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Unstable.

I’m a happy man. I have a wonderful husband. I have a wonderful family. My career is going well. We finally live where we’ve wanted to live for a while. I can fly an airplane when I want. I can see and do things that I enjoy.

So why do I occasionally feel glum? Why did it take a conscious effort for me to not crawl back into bed this morning?

It’s the tempo of our society.

While I have whittled down the number of news sources, political reporters, etc. that I follow on Twitter, my feed is still a constant barrage of Trump stupidity. It still boggles my mind that there are enough incredibly stupid people in the United States that managed to find their way to a voting booth and cast a ballot for this pathetic excuse of a human being, let alone leader of anything. I look at Facebook hoping to see happy faces of friends and family enjoying life and there’s a bunch of commentary about the same thing: the blatant idiocy, inadequacy and utter instability of the President of the United States. Once in a while a politician will belch out some sort of statement that is meant to admonish whatever the Idiot has done this week but the words ring hollow. There is never an action as a follow-up. It’s all about the words.

It’s all my fault for relying on my computing devices for information. There are many times that I long for less of a connection to technology. I know this is odd, since I make a living building applications to make the user experience better but honestly I would be perfectly content reading and writing text on a flat-panel black screen with amber characters and a flashing cursor. Perhaps that’s the route I should take. Find a laptop with a beautiful display that just gives me a command prompt when I log in.

When we ride the train I noticed that 85% of the people around us are glued to their phones. There’s always someone taking a barrage of selfies. Most have headphones in. They’re looking down and oblivious to the world around them. I wonder if they’re reading about the latest display of ignorance from the White House or if they’re just watching videos of teenagers trying to drink boiling water through a metal straw (don’t even get me started on that) or if they’re watching movie trailers of another dimly lit superhero movie.

Where’s the sunshine? Where’s the positivity? While there were some horrible things going on with racism, homophobia and the like in the mid 20th century, you have to admit that back then eyes were on the future. People dreamed of flying cars and going to the Moon and building computers that helped make our household lives easier. Today many have eyes down a hole, looking for zombies and making moves to take us to the past.

The times we live in are so unstable. I would give something, anything for just touch of stability.

Digs.

So tonight I unpacked the last box for my office. It took a few notes from work to get the mortgage company to understand that my job and office were moving with me when we relocated to Chicago. The setup has been wonderful.

We had to take down one of the shelves the previous owner had installed to accommodate my Thunderbolt Display when my desk is in its standing position. Yes, I’m one of those guys that spends a good chunk of the day standing at my desk. I find that it makes me more productive and actually helps my back. I used to make DJs stand in the booth at the radio station when I was the Director of Operations back in my radio days. I always liked standing but some would get cranky.

There’s no standing for cranky in my outfit.

I’ve combined my work-at-home office with my pilot storage area. In the old house these were in two different locations but in our condo my office doubles as a man cave. 

I am without complaint.

 

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Fire.

You know, I really should thank Donald Trump. Now, mind you I can’t still bring myself to put the words “President” and “Trump” together in a sentence and I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. If in his presence I would never call him “Mr. President”. I’m not sure I wouldn’t spit on him, but I really should thank the man before I do so.

During the Obama years things felt fairly comfortable. The country seemed to be moving in a forward direction. Sick people were getting taken care of, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Marriage was available to all. Though we weren’t putting a great deal of money into the Space Program, I felt like we might be able to obtain that Star Trek existence after all.

But then Donald Trump was elected into office due to sheer idiocy on all sides of the equation and all hell has broken loose. And since that day after Election Day, when I took time off from work and drove down to New York to protest with others in front of Trump Tower, I have had a fire in my belly like I haven’t felt since the days of ACT-UP back when I lived in Boston in the late 1980s.

In the seemingly endless nearly eight months since Trump was sworn into office we’ve seen countless displays of sheer stupidity coming out of Washington. Sheer stupidity fueled by evil intentions. Efforts to repress any sort of minority that doesn’t meet the criteria laid out of who is a true American as defined by a bunch of old white men currently holding office in Washington, D.C. The United States is better than the people’s representation today and I have to thank Donald Trump for showing me that I had become apathetic. His buffoonery and horrible leadership has demonstrated that the progress I saw during President Obama’s administration was only on the surface and that the racism, homophobia and other detrimental qualities of this country still run deep.

