Unsilenced.

I’ve been trying really hard to not run my mouth about the state of the States these days. I’ve been purposely avoiding news feeds. I’ve created a new Twitter account to try to escape the gluttony of idiocy spewing all over creation on my timeline. I avoid eavesdropping on seemingly rich, white people conversations while we are out to dinner. I refuse to take photos for tourists standing in front of the Trump building here in Chicago.

It’s mostly because if I were to really say what I feel, well, let’s just leave it at that.

My dreams are nightmares filled with the cries of a planet being destroyed by humans. My mouth is agape when I read things like the Alabama Abortion Ban bill signed by their governor today. Fun fact, the woman impregnated by a rapist will go more time for getting an abortion than the man that raped her. Let that sink in for a moment: uncle rapes 17 year old, baby has complications due to genetics, uncle goes to jail for 10 years for rape but the 17 year old girl goes to jail for 99 years for getting an abortion.

If given the choice between “The Hunger Games” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”, I’ll take my chances with a flaming dress.

My biggest fear is the Democrats are doing everything they can to make this a close, if not lost, presidential election. Common sense would dictate that Trump would lose in a landslide in 2020. But common sense is no longer common here in the States (how can we really call ourselves ‘The United States of America’ these days?), it’ll be a close if not lost presidential election and then Flaming Cheeto will feel empowered to really get his agenda going. That’s if we’re not nuked to death from a war with a nuclear power or the planet holds it together, despite the abuse, to get us to 2020 to begin with.

Remember when people were enraged about a blow job in the Oval Office? Good times.

My pilot insurance policy renewed this week and it came with an addendum that exempts coverage if I’m injured in an airplane during a nuclear attack. I have no idea why this is even being discussed but I guess we have to plan for reality.

Here’s a winner: Elizabeth Warren is suggesting we beef up the military to combat climate change. I hate to be the Debbie Downer in the room, but isn’t the military one of the biggest contributors to Climate Change related pollution to begin with?

I really don’t know what that shriveled old ball of Ivey down in Alabama thinks she’s trying to accomplish with this abortion ban law that is going to be overturned anyway. Thank god I don’t have to go to that state.

So, I guess I’m not going to be silent anymore. There’s just too much crap going on to keep wearing it as it’s flung about.

It’s time to speak up.

Creativity.

So I started this blog entry, writing about today’s Apple keynote event at the Steve Jobs Theatre at Apple Headquarters (“the Spaceship”). I was going to list each of the services Apple announced today and my associated thoughts. It was all to be positive, because I really enjoyed the keynote today.

But I couldn’t bring myself to sound like a tech pundit, because that’s not what I am. I’m one of the Crazy Ones. My LinkedIn Profile starts with two words: “What box?”. I don’t think outside of the box, I can’t even find a box. I don’t see the big picture because I’m not looking in the same direction and I’m probably not even in the same room. It’s amazing that I have worked for several Fortune 500 companies during my career because I really subscribe to the whole “Think Different” philosophy. And this is something I’m proud of.

What struck me about the Apple keynote today was the genuine feeling of passion. The artists, the creative ones, even the ones presenting today, all seemed so very passionate about what Apple was showing the world today. A new way for a credit card to work. A new way to read your favorite magazine. New ways to find your favorite online games and new ways to find your TV shows, all on your own terms. Apple’s huge push of privacy is a welcomed change of pace in this ever growing economy where the user is the product, not the consumer. Apple doesn’t want your information, Apple doesn’t need your information, and Apple has no way of sharing your information. That is awesome. We need more of that in this digital age.

Am I going to sign up for an AppleCard? As a guy that uses ApplePay everywhere he can, you bet your sweet bippy I am. I’ve already asked the CTA when I’ll be able to add my Ventra (transit) card to my Apple Wallet. I’m already reading my favorite magazines in Apple News+ and I’m really looking forward to the original content Apple will bring to the world in Apple TV+. I was moved when I saw Tim Cook tear up when he hugged Oprah after her speech during the keynote today.

