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Gray.

So I hadn’t shaved in 2018. It’s been a while since I really let my beard grow out and 18 days was enough for me to see that there is way too much gray in my beard right now. I could handle if my beard was all gray, but this cinnamon and sugar mix is making me feel like I look old.

I’m turning 50 years old this year. I’d say that I’m 90% on board with this; I certainly don’t feel like I’m over halfway through this life, but the reality of the fact is this is the case. I told Earl that I’m concerned that I’m on the downslope. Like the smart, silver bear that he is, he told me that it just keeps getting better.

I can handle being 50 years old but I can’t handle having a lot of gray in my beard right now. I’m not one to dye it so I’ll go back to clean shaven in the morning. My dad once said that a good, disciplined man, like a pilot, shaves every day. He might have been on to something with that, though I know a lot of great men that have beards.

Think, Part 2.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of “Madam Secretary”. The show is in its fourth season, and is on CBS on Sunday evenings. The show hit its stride early in its run and is continuing to offer up compelling storylines. This past Sunday featured the episode “Sound and Fury”.

I’m not going to get too far into spoilers of this episode, but they may be sprinkled here and there in the rest of this blog entry, so let’s say you’ve been warned.

Yes, you’ve been warned about potential spoilers.

This particular episode of Madam Secretary should be required viewing for high school civics classes. It examines how the 25th Amendment works, why it would be considered and what is really involved with invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution. A temporary medical issue comes into play here, but the result of the medical concern feels very familiar if you’ve been paying attention to the news at all since the latest administration took office. Phrases like “overwhelming force and ferocity” are bandied about without consideration. Diplomacy is set aside in favor of ‘tough guy’ displays of strength. On the show this is very uncharacteristic for fictional President Dalton. I wish the same could be said about the man in the Oval Office today.

The scenes around debating invoking the 25th Amendment are very honest. It all felt very believable. If anything, it made me think of how that debate would carry out in the real world today. Are there meetings taking place in D.C. to discuss this exact thing?

I’m inclined to think so.

The are two lines in particular that struck me rather hard (and I’m paraphrasing): 1. “We have the greatest system of government the world has ever known, but it’s only as strong as its people” and 2. “We took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not our political party”.

If only the folks in Washington would get on the script.

The tribalism, and the divisiveness behind the tribalism, is what’s deeply hurting our country, and I fully believe the news media continues to pour gasoline on this raging dumpster fire. Tribes saw one candidate as a movie villain and reacted as if they were watching a WWE tournament. The tribe continues to do this today. Trump purposely stirs up the tribe to keep a “villain” in the news. And the news outlets eat it up. It’s the tribalism that is killing objectivity. A good number of elected officials are putting party over country. I have little faith in most of our elected officials; the charade of “serving the people” died years ago.

If you haven’t had the chance to see Madam Secretary or if you don’t even have the interest to follow the show, I still recommend that you watch the episode “Sound and Fury”. It works pretty well as a standalone episode and I think the mechanics are sound to help one understand how the 25th Amendment works.

And how officials should always honor their oath to uphold the Constitution.

Success.

The key to a successful, happy life is to identify your happy place and to always know how to get there.

I am lucky to have several happy places. This is one of them.

Loud.

This past weekend Earl and I visited very dear friends in Durham, N.C. for a post holiday gathering. It was good to see these folks again, as we haven’t visited in a long while.

My tweets came up for discussion during our visit; apparently I am a very opinionated person, at least in my online persona, and I’m not afraid to share my opinions online. I tweet often. While I have been thinking about starting a new Twitter account for some time, this pushed me to go ahead and do so. It’s only today, on Monday, that I’ve realized that it’s very hard to rebuild “Twitter capital”, especially since the platform now thinks I’m some sort of bot and has locked me out of my new account. I will probably end up changing the username on my original account to the name used on my new account and deleting the new account because I like to keep things as confusing as possible.

I’m digressing.

I believe being vocal is key to a functioning democracy. Much of what we are experiencing in the United States today can be attributed to apathy. Less than half of eligible voters vote. Think about that for a moment, less than _half_ of the voters eligible voters in the United States can find the time and/or energy to determine the direction of our country. Honestly, that’s pathetic. BUT, a lot more people will take to social media and other related Internet technologies to catch up on news, stay in touch with family, argue with strangers and look at pictures of cats. Sharing our opinion, while the practice may seem raucous to some, may have some sort of impact on apathetic voters, even if they vote just to shut up the loud mouth.

