Alley.

Across the alley from our patio is a beautiful roof top deck for a local mortgage firm. They have gathering from time to time. From what we’ve heard they’re client parties for new home owners that use their mortgage services. During the week folks from the building have lunch, play table tennis and lounge around a bit.

The space is quite impressive and a wonderful use of the building rooftop. We don’t mind having this activity directly across from our patio, though we do have to remember to wear clothes when we are walking around the condo so we don’t give an inadvertent peep show. We’re not ready to be arrested for naughty behavior at this time. Some people can be prudish about middle aged men walking naked around in front of 10 feet of glass.

We experienced our first Home Owners Association meeting this week. Everyone was friendly and welcomed us to the building. There are several new owners in the building and it was nice to meet them as well. Naturally everyone asked what unit we moved into; they were complimentary when they found out our location. “Oh that’s a nice one!” was a common theme. One woman asked if we liked living directly across the alley from the roof top garden (several units have the same view) and we both remarked that we loved it. It’s a beautiful space that is occasionally populated with beautiful people. Off in the distance we can see the Sears Tower and other buildings downtown.

Who can complain?

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Hope.

One of the things I found encouraging when we were talking about moving to Chicago was the obvious signs of tolerance, acceptance of all kinds of love, and the shunning of hate in any form. Before moving here I walked through several neighborhoods exploring the vibe of the area. Many of the churches, of many differing denominations, would feature messages such as the one shown in the photo I snapped last night. A good share of the signs would feature a gay pride flag. Rogers Park, Albany Park, Wrigleyville, North Center: I found these hopeful displays of acceptance in all of the areas that I explored.

Many homes and businesses within a one mile radius of our home have a gay pride flag displayed in their window. Many more have signs of “Hate Has No Home Here” and “All People Are Equal”.


These displayed have helped me find hope in these turbulent times in our society. When Trump was elected president I pretty much lost all hope in society. I am still quite worried about the future of these United States, because hate has been validated by the very hateful leader that was elected by a minority of our population. But as a few have been quick to remind me, sometimes it takes a giant swing of the pendulum to get it to swing back in the other direction. Having moved away from a very red part of a blue state and into a bluer area of the map has opened my eyes to a future that is once again attainable.

We just need to continue to stand up, speak out, and more importantly, have hope.

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Houston.

Earl and I vacationed in Houston, Texas in December 2012. We found it to be a nice city and we enjoyed our time there. Downtown activity tended to come to a screeching halt after the businesses closed for the day, which I found surprising for the 4th largest city in the nation. I was thinking that it would be busy 24/7 like many of the other cities that we had visited over the years, but Houston went along at its own pace. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ve been watching Twitter to see what’s going on during their encounter with Hurricane Harvey but Twitter has been a little odd in that regard. There’s a mention of Houston and rescue efforts here and there but not as many mentions as I expected to see. I would think that there would be more mentions from our fellow citizens during what could probably be described as the storm of the century, if we weren’t in the beginnings of this particular century. I fear people are becoming desensitized to extreme weather events. I fear people are become desensitized to human beings being trapped in a catastrophic event. I partly blame the constant tide of violent movies, death laden video games, etc. for this sort of thinking. I also think people are just getting tired of bad news all the time. We’ve had a lot of it in 2017 and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

I know I’m tired of bad news.

Here’s some information from Time.com if you want to contribute to rescue and relief efforts in Houston.

Getting There. 


Earl and I are slowly making strides in getting the condo to really feel like home. Our new living room furniture is still a few weeks of but we are slowly adding other touches to add familiarity to our new home. 

Today I hung the first of my clocks in my collection. This clock hands in my office and will be showing the proper time when the new power supply arrives on Tuesday. 

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“Friendly” Skies.

After a long week away from home for work, I was ready to fly the one hop from Rochester, N.Y. to Chicago to be back in our new comfort zone. Work had gone well, I was feeling pumped about my new role at the company and I had a smile on my face.