Such passion. In the speech, in the reaction, in the creativity.

We need more passion for creativity in the world. Be a Crazy One.

I’ve started editing videos on my iPad Pro today. Ten years ago I never thought I’d be using an iPad Pro to shoot, edit, and share video, but here we are. Technology isn’t only about spreadsheets and word documents and slides. It’s about what we want it to be about.

Let your creativity flow.

Effortless.

So Friday night the family got together and we went to Allstate Arena to see Kelly Clarkson and her “Meaning of Life 2019” tour.

What a thoroughly fantastic evening.

I’ve been a fan of Kelly Clarkson since her American Idol days. She has always seemed so genuine in her public persona; I’ve always felt that we saw as much of her ‘real self’ as we could on television.

The show was wonderful; the music was well balanced, wasn’t too overpowering, and she had a nice mix of her own songs in with a couple of covers thrown in for an extra nice touch. Her banter between songs was quite enjoyable and didn’t feel contrived or scripted. The pleasant personality I associate with her was intact and I felt like she’d be fun to share a lunch with.

One of the things I immediately noticed about her was that she really appears to love what she does. She loves to sing and she clearly enjoys expressing herself through her art. I’ve been to so many concerts where it was clear the performer was working (Madonna instantly comes to mind); Kelly truly felt like she was sharing her art while hanging with new friends.

I like that vibe. We need more of that.

At the beginning of her set she talked about all the chaos and turmoil in the world today, and that the space was an all inclusive space and that everyone was welcome to join in the fun for the evening.

She made the two hour show appear effortless simply because of her demonstrated love of her art.

More people need to do more of what makes them happy. Sharing joy; perhaps this is how we bring the world to a more positive place.

Shaving.

My dad never taught me how to shave. Back then I was slightly bothered by this and considered it a missed father-son ritual moment. I just assumed that I was just too different to have such a moment. But ultimately, over the years my Dad and I had enough father-son moments to make up for it and in the long run it never bothered me (yet here I am talking about it at age 50).

When the stray blond hairs on my chin became long enough that I could actually pull on them, I asked a neighborhood friend that was a couple of years older than me to shave so I could watch him. He did so, quickly and expertly, like he had been doing it forever even though he was 16. I went back home, grabbed my Dad’s can of Barbasol, smeared it on my face and dragged his two-bladed razor across my face. I came out unscathed (save for the sting of the after shave I splashed on my face afterwards) and thinking back, it would be several years before I cut my face shaving (I think that was college when someone in the dorm shower room bumped into me).

Ever since I was a young lad I couldn’t wait for the time when I would start shaving. I found the ritual to be so intriguing. 99% of the men I knew at the time were clean shaven. Shaving like a man would signify that I had graduated to a being taken seriously, not being picked on anymore, and becoming the man that I knew I would be someday. Truth be known, there are some folks that still don’t take me seriously, I was picked on for several years after I started shaving, but overall I think I did pretty good at becoming the man I wanted to be.

The thing is, as I identified and began realizing the outcome of the gay feelings that had been stirring in me since my late single digit years, when I started shaving I identified a certain sensuality when seeing a man shaving his face. Maybe it was the sexually charged Noxzema ads that were on TV at the time, or the fact that many men that I secretly found attractive walked around the screen on television shows and movies in underwear and a t-shirt when they had shaving cream on their face, but as I discovered my sexuality, I discovered that I was fascinated with the practice of a man shaving his face. Though I really enjoy a man with a beard (and I’ve had many beards and other styles of facial hair over the years), there’s something just wicked sexy about a man standing in front of a sink, face lathered up while holding a sharp instrument, shaving.

A couple of years ago I bought a couple prints of men shaving in a sensual or fun setting. They were intended to be wall decorations for the guest washroom. One of the photos had a young man with shaving cream on his face standing behind another man with shaving cream on his face; the former armed with a razor scraping the beard off the latter. It’s a sexy, fun photo.

Photo from 2013 Spring/Summer issue of “Fantastic Man”.

