2017.

As the sun sets on 2017, I can’t help but feel excitement about the New Year. The reality of it all is that tonight just marks a moment in the manmade construct of time where the Earth is approximately in the same position it was one revolution ago. We’re not lined up with anything, it’s not the beginning of a season or the ending of an era, it’s just a mark on a timeline. But still, we like to think of it as a chance to make changes, to celebrate ushering in something new, to do something to better our lives, so tonight we celebrate the end of 2017 and welcome a New Year. What will 2018 bring? Only time will tell, but I have plans. I always have plans. But honestly, I’m anxious to start working on those plans. I’m wired to always need a pivot point to better myself, and ringing in the New Year is #1 with a bullet when it comes to the list of pivot points to choose from. Moving to Chicago earlier in 2017 was a good start, but I brought some old habits with me. It’s time to push in the clutch, rev the engine, and shift for even better things. I feel hopeful. Let’s make 2018 the year of hope.

Repost: Resolution Revolution.

From my first New Year’s Eve blog post, December 31, 2001.
With New Year’s just around the corner, it’s time to completely revamp one’s life with what I call the Resolution Revolution. I tend to take New Year’s Resolutions very seriously. With the dropping of the ball and the birth of a new year, its the best time to take a new lease on life, slip into the body that I’ve always dreamed about, clear my skin, become more spiritually focused, get involved in civic affairs, become a cook, a gardener, a sky-diver, a nuclear physist, the list goes on and on.
But seriously, I do have hopes of improving my life and well-being around the New Year’s holiday. The holiday holds so much promise.
Last year, one of my major New Year’s resolutions was to become a full-time vegetarian. I had been dinking around with being a part-time vegetarian for a couple of months beforehand, mostly when it was convenient, but I told myself I needed to become dedicated to the cause. If it had the ability to take a dump, I wasn’t going to eat it. That lasted until we went out west for vacation and I discovered “Sonic” and “In and Out” burger. So much for that.
Another resolution I made last year was to not spend unnecessary money. In celebration of this event, I went crazy on ebay and purchased a cash register system from a defunct department store. I guess I needed a place to store all the money I was saving.
One of my better resolutions of last year was to learn to speak French. I did the whole CD tutorial thing, along with “French for Dummies”. Earl and I headed up to Montréal for a weekend, the perfect opportunity to test out my French. Trying to be friendly, I tried to strike up a conversation with a nice older woman in the mall. Since it was July, I simply said “Boy, it’s hot”. After she slugged me with her purse I realized that I had said, “I’m in heat.” So much for French.
The first resolution of this year is the only one I am going to share. I’m not sharing my resolutions with anyone. After years of making promises to myself, and announcing them loudly to everyone within a 50 mile radius of my mouth, people tend to not take me seriously anymore. But after my Resolution Revolution of 2002, suffice it to say that I’m going to be rich, famous, a contributing member of society and absolutely gorgeous to look at.
At least until January 15.

Cold.

Not to be deterred, or maybe because I’m just stubborn, this evening I walked a little over a mile from Wrigleyville to our condo. According to Siri, it was 1ºF at the time. The colder temperature kept my step lively. I was rewarded with Exercise Bling Circles on my Apple Watch when I reached the warm of the lobby of our building. I can handle the cold better than I can handle the feet of snow they’re getting right now in our old stomping grounds. I grew up in the Lake Ontario Snowbelt, and there was always a certain amount of excitement surrounding heavy snowfall, but after the excitement wore off the excessive amount of snow was a bit of a pain to deal with. We have less than two inches of snow here on the north side of Chicago. I can handle that. I can even handle the overnight sub-zero temperatures. I come prepared. I am looking forward to warmer weather, though I’ll probably have to wait a few months.

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.

Barn.

As found along old US Route 66 near Odell, Illinois. I dream of driving what’s left of Route 66 from end-to-end.

Push.

