OCD.

The numbering scheme of the checkouts at this Best Buy really makes my eye twitch. Behind register 10 is register 3. Behind register 2 and to the left of register 12 is register 9.

Indiana Toll Road.

The Indiana Toll Road has a split speed limit for cars and trucks. The limit for cars is 70, the limit for trucks is 65. This encourages unnecessary weaving, creates backups behind trucks driving slower than the flow of traffic in the left lane, and subsequently increases tendencies of road rage.

The Indiana Toll Road is also a fan of bunching up construction areas so that vehicles are pushed into one lane at a reduced speed for dozens of miles. This even happens outside of “construction season”.

As a traffic engineer I can not determine a valid reason for the split speed limits. It does not increase safety and it does not improve traffic flow.

It generates revenue.

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Abcde.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES APOLOGIZES FOR EMPLOYEE WHO MOCKED NAME OF 5-YEAR-OLD GIRL CALLED ABCDE (link to Newsweek)

The Southwest agent was wrong for what she did, but the Mom’s outrage has be questioned. Did she not think her daughter would suffer ridicule her entire life when she named her daughter Abcde? In an even more shocking twist, 373 children in the United States have been named “Abcde” since 1990. I wonder if the family dog is named Lmnop.

And I thought the woman screaming at her kid a few years ago in a Utica Wal*mart was nuts when she called the kid by his name: Ampersand.

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Popularity.

So a tweet flew by on my timeline today telling the story of a woman who is concerned that photos of her toddler son aren’t generating enough ‘likes’. I’ll refrain from linking to her profile or mentioning her name because she’s trying really hard to be an “Instagram Influencer” and to throw likes her way is like throwing gasoline on an inferno.

Apparently she’s tabulating the number of likes each of her children get and because this young lad isn’t receiving the same number of likes as his siblings, she’s concerned he’s going to be affected by it later in life, “when he’s older and realized he’s not as popular.”

My god. As Casey Newton, Sr. Editor at The Verge put it, “we are living in hell”.

Sniffles.

Vaccinations are all the rage these days. Well, at least they’re the rage of conversation, as there’s a bunch of folks that believe vaccinations are the next best thing since penicillin and others believe vaccinations cause autism. Spying a money making opportunity, pharmacies all over the country are now offering vaccinations for the Flu and for Shingles. You can just walk into your local drug story and request a vaccination. Here you go, enjoy.

I’m a proponent of vaccinations, though I don’t like being forced to get one. When I went back to college back in the middle ’00s I had to get a new round of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccinations because I was old at the time and apparently the country doctor I saw as a child was ahead of the curve by a couple of months (at least according to the records I was able to obtain) so modern medicine considered by original vaccines to be invalid. I was rather cranky about having to get the vaccinations again but that’s what I do. I don’t really like being told what to do.

I went for my six month checkup with my primary physician earlier this week. On cue he stationed himself behind the computer hanging off the wall, grabbed the ergonomically friendly mouse, and promptly asked me a bunch of questions as if he was reading a script off the monitor that was garnering all his attention. I could have dropped my drawers right there to show him my junk but he was too enthralled by my medical records on the LCD screen.

“Do you want a flu shot?”, he asked, casually.

Before I answered I gave him a look of such duration it would have made Bea Arthur blush. He finally turned from the monitor (I didn’t hear any Pac-Man died noises or anything) and awaited my reply.

“I’m told that it’s the right thing to do, especially living in an urban environment like we do right here in Chicago. Now, mind you, I haven’t had the flu in many years and the last time I had a flu shot, back in the mid 1990s, I was sick for a week.”

“You don’t get the flu from a flu shot. You might show flu-like symptoms, but they’re not really the flu”.  His deadpan response was not as Bea-like as my pregnant pauses.

“Oh, joy!”, was my instant retort. I don’t know why Americans are so eager to get injected with even a little bit of a virus for the sake of thwarting off viruses but I was feeling a little more adventurous than usual so I said, “Oh why the hell not.”

He asked me to sit on the exam table. He listened to my heart beat, I took a breath while he listened to that and then he left.  On his way out he advised the nurse would be in for the flu shot, see ya in six months for your yearly physical.