The other day I was messing around Google Lens and took a photo of the photo in question and lo and behold, Google revealed the photo was part of a specific photo shoot. The photo shoot appeared in a 2013 issue of magazine “Fantastic Man”.

“Prominence, virtility, and wisdom are just some of the powers a beard can lend its wearer. It’s undeniably rugged and handsome, but the bearded look has become the one-size-fits-all mask of choice for men over the age of 18. Here we join six long-term beard lovers who have decided it is time for the new! Using the forthcoming heat of summer as an excuse to cast off nature’s balaclava, they eagerly welcome the clean-shaven stranger who lies beneath.”

The rest of the photo shoot is fun, is sexy, and does reveal a different look of the men that shaved off their beards. I know there’s a certain crowd that will shriek about these men deciding to shave off decidedly gorgeous beards, but if nature had intended us to look the same for the entirety of our lives, we wouldn’t change in appearance as time marched on. I think they look hot clean-shaven.

Because of my strong interest in shaving, I’ve also always been fascinated to see how a man shaves. Is he quick, does he take his time. How methodical is he about making sure he’s hitting all the stubble? Having watched several men shave in my life, I’ve never seen two men that do the practice exactly the same. Men start in different places on their face, they put the shaving cream on in differing ways, or they opt to go the quick route and run an electric shaver hurriedly across the face.

Just as no two beards are alike, no two men shave alike.

A couple of years ago I tried to capture my fascination and this razor wielding diversity with photos of my friend Mike shaving. He agreed to the photo shoot, and I was pleased with the results of my first endeavor with this. It was interesting to me to see how he put the gel on his face, how thick the foam was, and the method he employed to maneuver around his mustache.

This is Mike. He was kind of enough to let me photograph him shaving. Mike is a month younger than me and can grow a very impressive beard. He maintains a cop stache these days. He normally shaves everyday and uses Edge with Aloe and a Schick Quattro.

Today I’m wondering if I could capture my keen interest in the subject again by doing additional photo shoots.  It might be something worth exploring in this New Year. In the meanwhile, don’t mind me if I ask you (if you’re a guy) how you shave.

I truly want to know.

Blogging!

I’m excited to be following THREE new blogs here at the beginning of the New Year. One of the blogs is brand new and the other two have been around but I just discovered them today.

  1. Earl and I had a wedding officiant when we were legally married back in 2011, and we have maintained a friendship with her on Facebook. Both Emily and her husband Mark are good people, and Mark has started a new blog called “Building A Better World: CHOICES“. I’m anxious to see what he writes.
  2. When I was active on Google+, I was always anxious to read about the Digital Nomadic life of technology journalist Mike Elgan. Google+ is going away soon and it’s a digital ghost town over there right now, but I finally took the time to see if Mike is maintaining a blog, and sure enough, he is over at “Elgan.com“. I’ve always liked Mike’s technological insights and I’ve really enjoyed the digital nomadic lifestyle he and his family enjoy. Plus, he’s fleshing out a Facebook alternative called “Nicebook”, which has me intrigued.
  3. As a member of the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA), I attended a couple of their events in 2018 and I met some great people along the way. I’ve always “virtually met” others on Instagram and Facebook, and I’ve been a fan of Captain Bobbie since he was suggested as a friend on Facebook back in the mid part of last year. He mentioned his blog on a recent Facebook post, so I was happy to take a look to see what he’s up to.

Finding three new blogs to read on this New Year’s Day has given me hope that the art of blogging isn’t dead after all. Let’s see what others I can find along the way!

Human Energy.

I have shared this TED talk before. This is Angela Ahrendts speaking at TEDx Hollywood in March 2013. She speaks about human energy. She knows of what she speaks. I watch this from time to time to remind myself of the importance of authentic communication in this fast paced, technologically fueled world.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

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Elevator Logic.

