stop signs; I usually look both ways but still cruise through. On the main thoroughfares I stop for lights and I won’t cross against them unless I’m certain it’s safe to do so.

As I said, it’s all about the comfort and structure of following established protocols. It’s just what I do and I figure it’s the simplest way to get through life.

My husband thinks I should have been a Boy Scout.

In Lyrics.

I will take my life into my hands
And I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes
And I will lose it
I will have the things that I desire
And my passion flow like rivers from the sky
And after all the loves of my life
Oh, after all the loves in my life
You’ll still be the one
And that will be my life

My take on a verse from “MacArthur Park”.  The goalpost of my life.

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Deactivated.

I deactivated my Twitter account this morning. Though Twitter really wanted me to stay around, I pushed through all the prompts and said “yes, I want to deactivate my account”. I then deleted the random password for the account out of my stored passwords. Twitter will allow me to reactivate my account within 30 days, but because I don’t know the password and I’ve removed my phone number from the account, it would take a couple of extra steps to turn things on and I did that on purpose.

I am amazed by the amount of relief I feel by this simple act of deleting the account. For the past year or so I have desperately tried to steer my Twitter timeline away from the dumpster fire of Twitter: I’d focus on tech and aviation, stay connected with online friends I’ve met across the world, and have a way to keep tabs on late breaking news, though in all honesty, over the past couple of years Twitter has become a very unreliable source of information. Since the company has little demonstrated interest in controlling bots and other sources of purposeful disinformation, it’s not like Twitter has become nothing more than a shouting match, ball of chaos, and time sink.

I’m fully aware Twitter is a symptom, not the problem, of what plagues our society today.

In full disclosure, I do still have a small, protected Twitter account. I have less than a dozen followers on that account and I follow less than three dozen people. As I go through the effort of improving focus in my life, I’m not allowing “endless scrolling” or “infinity pools” apps on my phone. If I can’t scroll to the end, it’s not allowed on the phone. I want to be present in the moment. However, another disclosure, Instagram is allowed on my phone (with it’s infinite scrolling) because I do like sharing photos. This morning I moved my account to protected status as well.

I know a LOT of people that thrive on social media and the feedback they receive through the various channels. I totally get it; the dopamine hit gives you a high like some illegal drugs and sometimes we just want some applause in our life. I remember how that felt back in my radio days, when I’d hear whispers of folks identifying me in public after seeing me in a television commercial or on stage promoting the radio station. It’s a good feeling. But like when I walked away from radio nearly 20 years ago, or when I turned down the callback for “Big Brother”, I just don’t need that hit anymore. I’m not worried about losing social collateral.

I’m excited about real life.