Earl and I are in Chicago for a few days before heading off for vacation mid-week. We didn’t know where we would be right now so we booked our flights out of O’Hare. This is my last trip to the Windy City before our house closing at the beginning of August.
As we were sitting on the Kennedy Expressway waiting for traffic to sort itself out I couldn’t help but reflect on the excitement I feel when we come into Chicago. A long buried dream of living in a big city is coming true at age 49. I still find it hard to believe.
I’m excited about the new challenges that come with the life semi-reboot. I’ll be learning new terrain for my home turf as a pilot. I’ll sit in traffic if I’m not riding the train. We will be living in a different time zone. There’s much more available to us 24 hours a day.
So much to explore. So much to enjoy. So much excitement.
Preparations for the move at the beginning of next month continue around our lovely home. Painting is in progress. Rooms are being emptied and rearranged in a decorative manner. This is to entice those that pass through our house to actually buy our house. Earl has told me that I’m not gay enough to decorate these rooms. He’s handling it.
The washer and dryer, which have been stacked in the laundry room for the past six years, had to be moved to make way for the painters and the guy that replaced the tile floor. The end result was lovely, but when we moved the washing machine back into place and ran a load of clothes (I AM gay enough to require at least one outfit a day), we ended up with water on the new tile floor. The water was coming from underneath the washing machine. The last time this happened we were told that these new washers aren’t designed to have parts replaced and that we should buy a new washing machine, which we did. Earl and I agreed that we were not spending $1000 on a new washing machine for a house that we would be vacating in a month. Worse yet, we’d also have to buy a new dryer because of course GE can’t be making the same washing machine six years later, and the dimensions of the new washers are slightly different so we wouldn’t have a place to stack the existing dryer.
So we disassembled the washing machine to find out where the water was coming from. It turns out that a valve right near the top of the cabinet had cracked during the move. A quick look online revealed that the replacement part was $75. One screw held it in place. The next part arrived, I installed it and voila, no leaks. From the valve.
The hoses started leaking after being jostled around with each move of the washing machine. One of the inspection points of our new condo was that the washing machine hoses needed to be replaced with steel braided hoses, so I told Earl that we were going to be proactive and do the same for the house. A quick trip to Lowe’s, a little bit of haggling with our budget department about why we should get steel braided hoses versus rubber hoses and voila, $25 later, new hoses and no leaks from the washing machine.
It sure beats spending $2000 for a new washer/dryer stack.
Moral of the story, if someone tells you it’s easier to buy a new washing machine don’t believe them. Take the time to see what’s wrong and try to fix it yourself. Worse case scenario is that you can’t put the washing machine back together and you have to buy a new one anyway.
You’ll love the sense of accomplishment when you fix it yourself.
I was all set to write a witty blog entry about our latest adventures with washing machines when I discovered that something somewhere has changed with my WordPress configuration. I can no longer write images to the blog. This makes me sad.
I’m thinking something has changed on the hosted server so I have opened a trouble ticket. Wish me luck.
Late last night Earl mentioned to me that there was an airplane crash about 15 miles north of the house. He asked if I knew the pilot. When he saw my startled look he realised that I did indeed know the name. Jon was a super nice guy. Soft spoken. A pretty strong advocate for the general aviation community. He did not survive the crash of his ’46 Luscombe yesterday afternoon. May he fly amongst the angels.
The loss of any pilot weighs on my mind, especially if I know the pilot personally. We defy gravity after mitigating any risk to the best of our ability. We should always take that extra step to be as safe as possible as we dance amongst the clouds. When my dad was alive and reviewing crash reports, he’d always say “pilot error, 98% of the time it’s pilot error.”
As pilots we are trained to respond appropriately to catastrophic scenarios while airborne. Our reaction should be instinct. Your airplane has just turned into a big glider and do what you’ve been trained to do to glide safely to the ground. Sometimes there’s simply not enough time to react fast enough. We do what we can do. When we takeoff we know the risk. And yet we defy gravity. Because that’s where our heart leads us.
Jon’s passing yesterday weighed heavily on my mind all day today. I didn’t know him particularly well, but we had chatted many times. He had shared his adventures with the flight club. He had a passion that was very familiar. He seemed like a good sort.