When I lived in Boston in the late 1980s and early 90s, I took part in a couple of ACT-UP! demonstrations. People weren’t talking about the staggering number of people that were dying of AIDS at the time and it was something that needed to be addressed. Being loud and being opinionated moved the needle. Society started realizing that something needed to be done and the ball started moving forward again.

Now, I don’t believe that every Republican is evil. I know that not to be true. I believe that we need a reasonable balance of power in Washington. When the balance is unchecked, it swings too far into one column and many people suffer. Making noise, sharing viewpoints, and at the very least, getting people to _think_ about what’s happening around them outside of their comfort zone, is one way to get the ball moving forward again.

I’m not so arrogant to believe that everyone needs to think like I do. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I accept that many people will be wrong. I accept that I might be wrong. I’m the first to admit that I need to learn to listen. It’s something I think about everyday.

The truth of the matter is: I don’t mind if my gravestone says “Well, at least he’s quiet now”. If hearing or reading what I have to say gets someone to think, even for one moment on one subject, then I’ve done my part.

Let’s get the ball rolling forward again.

Anew.

So I’ve decided to start a new Twitter account. My original Twitter account has been around since the early days of Twitter and I’ve tweeted nearly 40K times using that account. I’ve said a lot of things, I’ve expressed a lot of things and I’ve probably pissed quite a few people off over the years.


I’ve been thinking about starting a new Twitter account for a few months, and while Earl and I have been visiting friends and relaxing in North Carolina, I naturally thought this would be a good time to start a new account. The new account has my name in the username, something that I have wanted to do for a very long time, but there is a person in Japan that used my name for ONE tweet and has held onto that username since 2010. I was able to secure a username that did not include numbers appended to it and that made me happy.


I could have changed my username on my original account, but I feel the need to start afresh. It’s like having a blank sheet of paper sitting on the desk in front of you; what shall I create today?


In the process of creating this new account I also changed my profile description up a little bit. I’ve included more adjectives. I’ve even included the word “queer”! As mentioned earlier this month in a blog entry, I’ve slowly embracing the word “queer” to describe myself because not only am I gay but I’m also odd. I suppose the combination of the equals the word “queer”. It’s OK. And I’m opinionated, probably very opinionated. I’ve been told to shut up on more than one occasion.


I’m going to keep my old account around for a bit as I figure out who to follow on the new account versus who I followed on the old account. Having the old for referral will help keep some balance and tabs on people that I have met and enjoyed over the years through this tumultuous platform.


I’m excited about this new opportunity I’ve created for myself and it has reignited my interest in crafting a better Twitter experience. What shall I tweet about today? Life!


Oh, if you’re wondering what the new account name is, just search for my name without period. You’ll find it. I’m That Guy.


Isis.

I’m always worried I’m going to be tagged as some sort of operative because of my love of the live-action Filmation television series, “The Secrets of Isis”. But, I still melt when I hear Joanna Cameron’s voice.

Four.

I have four trips left on my bucket list. I could probably add a dozen more but these are the four I’d really like to do.

1. Drive the entire length of whatever is left of US Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. We’d take our time, enjoy the sites and make it an awesome Jeep ride. I want to experience the kitsch, the sand, the plains, and the concrete.

2. Drive the last four states we have left to visit: North Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Oregon. Again, I want to be off on interstates and experiencing the local roads.

3. Take a cross country train ride. Jamie did this a couple of years ago from LA to Chicago. I’d love to do the same. Chat with other folks, eating in the dining car, sleep on the bunk beds. Two days of awesomeness.

4. Fly First Class to any international destination on a Boeing 747. And yes, I want to be upstairs. Every time I see a 747 I’m in awe. I know the US carriers no longer fly the Queen of the Sky, but other carriers still do. I never had the chance to fly the Concorde. I don’t want to miss my chance to experience a 747.

I think all of these trips are fairly easy to attain. It’ll be a nice challenge for the next couple of years.

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PosiTweet.

So Earl bought me a new iPhone X this evening. While we have been discussing the purchase for the past several days, I say that he bought me the phone because he gave the OK to spend our money to purchase this new piece of technology. I must give a special shout out to a close Apple employee who shares his “Family and Friends” discount.

