Vote.

You know you should vote. You know why you should vote. I could write volumes about what’s going on in this country and why this election is so incredibly important, but I’m just going to say this:

Please vote.

UA 3811.

I am my flight home from Greenville, SC to Chicago. I’m seated in the exit row on this Canadair CL-65. I drew the lucky straw and I have a lap child sitting behind me kicking the seat and making an occasional screaming sound. So much for my planned nap.

I’m suppose to wave and smile. Since I’ve missed my planned nap I’ll just mind my own business.

We are flying over the Appalachian Mountains.

They’re no Rocky Mountains but they’re interesting I guess. I have relatives that live in the mountains and love it. I’m more of a prairies and plains kind of guy. I don’t think any state deserves the nickname “Flyover State”, as there is value in every part of this country, but honestly I don’t feel the need to rush back to Nebraska. That’s the only state in the middle of the country that doesn’t really blow my skirt up. 

I wish I was flying the airplane right now. Any seat on an airplane is an awesome seat, but my favorite seat is up front.

I need to fly more. 

UA 4007.

I am on United Express flight 4007 from O’Hare to Greenville-Spartanburg. It’s been about six months since I last traveled for work; I’m looking forward to seeing my colleagues in person. Living in Chicago provides yet another perk; with O’Hare in the neighborhood it’s rare that I have to do the connecting flight routine anymore. I don’t miss the stress of bounding through an airport trying to make that next flight that I invariably scheduled to close to my arriving flight.

Now if we could do something about the traffic getting to O’Hare. Small steps.

I’ve been trying to find a way to share my thoughts (in a sane manner) around what’s going on in the United States these days. I’m sure I’m feeling the same fatigue as many others are experiencing when it comes to the news and the country seemingly darting from one crisis to another. In the past seven days we’ve had bombs mailed to prominent people in political arenas and nearly a dozen people shot to death in their chosen place of worship. I firmly believe the perpetrators of these crimes feel as sense of empowerment from Trump, his administration, and his supporters. I’m at the point now where I’ve lost most of my tolerance for anyone still supporting the guy. I’m sure there are folks that read this that still feel Trump is doing a great job and that the country is in a great place. I would counter you are wrong and if we’ve never had a political discussion we probably shouldn’t start the practice.

Since my travel plans for work were in the air (no pun intended) until the last minute, I didn’t know if I was going to be around on Voting Day or not, so I requested an absentee ballot. Last night I completed it and sent it off in the mail. I don’t have a lot of faith that the American populace will do the right thing during these midterm elections in ten days. The polls sound encouraging but polls have been wrong before and I’m sure they’ll be wrong again. It’s all about “wait and see” right now. I hope that we’ll vote off this present political direction, but this ship will move slowly and this battle will still go on for years to come.

For now, I’ll just look out the window of this beautiful flight and play “spot the airport”.

I need to fly more.

Silence.

For Halloween I might dress up as Spock in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and give the Vulcan Nerve Pinch to every ass that blasts their music without headphones in every Starbucks or on every bus or train I travel on.

When did it become OK to blast your music out in public like some sort of shrieking banshee? When did it become acceptable to scream a custody battle with your ex on your phone while wedged into a tight public space with dozens of people you don’t know around you?

Let’s get back to the simple social contract: Don’t Be A Dick In Public.

Field Trip.

On a dark, snowy day last winter I took the CTA Brown Line down to the Loop and started riding out of downtown in random directions on the various other colored lines of the ‘L’. It was a fun experience and it was a good way for me to experience parts of Chicago that I wouldn’t otherwise see in my day-to-day travels.

Before moving to Chicago we’d taken both the Orange and Blue lines in from Midway and O’Hare respectively, but that field trip was the first time I had been on the Green, Pink, and Purple lines.

The CTA Yellow Line is the only line of the ‘L’ that doesn’t touch the Loop, as it starts at the Howard stop, the northern end of the Red Line, and heads out to Skokie. There are a total of three stops on the Yellow Line.