So thank you, Donald Trump. I no longer tolerate people that support you. I no longer just grimace and stay silent if someone makes a racist joke in my presence. I am ready, willing and able to boycott whatever company supports your outdated, harmful and hateful policies. As of this writing, I’ve got my eye on these companies: Campbell’s Soup, Pepsi and Dell. 

I also have to thank you, Donald Trump, for continually reminding us about Hillary Clinton and the obviously strong impact she made on your psyche. When I see, hear, or think of Hillary Clinton, I am reminded that there are good people out there. Not all politicians are as deplorable as you are. So, please, by all means, keep bringing her name up.

Keep reminding us who won the popular vote. We all know who should have really been President of the United States. And it wasn’t the Nazi that ran as a publicity stunt.

Living.

I’m standing on our patio. In the distance the Sears Tower is clearly visible, surrounded by other tall buildings just a couple of miles away. I hear music in the air; a nearby block party is still in progress.  Airplanes are lined up in the sky on their approach to O’Hare. I hear a nearby conversation on an adjacent patio. Whiffs of cigar smoke occasionally pass by.  Across the alley the lights in other condos reveal life in progress. The alley below is well lit with LED lights yet nearly silent. There is little movement below. 

One month ago I sat in the backyard of our beautiful home in Central New York dreaming about our future life in Chicago.

That dream has come true. 

Theme.

So I’ve had a TV theme song going through my head most of the day. It’s from the early 1970s, is very marching band worthy and is instantly recognizable once you hear it.
I’ve been humming the original theme of “The Bob Newhart Show” all day.

I really miss the days when television shows had actual credits and accompanying music and visuals to set the mood for what the viewer was about to experience for the next 30 or 60 seconds. I think the only thing that really comes close to that is the new version of “Hawaii Five-0”, and when that series was retooled their original theme (which was a guitar riffed version of the original from the 60s) was shot down by test audiences so they went with the more familiar fanfare when the series finally made it to CBS.

Back in the late 90s and early 00s “Judging Amy” had a full blown theme song and that really help set the mood for that wonderful series. It’s a shame it’s never made it to DVD or digital download.

Back to “The Bob Newhart Show”. Since hunting down the theme this afternoon I discovered that the series is available on Hulu and I’ve been watching it on and off this evening. I was too young to watch it when it was originally on in the 70s. I remember finding Suzanne Pleshette as very pretty and wanting to watch the show in one of its later seasons but Mom told me it was an adult show and I had to go to bed. I loved the 70s independent woman in Emily Hartley. I also really enjoyed Bob Newhart’s deadpan delivery and comedic timing that he’s so famous for. The man is an artist. Watching a few episodes of the first season this evening has garnered a new appreciation for the humor. Yeah, it looks very dated but it’s still a very funny show. Of course, the later “Newhart” series turned out to be just a dream of Bob Hartley’s character in “The Bob Newhart Show”, as shown in what is probably the best series finale of all time.

In marching band we played a bunch of television theme songs of the era. “Magnum P.I.” and “Dallas” were both quite popular and the marching band won some competitions playing these songs in parades. I don’t know what high school marching bands play these days. Before we moved to Chicago we hadn’t been to a parade in a number of years. We’ll have to find a parade to watch in Chicago before the end of the summer.

Another nifty thing about the opening credits of “The Bob Newhart Show” is that as he’s walking around Chicago in 1972 I still recognize some of the landmarks from my short adventures thus far around the Loop. I love the old style ‘L’ train! A little research online confirmed that he was on the Ravenswood Line, which is known as the Brown Line today. I thought about making my own version in present-day Chicago, but that’s been well done by others on YouTube. 

It’s still fun to hum the theme song.

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Hurry Back.

My husband is taking the moving van back to Central New York today. He’ll be home tomorrow. I said to him, “please hurry back so we’re together for the nuclear war.”

