Topics.

I would like to spend my days talking about airplanes, being a pilot, piloting airplanes, using ForeFlight on my iPad as my Electronic Flight Bag, the wonders of Apple, life in Chicago, and the enjoyment of my existence. These are things I strive to talk about, but there’s so much going on in the world I feel like I can’t be silent about important topics.

People following my Twitter feed (the one I abandoned and then fired up again) must think I am nuts. One moment I’m tweeting about my favorite airplane, the next moment I’m sharing a photo from “Star Trek: Voyager”, and then I start going on about the current state of politics in the United States.

There’s just so much crap going on these days and anyone with a higher IQ than the speed limit (which is apparently, yet shockingly, not enough people in today’s society) can see that we are a nation in crisis. To pretend it’s not happening feels unpatriotic. To gloss over all the stuff happening with the Trump Administration and think everything is fine is like sipping a tea on a veranda that is engulfed in blames.

Things are not fine. The guy in the Oval Office thinks he’s a dictator. His children are making wads of money from foreign interests that run contrary to the beliefs of the United States. Facebook has decided to let politicians say whatever the hell they want in ads, regardless of the truthfulness of the content. The CEO of Twitter is more concerned with looking “hip” in his homeless hat than controlling what’s going on with the platform that has run completely off the rails. Children are in cages, farmers are losing money left and right, and the Trump Administration is doing its best to divide the country, instill mistrust in anything to do with the media or governmental process, and make as much as possible for its own self-interests.

This is not what The United States of America is about.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are belching up as many candidates as possible with the apparent theory, “hey, a shitstorm of a primary worked for the GOP in 2016, maybe we should give it a try!” and only God knows why we would want Bernie or Biden as President when they don’t even know where they are half the time.

It’s like too many people have just given up.

We need to end career politicians. Now. Senator Susan Collins of Maine? Get her out of there. Marco Rubio? Ted Cruz? Please, get them out of there.

Don’t even get me started with Mitch McConnell.

Look, we can fix this. It’s going to take decades and it’s going to take a lot of hard work from all of us that Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, but we can do it. We need to work together, talk rationally, and listen intently. Yeah, I get hysterical and emotional and quite frankly I need to knock it off, and so does everyone else.

So talking about things I love? I’d love to. But I want to do my part to make sure we still have a sane society where we can still talk about the things we love.

Rest.

App developer, graphic artist, and The Icon Factory co-founder Ged Maheux recently wrote a blog entry about the Activity app on the Apple Watch and how it never accounts for rest days.

You can read the blog entry here.

Ged is absolutely correct; Apple Watch will prompt you to work out and close your rings every single day of the week. When I decide to work my own rest day into the mix I’m prompted several times by my watch, made to feel quite guilty about being fairly lazy for the day, and then I’ll either relent and work out or “mute for today”.

Our bodies need recovery days to maintain balance and prime functionality. Apple needs to build some rest days functionality.

Now, time for a burger.

Reproduction.

Hulu has the recent live episodes of “All In The Family” and “The Jeffersons”. For those unfamiliar, ABC recently featured an episode of the two iconic shows performed live Woody Harrelson is a weird casting of Archie Bunker. Marissa Tomei did a great job with Edith but the vibe of the show is off. I’m in the middle of “All In The Family” as I type this, maybe it’ll get better as the show goes on.

Addendum: watching “The Jeffersons”, and I’m really disappointed the doorbell wasn’t copied from the original show. Ding ding ding.

Real ness.

So Linus Torvalds, the “inventor” (I use this term loosely) of Linux, the operating system that runs 70% of the Internet, as well as a whole bunch of other things like Android phones (that’s a really bad description of Linux), really dislikes Social Media. In a recent article by NBC News, he talks about the anonymity behind Social Media, and how people really wouldn’t say what they say online if they had to say it face to face and using their real name.

He definitely has a point. I’ve read things from bots that would make your hair curl. I always blame the bots because I really try hard to believe that semi-intelligent human beings really aren’t as stupid as they portray themselves to be on the likes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like.

If you follow me on social media, you’d know that I indeed use my real name in most instances. There’s a few places where I use a pseudonym because I like to have an alter-ego once in a while, but I still try to act like a rational human being.

Why last night I suggested that someone build windmills near the White House to test Lord Marmalade’s latest lie that “the noise from windmills cause cancer”. To disprove Mr. Torvalds theory about saying things behind a curtain of anonymity, the real life with real names folks in the White House are defending this outrageous claim by Herr Orange Whippy Wig and saying there’s no evidence denying that noise from windmills cause cancer.

Science, it’s not just for the dorks.

I do agree that Social Media in the United States would be a better experience for all involved if the social media corporations forced validation of users and the use of real names in wild discourse. I limit this to the United States because there are folks that live in other countries who must use social media to communicate with others that are trying to flee said country. Anonymity is very important in some respects, but not when you’re shouting at someone.