I told Earl that I needed to do something a little mindless today, so we hopped on the Brown Line, transferred to the Red Line at Belmont and headed north. We took our first ride on the CTA Yellow Line and are now sitting in the Starbucks sitting not too far away from the northern end of the Yellow Line.

Because the Yellow Line is out in the suburbs, the 5000 Series trains (same equipment as used on the other lines aside from Orange, Blue, and Brown) don’t move much faster in the open spaces. I honestly didn’t know these CTA ‘L’ trains could move this fast. And the vibe in the suburbs is so different from that in the city. Not bad, just different.

I am so fascinated by things would otherwise find mundane.

Shoes.

I’ve been wanting to buy some new shoes. People find it odd that I wear business casual shoes to work since I work from home. I know many think that those of us work at home run around with sweatpants and a wife beater, or maybe just our underwear hidden from the teleconference, but the truth of the matter is, I’m most productive when I’m wearing at home pretty much what I would wear to the office. For me, getting in the mindset to work involves dressing the part. Dressing for success and all that.

I’ve been enjoying the classier looks of an earlier period in American history. Now I’m not about to throw on a fedora, or even a petticoat, but I do enjoy a good pair of chinos or other business slacks, a nice dress shirt, and a good pair of shoes. Earl warns me of budgetary concerns from time to time, so he tagged along as we made our first trip to a consignment shop not far from our home.

I ended up bringing home two pair of Oxfords and a pair of office appropriate boots. For less than $60 total.

I guess there’s some gay in me after all because these shoes have really put a certain spring in my step. I’m actually excited to wear them to the office tomorrow.

Even though the office is just down the hall.

Success!

Earl and I drove 75 1/2 hours. In those 75 1/2 hours we passed through 13 states, finished off our quest to visit all 50 states and during this vacation we drove 4,533.3 miles.

My favorite state on this trip was Montana, though I was fascinated by the “cold desert” west of Spokane, Wash. and down through Oregon and Idaho into Nevada.

Iowa has unreasonably low speed limits on the prairie. Illinois has way too much road work. Folks west of the Missouri River drive the speed limit because it’s “reasonable and prudent”. Folks east of the Missouri River exceed the speed limit because it’s set artificially low.

Pop is a staple west of Chicago. The accent changes once once you’re away from the Great Lakes. Folks from California (in my experience) seem to be have an air of entitlement. The more rural the person, the more humble they seemed to be.

Visiting Temple Square in Salt Lake City was humbling for me. I have pondered my spirituality ever since that visit.

As the pavement passed under our tires and we made our way through new territory, I figured some things out, both professionally and personally. Unlike previous vacations where I dreaded going back to whence we came or I didn’t want to go back to work, I feel energized, ready, and excited about work on Monday. And I’m always happy to call Chicago home.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 8.

Today was a day of driving. A lot of driving. Across Wyoming and Nebraska. There’s not a lot to see. The mind does wander.

We drove from Rock Springs, Wyoming to North Platte, Nebraska today. Much of the I-80 and US 30 are one road in Wyoming, but as soon as we crossed into Nebraska, we decided to take the older road. The landscape is the same but the drive is broken up by the occasional town. That’s a welcomed change of pace.

Earl and I watched the Eagles vs Giants game at a sports bar here in North Platte. The natives were friendly. We had a great time.

The 2018 Road Trip: Day 7.

Today we drove from Elko, Nevada to Rock Springs, Wyoming. We are ahead of schedule for this trip and we’ll probably be home to Chicago on Saturday at the latest. We are still having a wonderful time.

We spent a few hours in Salt Lake City visiting Temple Square, home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was moved by the experience. While I don’t agree with many religious practices, I believe there is a great value of having a belief of some sort. Personally my belief is in the Universe. I find my spiritual center with nature. Visiting Temple Square today reminded me to be humble, to listen, and to learn.

Naturally I took a lot of photos of flowers, because the Earth is very important in my spiritual beliefs.