As I was setting up my new iPhone X, I wondered if I wanted to just restore my phone from a backup of my old iPhone 6s Plus or if I wanted to go ahead and install everything from scratch. The pivot in this decision was Twitter. If you follow my Twitter feed (see sidebar), you’ll notice that I have been fairly critical of the platform and in particular, the CEO and decision makers at the social media company. The fact that Twitter allows Donald Trump, and others in position of power, tweet in an unbridled fashion, sharing videos of pro-Nazi activity, making threats of nuclear war against another country, etc., bothers me. I can understand if Twitter allowed this sort of activity from Trump if he was using the *official* POTUS account on Twitter, but he’s not, he’s tweeting from his personal account and other users would not be allowed to be so aggressive on Twitter. Users have been blocked or bounced for much less. The disparity in treatment is what bothers me.

Earl and I were talking about this; we don’t agree on the subject and in the long run it’s fine that we don’t agree. He’s the sensible one of the family, and I think he’s the brighter bulb in our chandelier, so I always listen to what he says. I might rant and rave about a topic; he’ll just counterpoint and say, “why are you yelling.” It’s what’s kept up together for over 21 years.

As we talked over dinner, I told Earl that I was frustrated by Twitter and he said he thought I could do better at sharing positive things through the platform. Bust through the negativity with a positive attitude. The light always beats the dark.

We were reminded of a wedding we attended a couple of years ago. We were the older folks in the room and seated with a bunch of people younger than us. We had a wonderful time as the mood was festive that night. Every time something witty or remarkable happened, a young woman with crazy hair seated across from us, Lee, would shriek “I have to tweet this!” and then her fingers would dance across her smartphone and it’d all become part of the public record. While it may be ridiculous that every moment, anecdote, belch, etc. was being shared on Twitter, the theme of the moment was that Lee was having fun, wanted to share that fun with the world, and more importantly, was laughing and having a good time as she tweeted.

As I munched on my bacon wrapped shrimp tonight during this reminiscing, I was reminded about how much I missed laughing and having a good time as I tweeted.

I’ve wretched about this sort of thing a lot since the 2016 Elections. I miss feeling a positive vibe in the world. If Twitter is starting to suck in my eyes, it’s not the time to run away, it’s time to make it suck less.

As I looked around the restaurant, I made the observation that the mood around us was cheerier than what we would encounter in restaurants where we used to live in Central New York. Having moved from a decidedly red part of the country (some described it as a ‘snowy Alabama’) to a very blue city in the Midwest, I’ve noticed that not only are the people more diverse in nature, they seem to be happier. There’s less scowling and more smiling. Now, I’m not saying that everyone is tip-toeing through the tulips in the Windy City and that everything is champagne and caviar, but there is a more positive disposition here and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to move.

I should bring more of that positive disposition to Twitter.

I still strongly feel that Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and crew at Twitter are more concerned about building engagement numbers and ad revenue than they are about free speech and giving everyone ‘their say’ via Twitter. I still think that Twitter is nothing like it was intended to be when it was introduced to the world over a decade ago, but I don’t think it’s a hopeless case yet. I’ve met some groovy people on Twitter, folks that I genuinely like and look forward to meeting up with in 2018. We can still make great connections via social media. They key to success in this endeavor is being positive about it.

Sometimes you have to jump over the ditch to get to the green grass on the other side.

Tiviachick.

One of my friends from my radio days, Laurie Jean, is on a quest to play laser tag in all 50 states. She goes by the name Tiviachick.

I’ve always admired Laurie’s zest for life and her lack of inhibition. One week, when I was the Director of Operations and she was a sales and promotion person, she came in everyday dressed in a different wild outfit. She did this for one week, never gave an explanation as to why and she didn’t do it again during my tenure with the company. It was odd but it was awesome.

I’m happy to see that she still lives the dream.

Here’s the link to her blog: Tiviachick Loves Lasertag

21.

Earl and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage today. Being a gay couple, we are fortunate to have many anniversaries, including the anniversary of our original commitment ceremony, the anniversary of our legal marriage, etc. Today we celebrate that 21 years ago we exchanged our wedding rings in a simple commitment ceremony at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. The ceremony was witnessed by Earl’s youngest brother Rick and his, at the time, girlfriend (now his wife). A boat load of Marines went by. That was not planned.

Tonight we ate at Cité at the top of Lake Point Tower near Navy Pier here in Chicago. It was a very romantic evening and we have a very lovely time together. We’ve had a lovely time together for the past 21 years. I wouldn’t change a thing.

My wish is that everyone finds the happiness that they seek, because, as I speak with first hand experience, when you find the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, life is truly awesome.