“It was good to see you.”

“God’ll get you for that, Doctor”.

The nurse came in and I asked her about the flu shot. She went through the flu-like symptoms shtick and then asked which arm I wanted assaulted, because it could be painful for a few days. It might have been the medical standard “you may feel some discomfort.”

I opted for the right arm, and surprisingly I didn’t even feel the needle.

Less than a day later it felt a little tender to the touch but it didn’t disrupt me from doing anything I enjoy doing with my right arm, but I noticed that I was starting to feel a little irritable. A few hours later I had the “flu-like symptoms” that weren’t the flu. And for the next three days I’ve felt run-down. And irritable. Very irritable. And sniffly. I’m irritable when I’m sniffly. It’s that whole “something is dripping down your throat” thing that irritates me, especially since I have scar tissue in my throat from during my first grade visit to the hospital apparently called “Tonsils ‘R Gone!”.

So help me God if I get anything that comes close to resembling the flu I’m going to lick every person, place, and thing I can get my tongue on. It won’t be sexy, but it’ll be honest.

Will I get another flu shot next year when everyone and their brother starts pushing these things again? We’ll see how I feel.

Watched.

Since the end of January I’ve been participating in the Weight Watchers program. At least that’s what it was called when we started the program; apparently it’s called something different now. The WW stands for whatever you want it to stand for. I think they were going for “Wonder Woman” but then realized those words were copyrighted and would probably alienate the small, yet present male population that also participates in the program. So now WW stands for Why? Why? 

For $20 a month (plus a hefty dose of Illinois Sales Tax), I am judged by a mediocre app experience at least three times a day. I have lost 25 pounds along this journey. The more I lose, the less points I am allowed to eat. A typical supper involves Earl making a meatball sandwich. He then throws the meatballs by my face while I inhale the mist of the meat. On Friday nights we go all out and he blows the scent of tomato paste in my face. I then deduct a healthy dollop of the scant amount of points I’m allowed. He then eats the meatball sandwich because he gets decades more points than I’m allowed and then he eats a brownie while in hiding in the other room as  I weep.

I must tell you this whole Weight Watchers experience has me feeling as wonderful as an audience member of Oprah’s show where she released the bees.

At 50 years old, amid the pressures of being a gay man that has never really fit into any situation, let alone an urban gay community such as that found in the city of Chicago, I know that I’m suppose to try to turn back time and look as fantastic as possible. I should try to be healthy because, despite the fact that I’m a stress eater, the food supply is rampant with as many unhealthy cost-effective ingredients as possible, and I must work my ass off 10-12 hours a day so we can have nice things, I need to keep my numbers in a range that was determined in the 1950s when folks had actual food made from actual ingredients, time to sleep, and worked eight-ish hours a day.

Nothing brings more joy to my heart than eating an eighth of a soy burger on a bun and seeing that I’ve used my points up for the next three days. Oprah sits there on a “WW” commercial wolfing down tacos and making sing-song noises about how she can eat anything she wants. I had one taco in Salt Lake City, Utah during our vacation and “WW” told me I had just burned off a third of my daily points and by the end of the day I realized I did not earn the coveted Blue Dot, a passive aggressive reminder that once again I failed at keeping my points within range.

Every night I see these millennial types sitting in all the pubs and restaurants and other glorious things we have here in Chicago. They have plates of nachos, plenty of beers, and they’re smiling and laughing and having a grand time. I wedge myself into a booth, order a beer, and Yet Another Salad and by the end of the experience I’m slightly giddy but needing a shirt that says “Goodyear” up the side. The happy millennial types order another round as they look at me playing on my phone.

I’m looking down being passive aggressively scolded by the “WW” app. I have lost my dot again.

Equality.

The Trump Administration announced that they’re no longer going to provide visas for same-sex unmarried partners of Foreign Diplomats coming to the United States. They claim this is in the spirit of equality, because after all, they don’t provide visas to opposite-sex unmarried partners of diplomats. The administration claims it is their interpretation of equality.

I would like someone to tell me in what countries a man or woman can be killed for wanting to marry someone of the opposite sex. The Trump administration says if the partners of these diplomats want a visa to visit, they need to marry the diplomat.