Keep it real. Use your name. Take responsibility for your words.

President’s Day.

Today is President’s Day. Or is it Presidents’ Day? Perhaps Presidents Day?

I’m old enough to remember when we had Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday, but I think we had only Washington’s Birthday off. Later in my elementary years we started getting the whole week of Washington’s Birthday off; since that was usually the snowiest week of the winter. Sometimes, but not always.

Whatever we are calling this holiday this year (it varies from state to state), I still don’t feel compelled to buy a mattress, a car, or Turbo Tax. I’ve never understood why mattress companies go right crazy during this week in February. It’s not like anyone is going to want to haul a heavy mattress in and out of their home at this time of year. Is it because we’re working our way through the winter and we should have worn out the mattress by this time? I’m getting old, we don’t bounce the box spring as much.

Today was not a work holiday. Today was a normal day at work and it was fairly intense. I could probably handle it better if we had a new mattress but I still don’t feel the need to buy a new mattress.

I could go on a political tirade at this point of the blog entry but we don’t really have a president to talk about, so there’s no sense on going on a tirade. The country is pretty much on auto-pilot with occasional threats of the complete and utter destruction of democracy as we know it, but as long as La Marmalade can tweet the news channels are happy and the speed limit IQ folks feel vindicated.

I look forward to when we have a reason to celebrate Presidents’ Day again.

“Hamilton”.

Official press photo.

Tonight the family got together for Valentine’s Day and we saw Hamilton at the CIBC Theatre here in Chicago. The tickets were a Christmas present for Chris; it was a delightful coincidence that at the time, the first night available was Valentine’s Day

I knew the history laden musical was all the rage these days but other than that I didn’t know much about the show. It’s the 21st century of a Rock Opera, complete with lots of rap music, 21st century riffs, and lots of remixing and synthesizer sounds. Musically, the show is a delight. But I was mesmerized by the blocking and staging of the show. Rotating stages, clever choreography, moving sets, and masterful lighting augmented wonderful performances by all members of the cast. The cast and crew worked hard to tell a nicely woven story, and I was happy to see them all take the curtain call as one, no highlighting of the “star”, no spotlighting a particular cast member.

I found that refreshing.

The only thing that bothered me about the entire experience was the audience; I’m surprised at the number of people that can’t get through a Broadway show without checking their phone (and its glaring LED glow) or having a conversation with a person near them. There was a low murmur of nearly constant chatter a few rows behind us. The folks that came in nearly 40 minutes late and needed to be seated in the center of their aisle should be shunned, not mentioned, but here we are.

When did we forget how to be a respectful audience member?

Overall, it was a pleasant experience and I highly recommend catching the show if you can.

Manifest.

Photo from IMDB.

So Earl and I have been watching NBC’s Manifest. It’s on Monday nights at 10:00 PM Eastern/9:00 PM Central (yay for Central time!)

The show is fairly uneven. If you’re not familiar with the storyline, basically Flight 828, en route from Jamaica to New York, goes through some really rough turbulence and then is diverted to Stewart Airport (after being turned away from JFK). The kicker? When the flight lands it’s 5 1/2 years after it left Jamaica.

I hope they got a meal during that long ass flight.

Anything with airplanes is going to get my attention, so Earl and I subscribed to the dreaded Monday night slot on NBC. I’m always hesitant to watch anything Sci-Fi like on NBC because they start getting weird with the series by either throwing the storyline into a weird tangent (Heroes) or just killing the show without warning (The Event). However, Manifest was cleared for a full season, which is somewhat comforting.

Honestly, it feels like the writers aren’t sure as to what they want the show to be. Is it Sci Fi? Is it supernatural? Is it a soap opera? Is it Dynasty? Twists, turns, ins, outs, so many ways for the story to go.

Not to give too much away in case you want to watch the show when it’s bingeable, the folks on the flight that was lost for 5 1/2 years suddenly have subtle yet very present “callings”. We don’t know what’s causing them, we don’t know what they mean all the time, but as time moves on they become more and more frequent and intense. Psychic stuff? Fortune telling? Who knows.

At times the story is plodding along at a snail’s pace. It’s during these moments that you start to notice that some of the acting is a little wooden or the special effects are a little less than what one would expect in 2019, but because I’m a fan of these types of shows, I am forgiving. There are times when I reach for the iPhone or something because the story is moving along so slowly. There’s romantic triangles and occasionally a bit of family drama mixed in but we are still finding it tolerable.

We never watched “Lost” so we don’t know how much like “Lost” this show is turning out to be. It’s twisty and turny, which is good. I just hope the writers resolve the mysteries before this show comes to an end.