I had an instrument lesson scheduled for today. The weather was clear in every direction. Wind was nearly non-existent. A small part of me was looking for a reason to not fly but a bigger part of my head said, “you have to fly today.” So my instrument instructor and I went up and flew and I nailed the practice instrument approaches to our airport. If I could just get past the book studying and the written exam I’d probably be a hell of an instrument pilot. I’m almost there. Almost.
Determination. It’s like getting up on the horse that’s thrown you across the pasture. We do have what we have to do.
As a card-carrying, rainbow flag waving gay man I’m going to make an admission to the world right now. I’ve had a few beers, I’ve pulled up on my balls, I’m feeling courageous, so here it is.
I can’t stand Aretha Franklin.
When I hear Aretha Franklin start making some raspy, wailing noises that result in people throwing awards at her I suddenly feel the impulse to slam my balls in a car door so I can wail louder than her and possibly earn a Grammy.
Look it, I will be the first to admit that I might enjoy singing the background vocals to “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” once in a great while after I’ve had a few beers. I learned how to spell respect because she spelled it for us, repeatedly, throughout the 60s and 70s ad nauseum. (I’d rather someone just “sock it to me”.) But the truth of the matter is, I don’t really enjoy her vocal stylings, I don’t care for her diva style and honestly I don’t know what all the hype is about. I think she’s the one that started that whole urban yodeling thing where someone tries to shriek up and down the medley like a stripper working the pole, but I didn’t blame her for that until Christina Aguilera started singing about stars reaming before a football game.
This all being said, the woman (Aretha, not Christina) has earned like 18 Grammys and other awards over the years. She has the balls to take hours to sing the National Anthem and no one bats an eye. She earned her props from the people that enjoy that sort of thing and hey, it might not be my cup of tea but other people groove on it and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The truth of the matter is, it’s Aretha’s wailing and my distaste for it that made me realise that not everyone in the world is going to like what I do, what I write or what I say. I might not win awards and I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever driven anyone to slam their balls in a car door but there’s been plenty of people that have laughed at my jokes, enjoyed the applications I’ve written at work or have enjoyed my DJ skills at clubs over the years. And there’s been plenty of people that couldn’t stand me along the way.
I’m no worse the wear for it. And neither is Aretha. So even though you’re never going to find me at an Aretha Franklin concert screaming “You go ‘Re ‘Re!”, someone somewhere is going to take a hit off a bong and scream it with all their might.
And somewhere else, though I doubt a bong will be involved, someone, somewhere, is going to yell, “you go J.P.!”
When it time for me to move onto whatever lies beyond this life, this photo represents how I want people to remember me: standing happily in an open field, transfixed by something geek worthy, looking off into the distance. People that know me should know that I’m very happy in this photo. I’m by myself but happily in love. Earl is right behind me in this photo, supporting my endeavors and ideas. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Earl took this photo of me back in spring 2016. It was my version of a marketing photo for the local power company back in the 1950s. I posted this photo on Facebook this morning without a caption. And then I decided that my 30 day self-challenge for the month would be to stay away from the platform for the month of July.
I’ve tried to step away from Facebook on a number of occasions in the past. Invariably something happens where I feel compelled to go back and take a peek: I want to share photos from a flight or some family event has taken place or I want to know what’s going on with friends. This month I’m doing my best to contact people through more traditional means, even if that means exchanging emails back and forth. I don’t want to be part of an algorithm. I don’t want some nebulous service deciding what I should see and who’s information is more important to me. I don’t need reminders telling me to contact so and so because they haven’t contributed to Facebook in a while. The service has become too big, too intrusive and too siloed. The cons outweigh the pros on my tally sheet.
This “no Facebook” month goes hand in hand with not placing my iPhone on a restaurant table (even upside-down). I want to be present in the moment. I want to live in the here and now, with my head and heart facing forward, looking for the positive in the future that lies ahead.
I’m hoping that I’ll start some sort of trend, whether it’s shunning Facebook or encouraging people to put their phones down when they’re with friends in a social settings. Yesterday, while out for a ride, Earl and I stopped at a diner for lunch. The two of us talked about a myriad of subjects. The family of five at the next table all picked at their plates while they each looked at their own phones. No words were exchanged. No glances were shared. Mom, dad and the three teenage kids all had their heads buried in their phones. I could see Dad was looking at Facebook. Mom was looking at pinterest. One child had snapchat up.
