Alone Time.

“John is a loner. He doesn’t play with the other students as often as he should”.

This was a remark on my report card way back when I was in kindergarten. I remember not particularly caring for my kindergarten teacher. Even at age 5 I knew she didn’t get me or didn’t understand my way of thinking. Her approach to teaching in the early 1970s was quite basic, “no child is really any different from any other child”.

For some reason I was telling Earl about this teacher and how I panicked because I got a knot in my shoelace and couldn’t get it out. I coaxed a girl named Charlotte to help me get the knot out; she was quirky like me and then grabbed a pair of scissors from the arts and crafts table. We poked and prodded at the knot together and then it came out and I was relieved.

Charlotte then took the scissors and cut her bangs off to her scalp.

I had no idea why she did that, other than she was quirky like me I guess, but the teacher let out such a ruckus you would have thought her blackboard was on fire. I wasn’t scolded for participating in this barbering event (because I had no participation), but Charlotte was relegated to her own desk, away from the “Group 5” table, and come to the end of the school year was not to be seen again for the rest of my elementary or primary school career.

I don’t know what happened to Charlotte but I imagine her hair grew back.

This is probably one of the reasons I tend to be a loner. The only one that can truly occupy my “loner recharge” space with me is Earl. Others in my space can be a little bit of a drain of my energy, to varying degrees. This is not a negative or a bad thing, it’s just the way I’m wired. I have multiple test results to prove this.

Earl has been working this weekend so I took the opportunity to go off and explore the city, riding random ‘L’ lines to random stops and then getting out and walking around. Now, don’t worry about my safety around this activity, because I’m well versed in knowing what lines and what stops to visit during these exploration activities and I have a really good time getting to know The Second City this way. When I ride my bicycle, the neighborhoods whizz by quickly and I get just a passing vibe of my surroundings. When I walk, I can sense folks, hear conversations, and see what’s happening around me. For me, it’s a fantastic way to get to know a neighborhood.

As I type this Earl is at Wrigley working (Go Cubs!) and I’m sitting in a random Starbucks taking a coffee and blogging break. I was going to head out the Blue Line to O’Hare today but maintenance currently in place would have made that experience too tedious. So I think I’m going to finish this up and head out in another direction.

Just keep the scissors away from Charlotte.

The Truth About Generation X.

We often hear about Baby Boomers versus Millennials. But what about us Gen Xers? I’m solidly a Gen X and quite proud of it. Here’s a fascinating video talking about Gen Xers.

Hell.

Earl and I were recently watching “The Red Line”, a CBS mini-series about many things, including the storyline about a gay couple and their adopted daughter. One of the dads is fatally shot, leaving his husband and their daughter behind. As the story unfolds, their daughter has the opportunity to meet her birth father. He claims to have changed since he ran out 17 years ago, as he found God and religion and he is now in a wonderful place in his life, all because of his new found faith.

During one of their meetings, the birth father mentions his sorrow for the loss of his birth daughter’s dad, and that it’s a shame that he is in hell because of his chosen lifestyle.

The daughter asks him to leave and never, ever contact her again.

The mini series is well written and something I found quite interesting, and I recommend folks watch it if given the opportunity.

While I was watching this episode, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the family, friends, and co-workers I’ve had over the years that claimed to have been saved through their faith, said they were perfectly fine with who I am, but some still told me that I was going to burn in hell for choosing to be gay. While I don’t have an adopted daughter and all of the trimmings of “The Red Line” storyline to go with it, I related to what the young woman was hearing from her birth father. I’ve been told I’m going to hell on more than one occasion, in fact, a man I hired many years ago for an open position that reported to me told me that he thought I was great but that I would burning in hell for being gay. He told me this during his first week of employment with the company. There was no HR department to report this to. I just had to deal with it. Naturally the owner of the company hired the guy’s equally faith-based sister and she liked to talk about The Flood and The Arc. Apparently the unicorns missed the boat.

I have far flung family that have friended me on Facebook and the like even though I haven’t seen them in decades. Like many of my friends in high school, if I follow them long enough I’ll probably be able to collect every damnation verse from the Bible courtesy of their daily prayer updates. While they profess love and kindness and acceptance, I can help but notice the clutched pearls when it comes to brown people and their fervent support of Trump. Perhaps I go to extremes, but I see MAGA hats as a pseudo-socially acceptable version of the KKK hood. Under the veneer of pledges of light, happiness, and the eternal way, I can’t help but think that if given a dose of “Truth Soup” they’d be telling me how I’d be burning in hell at the next family or high school reunion. (For those that keep score, I’m not talking about my city side). I know they love me, but they love me in spite of me.

It’s kind of crappy when you think about it.

When I was still aged in my single digits I asked my mom what “hell” was. She was honest and told me it was probably made up, then she mused that we were probably in it together. My mom has always been hip like that. The question was prompted because a woman at a church we had been going to told me and my sister that we weren’t properly baptized because we had been sprinkled instead of dunked.

We stopped going to that church. Thank God.