We live alongside one of the stations along the CTA Brown Line. For those not familiar with the ‘L’ in Chicago, the ‘L’ is our version of the subway. Most of it runs on elevated tracks throughout the city, with only some portions in the downtown area underground like a traditional subway. It’s one of the best run mass transit systems in the country. The lines are marked by color; it is a prime example of the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) concept. I love the ‘L’. The closest crosswalk to our building is near the ‘L’. It is controlled by a traffic light installed specifically for the crosswalk. We lived here for less than a day when I discovered two things about this traffic light: 1. The light will not change unless you press the button at each end of the crosswalk and 2. The light will change in tandem with the traffic light at the nearest intersection. It will not change separately. One thing that amazes me about this crosswalk is the number of people that can’t be bothered to press the button to get the light to change. The buttons are marked with large signs. The roadway is busy enough that at many times of the day it can be a challenge to use the crosswalk against the light. There’s a reason the traffic signal is there. But several times a week I’ll see people trying to run across traffic, narrowly missing getting hit by cars whizzing by. Often folks will just stand there and stand there waiting for the light to change, when I can see the light at the nearby intersection going through its cycle. Had the pedestrian pressed the button as instructed, they would have been able to cross the street with ease. Occasionally drivers will stop at the red light that allows pedestrians to cross and once it’s clear they’ll run the red light. Sometimes the crosswalk isn’t clear and people start driving through anyway. Like many other parts of the country, motorists in Chicago can be quite inattentive, especially the ones that are busy on their phones while they’re driving. I think it drives Earl crazy that it can be 2:00 a.m. and I’ll press the button and wait for the signal to cross instead of crossing the empty street against the light. He always claims that I must have been Boy Scout in a previous life, but I assure him that was not the case. I just try to follow the rules, especially the ones that follow logic.

Learning.

Bipartisanship madam secretary s4e9

Television was first introduced in 1939 at The World’s Fair. The first news broadcast was in 1941, the first live presentation from meteorologists, the first weather forecast on TV was in 1954. In the early days, it was said that television would never catch on because it required the viewer to watch it all the time; one could multitask while listening to the radio. The television would be an appliance of education. Viewers could watch Latin in their spare time.

Oh how we have strayed from the television as an instrument of education.

When I was a kid we had a donated black and white television in our elementary classroom. We watched “Free To Be… You and Me”, “Inside/Out”, “The Electric Company”. Television programming taught us something. I don’t know if that continues today. I hope it does.

The news it too bleak these days to be assaulted with it after a hard day’s work. But I do enjoy television shows that go beyond blowing things up or are mindless television. This is one of the reasons that “Madam Secretary” remains as one of my favorite shows on television today. The plots are mostly plausible. The storylines are somewhat reflective of the current political climate, albeit with a lighter twist. The show is well scripted, well acted, and isn’t dumbed down for the lowest common denominator. I am reminded of “The West Wing” in its early years. I occasionally end up wondering what I can do to better the world after watching an episode of the show. It’s smart. We don’t have enough smart on television today.

Entertainment can be educational. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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Net Neutrality.

I’d write a long blog post of why the FCC’s vote to repeal Net Neutrality is one of the more idiotic things to happen in D.C. in, oh, the past week, but I don’t want to use up my Internet access rations just yet.

Comparison.

I just tweeted that one of the most frustrating things about 2017 is knowing Republicans that are much better people than those that are controlling things in Washington, D.C. today. The Republicans I know, friends from all facets of my life, family members, etc., are good people. What we see today from our leaders is not compassion. It’s not about doing what one believes is right for the country, it’s about winning. And not just winning, it’s about annihilation. Win at all costs. Party over country. I’ve struggled with blogging in 2017. There’s so much I want to say, so much I want to share, but the fact of the matter is, the state of our country has consumed way too much of my life in 2017. What I have to say seems so insignificant to the constant struggle, turmoil, and chaos that we are fed via every possible avenue. Social media, the news, conversation with friends, overheard discussions in a restaurant, people screaming at each other on the road, the chaos has consumed us and this frustrates me. And part of that frustration is the anger and sadness I feel when I see how much a reality show television host has influenced my existence. I venture to say that I have cared too much for the welfare of the United States. I want to see people thrive, all people thrive. The wrong people are making sure the wrong people get ahead. It’s frustrating to see so many people blind to that fact. The tribes of the political parties are killing our country. Long ago I gave up trying to change people’s minds about politics. Heck, given another GOP candidate on that ballot back in November 2016, I could have easily voted for a person that showed at least a little bit of compassion. I believe in many of the GOP ideals my father’s GOP believed in. And honestly, I will be the first to admit that I’m a pretty selfish person, but I don’t believe in taking things away from other people. Everyone should give more than they take from their community, their city, their country, but we shouldn’t make it impossible for folks to find their way through life. Everyone deserves a chance. Everyone deserves a _fair_ chance.