Except in many countries, gay marriage is illegal. In other other countries, simply being gay is illegal. And in some countries, being gay can result in the death penalty.

We live in really, really dark times. Anyone that claims differently should be avoided as they obviously don’t have a grasp on reality.

Angry.

I listened to bits and pieces of the Ford-Kavanaugh Senate hearings today. Apparently I still have a lot of stress from the 2016 election results and the sheer idiocy of this country since Trump was put into office because it took a lot of restraint to not kick in every television and drop f-bombs on Twitter and Facebook.

I want to slap every person that says they’re still proud to be an American and they know we’ll get through this because we’re strong, and powerful, and blah blah blah.

Women are victimized. Today’s government is a shitshow simply because the previous President was black. We have the highest gun fatality rate, crazy amounts of poverty, violence in the streets, a government trying to get rid of anything that helps the middle class, out of touch politicians, religious zealots trying to shove their fucked up beliefs down everyone’s throat, efforts to destroy the earth as quickly possible by reversing any common sense legislation to help thwart climate change, and a ridiculous amount of debt that no one has any hope of actually paying without further robbing the middle class. This country has turned into some sort of fucked up WWE match. What the hell are people proud of? Children in cages along the border? Water in Flint, Michigan that kills people? Over 3000 people dying in Puerto Rico because we didn’t send them enough paper towels?

I’m told I shouldn’t cuss and I should carry myself with dignity and class at all times. I should be the model American. By today’s standards of “the model American” I should actually dumb down my speech, swear a lot more than I do, rip holes in my clothes, and try to act as ignorant as possible. Oh, and I should get stoned. Very stoned.

I can’t even bring myself to recite the Pledge of Allegiance anymore. “God Bless the USA”.  Right. How about “God Help These People Get Their Heads Out of Their Ass”? What makes the American people think they’re so Yankee Doodle Spectacular that “God” really gives a shit about them? It’s not like we’ve done anything spectacular in the past 20 years. This country is on cruise control headed for a cliff. We work insane hours a week as some sort of badge of honor, lose touch with our families, and everyone gets cancer from our screwed up food supply. 

If Kavanaugh is ploughed right through to the Supreme Court tomorrow, the GOP will have met its master goal of destroying all three branches of the United States Government.  Rights will soon be taken away, my marriage will probably be nullified, and poor people will lose their rights to corporations, quickly. But go right ahead, keep thinking it’s all wonderful red, white, and blue fireworks and keep your head in the contaminated sand.

I want to see what the rest of the world has to offer.

Let’s Talk About Apostrophes.

The dumbing down of America is never more obvious than when folks try to use an apostrophe in their prose. After they look up the word prose to understand what it means in this context, folks begin throwing apostrophes around with unbridled abandonment in an effort to segregate letters they feel do not belong together. 

Below are some examples of the proper use of the apostrophe. For those wondering what an apostrophe is, it’s sometimes called “the single quote” or as one woman once said in my college sophomore level English class, “the comma in the air”.

  • The frosting on the cake is chocolate. Therefore, the cake’s frosting is chocolate. Since there were actually two identical cakes, the cakes’ frosting is chocolate. You could say the cakes’s frosting is chocolate, but not a lot of people do it that way.
  • Many members of the Edwards family attended the reunion. There were many Edwardses. There were many Edwardses at the Reunion of the Edwards. There were many at the Edwards’ Reunion.
  • Many members of the Kennedy family went down to the Cape. There were many Kennedys. There were many Kennedys at the vacation home. There were many people at the Kennedy’s vacation home.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Voss had many children.  They were the children of the Vosses. They were the Voss’ children.
  • Mr. Jones has a car. It’s Mr. Jones’ car or it can be Mr. Jones’s car, but it’s NEVER Mr. Jone’s car, because the car belongs to Mr. Jones, not Mr. Jone.
  • The cat has food. It’s his food. Actually we don’t know if the cat is male or female, so it’s its food.
  • It is a wonderful day. It’s a wonderful day.
  • Be a hero with the zero. Heroes gives zeroes the ‘es’ they deserve.