My belief, my truth, is that if I screw this life up bad enough, I’m just going to reincarnate as someone else to learn what I should have learned this time around. If I do it right, I may choose to reincarnate again sometime down my road to experience something new, after spending some time on the Other Side, celebrating life with all the others that did good in their last existence. I look forward to hugging Shirley MacLaine again, just like I did the last time.

At this age I’m not in the mood to tolerate fake compassion, willful ignorance, or false teachings. If you want to believe I’m going to hell, go for it, just don’t tell me about it or try to change me into something I’m not. The universe made me as I am. It’s a undeniable, unalterable truth.

Don’t try to make me live in your hell.

Life.

I know having a personal blog like is horribly outdated in today’s world of screaming on social media, but I can’t let go of this method of expression. I don’t write entries as often as I like and I have more feelings of writer’s block than I care to these days, but overall I still find enjoyment in this endeavor. I have a couple of friends I met through blogs back in the day that still maintain a personal blog, but for the most part, the personal blog has gone the way of the dodo.

I’m trying to decide if it’s the monetization of everything on the Internet or the infestation of Social Media, or a combination of both for that matter, that moved the needle on personal blogs. Back in the day there were plenty of ways to maintain a personal blog and there are still lots and lots of options available to us today. But in 2019 people don’t have time to sit down and write actual letters of the alphabet (versus emojis and the like), let alone words strung together in a cohesive manner, and so the expectation of the return of personal blog as a popular part of society is probably not going to happen.

“Read. Think. Be. Evolve.”

Kate Mulgrew said these four words as advice to a young person that was asking questions about her career, her writings, and her portrayals of the popular characters she has said over the years. “Hold a book. Put down the gadget”.

I was browsing through old blog posts earlier today and in 2007 I wretched about people using “their cell phones” all the time. It’s not a surprise that I was complaining, after all I do that way too often, but comparing what I was complaining about in ’07 versus how people use smartphones today, well, there’s no comparison. We have a whole generation of people that would absolutely lose their minds if there was a drastic shift in technology that pushed us back 10 or 15 years. I truly wonder if we would be able to survive.

I need to read more. My grandmother used to sit in her rocking chair, in front of the large windows at the end of her mid-century living room, and just spend time reading. She was one of the most even-keeled people I’ve ever known and I truly feel that reading was a contributor to that. My dad was the same way. He could spend hours reading and he was pretty even-keeled as well.

Read. Think. Be. Evolve.

Thanks, Kate. It’s great advice for a great life.

Twitter == Topix.

A number of years ago there was an Internet forum called “Topix” that was quite popular in the city we lived in at the time. The locals had found their way to this site to trash talk just about every aspect of living in the small Upstate New York city. The conversation slammed restaurants, hospitals, city officials, politicians, neighbors, friends, prostitutes, and priests. The shocking thing is a lot of this discussion named names; people’s dirty laundry was aired in an unbelievable manner. Back in the early 2010s I swore off the site as I felt that it was like walking through a sewer while wearing nothing but a fig leaf, and everyone was watching you do it.

Move ahead to 2019 and just a little bit ago I came to the realization that Twitter, at least as the way it’s represented through its algorithm to give you riveting content first, is pretty much an exercise in the same slog through the muck. Twitter became quite dank in the run up to the 2016 election, and as I think about it, probably even before then when it gave Trump a voice to carry on his Birther Conspiracy against President Obama. But revenue is revenue in the heads of many a social media CEO, and why worry about quality when you can fleece enough money from the masses and then try to cultivate a “edgy” image of a caring individual.

I’ve complained about Twitter for years but I still hold onto my original account, mainly because of the number of friends I’ve made through the haze over the years and somewhat because I wouldn’t be able to contact them any other way. In an obvious effort to rationalize my Sybil-like feels about Twitter, there is good news buried amongst the inaccurate tweets, banal memes, and reductive “analysis” that Twitter features way too often.

It’s funny that I’ve never made the comparison between that hell hole of “Topix” with Twitter, but that’s all Twitter has really become. A place where you can scream into a void and find someone that agrees with you, no matter how idiotic your screaming is (and yes, that includes my contributions to the site from time to time).

Seeing Twitter in this new light is making my gears turn again. My only concern is: where would I find access to late breaking news and how would I keep in contact with the people I have met over the years through Twitter?

I think it’s time for another Twitter-free weekend to find out.

Dilemma.

This is my work Mac. It was assigned to me as my work computer in June 2015. I was a bit of an outlier in the company with this Mac; when I was convinced I should join the company I said I wouldn’t do it unless I could work on a Mac and they relented. I wasn’t the only one using a Mac but the number of us was small. It’s the last generation of MacBook Pro before the new keyboard was introduced to frustrate the masses. I have since been assigned a Dell Windows 10 computer that I don’t use as much as I’m suppose to. My workflow works best on a Mac.

My husband’s iMac is older than this Mac and it’s getting a little long in the tooth. I’ve also been looking for a desktop to use in the same space as my work Mac because I really want to get back into video editing again. I have hours and hours and hours of flight video that I’d like to put together in clever ways to share with the masses. I’m not looking to make money with my flight videos, rather I’m more interested in sharing my passion for aviation as widely as possible.