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I started the new chapter of my career this week. I am in Greenville, S.C. and starting the path of “Senior Consultant” at Windstream Communications. I officially have a Virtual Office; I will be doing most of my work from our home office, but if I had decided to move us to Greenville, I’d be working in my own office (complete with door and windows) in the 23rd storey building shown in my photo. Our team is situated on the fifth floor.

I’ve noticed each morning that there is quite a traffic jam at the bank of elevators. I like to think that I’m pretty adept at the operation of an elevator: press the button in the desired direction of travel, await the arrival of an elevator car, step aside to let passengers out of the elevator and then get in, face front, press the button of your desired floor and try not to pass gas. It’s pretty simple.

These people ALWAYS press the elevator call button in BOTH directions, regardless of where they are going. I don’t know if there is some sort of code that I missed in the orientation manual or if it is some secret incantation that only works in the south, but every person that wants to get on the elevator in the lobby calls the elevator by pressing both the up and down button. Invariably the down bound elevator arrives and people pile in. They head down and then in a few moments the same car load of people arrive and the elevator opens the door in response to the “up” request. Because the car is full of people, I’m not stepping foot in the elevator.

Today I was a rebel and joined a couple of other men in the service elevator, even though the sign said “no passengers”. The metal lined walls had a sleek look to them and I figured the elevator was rated for more weight since it was designed for service purposes. Plus, the service elevator doesn’t have CNN blaring in the car like the five other cars (designed for passenger service) do. I’m not a fan of CNN blaring in the elevator.

It covers the sounds of someone passing gas. Without that, there’s no warning.

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Lesson.

So yesterday the three of us went to Epcot to tour around the front half of the park, otherwise known as “Future World”. Epcot is my favorite of the parks here at Walt Disney World.

Upon embarking on our trip for the day I noticed that Jamie was wearing one of his Hostage Calm shirts. He’s friends with Hostage Calm and has done a lot of the photography of the band. The particular shirt has large letters on the back “I support same-sex marriage”. The message is wonderful.

The worrier in me was concerned that the shirt might be a little too “politically charged” for Disney and I voiced my concern with this. My concern was vetoed and Cub held his ground. I sulked about it for a while and was overly sensitive for the first hour or so at Epcot.

I know, I’m an idiot. Plenty of people have told me that over the years but I am who I am and I’m always trying to be better. I’m certainly not ashamed of being gay, I’m certainly not ashamed of being married to a man and I have officially been out of the closet since my first day of college way back in 1986. I say “officially” because everyone always tells me there was really no reason for me to come out of the closet because people already knew. Humor me.

Here’s the thing. I grew up in a household where we didn’t talk about politics, we didn’t talk about religion and we certainly didn’t talk about sexuality. That’s all ok, and I wouldn’t change my childhood for any other, and I know that it was decades ago but some things take root and are hard to change. Add that to my firm belief that change will only come when people come to their own beliefs on their own. I don’t believe in forcing religion on another, I don’t believe in forcing political beliefs on another and I don’t believe we should do the same with one’s views on same sex marriage. Being true to ourselves and demonstrating who we are should be a big enough billboard. I have faith in people and believe that they will find that same-sex marriage is really no different than any other marriage. Each marriage is unique unto itself; it’s not the gender of the participants that make it unique. Now, add all of this to the words of a co-worker way back in 1990, “If I met you outside somewhere I’d shoot you between the eyes, you fag”, and you might understand why I’m sensitive to this sort of thing.

I know, I need to calm down.

So I’m sulking and a little bit sensitive about it all when we first arrived at Epcot. We rode the Nemo ride and then stopped for lunch. A woman came up to Jamie and vocalized her strong support of same-sex marriage (later I noticed that she was from Earl’s hometown). She was a Disney cast member and she was looking after the tables in the “Seasons” food court. Later, an older gentleman came up and voiced his support as well; his son had just married his husband in Maryland. A third person supported the message on Jamie’s shirt as well.

So I stopped sulking after the first encounter. I calmed down. No one was cranky about the shirt, I was the only one that was worried about it.

I learned a lot at Epcot yesterday.