I never thought I’d be saying something like this in the 21st century, but then again, I never thought the populace would be so stupid as to elect a dyed-orange buffoon into the Oval Office either, so what do I know.

Architecture.

So I’ve been taking my little morning and afternoon walks during work around the neighborhood a bit. I don’t have my timing quite worked out yet. Back in Central New York I knew where I could walk in 20 minutes and be back at my desk right on time, every time. Here in Chicago I’m still figuring out how many blocks I can walk and get back to my desk right on time, every time. Walk too little, not enough calories are burned. Walk to much and someone is probably sending me a Skype message wondering where I disappeared to.

One of the many things I love about Chicago is the residential neighborhoods that I have been able to explore. With Jamie living here the last four years or so I’ve had the opportunity to visit the north side of the city and do some exploring and the residential area around our condo are quite similar to what I explored around Jamie’s place over the years. I love how you kind of lose the city a little bit when you venture into the tree-lined streets of these parts. I also love the architecture of the homes in the area.

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Back when we lived in Central New York I would remark to Earl that all the houses in our area were wood framed houses with shingles or siding. There wasn’t a lot of brick. In Chicago I’m finding a lot of brick. New brick, old brick, lots of brick. And stone. Stone on the front of old brick, stone on the front of new brick.

All of the lots seem to be the same size here. Once in a while you’ll find that a homeowner has purchased an adjacent lot, subsequently doubling the size of the lot, but otherwise everything seems divided up in equal chunks. The majority of the houses in the area are square and take up nearly the width of the lot. There’s a lot of homes from the early 20th century with new homes interspersed in between. These new homes fit into the harmony of the neighborhood fairly well; brick, square and not overly pretentious (but still pretentiously priced).

I’m loving the brick. 

Differences.

I lived in New York State for 46 of my 49 years in this life. The other three years were spent in eastern Massachusetts. Back when I lived in Massachusetts I would find differences in how things out in society worked when compared to New York, for example, the grocery stores in Mass. carried wine whereas New York grocery stores only carries beer, wine coolers and things like hard cider and Zima.

Walking through the local Target store today I discovered that in Illinois one can easily purchase wine just about anywhere. In New York you have to go to a liquor store. A walk through our neighborhood CVS Pharmacy a little while ago revealed that in Illinois one can also purchase rum and vodka (in addition to beer and wine and the like) at a drug store. New York State politicians would be clutching their pearls about this state of affairs. In Illinois it just is.

I like that.

Not to harp on drinking, but New York State’s laws on when bars close vary from county to county and sometime city to city. 2 a.m. is the common closing time, but Buffalo and New York are 4:00 a.m., some cities are as early as 1 a.m. I grew up near a “dry” town, a township where no alcohol was sold. There isn’t much to do there.

In Illinois it varies by municipality, but as I understand it, during the week last call is at 2 a.m. and on the weekend it’s 3 a.m. unless the establishment has a license that extends additional two hours. So on Saturday, some bars in Chicago can be closing as late as 5 a.m.

Now that’s a party.

Even though we’ve lived in Illinois for only four days I’m finding myself quite comfortable here. I spent some of the weekend driving to different places with Earl so that we could get some things for the condo that aren’t really accessible by train. Driving around the city streets isn’t awful. The grid system in Chicago makes it relatively easy to navigate. For me, driving in Boston back in the day was always a nightmare. While Chicago drivers are aggressive, and there can be some hollering and the like, the drivers seem to be fairly predictable. In Massachusetts you never knew what was going to happen. And don’t even get me started about Utica, New York where we used to live. When the traffic light turns green you must wait for three or four more cars to go barreling through the light before even thinking about doing what the green light says to do. And god help you if you’re in the left turn lane trying to make a left turn. The person turning left from your right will do everything they can to nearly clip the front of your car. People have no idea how to turn left in Utica, N.Y. Don’t go there.

I’m quite aware that Earl and I are still in the honeymoon phase of our move to Chicago but I don’t care. I’m loving it and I’m embracing it. It feels comfortable.

I’m already used to this.