I was scheduled to fly United 518 from Rochester to Chicago. Departure was at 5:23 PM. I was at the gate early; one of my co-workers had a 4:00 PM conference call so we carpooled early to the airport and I was through security in plenty of time.

Quick sidebar (still in corporate-speak mode): the TSA made me take ALL electronics out of my backpack for the first time ever. Normally I put all of my belongings in my bag so I don’t need a bunch of bins. I then take out my laptop and put it in a separate bin. My shoes and belt go in another bin. My backpack rides through solo. Yesterday I had to take my iPhone, iPad and laptop out of my backpack and place them all in separate bins. When asked about any other electronics I told them I had headphones in there but they didn’t care about those, which is interesting since my AirPods are really little computers with speakers, but that’s just geek speak. When I asked the TSA agent why my iPhone and iPad had to be in separate bins, she told me it was new procedures as of this week. The rules and regulations of this country are such a moving target these days. The moral of the story is people like chaos and they vote for more chaos.

Anyway, at 4:40 PM, a gate agent that was struggling with the operation of the microphone announced that there would be a slight delay due to a mechanical issue and we would be updated shortly. The sign behind her head still proudly proclaimed the flight was On-Time and departing at 5:23 PM.

At 5:10 PM a supervisor installed herself behind the other terminal at the gate. A bearded gate agent (not a woman) stationed himself where they beep your ticket. People started lining up in the designated cattle chutes by their assigned groups, because United believes people are cattle and should be lining up in chutes. I’m always reminded of “Celebrity Sweepstakes” by it’s not as fun without Carol Wayne and trust me, no one is a winner when they’re standing in a chute waiting to get on a United flight.

5:23 PM came and went without a peep from anyone that was intently staring into their computer screens. Bearded man was approached by a couple of people and he said “I don’t have time to address your question” a few times before the cattle got the message that he had no hay. There had been no update from anyone behind the desk since the 4:40 PM announcement of a ‘slight’ delay.

A pilot-y looking man came from the jet bridge and shook his head. I knew the flight was cancelled, others knew the flight was cancelled but the monitor behind the intent people proclaimed “On-Time”, though it was after our 5:23 PM departure time.

The monitors were then turned off. The United app continued to proclaim “On-Time”.

After 5:30 PM, supervisor-y looking woman announced that “there is a mechanical issue that would take too long to fix so we are canceling the flight”. She then said, “this is our last flight of the night and all the flights from other airlines are booked.” She then continued with “call the 800 number or go down to ticketing as we are a bit busy here at the gate.”

The lead bull in Chute #3 (that would be me) immediately called the United number. The older couple behind me panicked because they had a smartphone and didn’t know what to do. I used my bullhorn voice to proclaim the number to anyone that wanted to hear it. After wading through approximately four minutes of a chipper automated man asking about my experience, my phone number, my frequent flyer details and whether this phone number was who I really was or not (he sounded like he was fueled by cocaine) I finally reached a woman and told her of my plight. When asked why I was not on the flight that left at 5:23 PM I told her that the flight is still here and has been cancelled. She asked me why it wasn’t marked cancelled and I told her, in no uncertain terms, that the gate agents weren’t really engaged and basically said we were on our own. The airplane would take too long to fix.

She immediately booked me for an American flight leaving at 6:12 PM but was concerned that Rochester Airport was too big for me to make the flight. I told her not to worry, the only thing big about Rochester was its ego.

I arrived at gate A8, keeping the United agent on the line, and confirmed that I had a seat. However, Katie at the American Airlines counter informed me that because United had not sent over my bag I was unable to get on the aircraft. She could not separate me from my bag. I had hung up with United because she had waved my boarding pass in my hand and then taken it back when she found out I hadn’t retrieved my checked luggage from a United 737 myself. She told me that I couldn’t get on without my bag and I had to take it up with United.

I had what was probably my most epic hissy fit in public in the 49 years of riding this rock around the sun.

“I’m not allowed in the cargo hold.”

“You mean, even though I have a seat, the gate is still open and I’m all confirmed, I can’t get on because my luggage is on another airplane?”