And we don’t know when that will be.

A couple of stray observations (without spoilers):

  • None of the men apparently own a razor
  • I found it easy to mix up the characters of Grace and Autumn but that could be my thing
  • One episode must have been sponsored by Chevrolet because there’s a lot of Silverado going on
  • The head mean person will look familiar
  • The New York locales look honest and filmed on location
  • Did the NYSDMV issue special license plates for television shows, because prop plates on all New York based shows begin with “Q” these days

Dancing.

Apparently after a couple rounds of drinks at the local pub I felt the need to sing “My Heart Will Go On”. Earl was kind enough to take a photo.

I do not remember this incident.

Women of the House.

We were flipping through Amazon Prime Video when a curious suggestion came up on the screen. Amazon’s algorithm thinks we should be watching “Women Of The House”, the 1995 follow-up series to “Designing Women”. This show follows the adventures of Suzanne Sugarbaker as she takes her fifth husband’s seat in Congress until Georgia can elect a new representative. Naturally, one would think hilarity ensues.

Let me assure you, it does not.

It made it 13 episodes before it was cancelled. The last four episodes were broadcast on Lifetime, the show having been cancelled by CBS.

Earl and I watched the two-part pilot. We barely made it through the 42 minutes.

The character of Suzanne Sugarbaker has always been written a little over the top, but in this thing she’s way, way out there. She shrieked “Excuse Me!”, try to get someone’s attention, a few times during the first five seasons of “Designing Women”. In the pilot she does it at least half a dozen times and it doesn’t garner any laughs. There’s also some glaring inconsistencies in her timeline: her maid is now named Sapphire instead of Consuela, and she suddenly has a younger brother she calls “retarded”. He is played solely for laughs in the pilot. Suzanne now also has an adopted daughter because like “Golden Palace”, all spin-offs from popular sitcoms in the mid 1990s apparently needed to have a cheeky kid.

Teri Garr plays a spin on Patsy Stone from “Absolutely Fabulous”, under the guise of being a press secretary, Patricia Heaton is some sort of whacked out, super aggressive, yet completely devoid of class and charm version of Dixie Carter’s Julia Sugarbaker and the third actress plays an administrative assistant that must have been inspired by Julie Haggerty’s flight attendant on “Airplane”, minus the chuckles. And in some unexplained twist, they CGIed Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith” into the Congressional Chambers and since it was 1995, it wasn’t very convincing.

While “Designing Women” was fairly topical, especially in it’s early years, I have no idea what this show was trying to do. Delta wasn’t handed a very good script but she screams her way through every line and admittedly, it was very tough trying to get through the pilot.

If Amazon suggests “Women Of The House” for your viewing pleasure, don’t bother. Take the time to look at one of the early topical episodes from “Designing Women” instead. You’ll have a much better viewing experience.

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Upgrade?

Apple has announced their next big event. It is scheduled for September 12 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific. It’s called “Apple Special Event”.  They will undoubtedly announce new iPhones and iPads. This can mean only one thing: my iPhone X and iPad Pro will no longer be the latest and greatest from Apple.

And honestly, I don’t really care.

I’ve come to realize that Apple is now about evolution, not revolution. There will be nothing new and exciting about the iPhone XS (or whatever it is called); it will simply have a faster processor and probably a better screen and camera, but it’ll still do what my iPhone X does and not much more.

I read all of these reports of people being unhappy with the latest and greatest MacBook Pro, especially when it comes to the new designed keyboards. My tricked-out MacBook Pro from mid-2015 does its job just fine, even with the latest version of Mac OS (Mojave). This MacBook Pro was an emergency replacement for my older 2013 model, which was stolen out of my hotel room during a work trip. This 2015 model does fine for what it is, and I love using it, but I don’t feel a need to upgrade. Things are still snappy, I can still edit photos and videos without a problem, and the battery life is decent (though not nearly as good as when I bought it new).  I feel no need to purchase a new MacBook Pro, in fact, I don’t know what I’ll do if the day comes that my current computer can’t be repaired or upgraded to where I need it to be. Apple’s focus has moved to iOS but I’m not ready to shift my focus to exclusive iPad use (though I’ve tried on a number of occasions).  If I had an iPad Pro that ran the Mac experience I would be happier, but iOS just feels too simple and confined for me to enjoy a full computing experience. I wouldn’t say it feels like a toy, to me it just feels like a computer designed for casual use. My needs fit well into the upper half of “power user”.

Pundits have been tripping over one another to get the latest tidbit or juicy detail out there about what Apple is going to do at their Special Event next week. I’ll watch the event, because despite my criticisms, I still believe Apple brings the best computing experience available today to the masses, but the truth of the matter is, it isn’t the perfect computing experience.

It’s still interesting to see what they’ll do, though.