I just found that whole scenario so sad.
There’s too much in the here and now that warrants our attention. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the company.
Earl and I were in the mood for something sweet before bedtime. We don’t really have the option of going to a late-night diner in this neck of the woods, as the only diner open at this time of night is Denny’s, and our local Denny’s has security to help control unruly crowds, drug rings and folks that try to leave the building without paying their bill.
This is not our idea of enjoying some time together over a slice of apple pie.
The local convenience store chain, Fastrac, has introduced their weak attempt at being like Wawa or Sheetz. They call their little eateries “Fastrac Café”. They brightly lit and have a kitchen where you can order things on a screen, just like Wawa or Sheetz in Pennsylvania, but that’s not open for the late night crowd. They also have a selection of bakery goods. Earl and I selected a sweet treat, filled up a cup of pop with diet(?) ice and sat down in the little café area to eat our treats.
Many establishments in this area have installed a television in circumstances such as these. The trend started shortly after the attacks of 9/11. Prior to that the only place that really had piped in news was the airport, and even then they showed the “CNN Airport” network. Televisions are found everywhere these days and in this neck of the woods they’re usually tuned to Fox News.
There is no escaping the news in modern America and there’s especially no escaping the likes of Donald Trump. As we sat in the Fastrac Café we were assaulted with debates about how latest belches of tweets on Twitter. People yelling and screaming and laughing. Of course Fox News trotted out a news clip of Joe from Morning Joe saying something derogatory about Melania back in 2007 and said “see, that’s why we have fake news today”.
Fake news. I really, really, really hate that term. It’s such a reductive thing to say. People hear something they don’t like on the news and they belch out “FAKE NEWS!” as loud as they can. It’s the Trump version of putting your fingers in your ears and going LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA.
There is no escaping Trump and there’s no escaping news bias and there’s no escaping idiots that buy this stupid shtick on either side of the aisle these days. You can’t go anywhere without being assaulted by a blaring television. You can’t go online without someone screaming “Fake news!” at one thing or another. You can’t go an hour without someone somewhere mentioning another stupid thing the Trump Administration has done. Anyone that thinks this country is “the greatest country on Earth” is delusional. That country is long part of our past. We should be doing better than this, we are better than this and we deserve better than this.
I’m always bewildered as to why Fastrac advertises that they have “diet ice”. I once asked why they label their ice, which is frozen water in cube form, as “diet ice” and they told me it was so customers would know that the ice was calorie free.
Speaker Simon Sinek speaks about the benefits of turning your phone off and putting it completely away when you’re interacting with people in real life. I need to do this more. I need to be better at this. This is my July 30 day self-challenge.
Cross-posted from my Facebook account. Yes, I still use Facebook and I have no idea why I do.
I’ve been trying not to make political posts on FB because honestly I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about anything, especially in this “warring factions” mentality we have in our society. But I have to say this: there are a lot of good people that have lived long, productive lives contributing to society. Teachers, counselors, clergy, firefighters, soldiers, people from all walks of life. As they age their bodies start deteriorating in ways that they can not control. In their quest to live as long as they can (just like we all do), they require more and more medical care. That medical care can be expensive. Should these people be denied medical care because they can’t afford insurance? A spokesperson from the Trump administration states that Medicaid recipients should go out and get jobs. Medical insurance should be a reward for working hard at your job. I don’t know too many 80 year old Alzheimer’s patients that could handle that sort of challenge. Is a person battling cancer suppose to work at McDonalds in between radiation treatments? Where would you like a developmentally disabled child to work? Making headlamps at an auto factory?
The Affordable Care Act was not perfect. But repealing it and replacing it later (which is the latest dialog coming out of the White House since they can’t agree on the meanness level of TrumpCare now) is not the answer. A sane person does not plan to replace a refrigerator by burning down the house and then sleeping in the elements for months before starting to build a new house with a new refrigerator in it.
I know it’s ‘fun’ to scream about how awful Hillary was and to throw rocks at people that are different than you and to hoard all your money so you can watch people that are ‘less than you’ suffer on the street. We all get our kicks in our own way. But, c’mon, can we start searching for a common compassion for one another, set aside our differences for just a moment and admit that we are a stronger society, stronger nation when we were together and find a common ground?