“Do you realize that airlines lose luggage as a sport and you’re ruining the fun for everyone involved with the fiasco?”

“This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever heard of a passenger not being able to fly because he doesn’t have his luggage with him. Who made up that rule?”

“Trust me, there is nothing and no one in Rochester, New York that warrants any sort of special rules about luggage. I’m surprised there’s anyone left to travel.”

She asked me to step back from the counter. I stepped back and called United. United told me that the woman was crazy and when she heard I was telling various people about “Katie at A8” she let me on the airplane if I agreed to be separated from my luggage and not sue American Airlines about it.

I said, “don’t worry Katie, I’ll be on the airplane in less than five minutes and you can go back to your mundane existence.”

She glared as she gave me my boarding pass. I thanked her for putting up with my tirade, promised her I’d never see her again and wished her a Happy Friday.

The woman that beeped me through was surly. I said, “you should try being chipper like Katie.”

Yes, I’m a dick. I’m not often a dick but when it’s time for me to be a dick I can be a dick. I don’t mind being a dick. I’m not afraid calling out people when they’re being willfully stupid. The last time I went to the epic setting was at a Wawa on a cashier who would shut off the gas pump anytime a customer took their hand off the gas nozzle during a raging rain storm. The gas nozzles were equipped with those little flippy things to keep them on but she said new rules didn’t allow their use. I’m fairly certain she no longer abuses her “power” after I dressed her down to nearly tears.

When I sat down in seat 14B, after being glared at by folks that had been sitting on the airplane longer than they wanted to, I told everyone around me, “I’m sorry for the delay but there’s some wacky rules about luggage in Rochester, New York. And trust me, I’m not going to win a popularity contest at this airport anytime soon. I won’t even win Mr. Congeniality. On the bright side this isn’t United and I have no hair to grab onto.” A few people laughed. An older couple headed to Greece (not Greece, New York) came up the aisle behind me mentioning the idiocy they had to go through. They stopped at my seat and thanked me because I had blazed the trail for being separated from your luggage on an American flight departing Rochester, New York.

Next time you’re on Celebrity Sweepstakes, don’t doubt the bullhorn at the lead of United Chute #3.

Lessons learned? I will never, ever, ever fly United again, simply because they really don’t care about their customers at all. They never cancelled United 518 but simply marked it delayed for 17 hours. I’m suspecting this was to avoid paying for hotel rooms for stranded passengers but I don’t know this for certain. But the bottom line is that United never communicated with their 110 or so passengers that were waiting for the flight and when they did they said we were on our own to find our way back. They couldn’t have cared less. That speaks volumes about the customer service experience with United. I’ve experienced this on previous United flights. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. There won’t be a third time.

If you can’t kill them with kindness, which usually works for me, go epic.

Cake.

I’m getting really tired of the left bashing the left in what appears to be an attempt to get page clicks and generate controversy in an attempt to “go viral” and thus rake in scads of ad revenue.

Tina Fey appeared on SNL’s “Weekend Update: Summer Edition” in response to the recent events in Charlottesville this past week. Several outlets have slammed Tina’s appearance. John Gruber at Daring Fireball says it best:

Tina Fey’s segment on SNL’s Weekend Update this week was so good I’ve watched it three times already. It’s just amazing.

Yet, remarkably, it has drawn criticism from people on the left. Exhibits A, B, and C. If you’re claiming to be offended by Tina Fey’s segment this week, you’re either utterly humorless or willfully obtuse, and either way, you are part of the problem. The only people to be offended by this week are fucking Nazis, and Tina Fey just skewered them.

I remember being a kid learning that Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal was controversial in its time, because some sanctimonious shitheads thought Swift literally wanted people to eat Irish children. I just couldn’t believe there were people who were incapable of understanding satire. But here we are today, with people thinking Tina Fey literally wants us to stay home and eat cake. If that’s what you think, let me break it to you: your heart might be in the right place, but you’re an idiot.

Couldn’t have said it better, John. The United States is never going to move forward if the folks that are trying to move it forward keep attacking their own.