My husband should have a laptop of some sort. We have tried the iPad Pro route and he doesn’t like the limited experience the iPad currently offers. I know Apple insists that tablet computing is the way of the future, and there are many that use their iPad Pro full-time (in fact, I’m typing this blog entry on my iPad Pro), but in reality, iOS is not there for the average computer user to make the switch to a tablet as their full-time computer. The logical choice would be a 13-inch MacBook Pro with the option of plugging into an external monitor.

Apple’s offerings are so expensive!

So I took a gander through Best Buy last night and I was underwhelmed by every computer I looked at. I typed on premium computers made by Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba, Samsung, and Microsoft. The closest thing that came to the quality I would expect from a computer in 2019 was the Microsoft Surface line, but there was something I just didn’t enjoy. I don’t know if it was the power connector hanging off like it 2005 or the overwhelming interface of Windows 10, but I was not as impressed as I thought I would be.

Perhaps my expectations are too high.

I was encouraged to see that Apple bumped up the MacBook Pro line yesterday and also announced that they’ve modified the new keyboard design (again) to address the stuck key issue users have been dealing with for literally years. After Best Buy I went to the Apple store last night and played around with a MacBook Pro with TouchBar. It was interesting. I was surprised at how loud the keys were with each press and I wondered if the TouchBar was actually ever used by the average consumer. Looking at the specs of each device I went into geek mode and realized the computers at Best Buy, while not built as well as the Apple devices, had higher specs at a lower price. I really want to make sure this next computer for my husband lasts for a number of years, so I try to get as much RAM and hard drive space as fiscally possible.

I didn’t make any purchases last night.

I think I’m going to end up waiting until after WWDC in a couple of weeks to see what Apple announces in the way of iOS and Mac OS upgrades in 2019. But right now, I feel like the general computing experience for the average user in 2019 is at a weird, uninspiring, lack of innovation limbo of sorts. Prices go up with no real benefit.

We really need the next Steve Jobs, whomever he or she may be, to share their vision and get us moving forward again.

Ecofriendly.

My morning walk ended up being an abbreviated event this morning due to the rain that was coming down at the time. I thought I could brave it out but alas, with temperatures in the mid 40s and a decent amount of precipitation, I decided that I would try again to catch up on my step count later in the day.

I did notice that neighbors had their sprinklers running during the rain shower. I’m assuming this is an automated affair; folks just set and forget the sprinkler system to assure a beautiful lawn everyday. This is where I wish folks would embrace sensible technology. We have more than enough ways to determine if it’s raining outside, and an electronic gizmo in the neighborhood of $100 would allow the sprinklers to be smart as to when to deploy. If it’s raining, there’s no sense in deploying the sprinklers for that cycle. Perhaps a more expensive gizmo could determine if the lawn even needs water to begin with.

I’m all for beautiful lawns. I’m all for smart technology. Perhaps the two should be married for a more ecologically responsible union more often.

Céline.

I’ve been a Céline fan since hearing her since in French on a radio station out of Kingston, Ontario back in the mid-late 1980s. Here’s one of her latest interviews. She is a couple months older than me. I find her attitude to be very inspiring.

Repeat.

I’m in the waiting room at Northwestern Medicine Memorial Hospital while my husband is having his second colonoscopy procedure in as many years. This procedure is a follow-up to last year’s procedure which discovered the presence of Prostate Cancer. We are hopeful that he will get a clean bill of health today.

I was telling him that Northwestern Medicine has made me the most comfortable as a patient or spouse of a patient that I’ve felt in these circumstances at any time in my life. Everyone we’ve ever been in contact with has been very professional, calm, and seemingly knowledgeable. As a geek I’m impressed with their use of technology. It appears to all be based on Microsoft technology. The presentation is simple to understand and there hasn’t been any perceived glitches. The typography of their information panels as UI is very impressive. The only thing I’m curious about is the lack of walkable computing; there are computers everywhere. I would think folks would be walking around with Microsoft Surface tablets are something. Perhaps we haven’t been in those areas of the experience yet.

A quick aside: When did we move from saying “Hello” to “This is (insert name here)” when we answer the phone? I’ve noticed that folks answering their cell phones here in the waiting room are introducing themselves with their name. Perhaps it’s because of the nature of the call. How did we ever survive without Caller ID? Remember when that was a novelty? Now it’s a given.

I have a couple of hours to wait for Earl to finish his procedure. I’m going to busy myself by doing a little work and just relaxing here in the waiting room. I love the people watching.

I look forward to the good news at the end of Earl’s procedure.

Shower Thoughts.

So in the first half of the 20th century we thought it was a great idea to use asbestos in our buildings. In the last half of the 20th century we decided that wasn’t such a great idea and at great expense we’ve been doing our best to get rid of it.

At one time we thought the Milky Way galaxy was it. We now know there’s billions of galaxies out there.

What makes us so cock sure that we have physics right? We know what gravity does but we don’t know why gravity does what it does. We know it’s there and we know why it’s there but we don’t know how it’s there.